2021 has been a long year, and we're only six months into it. We've seen it all, from attempted coups and historical election results to vaccine trials and freaky weather. But one thing has been a constant source of comfort in the face of chaos: reading.
As life begins to inch toward something resembling normal-ish, this summer glows with renewed literary promise. Whether you're planning your first trip post-vaccine (masked up, of course) or dreaming of sitting poolside, here are five of 2021's hottest releases to add to your summer reading list.
For a day in the park
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
One of the best parts of hanging out in the park is people-watching. Catching snippets of others' conversations, making funny faces at their dogs, checking out their picnic spreads… but then again, all this voyeurism could also be achieved via social media.
Patricia Lockwood's genre-defying novel No One Is Talking About This explores this intersection, or collision, of the real world and its virtual counterpart. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have an existential crisis — the perfect summer day!
Your poolside companion
My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee
What's better than roasting by the pool on a gorgeous day? Roasting by the pool on a gorgeous day with the sprawling, kaleidoscopic novel My Year Abroad in hand.
In this epic book, Chang-Rae Lee tells the story of Teller, an average college student, who gets swept into a boisterous trip across Asia. Teller's narrative voice is so utterly transportive and compelling that you won't want this book to end. Good thing it clocks in at almost 500 pages.
Beach bag material
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Everyone has a different definition of the ideal beach read. But if an ocean breeze makes you crave a novel with complex characters, fraught relationships and sex, Detransition, Baby is for you.
With her narrative centering around the lives of three women — trans and cis — Torrey Peters reimagines tropes of motherhood and womanhood and asks two age old questions: What really makes a family? And who decides?
On your next vacation
There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura, translated from Japanese by Polly Barton
Although it might seem odd to read about work when you're on vacation, Kikuko Tsumura's droll novel There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job won't feel like a job.
Follow the protagonist as she searches for what many of us are dreaming about after a year of working from home: a gig that requires minimal reading, writing or thinking. Just don't get so sucked in to Tsumura's cutting assessment of late capitalism that you forget to enjoy your trip.
A rainy day read
Girlhood by Melissa Febos
Yes, sunshine is great, but there's nothing like a dramatic summer thunderstorm and an afternoon with a new book. For those days when the clouds are rolling in and the pavement steams with humidity, snuggle up on your couch with Girlhood by Melissa Febos.
In seven intimate and profound essays, Febos plumbs the depths of female adolescence and challenges the narratives young women and girls are told about themselves. Girlhood is so intoxicating that you'll find yourself highlighting every other paragraph and hoping the rain doesn't stop until you finish the collection.