The Perfect Summer Reading List for 2021

Whether your summer plans include hitting the beach, hitting the couch or spending a lot of relaxation time at your local coffee shop, this is the perfect time of the year to do a little reading. 

Oh, but which books do you put on your list when there are so many out there to choose? Do you re-read a tried-and-true favorite, like “The Hobbit”? Do you pick a classic with some literary clout, like “To Kill a Mockingbird”? Do you just grab whatever happens to be displayed most prominently on the rack in the supermarket and go with it?

Sure, that’s one way to go about it. But we’re going to help you build a summer reading list that will fill your stay-cation days with delight and help you relax during your evening hours after work. 

How Do You Build the Best Summer Reading List, Anyhow?

Pulling together a summer reading list isn’t always that easy. 

On one hand, you don’t want to pick up a bunch of books in assorted genres that will bore you. On the other hand, you don’t want to get stuck in a literary rut and end up reading 20 paperback mysteries that all start to blur together after a while. 

So, where do you start building your next stack of books to read? Try these tips:

  1. Step out of your comfort zone — but not too far. If you like mystery novels, maybe pick up a supernatural thriller for a change. If you’re a historical fiction fan, maybe pick up a biography or two that will give you more insight into the life and times of some important figures in the past. 
  1. Pick books that work with your schedule. Unless you anticipate several uninterrupted weeks on end, you want to avoid getting caught up in a lengthy series of novels, so it might be wisest to avoid trilogies that have to be completed to find out what happens to the hero or heroine in the end. It’s even worse to choose a series that isn’t yet finished (George R. R. Martin, we’re looking at you) because you don’t know when you’ll have the time to pick it back up. Stick to “stand-alone” books whenever possible.
  1. Cull through your own backlog. How long has it been since you abandoned your Goodreads account? Maybe it’s time to go look at what’s on your “Want to Read” list and pick a few titles. Do you have a stack of paperbacks next to your nightstand? You can always start there for inspiration — or just grab the top five on the stack and go.
  1. Ask your friends or family members. Everybody has a few favorite titles that they carry in their minds, so don’t be shy: Ask for recommendations. Reading the books that someone loves is also a great way to get closer to them, so consider this an opportunity to strengthen your connections to people you care about.

While you can always fall back on a few of your favorite books, especially if you haven’t read them in a while, you’ll get more mental stimulation out of something new — so don’t be afraid to experiment a little. There may be a whole hidden genre out there that will surprise and delight you!

Can You Please Just Give Me Recommendations on What to Read?

Are you ready to throw caution to the winds and just start reading? If you want a ready-made reading list, we’re happy to oblige. Here are some of our top selections to get you started:

Looking for New Releases?

Prepare yourselves, book-lovers, because summer 2021 is coming in hot with an abundance of must-read titles in every genre. If you are someone who likes to read the books everyone will be talking about, here are some of the buzziest new books arriving this summer:

  • “Golden Girl” by Elin Hilderbrand
  • “The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides
  • “The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  • “Last Summer at the Golden Hotel” by Elyssa Friedland
  • “Something Wild” by Hanna Halperin
  • “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • “Somebody’s Daughter” by Ashley C. Ford — a Hoosier author!
  • “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

Looking for Classics?

By “literary classic” we mean books that have captured readers’ imaginations for years or decades now, not something like the “Iliad” or Dante’s “Inferno.” Some of the most influential (and most talked about) books of our time include:

  • “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
  • “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
  • “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  • “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  • “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
  • “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
  • “Dracula” by Bram Stoker

Looking for Print-to-Screen Titles?

Sometimes you fall in love with a TV show or a movie before you find the book that the show or movie was based on. Here are some titles that have captured imaginations so broadly that they eventually made it to either the big or little screen:

  • “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty — Hulu series coming in August!
  • “Normal People” by Sally Rooney
  • “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  • “The Shining” by Stephen King
  • “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
  • “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
  • “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens — film coming in 2022!

Looking for a Little Magical Romance?

Sometimes you just need to indulge your more passionate side. If you like a little mystery, magic and romance all tied together, you can’t go wrong with any of these titles:

  • “The Wood Wife” by Terri Windling
  • “The Sugar Queen” by Sarah Addison Allen
  • “Juniper Wiles” by Charles de Lint
  • “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman

Looking for a Self-Help Selection?

Summer is also a great time to work on our spirits and minds, so self-help books are often at the top of the reading list. Whether you’re trying to learn how to declutter your home or trying to declutter your innermost thoughts, here are some suggestions:

  • “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
  • “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach
  • “No Such Thing as Normal” by Bryony Gordon
  • “Speak Your Truth” by Fearne Cotton

Maybe these titles will complete your reading list for the summer — or maybe they’ll just serve as inspiration as you browse through your local bookstore. Whatever you decide to do, pick a cozy spot, pull out your book (or e-reader), and start turning those pages!