The heat index may be 105, and I may always smell like a combination of SPF 50 sunscreen, Deep Woods Off, and perspiration, but there’s still something magical about summer. For readers, a lot of that magic has to do with books. I remember when the entire day would stretch out before me, and I could spend it absorbed in tales by Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume.
I get to experience a slice of this summer magic at the library as families get registered for the summer reading program. Letting children know that they can read whatever they want to read is the best. Summer reading is reading without any rules. It is fun reading. It’s when we collectively toss the hardback tomes for floppy paperbacks that fit in our carry-ons.
Summer reading lists are all part of the magic as well. For me, they are like planning the trip before you take it. Anne Bogel (aka Modern Mrs. Darcy) sets the standard for summer reading. Her “list” for 2021 is a 41-page publication that subscribers received via email in late May. My ritual is to accumulate several favorite lists (see below) and read through these with the list opened in one tab and the library’s website open in another. Then, I place holds on everything that captures my attention.
Some of my favorite summer reading lists for 2021
- Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2021 Summer Reading Guide-- the gold standard
- Literary Hub: 38 Novels You Need to Read This Summer
- New York Times Summer is Coming Bring a Book
- Book Riot’s 24 Must-Read New Books of Spring and Summer 2021
- Bustle The 21 Best Beach Reads of 2021 (worth reading this list for the happiness that the color schemes of these book covers will bring you)
Of course, everyone has their own idea about what makes the perfect summer read. Personally, I enjoy a mix of romantic comedies, thrillers, satires, family sagas, and adaptations. I may not get through all of these by August (although it will NOT be for a lack of trying), but here is my personal TBR list for summer 2021. What’s on your list? (Annotations from NoveList.)
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books, 26-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel is hired until she after a string uncomfortable events, is elevated to Office Darling, leaving Nella in the dust.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Wildly successful author Jacob Finch Bonner, who had stolen the plot of his book from a late student, fights to hide the truth from his fans and publishers, while trying to figure out who wants to destroy him.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Cynical August starts to believe in the impossible when she meets Jane on the subway, a mysterious punk rocker she forms a crush on, who is literally displaced in time from the 1970s and is trying to find her way back.
Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the horrific event she witnessed as a child--that has haunted her every waking moment--while forging the power to finally strike back.
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband's wedding ring, the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, Jordan Baker, queer and Asian, has the world of illusion, magic and mystery at her fingertips but the most important doors remain closed to her until she can figure out a way to open them. (A retelling of The Great Gatsby)
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
When a member of a secret society known as The Maidens is murdered, a brilliant, but troubled, group therapist finds her obsession with proving the guilt of an untouchable Cambridge University professor spiraling out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her life.
Happy summer reading, everyone!