The Only Summer Reading List You Need in 2021

New summer reads? Bah! There’s too many, and by the time you get through some of them, summer is over and you’re already thinking about fall reads. No, my friend, what you need is a summer reading list that transcends the year 2021 while also staying firmly rooted in it. What you need is variety!

I can’t say I’m, like, the authority on summer reading lists. (How can you argue with something as thorough as Lit Hub’s article?) But what I do have going for me is a distinct aversion to FOMO… that is to say, I don’t care if I read all the latest bestsellers this season. I’m interested in capturing the moment, enjoying the summer, and reading things I like.

So yeah… this is kind of totally my summer reading list for 2021. Which means it’s totally not subjective. But I did curate this with others in mind, so that if you need some ideas for summer reads, well, here’s a pretty good place to start!

And I am trying to keep it varied with some new releases, some less new releases, and some classics. Because books aren’t going anywhere, people, and Iife’s too short to just read what’s new.

Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.

So without further ado (seriously, do I intro every article this way?) let’s dive in to the ONLY summer reading list you need in 2021.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

My Summer Reading List for 2021

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Genre: Science Fiction

Year Published: 2020

Okay, I guess this one’s pretty new… but I’m reading it right now! It’s so good so far… basically the premise is a lot like Alien or Prometheus so if you’re into deep space sci-fi, you’re gonna like this!

Check it out here!

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Genre: YA Romance

Year Published: 2016

I’ve been wanting to read this one forever and I finally own it, so now I have no excuse! It sounds like a cute, fun, summer read (about a girl who reluctantly goes to Italy for the summer) and I can’t wait to get to it!

Check it out here!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Genre: Classic Literature/Science Fiction

Year Published: 1870

summer reading list 2021

A classic that feels like a perfect summer read on account of it taking place in the ocean. Because, ya know, the ocean only exists in the summer! But seriously, this is an amazing OG sci-fi and I’m so close to finishing it I can taste the giant squid!

Check it out here!

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction

Year Published: 2021

I have this one on audiobook and I’m super excited to read it! I loved The Martian and really enjoyed Artemis so I’m eager to see what Weir has cooked up next! It’s basically like The Martian with amnesia… and probably not on Mars!

Check it out here!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Year Published: 2019

I got suckered into buying this one from good ol’ Barnes & Noble but the premise sounded so funny and entertaining I couldn’t resist! I haven’t read a good rom com in a hot minute and with a cover like that, this would be the perfect beach read! (Though I’ll be darned if I take a brand new paperback anywhere near the water!)

Check it out here!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Year Published: 2020

Oh, buddy, am I looking forward to this one! Steel Magnolias meets Dracula? Say no more! But aside from the unique modern horror concept, now that I live in the south, I feel like it’s only apropos that I read a book that takes place there this season!

Check it out here!

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Year Published: 1937

Aw yeah, a classic Hercule Poirot mystery! The Nile is in Egypt, which is hot, and summer is hot, so… must be a summer read! Okay, so, mostly, I just want to read another Agatha Christie novel. We’ll see if I get around to it!

Check it out here!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classic Fiction

Year Published: 1925

summer reading list 2021

I’ve never actually read The Great Gatsby but something about it feels very summery to me? And I just kind of feel like giving in and reading it so I can decide whether I like it or hate it (because I feel like you’re either one camp or the other).

Check it out here!

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Genre: Fantasy

Year Published: 2021

summer reading list 2021

This is a brand-spanking-new book that I actually bought new. I never do this, guys! But something about this dark Little Red Riding Hood retelling caught my fancy so much I knew I had to read it soon. Thus, it makes the list… but I half-expect this to be a late summer read that takes me into the fall. And what a great transition that would be!

Check it out here!

More Summer Reads to Add to Your List

These did not make it on my summer reading list for 2021, but I have either read these in summers past or just think they’d make good reads if you’re looking for something more!

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Genre: Romance

Year Published: 2021

summer reading list 2021

A fun, heartwarming beach read in the same vein as The Unhoneymooners!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Genre: Romance

Year Published: 2020

summer reading list 2021

Nothing more straightforward than a book called “beach read!” A polar opposites-to-lovers story!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Year Published: 2021

summer reading list 2021

It just looks so summery, plus it takes place in the summer, in Malibu, so… yeah, checks out to me! Plus, I really enjoyed Daisy Jones & The Six (see below) so Reid has a good rep in my book!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Genre: YA Romantic Comedy

Year Published: 2019

summer reading list 2021

I read this one last year and I really enjoyed it (especially since I was in wedding-planning mode at the time)! It had a Sixteen Candles meets Cheaper by the Dozen vibe and the family dynamics were pretty heartwarming!

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Thriller

Year Published: 2019

summer reading list 2021

Another read from late last summer that I super duper enjoyed! It was a great first foray in the modern noir genre and I loved the dark humor. A quick read that keeps you turning the pages!

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Genre: YA Fantasy

Year Published: 2013

summer reading list 2021

Okay, just bear with me… sometimes, in the throes of summer vacation, all you need is a YA mermaid romance novel. And while I’m sure there’s better mermaid content out there, I can’t get this one out of my head. I still want to finish the series!

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Year Published: 2020

Another book I read last summer and it was *chef’s kiss* I highly recommend the audiobook… that’s how I read it and it was a great experience!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Genre: Mystery

Year Published: 2017

summer reading list 2021

I see this book EVERYWHERE and I’m so curious about it because I’ve heard good things! I don’t plan on reading it this summer but I do have it on the backburner for some other day!


Alright, so, that’s what I’ve got for the ultimate summer reading list of 2021! (Sidenote: how did most of these end up being new books in spite of my claim that new books are overrated? Como se dice irony?) Let me know down in the comments what you’re planning on reading this summer and whether or not any of these reads sound good to you!

Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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