The Ultimate 2021 Summer Reading Guide

This past weekend marked the unofficial start of summer! Every year around this time I look forward to spending time outside, grilling out & of course settling in with a good book! There’s really nothing better than summer reading – whether it’s outside, by the pool, or on the beach! This year I decided to create the ultimate summer reading guide for y’all! This guide is full of highly anticipated, unputdownable books that are seasonally appropriate. I have included 20 new & notable books – all recently released or being published throughout the summer – as well as 12 books that I have read in the last few years that are worthy of reading!

I hope this guide is helpful in choosing which book to pick up next! I have read a lot of the new and notable books and the ones I haven’t I will be tossing in my pool or beach bag and reading throughout the summer right along with you! As for the backlist books, I have read every single backlist book and I can assure you, they’re all bingeworthy! Happy reading, friends! And be sure to follow along with my summer reading @enw_reads.

the ultimate summer reading guide 2021 life with Emily

the ultimate 2021 summer reading guide

summer reading guide 2021 must read books

new + notable books to add to your reading list

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (available now) If you enjoyed her last book, Beach Read, be sure to pick up this one! Alex and Poppy have vacationed together for a decade until their last trip left them on weird terms. Poppy has convinced Alex to go on one last trip together – can they sort it out and get to the bottom of their feelings for one another?

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (available now) A book about a book? Sign me up! Author Jacob Bonner is at a standstill with his writing & hasn’t published anything noteworthy in years. When he hears about a book one of hit students is writing he knows that’s the key to fame. Only problem? It’s not his story to tell. Or is it?

Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey (available now) Two childhood friends discover that love – and family – can be found in unconventional ways. You will fall in love with the main characters, Parker and Amelia, and this book will certainly transport you to the NC coast!

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann (available now) This book cleverly weaves elements of classical mythology into a thoroughly modern family saga, rich in drama and psychological complexity. After all, at some point, don’t we all wonder: What good is this destructive force we call love?

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica (available now) People don’t just disappear without secrets. In this book, Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The Siren by Katherine St. John (available now) When dangerously handsome megastar Cole Power hires his ex-wife, Stella Rivers, to act in his son’s film, he sparks a firestorm on an isolated island that will unearth long-buried secrets — and unravel years of lies.

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews (available now) After Letty discovers her sister Tanya dead she is certain she knows who did it. Letty sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel – it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (available now) Twin sisters Rose and Fern are as close as you would imagine twins would be. Maybe too close. Though Fern is a little different than most, Rose has always been her protector and best friend. When life throws a curveball, Rose tries to protect Fern once again, but Fern is becoming a little leery of her sister’s protection. Relationships are tested, suspicions arise. Who is really the good sister?

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (available now) Funny, warm and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 1) Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1) A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford (June 1Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she provides a recollection that speaks to finding the threads between who you are and what you were born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams (June 1) Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… This is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love.

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand (June 1) In this satisfying page-turner, a Nantucket novelist has one final summer to protect her secrets while her loved ones on earth learn to live without their golden girl. The people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary (June 1) Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in the north of Scotland. Everything is set and ready to go, that is, until a car accident leaves their car totaled. And the person who hit it? Addie’s ex. Will they be able to confront their messy history and move on? Or is this really the end for them?

Survive the Night by Riley Sager (June 29) It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing—survive the night.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory (July 13) Two people realize that it’s no longer an act when they veer off-script in this sizzling romantic comedy. When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

The Therapist by B.A. Paris (July 13) Alice and her partner Leo buy a house in a gated community and quickly find out that an unspeakable crime has happened prior to their move. As Alice begins to question the neighbors, she quickly sees that the gated community is not what it seems.

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (August 3The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity, and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (August 31) A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance.

older books worth adding to your reading list

The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz – (my review hereSweetbitter meets The Firm in this buzzy debut novel about sex, women in the workplace and power in the halls of corporate America.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – (my review here) What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez – (my review hereThe Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee – (my review here) What begins as a series of clandestine trysts between 39-year-old Solène and world famous boy band star, Hayes, of August Moon, quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – (my review here) The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – (my review here) Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker – (my review here) City girl Calla Fletcher attempts to reconnect with her estranged father, and unwittingly finds herself torn between her desire to return to the bustle of Toronto and a budding relationship with a rugged Alaskan pilot.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – (my review here) For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime – even love – in this witty and swoon-worthy romance.

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis – (my review here) In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it. But 14 years later, everything Emmie has planned is up in the air.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A story of absolute, universal timelessness. A stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one Black and one White.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand – (my review here) The first historical fiction novel for Elin Hilderbrand, this book follows four siblings who experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changed.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (my review here) In this chilling thriller, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s best-selling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound – and dangerous – secrets hidden within its walls?

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  1. Lizzie wrote:

    What a great list! I’ll have to check some of these out for my summer reading!


    Posted 6.2.21 Reply
  2. Laura Leigh wrote:

    people we meet on vacation is at the top of my list! planning to order as soon as I finish my current book and I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

    loving this cute photo Emily!

    xo Laura Leigh

    Posted 6.2.21 Reply
  3. legalleeblondeblog wrote:

    Love this! definitely adding a bunch of these to my ‘to read on my honeymoon’ list! I noticed The Vanishing Half on your list – I read it last month and definitely liked it!

    Posted 6.2.21 Reply
  4. Lots of great options…making a note of some of these for future travel reads! xoxo, Sarah

    Posted 6.3.21 Reply
  5. Stephanie wrote:

    Love this! I just wrote up a similar post. Summer always makes me want to reach for more contemporary romances and there are SO many great ones out this year + a ton of backlist books that are just to die for. I can’t wait to get more reading in soon 🙂

    Posted 6.3.21 Reply
  6. Rach wrote:

    I love all your book recommendations! I have People We Meet On Vacation and I can’t wait to get to it!

    Posted 6.4.21 Reply
  7. Thanks for the book recommendations! I need some for a long car ride next week.

    Posted 6.6.21 Reply
  8. Kia wrote:

    I had quite a few of these already in my TBR from the Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide but there’s some new ones here I’m excited to check out!

    Posted 6.8.21 Reply
  9. clarkma26 wrote:

    Adding a few of these to my next reading list! Nice recommendation.

    Posted 11.26.21 Reply

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