Whether you end up reading by the beach, at the pool, or in the comfort of your own home, you won’t want to miss these summer books. Here are the most irresistible titles of the summer.
Riverhead, May 10
The Arkansas-born Conley, who was the only child of a Baptist pastor, grew up ashamed and terrified of his sexuality. His parents, after he was outed at 19, demanded he attend a Christian program to “cure” him. This memoir is his account of how he weathered the program and found safety and strength. It’s wrenching and absorbing. Click here to buy.
Doubleday, May 10
A dazzling collection of stories from the bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Diverse in their styles, they draw from history, myth, and modern life. Haddon takes us to Mars, the Amazon, and a deserted island, and each of these journeys is very compelling and very tender. Click here to buy.
A Strange Object, May 10
In this delightful suite of short stories, Chase confidently dips into the minds of girls and women at every different stage of life, all the way from puberty to the deathbed. The writing is confident and vivid, while also offering witty insights on the absurdity of growing up a woman in today’s world. Click here to buy.
Knopf, May 14, 2016
Danler’s acclaimed novel spans one year in the life and work of Tess, a waitress at one of Manhattan’s most celebrated restaurants. Tess gets sucked into the chaotic scene of food, drugs, and booze, and we get to follow her fun and folly. Danler’s lush, lovely writing makes the novel irresistible. Click here to buy.
Knopf, May 24
Vera, the protagonist of this sweeping book, goes with her father to Lithuania; she hopes that there, she’ll find respite and a chance to immerse herself in history. Equal parts travel narrative, exploration of family mythology and history, and a story of mental illness and love, this novel from the acclaimed author of The Girls from Corona will captivate. Click here to buy.
Grove, June 7
Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Anna Noyes is as sensuous as she is grounded. Her stories are set in coastal Maine where they track the lives of women—young, old, young, married, entangled. The beauty of her language, with its rhythmic pulls and earthy descriptions are captivating. It’s a promising debut from such a young and gifted writer.
Knopf, June 7
This ambitious novel traces three hundred years of the lives and descendants of two half-sisters living in eighteenth-century Ghana. One sister marries an Englishman and lives in a castle; the other is sold into slavery. The novel follows each story and the hardships each sister and her descendants endure. A captivating account of family, history, and racism, the novel is a true masterpiece.
Random House, June 14
Cline’s much-buzzed debut is a seductive novel about a cult of young women living in the late 1960s in northern California. At the heart of the story is a lonely teenager named Evie Boyd, who joins the girls at a run-down ranch one summer, where they’re led by a charismatic but slightly dangerous man named Russell. Inspired by the Manson Family murders, this stylish novel is a page-turner.
Riverhead, June 14
One of those books that is perfect for your weekend getaway to New England. Ausubel’s novel is set on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970s. A wealthy family loses, quite suddenly, its fortune. And with the money goes the decorum. What drama ensues is in the pleasure of reading Ausubel’s lyrical prose.
New York Review of Books, June 21
Bedford is a beloved writer, and this travel memoir, originally published in 1953, brings all the same brilliance. After World War II, Bedford left New York for Mexico, yearning “to be in a country with a long nasty history in the past and as little present history as possible.” She takes along a friend and a few belongings—ham, wine, and writing paper. Her impromptu trip is narrated in such amazing detail that you’ll delay the end, hoping the adventure will go on and on.
Doubleday, June 28
This romantic thriller is engaging at every turn. Intensely psychological, Huntley’s debut novel follows the romance between a wealthy Upper East Side woman and her old family friend. The book moves quickly, but not without digging deep into the twisted minds and lives of New York’s affluent set. The pages practically turn themselves.
FSG, July 5
Each of the 10 stories in Barrodale’s collection is a gem: elegant, subversive, and surprising. Barrodale depicts an impressive breadth of settings and characters. At the heart of each story is a tenuous relationship: in one, an actress explores her attraction to an abusive director; in another, a psychologist navigates a mother-daughter relationship; in a third, a man who eats the same meal every night pursues a mysterious woman.
Harper Perennial, July 5
Hernández’s debut follows dreamer Elián San Jamar’s journey from a small town in Texas to Yale and the cutthroat editorial department of Régine, an acclaimed fashion magazine. It’s like The Devil Wears Prada for the Facebook generation. Hernández’s writing is beautiful, and the story offers a searing take on privilege, glamour, and the socialite scene. Charming and very astute.
Riverhead, August 2
A graceful and insightful examination of a family and its intricacies, Spiegelman’s memoir explores her relationship with her mother, The New Yorker’s art director Françoise Mouly, and the ways generations of a family recast their own history. Spiegelman deftly narrates her mother’s life, as well as her childhood, and explores the ways we idolize and finally come to understand the women who shape us. A beautiful, insightful read.
Penguin, August 9
These distinct stories are flawless and strange at the same time. Core’s command of detail and nuance allows each of these stories to shimmer with just the lightest touch. In one, desire is explored through the lives of two sex workers. In another, friendship is tested by the boredom of unemployment. The stories capture that liminal edge of transition between two people who find themselves emotionally intertwined. The writing is smart, profound, and sexy.
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, August 16
Aitkenhead’s memoir is a rare book to surface this summer: unsentimental, but still entirely heartbreaking. The book starts with the death of her husband—he drowns trying to save their son—and then goes back in time to explore the years that brought them together. Beautifully written and, remarkably, full of hope.