With a question mark still looming over summer holidays, those suffering from a serious case of wanderlust should look to their bookshelves for escapism this season. You may not be lounging on a beach as planned, but there are still plenty of books to keep you occupied. From thrilling debut novels to highly-anticipated releases by award-winning authors, these are the best books to read in summer 2021.
The Startup Wife, Tahmima Anam
When computer scientist Asha, her partner Cyrus and their friend Jules create a revolutionary social media app that has the potential to change millions of lives, it becomes the next big thing in the tech world. But while Asha is the brains behind the ingenious algorithm, Cyrus’s charisma pushes him into the spotlight, and she finds herself feeling unhappy about the app’s new-found success, and her experience as a woman in a corporate world.
Out now, published by Canongate Books Ltd, £14.99, waterstones.com
Omelette: Food, Love, Chaos and Other Conversations, Jessie Ware
A food memoir by singer-songwriter and podcaster Jessie Ware, Omelette: Food, Love, Chaos and Other Conversations interweaves discussions about culture, family and society with stories about Ware’s life, providing an insight into her world and the people she’s met along the way. Expect the same wit and charm as found on her podcast, Table Manners, alongside short stories and recipes.
Out now, published by Hodder & Stroughton, £12.99, theportobellobookshop.com
The Mad Women’s Ball, Victoria Mas
This French bestseller is set in 1885 in Paris’s infamous Salpêtrière hospital, where women deemed mad or hysterical are sent to live as outcasts from society. In reality, these women are simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. When Geneviève, a senior nurse, meets Eugénie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeoisie family, she finds herself caught up in Eugénie's secrets, the culmination of which will reveal itself at the hospital’s annual Mad Women’s Ball…
Published on 17 June by Doubleday, £14.99, blackwells.co.uk
Filthy Animals, Brandon Taylor
A breakout literary star of 2020, Brandon Taylor was nominated for a Booker Prize for his debut novel Real Life. His second book, Filthy Animals, is a collection of interlinking short stories that follow the tales of young creatives living in the American Midwest. Each is battling with their own challenges, from one man’s sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship to a young woman fighting cancer and a babysitter being driven to the brink as her charge runs amok. The novel has been named the most anticipated book of the year by publications such as Elle, Time and Harper’s Bazaar, to name a few.
Published on 22 June 2021 by Daunt Books, £9.99, dauntbookspublishing.co.uk
Sunset, Jessie Cave
The debut novel by actress and comedian Jessie Cave, Sunset follows the story of sisters Ruth and Hannah, who, despite being polar opposites, have a strong and unbreakable bond — until one summer holiday changes everything. Hannah enters a period of self-imposed exile, seeking a job in Heathrow Airport for its anonymity. When she recognises a face in the crowd, she is forced to recall a time when her life had hope and meaning. A comedy about love, Sunset is a poignant reminder that joy can be found in the most unexpected of places.
Published on 24 June 2021 by Welbeck Publishing Group, £12.99, waterstones.com
How to Kill Your Family, Bella Mackie
This debut novel from Bella Mackie, journalist and author of running memoir Jog On, follows the story of anti-hero Grace Bernard, who seeks revenge on her family when she discovers her absentee millionaire father ignored her dying mother’s pleas for help. Having picked off her relatives one-by-one, Grace is shocked when she ends up in prison for a murder she actually didn’t commit.
Published on 22 July 2021 by Harper Collins, £14.99, harpercollins.co.uk
Other People’s Clothes, Calla Henkel
When New Yorkers Zoe and Hailey move to Berlin in the hopes that the city will solve their problems, they find a new challenge awaits them. Having rented an apartment from crime writer Beatrice Becks, the two begin to suspect they are being watched and manipulated by their landlady as inspiration for a new thriller novel. They decide to take matters into their own hands, hosting wild parties at the flat, but quickly find themselves in hot water as the narrative spins beyond their control.
Published on 8 July 2021 by Hodder & Stroughton, £14.99, waterstones.com
Songbirds, Christy Lefteri
Inspired by the real-life disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus, the second novel by Christy Lefteri, the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, follows the story of Nisha, a Sri Lankan nanny working for wealthy widow Petra. When Nisha heads out on an errand and doesn’t return, Petra launches her own investigation into her disappearance and discovers the dark side of migrant life in the process.
Published on 8 July 2021 by Bonnier Zaffre, £14.99, waterstones.com
Conversations on Love, Natasha Lunn
Having felt like love was always just beyond her reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to explore how relationships work and evolve. With the help of authors and experts such as Philippa Perry, Dolly Alderton, Candice Carty-Williams and Lisa Taddeo, she explores themes including falling in love, accepting change, friendship and the psychology of being alone, as well as questions on how we find and sustain love, and how to cope when we lose it.
Published on 15 July 2021 by Penguin Books, £14.99, blackwells.co.uk