Here at Good Book Club, when we hear ‘beach read’, we think: indie publishers, character driven narratives, underrepresented cultures, women in translation, intersectional feminism, queer themes. You get the idea, we like great literature, written by great writers, published by great publishers who genuinely care about quality over quantity. 

So check out our recommendations below and you won’t find yourself fumbling for another mediocre thriller or fluffy romance at the 'holiday reads’ book table in the departure lounge. 


So you’re visiting France this year, well allow us to recommend some of the finest French literature in translation from some of our favourite indie publishers:

Love Me Tender by Constance Debré

Love Me Tender by Constance Debré  tr. Holly James

A tale of motherhood, a tale of queer motherhood, a tale of a woman who is queer and also a mother. The stark prose leaves no room to hide and you will squirm but you’ll love it.

The Young Man by Annie Ernaux

The Young Man by Annie Ernaux  tr. Alison L. Strayer

If you’ve read Ernaux before, then you’ll be aware of her incredible ability to name those unnamable feelings, while detailing some of the most erotic experiences of her life. This little novel is no exception, and the best part is, you’ll finish it in one afternoon at the beach. 

Fresh Water For Flowers by Valerie Perrin

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin  tr. Hildegarde Serle

This French bestseller will have you fully invested in the tragedy as it unfolds. You’ll become attached to all the characters and their histories and you will sob. It’s a long book so it could very well accompany you throughout your whole holiday. Did I mention you will sob? 


For those of you visiting Italy, be prepared for some of the continent’s finest food, most beautiful architecture, and world class literature. 

The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante 

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante  tr. Ann Goldstein

Of course we have to start with Elena Ferrante. Did you even go to Italy if you didn’t read Ferrante? We recommend anything she’s written, but the Neapolitan Quartet is really her finest work. And if you take all four books, you will have the best holiday of your life. That’s a guaranteed fact. 

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio 

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio  tr. Ann Goldstein

Born into a large, but poor rural family, the main character is sent to live with relatives and is raised as their child. However, she’s a teeanger now and the relatives don’t want her anymore, so they send her back to her birth parents. Imagine that? You don’t have to because Di Pietrantonio has imagined it for you. And there’s even a sequel! 

All Our Yesterdays by Natalia Ginzburg

All Our Yesterdays by Natalia Ginzburg  tr. Angus Davidson

Recommended by Sally Rooney, need I say more? OK, fine, I will. Ginzburg is one of the most important voices in Italian literature. This chunky novel follows a young girl who becomes pregnant and must marry an older family friend to save her reputation, but that’s just the beginning! 


You’re visiting the beautiful Spain; land of tapas and churros and, more importantly, Catalan, Galacian and Basque literature. Here are some of our favourite Spanish holiday reads. 

Un Amor by Sara Mesa

Un Amor by Sara Mesa  tr. Katie Whittemore

Set in a small rural village from the point of view of an outsider who has left her life in the city for a quiet place to work on her translations. The undercurrent of tension and the constant unanswered questions will have you turning pages til the sun sets. 

Mothers Don’t by Katixa Agirre

Mothers Don't by Katrixa Agirre tr. Kristin Addis

This is the perfect book for those of you who love a thriller but can’t bear the thought of another predictable whodunnit. ‘A novel about the primal guilt that comes with being a mother.’

September and the Night by Maica Rafecas

September and the Night by Maica Rafecas tr. Megan Berkobien and María Cristina Hall

Think vineyards, think sweeping, elegant prose, think capitalist take down. Ah, the perfect relaxing beach read. Just kidding, but who wants to relax on holiday anyway? Come for the beautiful descriptions of the landscape, stay for the scathing indictment of late stage capitalism. 


Germany, here we come! OK, so you probably won’t be going to the beach, but this is a great spot for city breaks, and we have the perfect book recommendations for you. 

Lote by Shola Von Reinhold

Lote by Shola von Reinhold

This unique queer read is set in Germany and it is dark academia at its most postmodern. Heartily, whole-heartedly recommend this clever book. 

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck  tr. Michael Hofmann

Just your typical, girl meets boy, boy turns out to be forty years older, boy loves socialism and terrorises said young girl kinda love story. It won the international Booker Prize in 2024 so you know it’s good lit. And if you’re visiting Berlin, then it will provide some interesting historical context.


Greece is the land of myths and beautiful beaches and kind locals and cats and mousaka and, of course, great literature. 

Outline by Rachel Cusk 

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Ms Cusk kicks off her Outline trilogy in Athens and it really is the best accompaniment to any Greek holiday. She describes the beautiful scenery, but mostly she records the conversations her character has while visiting the ancient capital. Observational writing at its finest.

Brandy Sour by Constantina Soteriou

Brandy Sour by Constantia Soteriou  tr. Lina Protopapa

Set in a hotel on Cyprus, this novel told in vignettes will give you the history of the civil war, while exploring the lives of the guests and staff. This is sure to be the book of summer 2024