Were you that kid who read everything on the summer reading list by mid-June? Raise your hand if you made weekly treks to the library to bring home a fresh stack of books with which to while away the dog days of summer. 🙋 So were we!
Summer always brings us back to those days and the thrill of getting lost in a book, exploring new worlds and making new friends in far-off lands. Only now, we don't have to yell, "Just one more chapter, Mom!"
So, what are you reading right now? If you need some suggestions, look no further!
We put together a list of our favorites, including: new books everyone from Oprah to Obama are recommending, classics we haven’t read in a while, and books whose adaptations you can stream now.
Whether you’re looking for something fun to read while you cool off by the pool or want to start a book-vs-movie debate with your friends, our summer reading list is a great place to start!
📚 New Reads
Since the unofficial start of summer back in early June, we’ve seen a plethora of must-read summer book lists. Here are a few favorites published this year.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
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. - GR
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
This debut book by Japanese Breakfast founder/singer/guitarist Michelle Zauner is an expansion of her essay printed in The New Yorker in 2018. It is a powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
Falling by T.J. Newman
Just in time for all your summer travel plans! This debut novel from former long-time flight attendant T. J. Newman is a fun, fast-paced thriller that you should probably read while safely on the ground. It follows the story of a pilot who finds out mid-air that his family has been kidnapped. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows the kidnapper’s orders and crashes the plane.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets? - GR
PS...This one was recommended by Literary Nerds Unite! tribe member, @starcatcher!
📖 Throwback Reads
These books have stood the test of time. Let’s revisit them without the pressure of book reports, essays, and pop quizzes!
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is one of the most delightful and enduring classics of children's literature. It tells the story of Mary Lennox, a spoiled, contrary, solitary child raised in India but sent to live in her uncle’s manor in Yorkshire after her parents' death. She is left to herself by her uncle, Mr. Craven, who travels often to escape the memory of his deceased wife. The only person who has time for Mary is her chambermaid, Martha. It is Martha who tells Mary about Mrs. Craven's walled garden, which has been closed and locked since her death. - L2G
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Told in a series of vignettes, it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. Partly based on the author’s own experiences, the story follows Esperanza as she enters adolescence and faces the challenges of life as a young woman in a poor, patriarchal community.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. - GR
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian society that burns books in order to control dangerous ideas and unhappy concepts. The novel tells the story of Guy Montag, a fireman who questions the book-burning policy and undergoes extraordinary suffering and transformation as a result. - TC
📺 Books You Can Watch
There are a ton of movies and TV shows out there that are based on books. These days, some books get optioned for adaptation before they’re even published! In this short list, we stayed away from mainstream titles and are instead focusing on a few you may not have watched - or read - yet. What do you think? Was the book better?
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
If you like dark, disturbing, addictive stories, then you should start here! Reporter Camille Preaker, following a brief stay at a psych hospital, must return to her small hometown in Missouri to cover the murders of two preteen girls. As she gathers information for her story, Camille faces her own demons while ensconced in her old bedroom in the family home. She unwittingly joins the hunt for the killer, and finds the source of the evil is closer to home than she realizes.
It is currently streaming as a limited series on HBOmax.
Fear Street Series by R.L. Stine
The Fear Street book series was created by Goosebumps author R. L. Stine to appeal to readers slightly older than the Goosebumps demographic. It was originally published from 1989 to 1999 and was rebooted in 2005. The books take place in the fictionalized town of Shadyside, and feature average teenagers, who encounter malignant, sometimes paranormal, adversaries.
The first two films of a trilogy created by Netflix are streaming now, and the third is set for release on July 16. They are not adaptations of specific books, but rather capture the tone of the entire series.
1922 by Stephen King
This novella was published in the 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars, and opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette. Wilfred scorns the thought of living in a city, but Arlette is discontented with farm life and wants to move to Omaha. Wilfred resorts to manipulating his teenaged son, Henry, into helping him murder Arlette. - SK
The film adaptation is just as gritty and disturbing as the novella, and it is currently streaming on Netflix.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman
"Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right."
People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be skeptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea? - GR
Good Omens season 1 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and season 2 will begin filming later this year.
Need more ideas? Former President Barack Obama has shared his summer reading list every year for over a decade. His 2021 list offers something for everyone and includes both fiction and non-fiction. Check out his full list below!
That's it for now, Visva fam! Join us in the Literary Nerds Unite tribe and share your faves!