2021 has been a banner year for book releases—and the endless list of anticipated books being released this summer is all we can think about. So we’ve rounded up this summer’s hottest reads for you. From chilling thrillers and LGBTQ romance to beach reads and stories with complex themes about race and gender, this list will keep your #TBR pile a mile high.
Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson (May 4, 2021)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist in this romp through the city that never sleeps, when Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—sneak away from the suburbs to spend a night in NYC. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong? Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally, discover what they really want for their future.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (May 4, 2021)
Hannah thinks she’s found the love of her life in Owen—until he disappears. But before he does, he smuggles her a note: Protect her, referring to Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. As arrests are made and agents close in, Hannah realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated. With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (May 11, 2021)
Poppy and Alex have nothing in common besides their decade-long tradition of joint summer beach vacations. However, two years ago they ruined everything and haven’t spoken since. Poppy knows that the last time she was truly happy was the last beach vacation and she decides to take Alex with her on vacation once more. With only a week to fix everything, Poppy doesn’t know if she can face the one big truth that stood quietly in the middle of their relationship.
Attachments by Jeff Arch (May 11, 2021)
The award-winning screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle, Jeff Arch is at it again with Attachments, which brings three former best friends back to campus 20 years later after the death of their boarding school dean. Stewart and Sandy both fell in love with Laura when they met at their coal-country Pennsylvania boarding school in 1972. The three form a fast bond with dean Henry Griffin, whose dying words of the two male students. When they’re brought back, secrets and betrayals from the past are revealed, and the only one who can solve the puzzle is in a coma. To top it all off, the dean’s son Chip is about to figure things out that he can’t fathom and can barely handle.
Madam by Phoebe Wynn (May 18, 2021)
Rose Christie is the newest hire at a 150-year-old traditional boarding school for girls. She’s feeling the stress about teaching at such a prestigious institution but soon finds out an unpleasant truth and must challenge the school’s purpose, and her own role in preserving it.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall (May 18, 2021)
Fans of Casey McQuiston, Christina Lauren, and Abby Jimenez will love this scrumptious and sweetly romantic. Bisexual single mother Rosaline Palmer is teetering on the edge of financial disaster—but she has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show. Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves, but as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.
The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter (May 25, 2021)
As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite. But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life. That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother; finding chances to listen to her father. A slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.
Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul by Jamie Ducharme (May 25, 2021)
What started as an innocent smoke break soon turned into a 38 billion dollar industry that would be blamed for poisoning a generation of underage tobacco users. This book accounts the true story of the rise of the Juul. From two ambitious Stanford students to the leaders of the e-cigarette market, Adam Bowen and James Mosees story is told like never before.
The Portrait Of A Mirror by A. Natasha Joukovsky (Jun 1, 2021)
Two well-off couples lives intertwine in this hilarious reinvention of the myth of Narcissus. Wes and Diana are the privileged couple you may not care too much about but want in your arsenal, while Vivien and Dale have a carefully curated life. The couples lives cross one summer and they’re all too immersed in the desire to know what they want.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Jun 1, 2021)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever. Truly a night that nobody will forget, this story of fame and family will keep you guessing until the very end.
Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford (Jun 1, 2021)
As Ashley battles life as a poor Black girl in Indiana, she realizes how isolation and childhood are a bitter combination. Soon, she embarks on a journey to find who she is truly meant to be.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Jun 1, 2021)
In this YA thrill ride, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé throws down the gauntlet by challenging readers to face the treatment of these Black characters head-on. This book is dark, gritty, and twisty for a YA novel. Even adults will be drawn in and held tight by Àbíké-Íyímídé’s riveting debut. According to the author, this book is Get Out meets Gossip Girl—but Black and queer. Take a chance on this dark academia rollercoaster; you won’t be disappointed.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Jun 1, 2021)
Nella is tired of being the only Black girl at her office, so she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working next to her. Then Hazel becomes the new office sweetheart, and Nella is left in the dust with eerie messages on her desk. Nella begins to spiral and question the sinister forces, including Hazel, that is messing with her career.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (Jun 1, 2021)
In her follow up to her charming debut Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston spins a new kind of love story. Another romantic comedy about queer characters, One Last Stop focuses on a pessimistic 23-year-old who just moved to New York City and falls hard for a woman she spots on her subway commute. The only issue is that it turns out the woman is lost in time from the 1970s. McQuiston sets in motion a dazzling romance, filled with plenty of humor and heart.
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Jun 2, 2021)
In the eighteenth century, on discovering her husband has been murdered, an Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary lament that reaches across centuries to the young Doireann Ní Ghríofa, whose fascination with it is later rekindled when she narrowly avoids fatal tragedy in her own life and becomes obsessed with learning everything she can about the poem Peter Levi has famously called “the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain” during its era. A kaleidoscopic blend of memoir, autofiction, and literary studies, A Ghost in the Throat moves fluidly between past and present, quest and elegy, poetry and the people who make it.
