Summer is just around the corner, which means more time to tackle your #TBR list. This summer there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for an escape, a trip back in time, or to learn something new. We’ve rounded up all of our favorites so you can spend more time reading and less time searching. Here are the best books for teachers to read over the summer.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
The Best Mysteries
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
A struggling author and teacher steals one of his student’s masterful “plot” for his next novel. A game of cat and mouse ensues between the author and a reader who knows too much, resulting in a dramatic and chilling conclusion.
Fun fact: Jean Hanff Koelitz wrote You Should Have Known, which aired on HBO as The Undoing.
Attachments by Jeff Arch
Part mystery, part love story, you won’t want to put this book down. Told in alternating points of view and time frames, it’s about three former friends who met at a boarding school in Pennsylvania. A deathbed request from the school’s dean brings the characters back to school, where secrets from the past are revealed.
Fun fact: Jeff Arch wrote Sleepless in Seattle.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
A secret society at Cambridge University. A Classics professor who might be a murderer. A graduate who’s obsessed with proving the professor’s guilt. This mystery has all the ingredients for a page-turning thriller. Plus, Alex Michaelides never disappoints!
Fun fact: Alex Michaelides wrote last summer’s popular mystery, The Silent Patient.
The Best Contemporary Fiction
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
One of our top picks in contemporary fiction for books for teachers to read over the summer, Nella Rogers is the only Black employee at Wagner Books in NYC. So she’s thrilled when Hazel, who is also Black, joins the office. But Hazel isn’t what she seems. After a series of uncomfortable events, Nella starts to question everything. This is one of our favorites on the list; we’ve never read anything else like it.
Fun fact: Zakiya Dalila Harris was an editorial assistant at a publishing house before she resigned to write this book.
God Spare The Girls by Kelsey McKinney
Two sisters in Texas learn their father, a famous pastor, isn’t who he seems. Abigail and Caroline have to decide whether to forgive or forget in this powerful coming-of-age novel. If you love lyrical prose, this one’s for you.
Fun Fact: This is McKinney’s first novel.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book is full of drama, from make-ups and break-ups to family secrets. Everything happens on the day of a big party in 1980s Malibu. The flashbacks, told in alternating points of view, make for dynamic characters you’ll care about (even if you don’t agree with all of their choices!).
Fun fact: Taylor Jenkins Reid is a writer on Hulu’s Resident Advisors.
The Best Summer Romance Books
Seven Days In June by Tia Williams
Writers, Shane and Eva, fell in love 15 years ago. They reconnect at a literary event in NYC, and their chemistry is still strong. But can Eva trust Shane? Will he answer all of her questions or disappear again? This was our favorite romance of the summer so far.
Fun Fact: Tia Williams was a beauty editor for women’s magazines for 15 years.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
What happens when you fall in love with a girl who is lost in time? That’s what happens to August when she meets Jane on the subway in this fun summer romance. Who knew that public transit could be so romantic? If you loved The Time Traveler’s Wife or are looking for a magical escape, check this out.
Fun Fact: Casey McQuiston grew up in Louisiana and speaks Cajun French.
People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry
Alex and Poppy are best friends, and for the past ten years, they’ve taken a trip together. Then Poppy screwed up, and things changed. Now, she’s convinced Alex to go on one more trip and can make things right. Or can she? This is the ultimate summer beach read of 2021.
Fun Fact: Emily Henry shared this book is an homage to the movie, When Harry Met Sally
The Best Sci-Fi Books
We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinkser
This book seems ordinary, at first. It’s about two moms, one is a teacher. Things change when students start getting Pilots, which are a brain implants that help students with school. Soon there’s pressure for everyone to get a Pilot, and both moms are feeling the pressure. They just want what’s best for their kids, but resisting the Pilot may do more harm than good.
Fun Fact: This book resulted from two separate short stories.
The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien
Set in the future, a young woman born into servitude seeks her freedom. When she gets her freedom sooner than expected, she has to grapple with the realities of her world. If you love dystopias and a fantastical world that’s so detailed it feels real, this is the summer read for you.
Fun Fact: Marissa Levien is also a visual artist who makes beautiful illustrations.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Ryland is a middle school science teacher who goes into the solar system to save Earth. Things don’t as planned, and he finds himself the only survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission. But he can’t remember who he is or what he needs to do, which makes saving humanity impossible. Or does it? You can’t make this stuff up. It’s too good.
Fun Fact: Andy Weir also wrote The Martian.
The Best Personal Development Books
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat In Difficult Times by Katherine May
May draws on lessons from literature, mythology, her own experience, and the natural world to answer the question: how do we embrace uncertainty during difficult times? When a series of health and personal crisis upend May’s life, she stops working to rest and slow down. Her book is a powerful reminder that even when we feel alone and undone, there are lessons to be learned.
Fun Fact: Katherine May was a writing teacher.
Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking The Stress Cycle by Dr. Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, DMA
This past year everyone experience a prolonged duration of stress. After a year of pandemic teaching, many of us are experiencing burnout. If you’re looking for a helpful way to better understand burnout and what you can do to feel better, this is the book for you. You’ll learn how to complete the biological stress cycle and why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout.
Fun Fact: The authors are sisters and draw a lot on their relationship and experiences together.
How Far You Have Come by Morgan Harper Nichols
This beautiful book is full of encouragement. It’s an ode to personal growth, told through poetry, stories, and art. Nichols writes about everything from career failures, wrestling with hard histories, what she’s learned about friendship and loving herself.
Fun Fact: For more inspiration, listen to her podcast, which comes out every Monday and Friday.
The Best Professional Development Books
A Search For Common Ground: Conversations About The Toughest Questions In K-12 Education by Frederick M. Hess and Pedro A. Noguera
If you felt like the pandemic was an opportunity to rethink education, and you don’t want to “go back to normal,” this book will interest you. This is one of the books for teachers to read over the summer because it’s an honest dialogue about big issues in education like testing, school choice, and diversity. The writers model how to have difficult conversations as they don’t see eye to eye on the issues.
Fun Fact: This book started as a series of emails between two educators who have known each other for a long time.
In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way To World Class Schools by Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy P. Walker
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to teach in another country and how teachers are perceived? The book explains why teachers in Finland hold high status and shows what the country’s trust-based school system looks like in action. We love how it’s co-written by a Finnish teacher and an American teacher who moved to Finland to teach.
Fun Fact: Learn more about what it’s like to be an American teaching in Finland on Timothy’s blog.
The Empowered ELA Teacher by Caitlin Mitchell & Jessica Cannata
Caitlin and Jessica are former middle school ELA teachers who are experts at batch lesson planning. They’re on a mission to help teachers not just survive but thrive in teaching. They believe that to do great work, teachers need to become more efficient in how they plan and deliver instruction. The book is full of exercises and activities that will help you grow your practice.
Fun Fact: Caitlin and Jessica met when they were teaching at the same school. We interviewed them about batch lesson planning here.
We’re curious. What’s on your list of the best books for teachers to read over the summer? Let us know in the comments.