Wondering what to read this summer? Don't worry, PW's editors have you covered. In our staff picks, you’ll find a killer Appalachian thriller, Michael Ondaatje’s amazing latest novel, a sprawling biography of Bruce Lee, and many more. For deeper dives into fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, sci-fi, nonfiction, and children’s books, check out our category picks for even more great summer books. Happy reading!
All the Answers
Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13)
As a fan of his weirdo humor comics, the sober turn of Kupperman’s first full-length graphic memoir took me by surprise and took my breath away. In the tradition of Alison Bechdel, it’s a layered investigation into the life of his once famous, now reclusive father—Joel Kupperman, of the popular WWII radio (later TV) Quiz Kids game show. What’s it like to grow up in the shadow of the “smartest boy in the world”? Lonely, but with a story to tell. —Meg Lemke, reviews editor
Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna
Edith Sheffer (Norton)
This insightful and haunting examination of Austrian psychiatrist Hans Asperger persuasively demonstrates that his concept of “autistic psychopathy,” which still forms the basis of today’s autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, was created by drawing enthusiastically on Nazi social principles and painted autistic children as maliciously antisocial and lacking respect for authority. This is a must-read for everyone who has ever been given a seemingly objective diagnostic label, spurring reflection about the social roots of medical ideas. —Hannah Kushnick, nonfiction reviews editor
James A. McLaughlin (Ecco)
What’s more dangerous? Having a Mexican drug cartel after you, or running afoul of a bear poaching ring in deep, dark Appalachia? How about both? That’s the highly uncomfortable spot Rice Moore occupies in this twisty, knuckle-gnawing thriller. And yet, despite the cartel assassin on Rice’s trail and an ever-expanding web of outlaw bikers, crusty locals, and potentially duplicitous law enforcement, Rice never goes full Die Hard. It’s kind of remarkable, and the book’s all the more terrifying for it. —Jonathan Segura, v-p, executive editor
Bruce Lee: A Life
Matthew Polly (Simon & Schuster)
I must have been 12 years old when I first saw Enter the Dragon starring a lightning-quick actor and kung fu master named Bruce Lee, who made me feel that I, too, could be invincible. I watched his five movies and visited his gravesite overlooking Seattle but knew very little about him. Until now, that is, when this thick galley recently appeared on my desk. It’s the first full-length biography of Lee, in which author Polly promises to paint a portrait of Lee in all his complexities from his childhood movie stardom in 1950s Hong Kong to his mysterious death in 1973 at age 32. —Mark Rotella, senior editor
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and
Michael Pollan (Penguin Press)
“Maybe there was something missing from my life,” writes Michael Pollan, the James Beard Award–winning author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Cooked. The journalist embarks on a psychedelic pilgrimage in his 50s, visiting a loose coalition of therapists, spiritual leaders, and researchers who risk their reputations by guiding people through psychedelic experiences. The book also chronicles our “psychedelic renaissance” as research restrictions are lifted on some mind-bending substances. —Jason Boog, West Coast correspondent
The Kiss Quotient
Helen Hoang (Berkley)
This is the perfect summer fling, with a sunny Northern California setting and an awkward, tender, and utterly sweet romance between its protagonists. Autistic econometrician Stella and vivacious escort Michael are a very unlikely pair, but when she hires him to teach her how to have sex, they’re both astonished to develop a powerful personal connection. Michael’s gentle kindness with anxious, wary Stella will melt any reader’s heart. —Rose Fox, senior reviews editor
Sergio de la Pava (Pantheon)
This whopper of a novel is a double helix of a book that weaves together a sports drama and a crime story, starring a manipulative mastermind, all told in a style that might best be described as a series of trick plays, fictional feints, and philosophical asides, each delivered with enough aplomb to wow the reader. —Ed Nawotka, bookselling and international news editor
Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else
Maeve Higgins (Penguin Books)
Until recently I had never heard of the comedian Maeve Higgins; now I can’t stop talking about her. Her essay collection is really that good. The book explores her experiences leaving her native Ireland and moving to New York City. She’s got an incredibly fresh sense of humor that’s both self-deprecating and confident, which makes her book a whole lot of fun. —Annie Coreno, reviews editor
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press)
Moshfegh’s last book, Homesick for Another World, was one of my favorites of 2017. Her third novel promises to bring her work’s exploration of indulgence, bad behavior, and complicated friendships to new lows (or highs). When the protagonist comes out of isolation to attend the funeral for an old friend’s mother, the author’s uncompromising wit and acute observations guide the characters as they struggle to hold on to a sense of their true selves. —David Varno, assistant web editor
New Poets of Native Nations
Edited by Heid E. Erdrich (Graywolf)
Rather than anthologize contemporary and emerging authors alongside classic or familiar ones, Erdrich introduces readers to 21 Native poets whose writing was first published after 2000. It’s a simple, powerful framing and all that is needed to introduce readers to a group of writers whose breadth and diversity of styles represent some of the best of contemporary poetry today. —Alex Green, New England correspondent
