2021 Summer Reading Challenge – with Book Recs!

May 26, 2021 in Bookish

Summer, summer, summertime… It’s time for round 2 of my summer reading challenge and I am so excited to share this year’s prompts with you! As always, there’s a nice mix of summer themed and general reading prompts. However, this year we won’t be following the astronomical calendar. Instead, the challenge will run throughout June, July and August! (Which is ideal if, like me, you want to start your spooky season reads in September!)

So yeah, let’s take a quick look at the rules before I reveal this year’s summer reading challenge prompts…

The Rules

  • The summer reading challenge will start on June 1st and end on August 31st.
  • There are 16 prompts – you can complete as many as you like and in any order.
  • A book can count towards multiple prompts!
  • All formats are welcome.
  • Some prompts are genre specific but you can be creative with this or double up on another prompt.
  • Track your progress on Instagram using the IG story graphic below and tag me (@hayleybythebook) because I love to see how you’re getting on!
Summer Reading Challenge 2021

The Prompts

  1. New-to-you author
  2. A mystery released in 2021
  3. Main character’s name starts with J
  4. Summery cover
  5. 4 word title
  6. Middle grade (8-12) or young adult (12+) book
  7. Christmas in July
  8. Hyped book
  9. A book you meant to read last year
  10. Sci-fi or fantasy book
  11. Non-fiction by a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other people of colour) author
  12. First book in a series
  13. LGBTQIA+
  14. Main character takes a trip or goes on holiday
  15. Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 winner or nominee
  16. Water on cover


Book Recommendations

Last year, I was caught off guard by a reader asking for recommendations that met the prompts. I wasn’t expecting to be asked so I wasn’t prepared. But now I am. So this year, I’m giving you a selection of recommendations from yours truly.

I’ve tried to do this in a way that each recommendation is only listed once. However, certain books will meet multiple prompts. For example, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo meets the criteria for summery cover, 4 word title, YA, hyped book, LGBTQIA+, MC takes a trip AND Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 winner. That’s 7 prompts! I’m not saying that you HAVE to read that one but I do recommend it quite highly. (Note: trigger warnings for parental death and sexual assault among others!) Basically, books can have a lot of overlap so feel free to use the same book for multiple prompts if you want to.

And one final thing before I jump into the recommendations list. Some of these books I’ve read or am currently reading while others are on my TBR. To make it clear, I’ll use (R) for books I’ve read, (CR) for currently reading and (TBR) for ones I haven’t. And if you see a little asterisk (*) then that means I received a copy of the book from the publishers in exchange for a review. Okay, let’s take a look at some books!

1. New-to-you author

This is literally any author that you haven’t read a book by before. Some popular authors that would be ‘new-to-me’ include Katherine Arden, Leigh Bardugo, Blake Crouch, Grady Hendrix and John Marrs.

2. A mystery released in 2021

  • Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson (R)
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain (R)
  • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris* (R)
  • The Girls are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn* (R)

3. Main character’s name starts with J

  • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (R)
  • Dear Justyce by Nic Stone* (R)

4. Summery cover

  • The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (R)
  • All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (R)
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry (R)

5. 4 word title

  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (R)
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (R)
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (R)
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (R)

6. Middle grade (8-12) or young adult (12+) book

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (R)
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (R)
  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (R)
  • The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (R)
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (R)

7. Christmas in July

Christmas in July is a fun little tradition where you get to celebrate Christmas all over again! For this prompt, read a Christmas themed or wintery book in the month of July.

  • Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye (R)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (R)
  • My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (TBR)
  • Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (R)
  • A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig (TBR)

8. Hyped book

For this one I went onto Booktok and made my selections from the books other people were talking about…

  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (R)
  • Circe by Madeline Miller (TBR)
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (TBR)
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (TBR)

9. A book you meant to read last year

For this one, just read any book that you never got around to reading last year. I might read Scythe by Neal Shusterman for this prompt.

10. Sci-fi or fantasy book

  • Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (CR)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (R)
  • The Coven by Lizzie Fry* (R)
  • The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey (R)
  • Want by Cindy Pon (R)
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells (R)

11. Non-fiction by a BIPOC author

  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (CR)
  • It’s Not About the Burqa by Mariam Khan (CR)
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (TBR)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (TBR)
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (TBR)
  • The Black Friend by Frederick Joseph* (R)
  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller (TBR)
  • In Order to Live by Yeon-Mi Park (TBR)

12. First book in a series

  • Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien (R)
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (R)
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner (R)


  • Loveless by Alice Oseman (R)
  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (R)
  • The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez* (CR)
  • Ace by Angela Chen (R)
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi* (R)
  • Check, Please! Series by Ngozi Ukazu (R)

14. Main character takes a trip or goes on holiday

  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry* (TBR)
  • One by One by Ruth Ware (R)
  • The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter (R)

15. Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 winner or nominee

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (R)
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (R)
  • When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (R)
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar* (R)
  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade* (R)

16. Water on cover

  • Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (TBR)
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman (TBR)
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (R)
  • We were Liars by E. Lockhart (TBR)

That’s a wrap on today’s post. I hope that you’ll consider taking part in my 2021 summer reading challenge. If you do, I hope that you have a lot of fun with it. And again – do tag me (@hayleybythebook) in your updates as I’d love to see how you’re getting on! If you’re interested in what I read, I’ll be sharing my updates on Twitter and Instagram so give me a follow. Have a great summer of reading!

P.S. Did you know I have a Bookshop.org store*? When you purchase books through my affiliate store, both myself and an independent bookstore will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can even choose to support your local indie with your purchase! 🙂

*Featured Image: pixelshot from Canva Pro

1 Comment

  • Jamie June 1, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    I’m joining!

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