I initially titled this post “2021 Summer Reading Demands,” but I think that’s bad SEO.
Tori Curtis (dear friend and author of Eelgrass, who shares my passion for starting projects we don’t even intend to finish) recently complained to our group chat that the local library didn’t actually have any information about the summer reading program they advertised. We decided to make and swap Summer Reading Bingo cards, the way we have previously swapped writing prompts.
Then, I decided to make 4 more and share the collection with you. Choose your own adventure!
Summer Reading Bingo Rules
- No rules, just right.
- Yes, you can count the same book for multiple squares (but see rules 3 and 4).
- If you complete a row, column, or diagonal before September 22, tag me on Twitter (@jzkelleywrites) or email me (jz at jzkelley dot com) with the titles of the books you read (minimum 3), and I’ll shout you out in my wrap-up post. Include a (1) link to something you want to show off!
- If you complete the entire sheet before September 22, tag me on Twitter (@jzkelleywrites) or email me (jz at jzkelley dot com) with the titles of the books you read (minimum 10), and I will give you an actual, tangible prize in addition to a shoutout. Probably a gift card? TBD.
Resources and Recommendations (mostly alphabetical)
If you’re wondering, “Does X book fit Y category?” the answer is yes. Some books will fit the spirit of the category, and some books will only fit the category on a technicality. That’s fine. There are no grades. You cannot do summer reading wrong.
The goal is to expand your literary horizons and have fun. If you can only manage one of those things, let it be fun.
Here are some suggestions for the less common categories to get you started:
A 2020 debut
- A debut is an author’s first published book.
- Since so much of an author’s career hinges on their early book sales, and the pandemic messed up everything in publishing, I want to bring extra attention to debuts published in 2020.
- I loved Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed and Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, but I really want to read Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London as well.
- The Goodreads Choice Awards list is here
- Here’s what Kirkus thinks are the best 2020 debuts
A book released in March 2020
- Books released at the start of the pandemic were particularly hard hit.
- Beneath the Rising came out March 3rd, just saying.
- Thorn by Intisar Khanani also came out that month.
- The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune, and The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo are on my TBR.
- Here’s the Goodreads list
A book about books or reading
- Fun fact: My first college literature class was on metafiction
- Here’s a Book Riot list
- There are a ton of Goodreads lists
A book about food
- I really want to read Food Isn’t Medicine by Dr. Joshua Wolrich but it isn’t out in the US yet.
- Food-Related Non-Fiction on Goodreads
- Food-Related Fiction on Goodreads
- Foodie Romances on Goodreads
A book about sports or athletics
- Book Riot has a list of recommended sports romances
- Or, I guess, you could try sports-related nonfiction
A book by an author who writes/has written fanfic
- Cassandra Clare, Seanan McGuire, Marjorie M. Liu, Marissa Meyer, E. L. James, and Anna Todd are the obvious choices.
- Apparently, Andy Weir (The Martian) wrote Ready Player One fanfiction.
- You could also argue that anyone who writes biblically inspired fiction or retellings of any kind is writing fanfiction.
A book of science fiction or fantasy poetry
- This article by Book Riot goes into a bit of the history of speculative poetry, as well as a speculative poetry reading list.
A book recommended by a librarian or bookseller
- Here is a tip for shy readers: While librarians and booksellers are usually happy to offer recommendations, you can also walk around your library or bookstore and look for a display with staff recommendations.
A book recommended by a stranger
- Another tip for shy readers: Check out the r/SuggestMeABook subreddit.
A book with a person of color on the cover
- This seems to be getting better, but authors still struggle with publishers using white models for their covers, even when their protagonists are explicitly people of color.
- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler or Huntress by Malina Lo would be a good pick.
- Epic Reads has a list of illustrated covers featuring people of color (I really want to read Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.).
- Bustle has a list of 12 adult novels with a POC on the cover.
A children’s or young adult book by an author of color
- If you haven’t, read A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
- My local bookstore has a list of children’s books by authors of color
- Epic Reads has a pitiful list of just 18 YA books by authors of color
- Get a wider range of recommendations from Rich in Color, a blog about diverse YA
A children’s or young adult book by an indigenous author
- Seattle Public Library has a list of kids books by indigenous authors and illustrators
- Look for Native American YA fiction on the LA library’s website
- Or check out this list of books by indigenous authors on Goodreads
A children’s or young adult book by an LGBTQIA author
- Publisher’s Weekly has a list of “new and noteworthy LGBTQ-themed books coming this spring and summer for children and teens”
- Barnes and Noble has a list of LGBTQ children’s books
- Here’s the Goodreads shelf for YA LGBT
- Book Riot recommends 3 intersex YA books
- The Young Adult Library Services Association has a list of asexual/aromantic YA
A children’s or young adult book with a fat protagonist/a romance or young adult novel with a fat protagonist
- I love the title of this list from San Jose Public Library: YA Books With Fat Protagonists That Aren’t Terrible About It
- (But I’m not entirely convinced the books on that list aren’t “terrible about it.” Please read with caution.)
- BuzzFeed has an alternate list of “body-positive” YA
- Books for Littles recommends some radically body-positive kids books
- For romance, I love Talia Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown
- Book Riot has suggestions for “plus-size” romance
A collection of personal essays published before 2000
- Check out Flavorwire’s list of recommended essay collections, some of which fit the category
- Also: The Goodreads shelf
A collection of poetry by an LGBTQIA poet
- I love Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
- Honestly, find a poem you like and track down one of the poet’s collections
- NBC News, of all places, has recommendations
A graphic novel written or illustrated by a person of color
- Goodreads has a list of comic creators of color
A historical romance novel with a protagonist of color
- Alyssa Cole and Courtney Milan would be my top picks
- Goodreads comes through for me again
A horror or dark fantasy novel by an author of color
- I’m going to read The Only Good Indians (Stephen Graham Jones), and I’m pretty sure several Silvia Moreno-Garcia books could fulfill this category.
