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Best summer reads 2021

What are the best summer reads for 2021?

Relaxing at the beach or pool while getting lost in the pages of a good book is a highlight of summer. With so many great books releasing, it can be challenging to know which ones would make the best summer reads. Whether you’re a fan of literary fiction, thrillers, mysteries, biographies or another genre, we’ll cover some of the best new fiction and nonfiction, as well as a few classics we consider to be some of the best summer reads of all time. 

Best books to read this summer  

Best new fiction 

Fiction covers a wide range of genres, from literary fiction to mystery to horror to comedy and more. 

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennet 

Named one of the best books of 2020, “The Vanishing Half” follows two twin sisters and their families as they navigate through vastly different lives and reckon with their own racial identities. Expertly examining family relationships and dynamics, you won't want to put this book down.

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“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah 

A captivating novel set during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era of American history, “The Four Winds” is a story of struggle, survival and resilience when faced with devastation.

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“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Set in the Mexican countryside on a dark and foreboding estate, the supernatural feel of this novel is a perfect balance between horror and thriller, which will keep you engaged and in suspense as the protagonist, Noemi, attempts to help her ailing cousin.

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“No One is Talking About This” by Patricia Lockwood 

A perfect story for the digital age, this best-selling novel explores the contrasting worlds of all-consuming social media and real life. The story focuses on some of today’s most pressing issues as it examines the complexities of the human condition.

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“People We Meet On Vacation” by Emily Henry

This most recent novel from Emily Henry details a vacation taken by two best friends who haven’t spoken in years but are willing to try to mend their relationship if they can get past one major issue. A great modern romance, this novel serves as a perfect beach read.

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Best new nonfiction

For those who prefer memoirs, biographies, educational reads or true-to-life narratives, we’ve outlined some of the best books to read this summer under the nonfiction category. 

“Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted” by Suleika Jaouad 

This beautiful memoir tells the story of the author’s 100-day road trip across the country after her battle and recovery from cancer. On her journey, she explores the somewhat blurred differences between the sick and the healthy and what it means to return to “real life.”

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“Caste: The Origins of our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson

“Caste” is a fascinating and in-depth look at the underlying hierarchy of America’s caste system that goes even deeper than race and class. By including personal stories and other engaging narratives, the author demonstrates just how much caste affects those in the United States and around the world.

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“Vesper Flights” by Helen Macdonald

A collection of essays centered around animals and nature, “Vesper Flights” isn’t just for nature lovers, as the messages go much deeper. With something in it for everyone, you’ll find a treasure with this beautifully written book connecting humankind with the natural world.

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“Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family” by Robert Kolker

This nonfiction book, which delves into the world of schizophrenia, how it came to be studied, and how it personally affected several members of one family in the 1970s, was named one of 2020’s top books. Focusing on both the science and the family’s stories makes this an accessible and informative summer read.

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“Wow, No Thank You” by Samantha Irby

If you happen to be in the mood for some laugh-out-loud essays, this collection by Samantha Irby holds nothing back. This is a relatively quick read that paints a raw and honest picture of social situations, aging and the hilarities of daily life.

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Best classic summer reads

There is certainly debate about which books are the best summer reads of all time, but there are few classics, some more recent and some a bit older, which are great additions to anyone’s summer reading list. Summer can be a great time to pick up that book you’ve meant to read for years. 

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Whether it’s your first time reading it, or you’ve decided to revisit it, this classic novel captures the luxury and extravagance of the 1920’s jazz age in America. Both a tragedy and a love story, “The Great Gatsby” is an ideal summer read.

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“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Chances are you likely read this classic in high school, but rereading it as an adult will provide a new perspective and appreciation for the characters and storytelling. A coming-of-age story that deals with racial injustice and prejudice, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a book everyone should read.

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“Naked” by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is known for being one of the best-selling humorists. In this comedic collection of essays, he takes on everything from childhood tics to complex family dynamics in a way that stays with you.

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“The Shining” by Stephen King

No list of the best summer reads would be complete without a work by Stephen King. Even if you’ve seen the classic film, the book goes much deeper into the story behind the Overlook Hotel and the Torrance family. This page-turning horror novel continues to enthrall new readers and can add some suspense to your summer.

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“Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed 

Released in 2012, this memoir, depicting the author’s journey traversing one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails, quickly became a classic summer read, even inspiring others to undertake a similar journey. As the narrator ventures through beautiful though unpredictable wilderness, you’ll also see her come to grips with her own personal and emotional struggles.

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Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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