12 Best Books of Summer 2021: Reads for the Road or at Home

12 Best Books of Summer 2021: Reads for the Road or at Home

The books to add to your summer 2021 reading list. Expect hyped-about debut novels, memoirs and non-fiction that will make you think twice about bodies, money and love.

to add to your TBR list. Equal parts escapist and
engaging, our pick of books is as good for stuffing in a carry-on
as keeping you occupied on a staycation road trip (provided you’re
not the one driving) or simply hunkering down in a sun-trap spot at

We’ve got can’t-read-them-fast-enough thrillers, memoirs that
tug at the heartstrings and non-fiction opening up conversations
around bodies, money and love.

Thrillers, memoirs and thought-provoking non-fiction: books to
read in summer 2021

Detransition, Baby

by Torrey Peters

Following three trans and cis women living in New York,
Detransition Baby tackles taboo questions around motherhood and
unconventional family making in the 21st century. It’s deeply
moving, messy and, at times, brilliantly funny.

Open Water

by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Against an artful portrait of London, this modern love story
between two Black British artists – a young photographer and his
dancer girlfriend – is interwoven with themes of race and
vulnerability. How can they be tender in a world that forces Black
people to be tough?


by Olivia Laing

Subtitled “A Book About Freedom”, Everybody celebrates the human
body as a private source of pleasure and pain, but also as a public
vehicle that can resist oppression and reshape the world. The
Lonely City author draws on her own experience as well as
compelling historical figures: Nina Simone, Sigmund Freud and
Malcolm X.

We Need to Talk About Money

by Otegha Uwagba

Money is a topic that’s often off limits in everyday discourse,
but Uwagba’s latest book opens up the conversation. It’s part
memoir, part socio-political commentary. She explores her own ups
and downs with money as well as toxic workplaces, pay rises, the
beauty tax, invisible labour and more.

Conversations on Love

by Natasha Lunn

Lovers. Strangers. Parents. Friends. Endings. Beginnings. In
this series of conversations – a book born from her
newsletter of the same name
– Lunn asks: how do we find love?
How do we keep it? And how do we cope when we lose it? Expect
insights from Dolly Alderton on vulnerability, Alain de Botton on
the psychology of being alone and Roxane Gay on redefining

Somebody’s Daughter

by Ashley C. Ford

Writer and
Ford had a complicated childhood. She was a poor,
Black girl in Indiana, who had a bad relationship with her mother
and a father in jail – though she didn’t know why. In the aftermath
of her own rape, she finds out. This poignant memoir is her search
for meaning in the chaos.

The Five Wounds

by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Unemployed Amadeo Padilla is preparing to play Jesus in a Holy
Week procession in a small New Mexican town when his pregnant
daughter Angel shows up. The baby is born and five generations of
the Padillas come together, including Tio Tive, keeper of the
family’s history. One for fans of Jonathan Franzen.

Crying in H Mart

by Michelle Zauner

Family, food and grief are the backbone of this memoir from the
singer/ songwriter behind Japanese Breakfast. The premise: Zauner
visits a Korean supermarket after her mother’s death. A short, but
powerful memoir that spirits you between
, the East Coast and Seoul.

Gunk Baby

by Jamie Marina Lau

Consumerism and middle-class boredom get a roasting Lau’s second
novel. The setting? Suburban Par Mars. Think shiny shopping
centres, manicured estates and thematically designed
neighbourhoods. Protagonist Leen is opening an ear-cleaning and
massage studio, but finds herself involved in a community intent on
disrupting capitalism.

A Slow Fire Burning

by Paula Hawkins

A whodunit that’ll have you whizzing cover to cover to find out
which of three women – Laura, Miriam and Carla – have blood on
their hands after a horrific murder. Like this? Put Erin Kelly’s
Watch Her Fall, a psychological thriller about a ballet rivalry, on
your to-read list.

Still Life

by Sarah Winman

The author behind When God Was a Rabbit transports us between
wartime Tuscany, Florence and London’s East End in this
decade-hopping love story. It starts in 1944, when Ulysses Temper,
a young British soldier, meets sexagenarian art historian (and
potential spy) Evelyn Skinner in a ruined wine cellar. Tissues at
the ready.

The Other Black Girl

by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Thriller meets social commentary. In the oh-so white (and, in
this case, sinister) world of book publishing, editorial assistant
Nella Rogers is her company’s only Black employee. That is until
Harlem born-and-raised Hazel joins the team. Talk soon turns from
hair-care regimens to hostile messages.

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