A “Summer Read” is defined as a piece of literature that is lighthearted and relaxing to read. They’re the kind of thing you’d bring with you to a beach or cottage; if you wouldn’t bring it there, it doesn’t qualify as a “Summer Read”. For example, American Royals by Katharine McGee is a “Summer Read”. The Only Plane In The Sky by Garrett M. Graff (an oral history of 9/11) would not be classified as a “Summer Read” due to the heavier subject matter.
I’ve heard this term before many times in my life, but it wasn’t until quite recently that I truly figured out what it meant. Because I’ve most commonly seen the term “Summer Reads” associated with book lists from libraries and celebrities, I thought that I would try my hand at creating a “Summer Reads” list of my own. The following books and magazine are all pieces of YA (Young Adult) literature that I find evoke the spirit of summer. They’re comical, airy, and easily something I’d have in my carry-on during a summer road trip. So, without further ado, here is my YA Summer Reads List for 2021.
(Note: Just because I’ve categorized these items as YA literature doesn’t mean that they can’t be enjoyed by any mature reader! Don’t be afraid to pick one of these up if you find a copy on the shelves- you might end up loving it just as much as I did!)
You Have A Match and Tweet Cute by Emma Lord:
For reasons unbeknownst to me, I am a sucker for teen romances. Now, I don’t mean stories where romance is the central plot and the main characters could have gotten together in Chapter Three if they hadn’t been so quick to jump to conclusions. I mean stories where the main character falls in love with someone who will support them full heartedly as they navigate the dynamics of warring fairy realms or deal with a complex inner turmoil in as realistic a way as possible. I love the romantic elements of a story, but it needs to take a backseat to whatever lesson is learned by the protagonist. This is why I was intrigued when I picked up a book called You Have A Match at my local bookstore.
You Have A Match follows Abby, who learns through a DNA test that she has a full-blooded older sister who she never knew existed. When the two girls arrange to meet, their differences are clear as day: Abby is reckless and willing to do almost anything for the perfect shot; Savannah (Savvy), a locally famous Instagram star, is an avid rule follower and health nut. Finding confronting their parents about why the other was kept a secret awkward and risky, Abby agrees to attend an SAT prep course at a summer camp Savvy works at to unpuzzle the mystery themselves. The same summer camp, it turns out, that one of Abby’s best friends (and secret crush) Leo works at too. Over the course of a few weeks the two sisters butt heads constantly, but soon realize that they can’t imagine their lives without the other in it.
One of the main reasons why I enjoyed You Have A Match is because Abby’s slow-burn romance with her crush, Leo, is a sub-plot. (An incredibly sweet sub-plot, but a sub-plot just the same.) He isn’t a catalyst for some big decision or revelation that changes the plot. Of course, Leo is still an important character who helps Abby to grow throughout the book, but I appreciated that the focal plot was always Abby and Savvy’s evolving sister relationship. Romance was just an added bonus! I was able to relate to the characters very easily, from Abby’s gradual gained confidence to show off her artistic talents to the dynamic between Abby and Savvy that reminds me so much of my own sister and I. Overall it was a pleasant read, one that celebrates among other things the bond of sisterhood.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord:
After finishing You Have A Match, I was delighted to discover that Emma Lord had written another YA book called Tweet Cute. (A play on the expression “Meet Cute”, which refers to the first meeting between two individuals who will later form a romantic relationship. The circumstances of this meeting are often coincidental, cute, or comedic, and is a device most commonly found in rom-coms. For example, when Hazel and Augustus meet in The Fault In Our Stars. )
Tweet Cute follows classmates Pepper and Jack, two seniors at a competitive New York City private school. While neither is fond of the other to begin with, things between them momentarily become tense after Jack discovers that Pepper’s family owns a restaurant franchise which has stolen a grilled cheese recipe from his family’s deli. Jack angrily takes to Twitter to expose the franchise, unknowing at first that Pepper has been pressured to take over the franchise’s Twitter account to “grill” users as part of the grilled cheese promotion. Surprisingly, the back-and-forth “Twitter war” between Pepper and Jack drums up business for Jack’s family’s struggling deli, so the two agree to keep the online feud going after their backgrounds are revealed to each other. As Jack and Pepper spend more time together, they slowly fall in love- both IRL (In real life) and online. In an added twist, the two are also connecting under aliases on an anonymous chat app that Jack designed. Will their budding relationship survive off-screen? Or will their online “feud” go too far and damage their relationship beyond repair?
There’s just something about this book that makes it impossible to put down. Perhaps it’s the interesting plot and writing style, or the (again) highly relatable characters. Like I mentioned previously, maybe it’s something to do with the irresistible pull of romance, especially when it’s easy to see how compatible the love interests are. I kid you not, I started reading Tweet Cute around 10:00 last Monday morning and only stopped at 1:15 because I had to eat lunch before my family left on an outing. The storyline is perfectly crafted: rivals to lovers, a social media war infused with Gen Z sass, and relatable teen struggles including parental pressure and the stress of getting perfect grades. It’s sure to be one of my go-to favourites from now on.
Oh Reader Magazine:
As a certified book nerd, finding people who share the same intensity of passion about books as I do can be a struggle. Thankfully, I have to look no further than my newest reading fix Oh Reader. Oh Reader is an incredible publication devoted to everything related to readers and reading. The articles cover a surprisingly wide range: you can find interviews with book podcasts, an article about a book that helped a writer come to terms with her inner anger, and an article about the joy of reading on the toilet (a perfectly reasonable place to read, in my opinion.) all in the same place. The pages are colourful and inviting; the articles simultaneously witty and thought-provoking. This isn’t a “scholars only” magazine- the articles are written by ordinary readers like you and me. My personal favourite part of reading Oh Reader is being able to see myself in the writers and sharing the passion they have for written words on a page. Even though I’ve never met them, as Anne Shirley would say, these writers and I are kindred spirits. In fact, I was actually inspired by this magazine to write an article of my own about how my relationship with books evolved during my transitions from elementary to middle school, and then from middle school to high school. (I’ve submitted a pitch to Oh Reader for my article, and will let you know if anything comes of it.) Long story short, Oh Reader is a magazine I highly, highly recommend for any fellow bookworms in your life.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a “Summer Reads” list. Hopefully as the province continues to reopen and more and more of us are getting vaccinated, I just might get the opportunity to take my list to the beach in order to truly put them to the test. However, this can only happen if all of us continue to do our part to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Every action, from getting a vaccination to ignoring health unit guidelines, will impact how soon we will be able to return to the way of life most resembling our lives pre-pandemic. I know you’re tired of following the rules, but try to hang in there a little while longer. With every person who gets a Covid-19 vaccination, a mask-less future grows a little closer. Make informed decisions by visiting the website of your local health unit, and continue to follow their directions until you hear otherwise.
What are some of your favourite “Summer Reads”? Do you prefer to relax with a “Summer Read” through an audiobook, Ebook, or physical book? Let me know in the comments!