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The 2021 Summer Reading Guide: The Ultimate List!

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Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

2021 Summer Reading Guide

The 2021 Summer Reading Guide is here, and I’m super excited for it to be out in the world!  Summer is a time for sunny days, vacations, and some much-needed downtime.  And the long summer days are the perfect time to spend reading some great books.

About The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

The 2021 Summer Reading Guide is our biggest guide yet!  We have fifty new releases organized across eight categories.  There is also one extra category dedicated to the minimalist reader.  The Minimalist Reads List is for readers who are only planning to pick up a few books this season.  Because we’re all about lifestyle here, you’ll also find some fun things to do at home this season, along with some recipes and practical tips to help you improve your reading life.


BiblioLifestyle 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Why Summer Reading?

As the weather warms up, thoughts turn to a favorite summer activity – relaxing with a good book!  And what could be better than exploring brand new titles from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide?  From gripping thrillers to spellbinding science fiction fantasy, there’s something for everyone on this list.  So pick out your beach chair and get ready – we’ve got some exciting recommendations just waiting to be discovered!

More About The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Thousands of books graced bookshelves during the summer, and I haven’t read them all.  So I have selected my favorites from the books I have read.  I then organized them into categories.  I’ve also included publication dates so you’ll know what comes out when (although these dates may change).  

Some of these titles have heavy themes, so if you need trigger warnings, please email me at hello[at]bibliolifestyle[dot]com, and I will do my best to advise you accordingly.  I also recommend using The StoryGraph for trigger warnings as well.  

Above all, reading is a personal experience!  So I’ve included summaries to help you decide if that book sounds right for you based on your taste, interests, and current reading mood. 

Also, don’t forget to tag @bibliolifestyle and use the hashtag #bibliolifestyleSRG in your posts so we can see what you’re reading as well.

I hope you’ll find plenty of books you love in this guide, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorites!

List of Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Literary Fiction Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Literary Fiction Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

A woman invites a famous artist to use her guesthouse in the remote coastal landscape where she lives with her family. Powerfully drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision might penetrate the mystery at the center of her life. But his provocative presence itself becomes an enigma and disrupts the calm of her secluded household.

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, we follow a father’s quest to reunite his family before his precocious daughter’s momentous birthday. But to fulfill his promise, he must make one last desperate attempt to reunite all three members of the family.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

A young editorial assistant is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books, so she is thrilled when another Black woman is hired. But soon, a string of uncomfortable events occur, and it becomes clear that there is something sinister about the new girl.

Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn

Set between London, Cap d’Antibes, Big Sur, and a rewilded corner of Sussex, the novel follows three close friends, their circle of acquaintances, and family members, through a year of extraordinary transformation while also chronicling topical concerns.

Literary Fiction Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

A Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. He reveals that his vivid imagination makes it difficult for him to distinguish reality from fiction. So when he keeps seeing a 10-year-old boy pop up during this book tour, he doubts he is real, and it leads him to recall his repressed trauma as a bullied Black boy in North Carolina.

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

A mixed-race American woman signs up to teach English in Saigon to connect with the Vietnamese part of her heritage. She ends up in a relationship with a fellow teacher, but then she suddenly goes missing.  Other accounts of disappearing young women are revealed while illustrating Vietnam’s history of colonialism, war, and violence against women.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

Ailey is the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers. She follows in her parents’ footsteps by attending an HBCU. We see her reckon with ancestral trauma while growing up in the 1980s and ’90s and her family history from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to the present day.

Historical Fiction Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Historical Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

Opening in 1944, five young children are killed in a rocket attack in southeast London during Hitler’s “Vengeance Campaign” against Great Britain. The novel then pivots and spins alternate narratives, imagining the life arcs of these five souls, had they not been killed, as they live through the extraordinary, unimaginable changes of 20th-century London.

Love and Fury by Samantha Silva

Reconstructs the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who was the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. The novel opens up with Godwin delivering her second child Mary, and she dies days after giving birth. The perspective we then get is one of a dying woman recounting her life story to her infant.

