What is #coastalfiction?

When I visit any bookstore, I naturally gravitate toward the shelves marked “fiction.” I usually walk right past the already familiar bestsellers, looking for stories that can drop me into a new world. If I’m away from home, I look for a “local fiction” section.

so many books so little time

No matter where I am, though, my eye is always caught by any sort of nautical motif. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as lighthouses, schooners, or mermaids/mermen; even a rocky beach or coastal family cottage will draw me right in. And after so many years of struggling to define the type of books I most enjoy, I’ve created a label to describe them: #coastalfiction.

For me, #coastalfiction requires a seaside location—though it could be on or near any sea in the world. Even fresh water shorelines make the cut, though the only example I can think of is Swallows and Amazons.

In #coastalfiction, the setting is almost a character itself. The story should not be so generic that it could happen anywhere—though, in the strangely contradictory world of our imaginations, its details should also strike a familiar chord, even for those who’ve never been to a particular location.

Examples of #coastalfiction

Here are some novels that fit into this genre (linked to the review, if I’ve written one). If you have a favorite that should be on the list, drop me an email. Thanks for reading!

When We Believed in Mermaids

The Islanders

The End of the Point

Where the Crawdads Sing

Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome)


Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Still Water Bending

The Fulcrum Files

Escaping to the Sea

The Sea and the Silence

The Swimming Pool

Want more? Read What Books do I Like?