Kelly Forsythe (Coffee House)
I was a high school senior when the Columbine High School massacre happened. That incident ushered in an era where such events would become frighteningly commonplace. It also forms the backdrop of Forsythe’s debut collection, Perennial. She and I became good friends through discussions about poetry and Columbine, and I’ve been waiting for these poems since she first shared some with me a few years ago. I’m excited for her and for everyone who gets to read this extraordinary work. —Alex Crowley, poetry reviews editor
Carolyn Kepnes (Lenny)
Any book with the title Providence is bound to catch my attention. From a perusal of the galley description, I gleaned that this contemporary thriller is largely set in Rhode Island’s capital, the hometown of my literary idol, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The text, I discovered, refers to Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. A story collection or just a single long tale of that name? I’m eager to read the whole novel to find out. —Peter Cannon, senior editor
Room to Dream
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna (Random House)
This summer, I’m most looking forward to tucking in to David Lynch’s new biography-cum-memoir, composed of alternating chapters written by the filmmaker himself and journalist McKenna. This enigmatic yet plainspoken artist has told his story innumerable times, most recently in the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life, but I never tire of hearing of the strange path that took him from an idyllic 1950s Midwestern childhood, to a decaying late ’60s Philadelphia, to the heights of Hollywood. —Everett Jones, reviews editor
Slave Old Man
Patrick Chamoiseau, trans. from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale (New Press)
Somewhere between a fever dream and a prose poem, Chamoiseau’s short novel is about a slave who escapes a plantation in Martinique, pursued by a mythical mastiff. As the old man enters the forest and mystically encounters Martinique’s past, the astounding sensorial prose develops an almost tangible rhythm: “He stocks his soul with scattered, reconstructed, lopsided things, which weave him a shimmering memory. Often, at night, this memory crushes him with insomnia.” This novel is a transfixing, profound experience. —Gabe Habash, deputy reviews editor
Helen DeWitt (New Directions)
Filled with visual artists, writers, and agents, DeWitt’s layered, sneakily funny collection reads like it came together over years of tinkering. The stories precisely capture (and often skewer) a certain type of cultural elite. With references to Borges, Kafka, Adorno, and Benjamin, among others, stories feature artists who must navigate the “go-getters” necessary for promoting their work. Funny and packed with knowledge, DeWitt’s book masterfully juxtaposes lofty ideals with the banality of everyday realities. —Seth Satterlee, reviews editor
A Song for the River
Philip Connors (Cinco Puntos)
To call Connors the heir to Edward Abbey might feel a bit too on the nose, what with his environmental advocacy, criticism of public land policies, and affiliation with the Southwest and Mountain West, and their dual shared vocations: writer and fire lookout. But if it does, may it at least be a relief to know that Connors lives up to the parallel. His upcoming memoir—his third—is as much a focused, elegant chronicle of grief and resilience as it is a meditation on nature and self. —John Maher, digital and associate news editor
Michael Ondaatje (Knopf)
For me, a new Ondaatje novel is cause for excitement in any season. This one begins in 1945 in London as 14-year-old Nathaniel Williams tells readers how his “parents went away and left [him and his sister] in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” From this odd starting point, Ondaatje spins a delicate spider web of interconnected stories—the mystery surrounding Nathaniel’s parents’ whereabouts and the true occupations of their guardians, along with stories of love, coming of age, fractured families, intrigue, espionage, and the messy business of war. Ondaatje’s finely observed characters and style light up the whole web like dew glinting in the sun. —Leigh Anne Williams, reviews editor
The Widower’s Notebook
Jonathan Santlofer (Penguin Books)
I’m not a fan of memoir, but Santlofer has taken the tragedy of his wife’s sudden death after a common medical procedure and, without sacrificing the lightness of being, unraveled the events and feelings from both before and after. A painter and writer, he’s assembled all his talents (the book includes sketches) to put himself and his experience on the page with an honesty that will keep you reading after the lifeguards have gone home. —Louisa Ermelino, director, adult books
The Wrong Heaven
Amy Bonnaffons (Little, Brown)
Swift, unexpected, brimming with possibility, and bittersweet—these stories satisfy in a way not unlike a summer romance. From what I’ve read so far, Bonnaffons poses a series of what-ifs: What if you plugged in your Jesus and Mary lawn ornaments, and they started talking? What if you could be medically induced to turn into a horse? And she offers answers whose deeply human sentiments are more than a match for their bizarre setups. —Carolyn Juris, features editor
All We Ever Wanted
Emily Giffin (Ballantine)
The latest from the bestselling author of Something Borrowed hinges on a photograph taken at Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school. As the photograph causes shock waves to ripple through Nashville’s wealthy neighborhoods, Nina Browning (who married into money), single father Tom Volpe, and Tom’s daughter, Lyla (the subject of the photo) find their lives becoming intertwined.
