The Atlantic Daily: 8 Buzzy Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Recommended by The Atlantic’s writers and editors

Clay Hickson

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Memorial Day weekend typically serves up a cocktail of sun and fruit, burgers and fun, giving Americans their first taste of summer. This year’s celebrations may bring extra relief as the country emerges from a particularly tough and burdensome winter.

Maybe you’re spending the long weekend on a beach. Maybe you’re enjoying your hot dogs at home. In either case, you might find yourself wanting a good book by your side.

Below, you’ll find eight 2021 releases, as recommended for you by our brilliant writers and editors. (Seven of them are available now; one comes out Tuesday.)

Happy reading.

Find even more books on our summer reading guide. When you buy a book using a link in this newsletter, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

By Leone Ross

“It took Leone Ross more than 15 years to write this novel, and it is an impressive act of world building: Enchantingly, she weaves together a story of second-chance love, a lush ode to food and community, and a humanistic reminder that societies must examine their biases.”

— Jane Yong Kim

The Properties of Perpetual Light
By Julian Aguon

“When I first encountered The Properties of Perpetual Light I felt as though I were being called home—to Guam, to my love of writing, to myself. This meditative collection of essays, speeches, and poems is a call to young people, particularly those from vulnerable communities threatened by climate change, to save themselves and one another.”

— Lenika Cruz

By Melissa Febos

“Since I wrote about Girlhood in March I haven’t stopped thinking about it, or about Melissa Febos’s surgical dissection of rape culture—its poisonous logic, its self-perpetuation, how it’s subsumed into mass consciousness before we even hit adolescence. Febos’s writing is as hypnotic as her arguments are clarifying.”

— Sophie Gilbert

American Delirium
By Betina González

“The first novel from the Argentine writer Betina González to be translated into English—done so, with alternately sharp and florid prose, by Heather Cleary—tells the story of a city in decay. … American Delirium is not a cheerful beach read; it is, however, utterly transportive—the rare, giddy book that makes the familiar seem fantastical, and vice versa.”

— Megan Garber

With Teeth
By Kristen Arnett

“[Arnett’s] forthcoming novel, With Teeth, is another gloriously messy, eminently Floridian tale of family dysfunction. … As in [her debut book] Mostly Dead Things, Arnett pays brutal, forensic attention to the pain that festers when family members ignore their wounds and those that they inflict on others.”

— Hannah Giorgis

How Beautiful We Were
By Imbolo Mbue

“In her second novel, Imbolo Mbue spins a multigenerational tale of the destruction an oil company brought on a fictional African village. … [The book] shows how complex resistance can be, exploring the role of violence in activism and how to balance desires for individual self-realization with a duty to the community.”

— Kate Cray

Home Is Not a Country
By Safia Elhillo

“As a poet coming of age in the same poetic circles as Safia Elhillo, I long marveled at her ability to transform language into a sort of symphony, one always playing a song that I’ve never encountered before, using instruments I didn’t even know existed.”

— Clint Smith

Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro

“The hero of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun … is an Artificial Friend, a robot designed to minister to lonely teenagers in a world that is a loosely dystopian version of ours. Klara is also a mesmerizing first-person narrator, which makes her a kind of low-tech artificial friend for readers of any age.”

— Ann Hulbert

Remember. Monday marks the 100th anniversary of an anti-Black massacre in Tulsa. Greenwood, the Black neighborhood where hundreds were killed during 24 hours of racist violence, is still fighting not to be forgotten, Caleb Gayle writes.

Monday is also Memorial Day. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Decoration Day,” from our June 1882 issue, pays tribute to the post–Civil War flag-laying tradition that eventually gave rise to the modern holiday. Read his poem.

Watch. Need a weekend binge? Catch up on HBO’s Mare of Easttown, the Kate Winslet–led crime drama that absolutely nails Delaware County, before its season finale airs on Sunday.

Listen. Driving somewhere this weekend? Roll your windows down and turn up our road-trip playlist. You can also listen on Spotify.

For podcast listeners: Katharine Smyth is 39 years old and has never, to her knowledge, had an orgasm. So she wanted to find out why. Listen to the latest episode of The Experiment.

Swim in the wild. Here’s a lovely ode to public waterways.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.