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Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear)

Jon Fine (Viking)

Like, well, just about everybody it seems, I too was in an indie band back in the day—and I still love to play around with my friends, even though my band went up in flames years ago. But that's not why I love this book. What I love is that this book stands in stark contrast to the usual stories of rock star depravity. Fine tells his story like he made his music: with wit, and honesty. —Andrew Albanese, senior writer


Modern Romance: An Investigation

Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg (Penguin Press)

Ansari, a comedian and TV actor, has cowritten a book with a legitimate sociologist about what it means to date in the modern era. When technology and instant gratification are changing the landscape of human interactions, dating is weirder than ever, and I'm looking forward to Ansari's sense of humor and cultural criticism on the topic, which he's started to address in his stand-up. –Natasha Gilmore, associate children's editor


The Argonauts

Maggie Nelson (Graywolf)

Reading Nelson is like sweeping the leaves out of your mental driveway: by the end of one of her books, you have a better understanding of how the world works. The Argonauts is about her relationship with Harry Dodge, her pregnancy, and becoming a mother, and it's supplemented with references to Roland Barthes, The Shining, Anne Carson, Atari games, and more. The result is one of the most intelligent, generous, and moving books of the year.—Gabe Habash, deputy reviews editor


Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald

Edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Skyhorse/Arcade)

This summer, or sooner, I'm hoping to dip into this book, whose mere existence came as a surprise to me—the story of the epistolary friendship between two writers I'd never have imagined knowing each other, let alone inhabiting the same literary universe. Ross Macdonald, in particular, has fascinated me ever since I read his haunting Lew Archer detective novels, far removed from the normal run of pulp PI fiction, and the biography of Macdonald by Nolan, who edited this collection. Who knew that Macdonald was an environmental activist and spiritual counselor to rock stars, among other things. —Everett Jones, reviews editor


Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings

Shirley Jackson (Random)

Sixty years before Suzanne Collins volunteered Katniss as tribute, Jackson chose Tessie Hutchinson for certain death in "The Lottery," a staple of required-reading lists. So I was intrigued to see that this anthology of unpublished and uncollected work by Jackson—author of creep-fests in short story and novel form—includes, for example, an essay called "A Vroom for Dr. Seuss," and an entire section on humor and family. What sort of perspective does the author of The Haunting bring to, say, a piece on the craft of writing titled "Garlic in Fiction"? I'm looking forward to finding out. –Carolyn Juris, features editor


The Silenced

James DeVita (Milkweed Editions)

I'm a huge fan of YA fiction, and I can hardly wait to read this book by DeVita, who, in addition to being a writer, is an acclaimed professional regional stage actor. The Silenced is about a totalitarian society and a courageous young woman who forms a resistance group, the White Rose, which embarks upon a campaign of civil disobedience aimed at the reigning Zero Tolerance Party, armed "with nothing but words and her hunger for freedom." If Vita writes as well as he acts, I know I am going to read something that will cause me to jump from my seat and applaud wildly. –Claire Kirch, Midwest correspondent


The Complete Eightball 1–18

Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)

When I first encountered these acerbic, grotesque, empathetic stories, they were part of a "comic book" that eviscerated the medium. The feeble, self-deluded, and desperate were Clowes's early targets, but his worldview soon became less misanthropic and more painfully observant. Now elevated to a deluxe slipcased pair of hardcovers that costs about 50 times more than the first issue, these famed stories—"Ghost World," "Art School Confidential," and "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" among them—can be enjoyed in the context of Clowes's development into a master cartoonist. –Heidi MacDonald, comics editor


Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances

Rachel Anne Ridge (Tyndale House)

It is a dirty little secret in publishing that we do indeed judge books by their covers. The cover for Flash is not the only reason I want to read this story about a donkey; everything that describes this book is so whimsical that I'm drawn to it. Whimsy is an antidote I welcome for today's excess of irony in print. I can have a donkey vicariously without having to feed it or clean up after it and enjoy a fun read for summer as the field of animal memoirs expands to include slow, endearing, and, apparently, loud donkeys. –Marcia Z. Nelson, contributing editor


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

William Finnegan (Penguin Press)

Like that powerful, glassy wave, great books on surfing come few and far between. This summer, New Yorker writer Finnegan recalls his teenage years in the California and Hawaii of the 1960s—when surfing was an escape for loners and outcasts. A delightful storyteller, Finnegan takes readers on a journey from Hawaii to Australia, Fiji, and South Africa, where finding those waves is as challenging as riding them. –Mark Rotella, senior editor


The Festival of Insignificance

Milan Kundera, trans. from the French by Linda Asher (Harper)

Life is absurd and frivolous, but also painful and even beautiful every once in a while. That about sums up how I feel when reading anything by Kundera. With this book, the 86-year-old Czech writer captures that sensation in less than 100 pages. A tale of four garrulous friends planning a birthday/death party in modern-day Paris, this novel of conversations is brainy, canny, and goes down smooth. –Seth Satterlee, reviews editor