- Diversity in Horror Fiction has additional recommendations
A novel with a protagonist over 45
- Read The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg (which is actually a novella, but no rules, just right).
- Then AND ONLY THEN, you can pick one of these recommendations from Book Riot or Goodreads
A romance novel by a disabled author
- Recommendations are not as easy to find as I expected!
- Check out Corey’s recommendations for disability rep, then research the authors, I guess.
- Maybe I’ll make a list myself sometime in the future.
A romance novel by a trans or nonbinary author/a romance novel with a trans or nonbinary protagonist
- Since I link to Corey’s essays like 12 times a month, you really should read one of their books, published as Xan West.
- The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (coming July 13) is incredible, so preorder that as well.
- Book Riot has some additional suggestions
A romance novel by an author of color
- Read Talia Hibbert!
- Here’s a whole site promoting women of color in romance.
A science fiction or fantasy novel by a disabled author
- Again, not as easy to find as it should be
- Barnes and Noble has a short list of “disabled genre authors, or authors who celebrate disability in their work”.
- Metaphors and Moonlight has a list of SFF books with disabled characters. You’ll have to dig from there.
A science fiction or fantasy novel by an indigenous author
- I’m excited to read Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.
- Book Riot has 25 recommendations
- Or, check out this list by Ottawa Public Library
A science fiction or fantasy novel by an LGBTQ author
- I have to plug The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg again. It’s gorgeous, it made me cry, I want everyone to read it.
- Speaking of crying, C. L. Clark’s The Unbroken is like 90% lesbian suffering, 10% incredible world building.
- Hey look, there’s a whole database of queer SFF!
A small press or self-published book
- Obviously, I have to recommend Tori’s self-published debut, Eelgrass, again. It’s a lesbian selkie/mermaid fantasy about the ways in which our communities of origin can be complicit in our abuse.
- Shira Glassman writes short, sweet, sapphic, Jewish-inspired fantasy and contemporary fiction.
- Independent Book Review recommends 32 small press books from 2020.
- It can be a little bit more difficult to find reliable review of self-published books, but Dear Author and Maryse’s Book Blog are both long-running book blogs that review self-published books.
A work of fiction by a disabled author
- Check out the above recommendations for romance and SFF.
- You can also look at Goodreads’s lists of disability books, but you’ll have to dig a bit to see if the authors are disabled or just the protagonists.
- A fantasy genre “in which important literary and historical personalities” interacting in the afterlife (E. F. Bleiler, Guide to Supernatural Fiction)
- Popular titles include Bangs’s Riverworld series and The Divine Comedy
- BestFantasyBooks.com alleges that The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is also bangsian, which–[sigh] no rules, just right. I guess.
- Of course there’s a Goodreads shelf.
- A sci-fi genre that’s basically cyberpunk but focused on biotechnology rather than digital technology
- Popular titles include Scott Westerfield’s works (Leviathan, Uglies), Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, Dawn by Octavia E. Butler, Never Let Me Go by Kazu Ishiguro, and Frankenstein.
- Some of the Jurassic Park works are probably biopunk.
- Here’s the Goodreads shelf.
- Fiction told as or including letters, text messages, emails, journal entries, etc.
- This Is How You Lose the Time War is a good pick for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
- Book Riot has 100 additional suggestions.
- Essentially speculative stories that present a hopeful future
- Becky Chambers, Emily St. John Mandel, and Alexandra Rowland (who coined the term) are the big names that spring to mind. I’d argue a lot of small press/self-published trans and queer works also fit.
- I’m going to fight the person who put The Lord of the Rings on the Goodreads Hopepunk shelf.
- Cat Rambo has a suggested reading list.
Nonfiction by a woman of color
- I’m just going to say it: Becoming is the obvious choice here.
- I loved The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang.
- Happy Magazine has 6 suggestions.
- There are also some non-fiction recommendations on Electric Lit’s list of women of color to read in 2021.
Nonfiction written by a disabled author
- My pick would probably be Exile and Pride, an essay collection by Eli Clare.
- The Festival of Literary Diversity has 4 recommendations.
- Check out these disabled writers featured on the Disability Visibility Project.
Nonfiction written by a trans or nonbinary author
- I’m currently loving Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price, even though it’s less sociology, more self help than I expected.
- I like this list by the Ottawa Public Library because it isn’t exclusively “trans and nonbinary writers write about being trans and nonbinary.”
Sword and planet fiction
- Science fantasy adventure stories set on planets that are not earth
- Think of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, Lin Carter, Kenneth Bulmer, etc.
- Also, Dune!
- Check the content warnings first, but Skyfall by Catherine Asaro is like a proto-feminist take on the genre, kind of … Anyway, it’s a wild ride, and I’d recommend it purely on the strength of its main character’s massive, constantly described, literally golden breasts.
- If, for some reason, you don’t want a Big Titty Gold Girlfriend, there’s a Goodreads list with other suggestions.
Need suggestions for other categories? Ask me in the comments!
Also, let me know what you’re planning to read! I always need more books for the list of things I’m definitely, totally, 100% going to read eventually.