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14 of Our Favorite Books from Summer 2021 (So Far)

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • August 12, 2021

Ah, the familiar rhythms of August: end-of-summer trips, backyard lounging, and beach days to cool off. All of these activities require one key resource and we're not talking about sunscreen: new reading material! Our roundup of some of the best new literature for adults has something for everyone. (If you are looking for the best new books for kids, check out our last post.)


Razorblade Tears by S. A. Crosby
Ike and Buddy Lee are two men with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their murdered sons. To do better for their boys in death than they did in life means facing their own prejudices.

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer
When a small-town family is pushed to the brink, how far will they go to protect one of their own? An edgy, propulsive read about what we will do in the name of love and blood.

Contemporary Fiction

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of American War comes a new novel that examines the global refugee crisis through a child's eyes. When a ship packed with asylum seekers sinks, a nine-year-old Syrian boy is the sole survivor.

Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette
When their parish goes broke, a group of nuns are forced to relocate and Agatha must venture out to teach math at a local all-girls high school. A novel about yearning and sisterhood and how to find your truest self.


Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta
This impressive YA debut features two young female soldiers who find themselves on common ground while fighting a tyrannical leader. The novel balances high-octane action with intimate character development.

The Shimmering State by Meredith Westgate
Jennifer Egan's cool transcendence meets Karen Thompson Walker's speculative eye in this luminous debut following two patients who meet in a California treatment center after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.

Historic Fiction

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
Set in a 1970s Pacific Northwest logging town, this epic, immersive debut offers the deeply human story of a family and a community wrenched by a mystery that threatens to derail their way of life.

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline
Coming of age in the city of Rome, childhood friends Elisabetta, Marco, and Sandro see their bonds tested. As World War II breaks out, everything that the three hold dear is threatened in ways they never imagined.

Short Stories

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of hilarious and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
Balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, this collection offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. Sadly the author, a rising young star in the literary world, died unexpectedly in December 2020.


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
The newest from the bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue, this swoony, otherworldly, and hilarious tale offers a tale of two young women trying to forge a romance across time.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
When authors Shane and Eva meet at an event, sparks fly, raising the eyebrows of New York's Black literati. What no one knows is that they've met before. And that they've been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.


House of Sticks by Ly Tran
An intimate, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir recounting a young girl's journey from war-torn Vietnam to Ridgewood, Queens, and her struggle to find her voice amid clashing cultural expectations.

Everything I Have is Yours by Eleanor Henderson
This is a brutally honest account of a marriage tested by powerful forces. The story poses powerful questions: Where does one person end and another begin? And how do we exist alongside someone else's suffering?

There are always so many great options to consider when putting together these lists. It's nearly impossible to narrow it down! Hopefully there's something that piques your interest. And if we've missed your favorite books from the summer, let us know in the comments!

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