Looking for a few good beach reads? Check out my adult summer reading list with 50 amazing books that are just perfect for long hot days lounging in the sun!

woman reading during the summer in a hammock

If you’ve read any of my YA summer reading list already (or heck, any “what to read next” book lists), you know what to expect already.  If not, here’s how I organized things:

  • Most of these books came out within the last 90 days (although a few may have come out earlier) OR will come out by the end of summer (no later than 8/31).
  • For sequels, I included the name of the series in case you need to start from the first book.

Last note: the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I earn a tiny commission at no extra charge to you.

Adult Summer Reading Book List for 2021

As with my YA list, I tried to break this up into genre sections. Some books cross genres, though, so it’s not a perfect breakdown. I’ll share a “Look Inside” preview of my top pick for each section, too.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Adult Summer Reading Books

As this is my favorite category, I had a really hard time choosing just 10!

  1. The Lost Apothecary: A Novel by Sarah Penner
  2. The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Trilogy Book 1) by John Gwynne
  3. Sorrowland: A Novel by Rivers Solomon
  4. The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers
  5. The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz
  6. A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong
  7. Locked in Magic: The Unleashed Book 0 by Mia Ellis
  8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  9. The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1 by Nora Roberts
  10. Project Hail Mary: A Novel  by Andy Weil

TOP PICK: The Lost Apothecary

For more adult summer reading fantasy books, I recommend checking out this post on Good Reads.

Romantic Beach Reads

Honestly, I don’t read a lot from the romance genre. I prefer my love stories tangled up in mystery or fantasy. I’m willing to make an exception for these picks below, though!

  1. These Tangled Vines: A Novel by Julianne MacLean
  2. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
  3. The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin
  4. The Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
  5. Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter
  6. It Had to Be You: A Novel by Georgia Clark
  7. An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart
  8. Just Last Night: A Novel by Mhairi McFarlane
  9. Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World by Bolu Babalola
  10. I Thought You Said This Would Work by Ann Garvin

Top Pick: The Last Bookshop in London

Mystery & Suspense Books

  1. Aftermath by Terri Blackstock
  2. While Justice Sleeps: A Novel by Stacey Abrams
  3. Later by Stephen King
  4. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
  5. When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel by Paula McLain
  6. Mother May I: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson
  7. Hour of the Witch: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
  8. The Rose Code: A Novel by Kate Quinn
  9. Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III Book 1) by Harlan Coben
  10. The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

Top Pick: While Justice Sleeps

Contemporary Literature

This is a hard one because no one can really agree on what “contemporary literature” actually means. For me, it’s really just books that don’t really fit into other categories and that have realistic plots. Oh, and they almost always (not always, as you can see) have “A Novel” in their titles. If you’ve ever wondered why, here’s a good explanation by Annie Neugebauer.

  1. That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
  2. Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro 
  3. Whereabouts: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri
  4. Eternal by Lisa Scottoline
  5. Of Women and Salt: A Novel by Gabriela Garcia
  6. What Comes After: A Novel  by JoAnne Tompkins
  7. Seven Perfect Things: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  8. Infinite Country: A Novel by Patricia Engel
  9. Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau
  10. How Beautiful We Were: A Novel by Imbolo Mbue

Top Pick: Seven Perfect Things

Good Non-Fiction Reads

Mostly biographies (or autobiographies), but a few essay-style books and other interesting non-fiction reads mixed in.

  1. The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor by Eddie Jaku
  2. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
  3. How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog by Christina Hunger 
  4. Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson
  5. Girlhood by Melissa Febos
  6. Let’s Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale
  7. Yearbook by Seth Rogen
  8. The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green
  9. Lost In Summerland: Essays by Barrett Swanson

Top Pick: How Stella Learned to Talk

That about covers it. I hope you found at least a food good books to add to your own summer reading list!

Pin for Later:

2021 adult summer reading list books collage