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

A sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, the novel is set in New York City and the Middle East in the years leading to World War I continuing the magical story of two immigrant mythological characters, how their lives collide, are entwined, and how they have changed the lives of the people around them.

The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee

A novel that dissects the life and murder of Andrew Haswell Green, who was shot dead in front of his Park Avenue home in broad daylight on Friday the thirteenth. He was a man who was essential to the establishment of many of New York City’s parks, museums, and bridges and the linking of its five boroughs into Greater New York.

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe

Set in post-war New York City, a surgeon’s wife, heir to a shipping fortune, and full-time mother living on the Upper East Side is desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to serve as an informant on her former lover, who is now spying for the KGB, she seizes the opportunity.

Books about Family from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Family & Friendship Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

With hints of classical mythology, we follow a family that has been at the center of most of the drama in their sleepy small-town of Olympus, Texas. When March returns home two and a half years after his affair with his sister-in-law, we see the family secrets, scandals, and betrayals.

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

A once-famous gay sitcom star is four years out of the limelight and living in Palm Springs, California. When an unexpected family tragedy occurs, it leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer. We see him navigates his grief and responsibilities for the children, along with his comeback.

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Spence is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and with their daughter away at school, his wife, Pru, must struggle on her own to care for him. Feeling isolated, Pru meets a man and the possibility of new romance blooms. Meanwhile, Spence’s estranged son from his first marriage has come back into their lives, and the complexities of the family and marriage are revealed.

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein

Three old friends return to their seaside hometown amid upheaval in their personal lives. When they reunite, white lies and long-buried secrets prove as corrosive as the salt air, threatening to erode forever their friendship but also the landscape of the beachside community they call home.

Books about Friendship from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

In the novel, we see a woman’s life unfolds over five decades, starting with her solitary childhood and transitioning to the early days of young marriage to parenthood, divorce, and the costly aftermath that ripples throughout the lives of five members of a fractured family.

I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud

The novel follows and interweaves the lives of mothers and daughters across three generations of women, crossing from London to Ireland and back again while exploring the joys, heartbreaks, and the enduring ties and complexities of family bonds.

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

A Black immigrant from Jamaica living in south London lies to his daughter about having friends so as not to worry her. So when she plans to visit, he scrambles to find friends before the truth comes out. Along the way, life begins to happen, and he stumbles across a second chance at love. We also see flashbacks from 1950s England, when he faced hardships and racism and the origin of his earlier isolation lurking in the shadows.

Nonfiction Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Nonfiction Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Written in the wake of her beloved father’s death in the summer of 2020, though not of the virus but kidney disease. Compounding her grief was being separated from her family members due to the pandemic. She experiences some of the classic stages of grief, including anger and an urgency to live her life.

Nothing Personal by Nancy Jo Sales

A raw and funny memoir about sex, dating, love, and relationships in the digital age, intertwined with a brilliant investigation into the challenges to love and intimacy wrought by dating apps. Sales takes us behind the scenes of her work as a journalist and filmmaker, her own experiences with Tinder, and dating younger men.

The Lost Boys of Montauk by Amanda M. Fairbanks

On March 22, 1984, the Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor and disappeared in a nor’easter somewhere between Montauk Point and Block Island. The book explores the circumstances leading to the ship’s disappearance, how it affected their loved ones, and how Montauk and other Long Island villages became playgrounds for wealthy New Yorkers.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

A powerful memoir about having to grow up with an incarcerated father. Ford retraces her childhood in 1990’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she lived with her mother and grandmother. The narrative unfolds with tales of childhood misadventures with her brother, frequent library visits, days spent anywhere but home, and her search for unconditional love.

