28 Of The Best Summer Reads 2021 To Help You Escape

28 books to add to your summer holiday reads pile, including recommendations from your favourite authors.

Best summer reads 2021

by Rhiannon Evans |

Whatever your ‘summer holiday 2021’ looks like this year, you’re going to need a summer holiday read. Because with the weather and... the world... looking the way it is, you're going to need some books to read this summer that will transport and grip you. At least your head can escape if your body can't so much.

So, we picked our best summer reads of 2021... some new books, some you might've missed in recent years now out in paperback, some books you're about to see on screen and some that will help with some self-improvement. We also got some of our favourite authors what they'd recommend when it comes to books to read this summer.

So, if you're looking for a book to read this summer, here's Grazia's pick of the best summer reads, 2021.


Best summer reads 2021
©Gavin Li

Sorrow And Bliss, Meg Mason (Orion)

Why does Martha Friel’s life feel broken? Almost 40, friendless, single and sad, she returns to her childhood home to confront thementalillnessthat’splaguedhersince‘a little bomb went off in her brain’ at 17.

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid (Cornerstone)

Transport yourself to a 1980s Malibu summer evening (yes please) to witness the night that brings the famous Riva family’s world crashing down.

Acts Of Desperation, Megan Nolan (Vintage Publishing)

Brutally honest portrait of vulnerability and destruction involved in a toxic relationship between the unnamed narrator and Ciaran, an older poet.

The Other Black Girl, Zakiyah Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury)

Nella is thrilled when another Black employee joins her company – but soon hreatening notes begin to appear. A gripping thriller and social commentary.

Unsettled Ground, Claire Fuller (Penguin)

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, this tells the story of twins whose carefully curated lives are rocked by the death of their mother.

How To Kill Your Family, Bella Mackie (HarperCollins)

When Grace’s absentee millionaire father rejects her dying mother’s pleas for help, she sets about killing his family. But then she’s imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

No One Is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury)

This debut is being talked about, as a woman obsessed with social media finds the real world brutally interrupts her life.

Underbelly, Anna Whitehouse (Orion)

The lives of Lo and Dylan collide at the school gates with devastating consequences in this take on modern motherhood and the dark truths beneath.


Best summer reads 2021
©Gavin Li

The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave (Profile Books)

With Julia Roberts starring in the upcoming TV adaption from Reese Witherspoon’s production company, this pacy thriller starts with Hannah being told to protect her husband Owen’s teen daughter as he goes missing.

Leave The World Behind, Rumaan Alam (Bloomsbury)

Two families are forced together in a remote Long Island holiday let, as the world falls apart. This chilling read will soon be a movie starring Julia Roberts (her again!) and Denzel Washington, who are both also producing.

Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens (Little Brown)

In case you’re one of the few who’s not yet read Kya Clark’s unforgettable story, now’s the time, before this Reese Witherspoon-produced film (yes, her again!) hits screens, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Anatomy of a Scandal, Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster)

We actually can’t wait for this Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery and Rupert Friend-fronted series to air – for now, get gripped by the story of a high-profile marriage, unravelling as the husband is accused of a terrible crime.

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes (Hodder & Stoughton)

Soon to be a film starring Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley called Letters From Your Lover, a young journalist finds a series of letters describing an intense star-crossed romance in the 60s.


Best summer reads 2021
©Gavin Li

Ghosts, Dolly Alderton (Penguin)

Podcaster and writer Alderton’s first novel finds Nina Dean dealing with her friends moving on, a beloved father slipping into dementia and now being ghosted by a man who said on their first date he was going to marry her.

The Idea Of You, Robinne Lee (Penguin Michael Joseph)

This sleeper American mega-hit sees 39-year-old Solene embark on a jet-setting love affair with world-famous sex symbol August Moon, the man whose image decorates the bedroom walls of thousands... including her own teenage daughter.

After The Silence, Louise O’Neill (Quercus)

What happened the day Nessa Crowley died at the Kinsellas’ wild party a decade ago? A documentary team tries to find out – and what they discover sends ripples through the small island community.

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett (Little Brown)

Across generations and the US, the separated fates of the Vignes twins play out in this fascinating look into identity, race and the American history of passing.

Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart (Pan Macmillan)

Winner of the Booker Prize 2020, this novel follows Shuggie Bain in ’80s Glasgow as he deals with poverty, hope and his relationship with his mother, Agnes.


Best summer reads 2021
©Gavin Li

Let Me Tell You What I Mean, Joan Didion (HarperCollins)

A dozen essays from the iconic writer’s 50-year career, transporting you from Gamblers Anonymous Meetings to Las Vegas, taking in her thoughts on some of the last century’s biggest figures.

We Need To Talk About Money, Otegha Uwagba (HarperCollins)

From pay rises to being evicted, Uwagba’s book blends memoir and cultural commentary, analysing our complex relationship with money.

Sista Sister, Candice Brathwaite (Quercus)

The best-selling author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother turns her essay- writing skills to family, money, Black hairandfashion,creatingthebook she wishes she’d had growing up as a young Black woman.

The Housewives: The Real Story, Brian Moylan (St Martin’s)

An absolute must for fans of The Real Housewives, as expert Moylan gives you the inside scoop on every question you’ve had about the housewives after (probably) spending your lives with them in lockdown.

Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu (Hodder & Stoughton)

A timely memoir, revealing the real lives behind the headlines of immigration that dominate our media, as Owusu – who grew up in Rome, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis Ababa, Kumasi, Kampala and London – shares her fascinating story.


Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie recommends...

[BLACK BUCK BY MATEO ASKARIPOUR](http://BLACK BUCK BY MATEO ASKARIPOUR): ‘I love this so much. It’s effortlessly funny, smart and satisfyingly self-aware.’

Mhairi McFarlane, author of Last Night recommends...

THE HATING GAME BY SALLY THORNE: ‘A classic romcom set-up: two companies merge and our protagonists are obliged to do the same job. The verve and fizz of the storytelling is so fresh.’

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow recommends...

STILL WATER BY CALEB AZUMAH NELSON: ‘I really loved this debut novel: it’s a modern love story, full of music and art and the atmosphere of summer in the city.’

Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Adults recommends...

OTHER PEOPLE’S CLOTHES BY CALLA HENKEL: ‘Two female art students escape tragedy in Berlin. Think Grey Gardens on ketamine and you won’t be far off.’

Maggie O’Farrell, author of Hamnet recommends...

EVERYONE DIES FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN BY BONNIE-SUE HITCHCOCK: ‘An ingenious novel of interlinked stories. Hitchcock lays a mysterious trail of crumbs for her readers.’

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