Share Author Picks: 7 Engrossing Books Elin Hilderbrand Recommends

Author Picks: 7 Engrossing Books Elin Hilderbrand Recommends

We are passionate readers who love nothing more than discovering fantastic books and sharing them with friends. We recommend books that move us to laughter and tears—and everything in between. Trust us when we say, "You've got to read this!"

You can’t be a fan of the beach read without having read Elin Hilderbrand’s summer books. Ranging from Summer of ’69 to What Happens in Paradise, Hilderbrand brings the beach to readers far and wide. But what does the queen of the beach book read in her free time? Quite a lot. Reading everything from other beach reads to memoirs, she’s more than willing to offer a book recommendation when you’re in a reading rut. See below for seven of her favorites. 


The Bright Hour
by Nina Riggs

Elin Hilderbrand: “This book is carefully, thoughtfully, and beautifully written. I think it should be required reading for the entire human race. Nina Riggs is my hero and after you read this she will be your hero, too.” 

Poet and essayist Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, she received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, Nina asks: What makes a meaningful life when one has limited time? “Profound and poignant” (O, The Oprah Magazine), The Bright Hour is about how to make the most of all the days, even the painful ones. It’s about the way literature, especially Nina’s direct ancestor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and her other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. Tender and heartwarming,The Bright Hour“is a gentle reminder to cherish each day” (Entertainment Weekly, Best New Books) and offers us this important perspective: “You can read a multitude books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live” (TheNew York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice). 

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The Bright Hour
Nina Riggs

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The Summer Sail
by Wendy Francis

Elin Hilderbrand: "Wendy Francis's book thrilled me like a ride in a race car along the coast with the top down. It is everything a summer read should be." 

Three college roommates are celebrating a twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Bermuda. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will be celebrating her wedding anniversary in style, even as she and her husband keep a secret from the group. Ambitious career woman Caroline happily anticipates several stress-free days away from her magazine job with her boyfriend, Javier, who may or may not be finally inspired to propose. And single mom Lee (annoyingly gorgeous and irresistibly popular in college) hopes she’ll win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has inexplicably become a little bit of a monster. As the balmy pink shores of Bermuda come into view, tensions simmer, and old jealousies flare, sending the temperature from soothing to scorching in this engrossing tale of three best friends on a vacation they won’t soon forget—but not for the reasons they expect. 

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The Summer Sail
Wendy Francis

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The Secret to Southern Charm
by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Elin Hilderbrand: Kristy Woodson Harvey is "the next major voice in Southern fiction." 

Critically acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family. After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes trueHer mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light. But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all. 

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The Secret to Southern Charm
Kristy Woodson Harvey

A 2018 Spring Okra Pick
USA TODAY Happy Ever After’s Best Women’s Fiction
Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads of 2018
Deep South Magazine’s Summer Reading List
Raleigh News & Observer's “The Best Reads of Summer”
Charlotte Observer’s “Summer’s Best Books”
New York Live’s “Ashley’s A-List” Pick

Leaving fans “practically [begging] for a sequel” (Bookpage), critically acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is "the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).

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Mystic Summer
by Hannah McKinnon

Elin Hilderbrand: “When two roads diverge...take the one that leads to the beach! Hannah McKinnon delivers a charming gem of a novel in Mystic Summer. I adored this book.” 

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for. But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become. 

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Mystic Summer
Hannah McKinnon

Maggie Giffin has an enviable life as an elementary school teacher in a Boston suburb, but when she discovers her job may be on the line, she returns to Mystic, Connecticut, the beach town where she grew up, for her best friend’s wedding. There, she runs into Cameron, a man from her past who makes her see her idyllic life from a new perspective.

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Please Enjoy Your Happiness
by Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Elin Hilderbrand: "Please enjoy…the most romantic memoir you're likely to read in a lifetime." 

Pulitzer Prize–winning war correspondent Paul BrinkleyRogers has lived an adventurous life all over the world. But there is one story he cannot forget: that of his haunting love affair with a mysterious older Japanese woman in 1959. Paul was a sailor aboard the USSShangriLa that longago summer when he met Kaji Yukiko in the seaport of Yokosuka. A fierce intellectual, Yukiko shared her astonishing knowledge of literature, film, and poetry with Paul and encouraged, even demanded, that he use his gifts to become the writer he is today. But theirs was not a quiet love story. When a member of the yakuza, Japan’s brutal crime syndicate, attempted to kidnap Yukiko, Paul realized that there was much more to her—and to Japan in the devastating wake of World War II—than he saw at first glance. Through the searing letters that Yukiko wrote to him and Paul’s vivid telling of a history made all the more powerful and poignant by the weight of time,Please Enjoy Your Happinessreaches across decades and continents, inviting us all to revisit those loves of our lives that never truly end. 