Nonfiction Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide (2)

Ethel Rosenberg by Anne Sebba

A moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, “the only American woman, killed for a crime other than murder.” She was executed alongside her husband, Julius, in 1953 for espionage-related crimes. Sebba contends there is no proof she took part in espionage activities. Because of her profound love for and loyalty to her husband, she refused to incriminate him, despite government pressure on her to do so.

Home Made by Liz Hauck

Liz and her dad had a plan to start a weekly cooking program for teenage boys in state care. When her father died before they started, Liz decided she would try it without him. The boys picked the menus, she arrived once a week with groceries that she paid for herself, and they cooked and ate together for nearly three years. Hauck shares the conversations that happen at the intersections of food and life.

Miseducated by Brandon P. Fleming

An inspiring memoir of one man’s transformation from an abusive home, delinquent behavior, drug-dealing, basketball dreams, college dropout to an award- winning Harvard educator through literature and debate all by the age of twenty-seven.

Leaving Breezy Street by Brenda Myers-Powell, April Reynolds

Raised by an alcoholic grandmother, Powell was sexually abused at a young age by her uncle and friends. At fourteen, she was addicted to crack and working as a prostitute to support her two infants. The book shares how she got out of prostitution and drug use and how she used her experiences to get others off the street.

Mystery & Thriller Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Mysteries & Thriller Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

One night, a young mother goes for a run, and she never returns home. A few weeks later, the body of another missing woman is found, and her six-year-old daughter is missing. Eleven years later, a girl escapes from a basement where she’s been held captive and reports she is the missing girl. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

A much-sought-after photographer of children’s parties among the New York City’s elite. When hired for an event, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene and obsessed with their life. Using her manipulative skills and a timely offer to babysit, she discovers secrets that she plans to leverage to her advantage to live the life she wants.

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

On-board the inaugural nonstop 20-hour plane flight from London to Sydney, a flight attendant receives a chilling note demanding she helps an unknown terrorist group divert the plane. If she refuses, her daughter will die. When one passenger is killed and then another, Mina knows she must act. But which lives does she save, the passengers or her family?

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman

The night a journalist’s article exposing newspaper tycoon Caspar Osgood as a sexual predator goes live, she’s brutally attacked outside her Manhattan apartment. She moves into a highly secure apartment where she should be safe, but cryptic incidents start to occur that she can’t explain.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Set in a small town in Virginia, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past band together in their desperate desire for revenge when their sons, who were married to each other, were murdered on their anniversary, and the investigation quickly stalls.

Science Fiction Fantasy Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Science Fiction & Fantasy Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

When a terrorist attack destroys the world’s first city for free robots, Pounce, a robot purchased to act as a small boy’s bodyguard, and the nanny finds himself torn between sides in a world war pitting AI against humanity. The novel further explores philosophies of duty, morality, and free will.

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

In 1898, Joe Tournier is in Londres, a city in the French Republic that colonized England in the Napoleonic Wars. Without any memory of his life before that moment, he senses that something is wrong. When a postcard mailed in 1805 arrives bearing clues to his identity, the mystery only grows more complicated from there, leading him on a time-bending journey that spans more than a century.

The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu

A contemporary fantasy set in modern Edinburgh following high school dropout Ropa, who works as a ghostalker, ferrying messages between the worlds of the dead and the living for the right price. When she learns that something is sucking the souls out of the bodies of the city’s children, she goes on a hunt to discover who or what is behind these sinister attacks.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

A fantastical, magic-filled reimagining of The Great Gatsby. Jordan and Daisy Fay are childhood friends, and since Daisy is with Tom Buchanan, she sets Jordan up with her cousin, Nick Carraway. Jay Gatsby sets his eyes on Nick as well, and Daisy is reeling from Gatsby’s reemergence in her life. A coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and entangled lives.

Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

A priest who translated archaic English texts to gain knowledge of the Burning Age, a time when we cared so little for the world that it went up in flames. When the Brotherhood comes for him, he must translate and verify stolen texts detailing the most dangerous heresies and finds himself in the middle of a war.