Paul Griffin (Scholastic Press)

This is Griffin's first book since Burning Blue in 2012, which has stuck with me over the years, right alongside The Orange Houses before that, so I was glad to see it land on our shelves at the office. The setting—Montauk, N.Y.—screams summer, though the ominous cover image of a tiny boat being buffeted by enormous waves (along with my memories of Griffin's earlier work) make me suspect this isn't going to be a feel-good read. Don't ruin the Atlantic for me, Griffin! –John Sellers, children's reviews editor


Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker

Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering (NBM)

This work of graphic nonfiction is the true story of Benjy Melendez, founder of the Ghetto Brothers, a 1970s-era gang in the Bronx during one of the most violent, drug saturated, blighted periods in New York City history. The book is also the story of how Benjy, the son of 1960s Puerto Rican immigrants (who also turn out to be secret Spanish heritage Jews), turned the Ghetto Brothers into a peace-loving, multiracial gang that preached nonviolence in the early days of hip-hop. I also interviewed Melendez and think it's great that this almost-forgotten story has been brought to life. – Calvin Reid, senior news editor


Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood

Grayson Perry (Penguin Books)

If you're looking for insight into the bizarre world of contemporary art, spend a summer afternoon with this book. Perry, a self-described "middlebrow" "transvestite potter," who also happens to be a full-paid member of the art establishment, speaks with good faith and a whole lot of sarcasm in this romp. He coolly addresses questions of quality and taste (how do we decide if art is good?), but best are his jabs at the exclusive realm of galleries and museums. His book serves as a solid reminder that even if you are dumbfounded by the idea of Tilda Swinton asleep in a glass box, there's plenty to love about today's art world. –Annie Coreno, reviews editor


Fell of Dark

Patrick Downes (Philomel)

Whether I'm reading books for children or adults, I'm always seeking unconventional narratives that work, despite the "rules" they might break. In the case of YA books, I particularly respect writers who give their young readers enough credit to embrace complex storytelling. Fell of Dark is ostensibly a book about madness and grief, but it eschews the need for a standard plot or character development, relying more on symbolism and ambrosial language than relatable protagonists. Just my cup of tea. –Matia Burnett, assistant editor, children's books



Austin Grossman (Little, Brown/Mulholland)

As a Lovecraft fan, I perked up as soon as I read the phrase "Lovecraftian suspense" in the galley description of this genre-bending thriller, which is narrated by Richard Nixon some 20 years after his supposed death. Later, the following passage in chapter two caught my eye: "This is a tale of espionage and betrayal and the dark secrets of a decades-long cold war. It is a story of otherworldly horror, of strange nameless forces that lie beneath the reality we know. In other words, it is the story of a marriage." The author clearly has a sense of humor, too. That clinched this as a must-read for me. –Peter Cannon, senior reviews editor


Blue Fasa

Nathaniel Mackey (New Directions)

For more than 20 years, Mackey has been working on the serial poems Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu," which combine West African music and storytelling traditions with modernist poetic experimentation. In the manner that many strains of jazz music can be alluring, yet difficult for new listeners, Mackey's poetry can initially hold new readers at arm's length. But once you get a feel for his rhythms and start to recognize his points of reference, the work opens up in breathtaking ways. —Alex Crowley, reviews editor


Finders Keepers

Stephen King (Scribner)

I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's high-concept fiction, and last summer while sitting in the airport waiting to leave the American Library Association Annual Conference in Vegas, I read a review of Mr. Mercedes (which had just come out) that described it as a crime novel with the desperation of Under the Dome. I went to the airport's bookstore and picked it up, finished it in a couple days, and spent the rest of the summer reading crime fiction. I'm really excited to kick off another summer of crime fiction with the Mr. Mercedes follow-up. —Seth Dellon, digital business manager


All That Followed

Gabriel Urza (Holt)

A foreign setting that's just exotic enough (the Basque region of Spain), a terrible crime (kidnapping and murder), a small town with complicated history and delicious superstitions (fear of la Cerda, a woman who was burned to death in a furnace as a witch during the Spanish Inquisition for holding gatherings where young girls cavorted with the Devil), and a beautiful widow are just some of the elements that make this intriguing literary debut a book to while away a summer afternoon with. The narrator is an American who has lived in the village for 50 years but acknowledges that he "would always be considered a foreigner here, a visitor passing through." Aren't we all? –Louisa Ermelino, reviews director



Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Novik has a deep understanding of both classic European fairy tales and present-day fantasy fandom, and she's melded the two into the story of Agnieszka, a 17-year-old young woman trying to figure out what she wants from life while getting a handle on her magical talents. Every seemingly obvious metaphor—the evil forest encroaching on innocent towns, Dragon's orderly masculine magic and Agnieszka's intuitive feminine magic—unfolds into layer after layer of deep meaning. It left me breathless. I don't just want sequels; I want an entire genre of books like this. –Rose Fox, senior reviews editor


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