What’s the ideal location for reading a book? Certified bookworms might think of a cozy, at-home library, with wall-to-wall shelves and an overstuffed armchair. New Yorkers might think of the subway, where the world of a novel is a welcome distraction from rush hour madness — and pages don’t need cell service to access. But one option that often goes forgotten for nine months out of the year is the beach. While the idea of a “beach read” might bring up the flimsy romance novels you find at the grocery store, the perfect beach read is just a book you can enjoy while soaking up the sun and sea.
And who would know the best beach reads better than our friends at Tombolo Books — a St. Petersburg bookstore located just 10 minutes from the ocean! We caught up with their team to learn more about their mission, their favorite reading spot in town, and of course, their best recommendations for this summer’s beach reads.
Learn more about Tombolo Books
Tombolo Books was founded in 2017 by Alsace Walentine and Candice Anderson and opened as a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in December 2019. We are an independent, women & LGBTQ+ owned bookstore located in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg. Tombolo Books is dedicated to promoting the value and pleasure of reading by offering thoughtful inventory curation, excellent customer service, and a robust author events program. We are committed to carrying books by emerging and marginalized voices, books in translation, and books from small independent presses. We believe we can build community and strengthen the city by reflecting social and cultural diversity and encouraging the free exchange of ideas.
Why do you love being part of the St. Petersburg community?
We were first drawn to St. Pete by the arts and local independent business communities here. We see this in a big way at annual events like Localtopia, the SHINE Mural Festival, and the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.
What’s your favorite reading spot in St. Petersburg?
The kids nook at Tombolo Books! But if we want to stretch out, we love taking advantage of the parks and beaches around St. Pete. We’ll take a blanket and go out to the beach on Treasure Island or hang out by Crescent Lake. If it’s the summertime too rainy or hot, we like to find an air-conditioned corner at one of our local breweries or coffee shops.
Do you have any other favorite local businesses our community should visit in St. Petersburg?
We love being part of the Grand Central District – it’s such a great area to just part and stroll around. A few of our favorite lunch spots around the bookstore are Love Food Central, Pete’s Bagels, and Casita Taqueria.
Tombolo Book’s beach read recommendations
Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Alexandria Bellefleur is a local author who writes the sweetest romance books. Her most recent book is a steamy, queer rom-com about former best friends and first loves, who might be their second chance at a happily-ever-after. It will make you laugh; it will make you swoon; it will warm your heart.
Tombolo hosts a Romance Book Club on the fourth Sunday of every month at 9am! This book is our June pick. It’s perfect for reading on the beach, and when you finish, stop by and discuss it with us!
State You’re In by Craig Pittman
This book by local author and friend of the bookstore, Craig Pittman, is a collection of the wildest stories Florida has to offer. It is funny and irreverent, all the while diving into Florida’s unique and wonderful history. It’s perfect to read when you are out exploring some of the wild and beautiful places Florida has to offer!
Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger
We are so lucky to have New York Times bestselling writer Lisa Unger living in the St. Pete area. Her latest thriller, Last Girl Ghosted is one-part cautionary tale about the perils of dating apps, one part exploration of the long term impacts of domestic abuse and combat PTSD, and one part celebration of the enduring (and even lifesaving!) power of women’s friendship. But the reader won’t have time to reflect on these themes until after the last page; they will be too carried away by Unger’s propulsive pacing and crafty reveals.
House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Linus, who wants nothing more than to live his quiet life the way he always has, finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime. Sent to an island inhabited by magical youth, he discovers the best in the world he often shuts out. You will fall in love with this beautiful, warm, and charming book.
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
This smart, heartfelt, and insanely entertaining book tells the story of what happens when it’s revealed that not only have humans contacted aliens, but that aliens have been on Earth for decades. It is “what good science fiction should be.”
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
In 18th century London, there is a rumor of a shop that sells well-disguised poisons to women for them to use against the abusive men in their lives. Two hundred years later, an aspiring historian finds lost connections to the shop, and finds herself bonded to the past. Enthralling, spellbinding, and intoxicating, you won’t be able to put this down.
Florida Hustle by Paul Wilborn (Local author! Comes out June 8)
Aspiring filmmaker Michael is obsessed with teenage scream-queen movie star Dawn. When Dawn comes to Florida to film a movie, Michael will stop at nothing to see her. An entertaining, quintessentially Floridian wild ride you will not be able to put down.