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Please Enjoy Your Happiness
Paul Brinkley-Rogers

A beautiful and evocative memoir based on the author’s summer-long love affair with a remarkable older Japanese woman in the wake of World War II—“the most romantic memoir you’re likely to read in a lifetime” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand).

Pulitzer Prize–winning war correspondent Paul Brinkley‑Rogers has lived an adventurous life all over the world. But there is one story he cannot forget: that of his haunting love affair with a mysterious older Japanese woman in 1959. Paul was a sailor aboard the USS Shangri‑La that long‑ago summer when he met Kaji Yukiko in the seaport of Yokosuka. A fierce intellectual, Yukiko shared her astonishing knowledge of literature, film, and poetry with Paul and encouraged, even demanded, that he use his gifts to become the writer he is today.

But theirs was not a quiet love story. When a member of the yakuza, Japan’s brutal crime syndicate, attempted to kidnap Yukiko, Paul realized that there was much more to her—and to Japan in the devastating wake of World War II—than he saw at first glance. Through the searing letters that Yukiko wrote to him and Paul’s vivid telling of a history made all the more powerful and poignant by the weight of time, Please Enjoy Your Happiness reaches across decades and continents, inviting us all to revisit those loves of our lives that never truly end.

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The Bee Keeper's Daughter
by Santa Montefiore

Elin Hilderbrand: "A multigenerational banquet of love: falling in, falling out, rediscovering, rekindling. The Beekeeper’s Daughter features sophisticated, irresistible backdrops and brilliantly drawn characters that made it one of the most engrossing reads of my year." 

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up on the beautiful estate of the Marquiss and Marchioness of Penselwood. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and her future—that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Her childhood friend Freddie has recently become her lover, and she is thankful when they are able to marry and take over her father’s duties. But there is another man whom she just can’t shake from her thoughts… 
Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter, Trixie Valentine, is in love with an unsuitable boy. Jasper Duncliffe is wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when his brother dies and he is called home to England, Jasper promises to come back for Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Thinking Trixie is surely abandoned, Grace tries to reach out to her daughter, but Trixie brushes off her mother’s advice and comfort, sure Jasper’s love for her was real… 
Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they most truly desire they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago. Set on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts with charming architecture, beautiful landscape, and quirky islanders,The Beekeeper’s Daughteris “a multigenerational banquet of love…one of the most engrossing reads of my year” (New York Timesbestselling author Elin Hilderbrand). 

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The Bee Keeper's Daughter
Santa Montefiore

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Author Picks: 7 Engrossing Books Elin Hilderbrand Recommends

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 20, 2020

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The Unexpected Waltz
by Kim Wright

Elin Hilderbrand: “Kim Wright’s charming novel, The Unexpected Waltz, chronicles one woman’s second chance at happiness and an opportunity to find her authentic self. The writing is pitch perfect—this is a winner!” 

From the author of the “sharply written and emotionally accessible” (Kirkus Reviews) debutLove in Mid Aircomes this moving novel about a middle-aged woman who regains her balance in life. Kelly Wilder becomes recently widowed from a much older, wealthy man with whom she spent her married life doing charity work, building a lovely home, and, as she says, “pretending to be a whole lot more conservative and stupid and nicer than I really am.” Now, with too much time and money on her hands, Kelly has absolutely no idea what happens next. So on a whim she signs up for a ballroom dancing class, and slowly, step by high-heeled step, begins to rebuild her life with the help of friends old and new: Nik, a young Russian dance teacher who sees the artistic potential she left behind; Carolina, a woman in hospice, anxious to experience a whole lifetime in a few months; and Elyse, Kelly’s girlhood best friend who knows all of her past secrets—including the truth about the man who long ago broke Kelly’s heart. 

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The Unexpected Waltz
Kim Wright

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Author Picks: 7 Engrossing Books Elin Hilderbrand Recommends

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 20, 2020

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