20 Summer Must-Reads 2021 | Find Your Next Literary Escape

Oh hey! Hi! I missed you. Did you miss me? It’s been a while.

I submitted my last paper for the semester, signaling the start of summer, which begins this nifty little thing called “free-time.” So now that I have my time (mostly) all to myself I will go back to sharing content on a regular basis.

And what you ask is going to kick off this fantabulous content spree?


Welcome to a bookclub with no structure… really it’s not a bookclub at all. It’s just me saying, here is what I am interested in reading this summer, and you should read it too! Why? Well because books are awesome, and I have done all the work to provide a list of inspiring, entertaining, and earthy-vibe reads that go perfectly with the naturalistic feelings we tend to seek out during this time.

You will see this is a collection of books ranging from nonfiction to fiction and memoir; as always giving a little something for everyone.

Remember: If you choose to purchase a book through my link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you choose not to buy a book through my link, I totally understand. I hope that means you are choosing to purchase your book from a local bookshop instead. 🙂

Happy reading!

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

by Quentin Tarantino

What came first the chicken or the egg? What came first the book or the film?

The book is always better than the movie. Well in traditional Tarantino style we will find out in reverse chronology.

Releasing 6.29.2021

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

by Margaret Renkl

I finished this read as my first for the summer, and it is wonderful!

Renkl balances the concepts of love and loss and the natural world. Her essays encourage the reader to process the harsh realities of nature alongside the devastation and beauty in the process of grief.

As a collection of short essays, this book is an easy and quick read that will make you feel all the feelings.

The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

by Frans de Waal

“In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution.”

– GoodReads

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

“In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a Neohelix albolabris —a common woodland snail.”

– GoodReads

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

“In her nonfiction debut, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil explores the many places she has called home, from inhospitable plains to tall mountains in big sky country. No matter where she is transplanted, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship, even in the strange and the unlovely.

For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.”

– GoodReads

Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

by Carly Moree and Zach Davis

“Filled with first-hand, touching yet humorous vignettes and down-to-earth advice that both instructs and inspires, Pacific Crest Trials gives readers the mental road map they’ll need to hike from Mexico to Canada.”

– GoodReads

While I have not read this book myself (yet), those who have suggested it to me say it’s suitable for all aspects of life not just advice on the PCT.

The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature

by Peter Wohlleben

Last summer I read Peter Wohlleben’s Hidden Life of Trees and it was one of my favorite books of the 2020.

“Peter Wohlleben draws on new scientific discoveries to show how humans are deeply connected to the natural world.In an era of cell phone addiction, climate change, and urban life, many of us fear we’ve lost our connection to nature–but Peter Wohlleben is convinced that age-old ties linking humans to the forest remain alive and intact.”

– GoodReads

Releasing 6.16.2021

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

by Sy Montgomery

“Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures, Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.”

– GoodReads

Dear Edward

by Ann Napolitano

“This remarkable story is about a 12-year-old boy named Edward, who miraculously survives a plane crash that takes the lives of all other passengers, including his entire family. After this heartbreaking ordeal, he has to find the resilience to create a new life for himself.”

– Jenna Bush Hager

The Immortalists

by Chloe Benjamin

Another fiction read for the list. I purchased this and Dear Edward at the same time and it has been staring at me on the shelf all semester. I look forward to diving into both these this summer.

The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.”

– Chloe Benjamin

The Beach at Galle Road: Stories from Sri Lanka

by Joanna Luloff

Confession, I picked this book up because it is authored by one of the best professors I have had the opportunity to work with in my academic career. Her thoughts are inspiring. She has taken the time to read my work over multiple semesters, and I thought it only fitting to check out hers as well.

“Skillfully weaving together the stories of intersecting lives, The Beach at Galle Road explores themes of memory and identity amid the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war. From different points of view, across generations and geographies, it pits the destructive power of war against the resilient power of family, individual will, and the act of storytelling itself.”

– GoodReads

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

by Merlin Sheldrake

Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into this hidden kingdom of life, and shows that fungi are key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel and behave. The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.”

– GoodReads

Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest

by Ella E. Clark

I picked this book up the last time I was in Port Angeles and when I did, I knew it was going to be the perfect campfire read. Looking forward to getting lost in the forests of Washington with this read.

“This collection of more than one hundred tribal tales, culled from the oral tradition of the Indians of Washington and Oregon, presents the Indians’ own stories, told for generations around their fires, of the mountains, lakes, and rivers, and of the creation of the world and the heavens above. Each group of stories is prefaced by a brief factual account of Indian beliefs and of storytelling customs. Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest is a treasure, still in print after fifty years.”

– GoodReads


by Lisa Taddeo

Favorite book of 2020 (hands down) was Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

Taddeo’s voice and ability to capture another human’s story is what I crave in every book I read. So naturally, after hearing she will be publishing a new book I had to add it to the list.

Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society. With writing that scorches and mesmerizes, Taddeo illustrates one woman’s exhilarating transformation from prey into predator.”

– GoodReads

Releasing 6.8.2021


by Seth Rogen

On this one I thought it would be best to give you the full description from Seth himself:

“Hi! I’m Seth! I was asked to describe my book, Yearbook, for the inside flap (which is a gross phrase) and for websites and shit like that, so… here it goes!!!

Yearbook is a collection of true stories that I desperately hope are just funny at worst, and life-changingly amazing at best. (I understand that it’s likely the former, which is a fancy “book” way of saying “the first one.”)

I talk about my grandparents, doing stand-up comedy as a teenager, bar mitzvahs, and Jewish summer camp, and tell way more stories about doing drugs than my mother would like. I also talk about some of my adventures in Los Angeles, and surely say things about other famous people that will create a wildly awkward conversation for me at a party one day.

I hope you enjoy the book should you buy it, and if you don’t enjoy it, I’m sorry. If you ever see me on the street and explain the situation, I’ll do my best to make it up to you.”

– Seth Rogen

Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World

by John Freeman

“In the course of this work, one major theme came up repeatedly: Climate change is making already dire inequalities much worse, devastating further the already devastated. But the problems of climate change are not restricted to those from the less developed world.

Galvanized by his conversations with writers and activists around the world, Freeman engaged with some of today’s most eloquent storytellers, many of whom hail from the places under the most acute stress”

– GoodReads

Lab Girl

by Hope Jahren

Another book I have had for awhile and haven’t had the time to pick up.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done ‘with both the heart and the hands’; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.”

– GoodReads

A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

We have a road trip planned this summer, so the audiobook version will definitely be accompanying us. We spent our last road trip listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama and it was FAN-FREAKIN’-TASTIC. I can not stress how much I enjoyed that book. Mrs. Obama had me crying consistently, happy and sad tears.

I look forward to diving into President Obama’s book this summer. If he has the same passion and poetic tone as his wife I know, it too, will be fantastic.

The Farm

by Joanne Ramos

“Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.”

– GoodReads

Like Steams to the Ocean

by Jedidiah Jenkins

“We aren’t born into a self. It is created without our consent, built on top of our circumstances, the off-handed comments we hear from others, and the moments that scared us most when we were young. But in the busyness of our daily life, we rarely get the chance to think clearly about the questions that matter most. Who am I? Where do I belong? How much of who I am and what I do boils down to avoiding the things that make me feel small? We tuck these questions into the corner of our minds, but they drive our behavior far more than we give them credit for, even after we become adults.

Jenkins makes space to explore the seven topics we must think about in order to live a deeply considered life: ego, family, work, love, nature, death, and the soul.”

– GoodReads

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