Not gonna lie, I often feel like most of my reading is beach reading.
Like, I am not a person who needs to save summer reads for summertime. That kind of lightness and love and humor is appropriate any time of year. But certainly, I do see the appeal of a perfect beach read for an actual beach (or pool or porch or whatever other relaxing space you may find yourself in during warmer months), and I’m happy to cheer you on in your summer reading habits.
As such, my Q2 book list includes plenty of excellent summer read options. (In part because I spent five days on an actual beach and in that time read five books. You’re welcome for the longer list this quarter.)
This quarter’s list includes the usual span of variety – a few more memoirs than usual, mystery and intrigue, romance queer and straight, magic and magical realism, history and space. As always, there is something for every taste and mood.
Now, pick one, put your caftan and sunglasses on, and enjoy one of these 28 Perfect Summer 2021 Reads!
The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency Book 2) John Scalzi (I always enjoy the middle books of trilogies. They’re kind of the quiet bits, but tend to get you more character and plot depth, building anticipation for the conclusion. This one was no different, and I can’t wait to finish up the series.)
The Guncle Steven Rowley (Oh my goodness, what a lovely book. I’ve not read this author before, but I’m going to now! I loved everything about this, and Guncle Rules are probably now going to be life rules for me too. Definitely recommend.)
Malibu Rising: A Novel Taylor Jenkins Reid (Believe it or not, this is my first TJR read because I’m way too impatient to wait ten weeks on my library waitlist for any of her previous books. And WOWZA, this was phenomenal. No wonder she’s so popular! I absolutely adored this book, and highly recommend it – if only for the 80s nostalgia.)
Pumpkin (Dumplin’) Julie Murphy (Ah, how wonderful to be back in Clover City! I love these books for how well they combine real, tough, issues and shitty small town experiences with beautiful, inspiring, fun people and stories. This was a joy, and perfect for Pride month!)
The Space Between Worlds Micaiah Johnson (I love a good sci-fi situation, but this one was middle of the road for me. It felt a weird combination of rushed and slow, but it did do a little bit of thought provoking about who we might be in parallel universes and timelines. Which for sure exist.)
The Thursday Murder Club: A Novel (A Thursday Murder Club Mystery Book 1) Richard Osman (LOVED this one. I honestly don’t even know what else to say but read it.)
Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters Book 3) Talia Hibbert (The Brown sisters never disappoint!)
Last Tang Standing Lauren Ho (I hate to say it, but this was kind of a poor man’s Crazy Rich Asians. I liked it, but it lacked the detail and bite of the CRA series and characters. I’m kind of hoping there will be more books in the series to see where the story goes, because if it stands alone, it’s a little underwhelming. I will say though, that if you like CRA, you’ll probably like this too.)
Let Love Rule Lenny Kravitz (Where do I even start? How do I even begin to put into words how much I 1) adore Lenny, 2) adored this book, 3) need you to read this immediately. I just…this man. He’s incredible, his story is incredible, and he – along with Dolly and Janet – reminds me every day it’s a powerful and radical and necessary act to be your fucking self and live your truth. Definitely a top book of the year so far.)
People We Meet on Vacation Emily Henry (I had high hopes for this one after how much I absolutely loved Beach Read. And I enjoyed this one, but eh, it just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it just didn’t live up to all the hype, or maybe it really was that it wasn’t quite as good of a story and characters. I definitely felt like the end was a little rushed.)
Much Ado About You Samantha Young (I liked this one fine, but it, too, was not quite what I thought it would be. For sure, the conflict and the end were rushed. Bits of it felt a little superficial and unrealistic and overdone. Also, I grew up in a small town. They’re not nearly as idyllic as this book would have you believe. Or maybe they actually are in England and I just wouldn’t know!)
Project Hail Mary: A Novel Andy Weir (YES. Yesyesyesyesyes!!!!! Andy Weir is such a genius. Gosh, this one was fun. So fun. Read it immediately. You will not be disappointed!)
Detransition, Baby: A Novel Torrey Peters (I’m glad I read this one. I enjoyed it. And I know I said I wasn’t going to read Goodreads reviews anymore, and I didn’t until I had already finished this one, but I do think this one of sums it up for me too: “What it has: Queerness and lots of it. The queerest conversations and situations that I’ve ever read. It’s breathtaking and groundbreaking. I ate it up. What it doesn’t have: A plot. Or even a real point. An editor. A sense of urgency.” It’s 100% worth reading to learn that queerness, about the trans experience. Just understand you may be left with lots of questions and a burning desire to talk to people about this book.)
The Flight Attendant: A Novel Chris Bohjalian (Ooooooh, this one was twisty and turny!!! I love a book with an unlikable main character too. Highly recommended.)