Changes: An Oral History of Tupac Shakur by Sheldon Pearce (Jun 8, 2021)
Tupac’s song “Changes” became an anthem for protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020. The song vaulted its way back onto the iTunes charts, making it clear that Tupac’s music is just as important in today’s society as it was 20 years ago.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (Jun 15, 2021)
This is a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession. Mariana, a brilliant group therapist, is certain that Edward Fosca is a murderer—but the Greek tragedy Cambridge professor is untouchable, particularly adored by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens. When members begin to show up dead, Mariana suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. She becomes convinced that Edward Fosca is guilty of the murders, and Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything―including her own life.
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi (Jun 22, 2021)
Joshi follows up The Henna Artist with a story set in 1969 about Lakshmi’s young helper Malik, who is now grown and working as a building apprentice at Jaipur Palace, a job Lakshmi helped him obtain. He is assigned to the building project for a modern cinema house, where he stumbles into a smuggling operation affiliated with the endeavor. When on opening night the movie house’s balcony collapses, trouble arises for Malik and subsequently Lakshmi, as well.
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (Jun 22, 2021)
This series of psychologically taut and quietly devastating linked stories is set among young creatives in the American Midwest: A young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. A young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family. Menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night. A little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink. And couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen by Inger Burnett-Zeigler (Jun 29, 2021)
Black women are beautiful, intelligent, and capable—but mostly they embrace strong. Esteemed clinical psychologist, Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler, praises the strength of women while exploring how trauma and adversity have led to deep emotional pain and shaped how they walk through the world. This informative guide to healing, is life-changing, showing Black women how to prioritize the self and find everyday joys in self-worth, as well as discover the fullness and beauty within both her strength and vulnerability.
Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson (Jul 1, 2021)
The death of Deidre’s sister Caroline leaves her both heartbroken and confused. Caroline had sent Deidre a note just days before warning that her death would be no accident and that her husband Theo had killed his first wife. Deidre confronts Theo, only to find out that her beloved sister had been having an affair. Paranoid and armed with information, Deidre sets out to dig deep and discover the truth.
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (Jul 13, 2021)
Ben Stephens would much rather have a casual fling. However, he begins to question his ways when he begins working with the sexy and compassionate movie star Anna Gardiner on an ad campaign. Anna and Ben can’t resist flirting with each other and don’t see the harm, until Ben helps Anna in a family emergency. Will this opportunity fling their romance into the spotlight? Or will Ben stay behind and continue to play a background role in Anna’s life?
The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Aug 3, 2021)
Dara and Marie have been dancers since birth due to their glamorous mother’s studio. When their parents tragically die, the two girls take over the dance studio, along with favorite student Charlie. The three have perfected managing the business—until a suspicious accident occurs right before the performance of the nutcracker. Will the three dancers be able to balance it all? Or will their poise and perfection finally be cracked?
The Husbands by Chandler Baker (Aug 3, 2021)
When the Spanglers go house hunting in Dynasty Ranch, Nora meets a group of high-powered women with enviably supportive husbands. When she agrees to help with a resident’s wrongful death case, she is pulled into the lives of the women there. But as the case unravels, Nora uncovers a plot that may explain the secret to having-it-all. One that’s worth killing for. Calling to mind a Stepford Wives gender-swap, The Husbands imagines a world where the burden of the “second shift” is equally shared―and what it may take to get there. It makes the reader wonder: what lengths will a woman go for a little more help from her husband?
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Aug 17, 2021)
The 1970s, Mexico City. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger in the latest issues of Secret Romance. Her neighbor, Leonora, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents. This is a riveting noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman that brings them together.
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (Aug 31, 2021)
Quan Diep is on the road to success as CEO of a new high-profile retail business, suddenly making him the object of all the single ladies’ desires. Camilla has certainly noticed him, the girl who brushed him off several years ago. So has her sister Anna, who claims to detest him. But who is she fooling? Can she keep up the charade, keep him from falling for her engaged sister Camilla, and keep a critical real estate deal afloat all at the same time? A sizzling new romance with anguish, desire, perfectionist characters, and enigmas.
The Nature of Middle-Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien (Sep 2, 2021)
The Nature of Middle-Earth is a collection of previously unpublished essays written by the high fantasy master. The geographic wonder of the kingdom of Gondor, elvish reincarnation, and which characters had beards (a subject long debated in the fandom) are all explored in this unofficial addition to the History of Middle-earth series. The collection reveals new information about Tolkien’s fantasy world, while also answering age-old questions.
Want more reads for 2021? Check out some of our other lists!
- The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2021
- 2021 Most anticipated LGBTQIA+ fiction releases
- Our most anticipated 2021 summer fiction
- Most Anticipated 2021 Summer Thrillers for your Beach Bag
- Most anticipated historical fiction books of 2021
- The 12 most anticipated YA books of summer 2021
- Most anticipated poetry collections of 2021
- Most anticipated romance books of 2021