The Best New Summer Books to Read in 2021

best new summer books to read in 2021

Depending on which part of the world you’re in, this summer could be looking a lot different from last year, or it could be much of the same. No matter the status of lockdowns or COVID-19 in your region, I think we could all use (and need!) a little bit of vacation time – whether it’s a staycation in your city or a much-looked-forward to beach vacation, or even just pigging out in your home and backyard.

And if summer is here, can a summer reading list be far behind? Well, if you’re anything like me, reading is a year-round pleasure activity, but I guess something about the lazy summer days makes it all the more alluring!

I’ve rounded up 28 new summer books that seem most interesting to me. From debut authors to new works from my favorite authors, there is something for all kinds of readers and genres! Browse through this list of new books to read, and I am sure you will come out with a few additions to your TBR pile.

Best New Books to Read This Summer

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To make it easier for you, I’ve broken these new books down by genre/category. Browse through the whole list, or just check out categories that appeal most to you.

ROMANCE | CONTEMPORARY/LITERARY FICTION | HISTORICAL FICTION | MYSTERY/THRILLER/SUSPENSE | FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION | NON-FICTION

Romance

Let’s start off with my absolute favorite genre of books – romances! There are so many exciting romance releases over the next couple of months that it was honestly hard to narrow it down to just these. Be prepared for lots of steam, swoony moments, heart-melting dialogues, adorable heroes, and kick-ass heroines.

It Happened One Summer

Tessa Bailey

The queen of steamy rom-coms is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” (Piper) who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local (Brendan) who thinks she doesn’t belong. 

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Best New Summer Read 2021

While We Were Dating

Jasmine Guillory

And we’re back in Jasmine Guillory’s world of well-adjusted men, strong women, and sexy + swoony dreaminess: Ben Stephens, a committed ad executive, is a perpetual casual dater. Anna Gardiner, a movie star, is on her way up in the Hollywood world. When they end up working together on an ad campaign, their lighthearted banter and harmless flirting paves the way for something deeper and more meaningful.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Best New Summer Read 2021

The Heart Principle

Helen Hoang

Facing professional burnout and an emotional breakdown, violinist Anna Sun decides to have a string of one-night stands, which leads her to the charming tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep. When a family tragedy finds Anna struggling with new responsibilities, Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

(Releases on 31st August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


New Summer Books: A Lot Like Adios

A Lot Like Adiós

Alexis Daria

When freelance graphic designer Michelle Amato reunites with her childhood best friend Gabriel Aguilar to work on a marketing campaign for his new business launch, they find themselves falling into old patterns (aka: bed) together. Do they manage to resolve past mistakes, or will it be a final adiós this time?

(Releases on 14th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


With You Forever

Chloe Liese

With You Forever is a sunshine and grump, marriage of convenience romance about a shy artist on the autism spectrum, and a smiley smartypants who has a chronic IBD. Complete with combustible cooking lessons, interfering family and friends, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the fourth in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

(Releases on 14th September)

Amazon | Goodreads


The Love Hypothesis

Ali Hazelwood

A surprise kiss between third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith and Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor leads to a fair bit of combustion and some unexpected feelings. Olive soon discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

(Releases on 14th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


CONTEMPORARY/LITERARY FICTION

There are so many compelling ones in this category. I am a huge fan of family sagas, and the below collection does not disappoint. Of these next few names, I am most excited about Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan. That dreamy cover alone had me hooked plus the storyline seems all sort of intriguing.

The Tiger Mom's Tale - new summer books 2021

The Tiger Mom’s Tale

Lyn Liao Butler

When an American woman, Lexa Thomas, inherits the wealth of her Taiwanese family, she travels to Taiwan to confront them about their betrayals of the past. With fond memories of childhood memories of Taiwan, the only place where she felt like she belonged, and forming a bond with a sister she never knew she had, Lexa unravels the truth of that last fateful summer and realizes she must stand up for herself and open her heart to forgiveness, or allow the repercussions of her family’s choices to forever dictate the path of her life.

(Releases on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Ghost Forest

Pik-Shuen Fung

How do you grieve, if your family doesn’t talk about feelings?

This is the question the unnamed protagonist of Ghost Forest considers after her father dies. One of the many Hong Kong “astronaut” fathers, he stays there to work, while the rest of the family immigrated to Canada before the 1997 Handover. As she revisits memories of her father through the years, she struggles with unresolved questions and misunderstandings. Turning to her mother and grandmother for answers, she discovers her own life refracted brightly in theirs.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Best New Summer Read 2021 - Nightbitch

Nightbitch

Rachel Yoder

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she’s turning into a dog. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mothers involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


We Are the Brennans

Tracey Lange

In the aftermath of a drunken-driving accident, 29-year-old Sunday Brennan picks up her broken life and self and makes her way back to her family in New York, whom she had abandoned 5 years ago without any explanation. In doing so, she and her family are forced to confront devastating secrets and ultimately find a way forward, together.

(Releases on 3rd August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Lady Sunshine

Amy Mason Doan

For Jackie Pierce, an idyllic summer spent at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast in 1979 ends in an abrupt tragedy. 20 years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits the iconic estate, and as she plans a short visit to prep it for sale, she finds herself drawing parallels from that long-forgotten summer, and is forced to confront the tragedy and secrets from all those years ago.

(Releases on 3rd August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Afterparties

Anthony Veasna So

Afterparties, Anthony Veasna So’s debut book (and tragically, his only book ever) is a collection of short stories in which young Cambodian Americans grapple with race, sexuality, and their inherited traumas from the Khmer Rouge genocide, even as they carve out lives in the California Central Valley and Bay Area.

