Put these picks at the top of your spring reading pile.
Books to Read This Spring 2021
Credit: courtesy of publishers

Spring has sprung, and it's my favorite time of the year, when it's finally warm enough to sit outside and read a great book (or two). I believe every season needs a book soundtrack—and the following eight reads will make up mine. There's something for everyone on this list and in these pages, so hopefully you'll enjoy reading one of these spring books, too.

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Best Spring Books to Read 2021: Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger
Credit: bookshop.org

1 Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger

$16; bookshop.org

A decade in the making, Dancyger’s triumphant memoir asks, “what happens if we really don’t remember everything?” Raised by two loving parents who were battling heroin addictions while she was growing up, Dancyger always believed that her childhood was a happy one. A member of the iconic 1980s East Village art scene, her father, Joe Schactman, dies suddenly, around the time that Dancyger enters adolescence. Taking her rage out against a world with her father no longer in it, she grows up and begins to question the mythology that has engulfed her memories of the man behind the art. The best part? Photos of Schactman’s artwork appear within these pages, which creates an even more intimate feel. A memoir that explores grief in a way that has never been done before, I highly recommend it.

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Credit: bookshop.org

2 No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

$23; bookshop.org

A finalist for the Women’s Prize, this remarkable novel from the author of Priestdaddy is truly one that everyone should be talking about. An unnamed woman goes on a publicity tour after her posts on social media have elevated her to prominent status. After making her way through what’s known as “the portal,” she becomes aware of what awaits her on the other side, when her mother sends her two urgent texts asking for her to come home. For some of us, there has never been life without the internet, so to read a book that asks us to consider what that might look like is daunting, to say the least. Lockwood makes it funny and sincere. Hey, maybe there really is life without doom scrolling.

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark
Credit: bookshop.org

3 It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

$16; bookshop.org

If you enjoyed Love, Actually but want a little more color, a little more queerness, and a little more agency all around, then look no further than Clark’s charming novel It Had to Be You. I was shocked to find out that this was Clark’s first rom-com—she writes like a genre pro. When wedding planner and co-owner of In Love in New York, Liv Goldenhorn, receives news that her husband and business partner, Eliot, has died, her world is forever changed. Why? Not only is she faced with the startling discovery that her “loving” husband had been having an affair with 23-year-old Southern belle, Savannah, it turns out Eliot left his share of the business to this other woman in the will. Somehow Liv must learn to work together with Savannah. It Had to Be You takes readers on a journey as we witness five couples fall and stay in love. Funny, charming, and a delight to read.

RELATED: The Best New Books to Read in 2021 (So Far) 

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Credit: bookshop.org

4 Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

$25; bookshop.org

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize, Detransition, Baby is a emotional, messy, heartfelt debut that focuses on an unconventional queer family unit. Reece thinks she finally has it all, until her girlfriend, Amy, detransitions and becomes Ames. If that wasn’t core-shaking enough, Ames impregnates his boss and lover, Katrina, who doesn’t know if she’s fully cut out for the world of motherhood. Ames suggests an unconventional idea: What if he, Katrina, and Reece raise this baby together? Everybody needs a family, especially a newborn. Peters gives us such an enriching novel that confronts what readers know and expect to read about queer relationships, motherhood, and chosen family. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
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5 Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

$26; bookshop.org

I’ve been waiting for Somebody’s Daughter for years, and couldn’t be more excited to say that Ford’s debut memoir is entirely worth the wait. Throughout Ford’s rough upbringing, she desperately wished she could confide in her father. The only problem is that her father is in prison, and no one will tell Ford what he’s behind bars for. After her boyfriend sexually assaults her, her grandmother tells her the truth about her father’s past, and suddenly everything begins to unravel. Rarely do I see coming-of-age stories centered on Black women—especially young Black women who grew up in the Midwest like myself—and Ford’s story steps up to the plate. There are lines that will literally take your breath away. Somebody’s Daughter is what the memoir genre is all about.

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
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6 With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

$25; bookshop.org

Fans of the NYT-bestselling Mostly Dead Things are sure to be delighted with Arnett’s latest novel, With Teeth. The story continues to showcase queer family dynamics, and what that looks like when the fabric of those family ties are threatened. When her sullen teenage son’s hostility turns from normal teen expression to physical violence, Sammie Lucas must face the realization that her perfect family isn’t so perfect after all. Her marriage to the confident, but very absent, Monika is fractured, to the point where Sammie has grown resentful. Throughout the novel, Sammie is forced to confront her own ideas of what a happy family can look like, and whether her own can fit into that space. Candid, gorgeous, and written in Arnett’s signature style, this is a must-read.

Best Spring Books to Read 2021:A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
Credit: bookshop.org

7 A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin

$24; bookshop.org

As someone who is obsessed with Instagram and the lives of those who identify as a #GirlBoss, I can confidently say that Hankin’s new novel delivers. When journalist Jillian Beckley decides to break into an exclusive and secretive women-only club, she’s completely unprepared for what she begins to uncover. For fans of cultish behavior with stiletto energy, you really can’t say no to this read. (And frankly, the members of this club would never allow it.)

Best Spring Books to Read 2021: Shipped by Angie Hockman
Credit: bookshop.org

8 Shipped by Angie Hockman

$15; bookshop.org

Henley Evans spends her days working for a cruise line and her nights taking classes for her MBA. Then she and her known professional nemesis, Graeme, both get shortlisted for a promotion at work, and their job sends them on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands where they’re expected to work and spend time—together. Feelings develop, laughter ensues, and most importantly, Henley learns the importance of needing to stop and smell the roses in this utterly charming, perfect-for-warm-weather romance novel.