American Royals II: Majesty Katharine McGee (As soon as I got halfway into the first in this series, I put myself on the list for the conclusion. It’s that good. And there was excellent continued drama, a few twists and turns, and overall, a slightly unexpected but mostly satisfying conclusion for each of the main characters. This is a great series to check out for sure.)
The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency Book 1) John Scalzi (I grabbed this one because I’m in Red Rising withdrawal and there were some really buzzy reviews for this author and “epic space opera” got thrown around too. It isn’t sating my cravings for some Pierce Brown and I wouldn’t go so far as to agree it’s epic, but I do really love the sarcastic tone and the very human characters. Definitely a good series to pick up if you like sci-fi.)
Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel Lydia Millet (Ha, wow, this was a weird one. Apparently not the author’s best, so that’s good to know. But surprising and entertaining, nonetheless.)
American Royals Katharine McGee (OK, I got this one thinking it was kind of a play on American royalty, like celebrity or dynastic families. It was not. It’s about actual American royalty, as in, if the United States never became a democracy at all, but was built as a monarchy. Talk about an alternate universe! Loved it. Makes you think, and I enjoyed the big drama for each of the main characters too.)
Broken (in the best possible way) Jenny Lawson (Gosh, what is there to say about Jenny other than she’s the absolute best. I’ve been reading her books and her blog for years, and this newest one is just as amazing as everything she’s ever and always done. I laughed so hard I cried, and I also learned and loved and felt deeply. If you struggle at all with mental health, or generally with feeling like you’re doing the whole human experience thing right, grab this one. It’s a fantastic reminder that we’re all OK, just as broken as we are.)
The Guest List: A Novel Lucy Foley (Oooooh, this one was daaaark. And twiiiiisted. But very, very good. Like, you could really feel it, visualize the setting and the character experiences. If you like thriller/murder mystery type things, put this one on your list.)
Destination Wedding: A Novel Diksha Basu (I liked this one so much, possibly even more than The Windfall. Well, maybe I like them both equally, but for different reasons. This one was just hilarious. Some of the characters were so neurotic and quirky and out there, I couldn’t help but get sucked into their stories. Really good stuff.)
When We Left Cuba Chanel Cleeton (Huge fan of this series! And I liked this sister’s story even better than the first. It was just so deep and beautiful, and heartfelt and a little heartbreaking too…ugh, a page-turner in the very best way. Highly recommended.)
Kiss My Cupcake Helena Hunting (OK, dopiest title ever. Seriously, so corny. BUT, honestly? Best book of the year. Freaking loved it. I enjoyed Helena Hunting’s first book, but this one blew it out of the water. I expected a light, cutesy, sexy romcom, but this was so much more than that. Yeah, it was sweet, and it was definitely sexy, but it was also well written, didn’t lack any depth or character development at all, and actually felt like a fairly realistic and lovely story in a lot of ways. I freaking LOVED it. I laughed out loud and I cried at the end, then re-read the last chapter and epilogue and cried again. Definitely check this one out!!!)
For a Few Demons More (The Hollows, Book 5) Kim Harrison (I just love this series for when I need a little magic and a little bit of settling into familiar characters. So fun. Only, like 15 more to go in the series, ha!)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Roxane Gay (This is a must-read for any and all folks. End of story. Roxane’s storytelling is excellent, but I think what I love about this book the most is that it’s not at all angry or soapboxy. It’s informative in that you learn a lived experience, but in such an honest and just beautifully bare tone. Get it.)
When Katie Met Cassidy Camille Perri (I liked Perri’s first book OK, but this one was very much a letdown. It felt like a hack version of much better tellings of this same storyline. If you’re looking for good queer romance, skip this one and check out Something to Talk About or Stray City. Red, White & Royal Blue is a great one, and I’m looking forward to that author’s newest, One Last Stop as well.
The Dinner List: A Novel Rebecca Serle (God, this author is just so freaking talented. Unbelievably good. This book made me cry multiple times. I love the premise, and I just loved every single bit of how it played out. Powerful story that makes you think, and one of my fav books of the year for sure. Grab this one and let’s have a book club about it.)
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott (This has been on my list forever, and I knew I had to be in the mood for it. Or rather, I thought I did, and I totally didn’t, because turns out, this is a book for the ages. For me, it was just a fabulous combination of exactly what it says – advice on writing, but so much also relevant to life, plus weaving in my kind of faith as the binder too. This is one to read for sure, and also one to come back to.)
There you have it! I’d love to hear what you choose for your summer read, or which of these books you’ve already read and what you thought. And please, please email and share your recent favorites too, because I’m always up for new recommendations! Don’t forget, you can connect with me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading in realtime…and how long my “to read” list is getting. Yikes.
Alright, off for a long weekend vacation and some more summer reading!
If you missed last quarter’s book recommendations, here you go! And if you want to stay updated, sign up for emails here.