(Releases on 3rd August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Beautiful World, Where Are You

Sally Rooney

In typical Sally Rooney fashion, Beautiful World, Where Are You brings us four characters tackling existential questions as they go about their lives, forging relationships, growing up, and taking control of their lives.

(Releases on 7th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


HISTORICAL FICTION

Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but these three picks certainly caught my eye. The subtitle for Reputation made me hoot out loud and She Who Became the Sun had me Mulan meets The Song of Achilles.

Island Queen

Vanessa Riley

A remarkable, sweeping historical novel, Island Queen is based on the incredible true-life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas (Doll), a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. It is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism and answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds.

(Releases on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Reputation

Lex Croucher

Prepare yourselves for Mean Girls meets Jane Austen vibes in this Regency-era twist. Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life Georgiana couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dream, and is sucked into a completely new world, which she may not necessarily be prepared for.

(Releases on 8th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


China Room

Sunjeev Sahota

China Room traces the journey of two unforgettable characters seeking to free themselves–one from the expectations of women in early 20th century Punjab, and the other from the weight of life in the contemporary Indian diaspora.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


She Who Became the Sun

Shelley Parker-Chan

Touted as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles, She Who Became the Sun is a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness. When the brother dies following a bandit attack on the family, the girl assumes her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice and learns a new way of living. After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

(Releases on 20th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


MYSTERY, THRILLER, SUSPENSE

I know The Other Black Girl and Ace of Spades actually already been released but they seemed like perfect summer reads to me (+ the reviews have been crazy good!) so I definitely wanted to include them in the list! This category looks crazy solid, and I am really looking forward to reading Razorblade Tears (ufff, that title!).

The Other Black Girl

Zakiya Dalila Harris

Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. From the bonding over common cultural aspects, things soon turn nasty as one of them starts receiving hostile notes at her desk.

(Released on 1st June)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Ace of Spades

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímíd

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, they seem to be well set up for a great year at school plus their college applications. But soon, anonymous text messages reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop this prank-turned-dangerous game before things become incredibly deadly?

(Released on 1st June)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Survive the Night

Riley Sager

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. He’s driving back home to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

(Released on 29th June)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Razorblade Tears

S.A. Cosby

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

(Released on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Falling

T.J. Newman

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

(Released on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Where the Truth Lies

Anna Bailey

When a teenaged girl disappears from an insular small town, all of the community’s most devastating secrets come to light in this stunningly atmospheric and slow-burning suspense novel.

When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma sets out to discover the truth about what happened. When the police finds disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.

(Releases on 3rd August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Velvet Was the Night

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The second offering from the author of Mexican Gothic, Velvet Was the Night is a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find set in 1970s Mexico City.

Also, filing under #booksidbuyforthecoveralone!

(Releases on 17th August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


A Slow Fire Burning

Paula Hawkins

There is a murder, and then there are three women, characteristically unlikeable and unreliable. There is a myriad cast of characters, and a lot of back and forth through various timelines.

Well, if it wasn’t a twisty murder mystery, it wouldn’t be your trademark Paula Hawkins novel, would it?

(Releases on 31st August)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


The Man Who Died Twice

Richard Osman

A sequel to The Thursday Murder Club, The Man Who Died Twice continues the story of the four cold case-solving septuagenarians. This time around, they are chasing stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and also trying to make sense of an attack on one of their very own.

(Releases on 28th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Fantasy & Science Fiction

I really don’t read enough books in this category, so I am rather looking forward to diversifying my TBR with these additions!

A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Becky Chambers

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Appleseed

Matt Bell

In the vein of Neal Stephenson and Jeff VanderMeer, Appleseed is an epic speculative novel from Young Lions Fiction Award–finalist Matt Bell, a breakout book that explores climate change, manifest destiny, humanity’s unchecked exploitation of natural resources, and the small but powerful magic contained within every single apple. 

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Once Upon a Broken Heart

Stephanie Garber

Once Upon a Broken Heart is the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

To stop the love of her life from marrying another, Evangeline Fox strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy.

(Releases on 28th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Non-Fiction

What would a good list of books be without some non-fiction titles to round it out, right? My 2020/21 ravaged heart is definitely looking forward to Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book.

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

Kristen Radtke

In Seek You, Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.

(Releases on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


The Comfort Book

Matt Haig

A small book for anyone in search of hope, looking for a path to a more meaningful life, or in need of encouragement. It is a compilation of short notes and meditations, each giving a new perspective on life and all of its highs and lows. Incorporating a diverse array of sources from across the world, history, science, and his own experiences, Haig offers warmth and reassurance, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty and unpredictability of existence.

(Releases on 6th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

In Love People, Use Things, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus move past simple decluttering to show how minimalism makes room to reevaluate and heal the seven essential relationships in our lives: stuff, truth, self, money, values, creativity, and people. They use their own experiences―and those of the people they have met along the minimalist journey―to provide a template for how to live a fuller, more meaningful life.

Because once you have less, you can make room for the right kind of more.

(Releases on 13th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion

Eliot Brown, Maureen Farrell

The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and the company’s epic unraveling from the journalists who first broke the story wide open.

Calling to mind the recent demise of Theranos and the hubris of the dotcom era bust, WeWork’s extraordinary rise and staggering implosion were fueled by disparate characters in a financial system blind to its risks. Why did some of the biggest names in banking and venture capital buy the hype? And what does the future hold for Silicon Valley ‘unicorns’? Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell explore these questions in this definitive, rollicking account of WeWork’s boom and bust.

(Releases on 20th July)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

Tarana Burke

From the founder and activist behind the largest movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Tarana Burke shares her never before revealed life story of how she first came to say me too and launch one of the largest cultural events in American history.

(Releases on 14th September)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


What new summer books are you most looking forward to this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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