Romance Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Romance Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

With only one week to win back the best friend whom she might be in love with and whom she hasn’t spoken to since a disastrous trip two summers ago, a travel writer plans the trip of a lifetime to Palm Springs in hopes that she will fix everything.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

A DNA–based dating company matches a freelance statistician and single mother Jess, 29, with the company’s aloof founder, 35-year-old geneticist River. With an IPO pending, the company offers to pay Jess to date River in exchange for the publicity, and she begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist and the science behind a soulmate than she thought.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

An #ownvoices queer rom-com about a hopeless romantic and founder of a dating app who vows to show his childhood crush who doesn’t believe in love that romance isn’t dead by recreating iconic dates from his favorite films.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

When Eva Mercy and Shane Hall met as teenagers, they were instantly attracted to each other, and they spent one crazy week madly in love. Fifteen years later, Eva is a bestselling author, and she meets Shane unexpectedly at a literary event in New York City. But will they be able to make their relationship work as adults, or will their pasts get in the way?

Romance Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide (2)

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

When a practical businesswoman inherits half of her quirky aunt’s sex-toy shop, it is in dire financial straits. Even though she knows it’s a lost cause, she agrees to work with the other co-owner to turn it around. Despite their instant attraction, the pair get off on the wrong foot but how long can they avoid mixing business with battery-operated pleasure?

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

A historical romance about a reluctantly reformed 18th-century highwayman who hates the aristocracy but is tempted when a handsome yet arrogant nobleman approaches him for one last job and threatens to steal his heart.

To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

Gracie reluctantly took over her family’s champagne shop after her father’s death. She discovers it’s in financial straights and a big corporation is proposing a buyout. She seeks advice and solace from a guy she met on a dating app named “Sir”. So she’s conflicted by the instant attraction she feels upon meeting Sebastian especially when she learns that he’s the developer looking to buy out her lease.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper is a Beverly Hills socialite shipped off to a small, coastal town in Washington due to her bad behavior. There she meets a widower and captain of a fishing boat who doesn’t feel she belongs, but their attraction is immediate and intense. Piper then starts to wonder if the glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants.

YA Books from The 2021 BiblioLifestyle Summer Reading Guide

Young Adult Books from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Val is boarding the Titanic to find her twin brother Jamie. When turned away despite her ticket, she uses her acrobat skills and climbs aboard. She intends to meet the partial owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus, convinced this would be the siblings’ opportunity to go big-time in New York, but forces are working against them.

From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn

Rika has always felt like an outsider, and after her mother’s death, she is raised by her aunts. When Rika meets a popular actress Grace Kimura during the renowned Nikkei Week Festival, she’s convinced that Grace is her long-lost mother. With Hank’s help, Rika sets off on a madcap adventure, hoping to learn more about her mother and find belonging.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

A contemporary romance about a biracial transgender soccer star starting over at a new school: he must decide between fighting for his right to play, blending in, and keep his identity private. All while juggling his crush on a boy whose Christian extremist family doesn’t know he’s gay.

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson

Set in a world on the edge of an apocalyptic flood, only a few are guaranteed safe passage into the new world once the waters recede. When Natasha learns that the Flyers, whose aerial silk performances would preserve their cultural heritage, aren’t on the roster to be saved, she joins the many girls competing for King’s hand in hopes of guaranteeing passage for herself and her troupe.

What books are you planning to read from The 2021 Summer Reading Guide?

What do you think about the books in The 2021 Summer Reading Guide? Have you read any books from the guide? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let’s talk all about summer reading and books you want to read in the comments below.


The 2021 Summer Reading Guide - The Ultimate List

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Summer is a time for relaxation, adventure, and exploration.  So if you're looking for the best new books of the season, this guide is just for you.

The 2024 Summer Reading Guide has forty-five new releases organized across eight categories. You’ll also find some fun things to do at home, summer-themed recipes, plus more.

Download The 2024 Summer Reading Guide

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