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The best books of summer 2021 match the national moment—hot, chaotic, a splicing of heady fantasy and reality. The world is restless and fearful and hopeful. And we are prepared to ask a lot of our books. We demand books that grant us relief. At the same time, we beg to be shown gently distorted versions of ourselves on the page, that we may see ourselves more clearly. We want to laugh out loud, cry hard, read words that feel as vital as sunshine on our closed eyelids. We’ve been through so much, and we still want to be moved by books.
Women writers deliver this July with a new crop of books that deserve instant places of honor on our shelves. In Intimacies, a woman serves as a translator for an alleged war criminal, while outside of work she tries to interpret whether her lover’s actions mean that he will ever actually leave his wife. In Nightbitch, a new stay-at-home mom begins to transform, literally, into an animal. In A Touch of Jen, two dysfunctional millennials develop a mutual crush on a hot Instagram girl, turning, slowly, to violence. July brings a retrospective on The Babysitter’s Club, a book of poetry (Other People’s Comfort…), and a hilarious collection of essays (Well, This Is Exhausting) about being a horny, anxious young woman.
Retreat from the relentless heat of summer into a cool library or a blissfully air-conditioned bookstore, and grab one of these July gems. The best books of summer 2021 are shiny, refreshing, and pleasantly unsettling.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.