Zoje Stage (St. Martin’s)
Stage’s debut novel is a deviously fun domestic horror story that takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Frustrated stay-at-home mom Suzette attempts to pacify her seven-year-old daughter Hanna, who adores her father but distrusts Suzette, has dangerous tantrums, and only speaks in the voice of a 17th-century girl who was burned at the stake. As Suzette tries to connect with Hanna, Hanna plots ways to “step up her game against Mommy.”
David Chariandy (Bloomsbury)
Set during the summer of 1991 in the Park, a housing complex in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Chariandy’s powerful and incendiary novel tracks the coming of age of two mixed-heritage brothers. Sensitive Michael fumbles through his first relationship while volatile Francis becomes obsessed with the burgeoning hip-hop scene. Chariandy imbues his resilient characters with strength and hope.
Roque Larraquy, trans. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Coffee House)
The most delightfully terrifying novel of the summer starts with a disquieting experiment in a sanatorium outside Buenos Aires in 1907, involving decapitating patients and, in the few seconds while the head maintains life, asking it what it sees. Then the novel shuttles to 2009 and follows a shock artist attempting his most twisted installation to date. How the novel connects the two halves is surprising and brilliant. This novel will appeal to fans of both B-movie horror and exceedingly dark comedy.
Robert Aickman (New York Review Books)
For readers of Poe, Kafka, and Lovecraft, this insidious and haunting collection from the master of the “strange story” presents dreamlike, inexplicable realities in prose both strangely sensual and entirely disarming. A man discovers a river behind his house that leads to an island seemingly outside of time; a man enters into a strange marriage with the daughter of a sinister carpenter; a holiday in the country seems to cross over to a netherworld of carnivorous cows.
Confessions of the Fox
Jordy Rosenberg (One World)
Academic intrigue meets the 18th-century underworld in Rosenberg’s absurdly fun debut. University professor R. Voth finds a 1724 manuscript purported to be the memoirs of real-life 18th-century British thief and folk hero Jack Sheppard. But this Jack was born female, falls in love with a mixed-race sex worker, and clashes with a ring of London conspirators attempting to monetize a potentially priceless masculinizing elixir, and the results are dazzling.
Convenience Store Woman
Sayaka Murata, trans. from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Grove)
Murata’s moving, funny, and unsettling novel about how to be a “functioning adult” in today’s world follows 36-year-old Keiko Furukura, who has been working at the same convenience store for the past 18 years. Drawn to the clear directions of the job, Keiko finds that the older she gets, the further she drifts from milestones like having a “real” job and having children. When she enters into a sham marriage with a lazy ex-coworker, her life and psyche are thrown into turmoil.
Aja Gabel (Riverhead)
Gabel’s wonderful debut centers on the talented members of the Van Ness String Quartet over the course of 18 event-filled years. There’s Jana, first violin, the natural leader; Henry, viola, the prodigy; Daniel, cello, the charming one who brings intensity to the group; and Brit, second violin, the unknown quantity. They sleep together and have jealousies and rivalries, as well as families. The four characters are individually memorable, but as a quartet, they’re unforgettable.
The Great Believers
Rebecca Makkai (Viking)
Makkai’s layered, satisfying novel follows two characters 30 years apart. In the mid-1980s, Chicago art gallery director Yale Tishman, on the verge of his biggest career accomplishment, finds his life falling apart around him as more and more of his friends die in the AIDS crisis. In 2015, Fiona, the sister of Yale’s friend Nico, desperately searches for her daughter, who has joined a cult. Makkai’s novel about resilience and hope is sure to win readers over.
Rachel Cusk (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Cusk’s final book in a trilogy (after Outline and Transit) expertly concludes the story of protagonist British author Faye. Like its predecessors, the novel eschews chronicling Faye’s life via traditional narrative, instead filling each page with conversations with and monologues by the many writers, journalists, and publicists she meets during her travels. As always, Cusk’s ear for dialogue and language is stunning. The author ends Faye’s trilogy with yet another gem.
The Verdun Affair
Nick Dybek (Scribner)
Dybek’s gripping novel is a cleverly constructed page-turner that travels back and forth in time between a European continent devastated by World War I and 1950s Hollywood. American ambulance driver Tom stays behind in Verdun after the war, where he falls in love with Sarah, who has come to France looking for her missing husband. When a mysterious soldier shows up at a hospital, both Tom’s and Sarah’s lives will be changed. This is a transportive tale of memory, choice, and sacrifice.
What We Were Promised
Lucy Tan (Little, Brown)
The Zhen family—Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen—has returned to China from America, settling into a luxury apartment in Shanghai. Two events rock the family: an ivory bracelet disappears, and Qiang, the prodigal son, reappears after years away. Tan’s novel is a vivid family chronicle, a compelling mystery, and an incisive look at wealth and privilege among Chinese-born, American-educated citizens.
Ellison Cooper (Minotaur)
In her debut thriller, Cooper, an anthropologist who has worked as a murder investigator in Washington, D.C., channels “equal parts Kathy Reichs and Thomas Harris” (according to Lisa Gardner). In the basement of a D.C. house, a woman is found dead in a cage—left to slowly starve to death in a cold and calculating experiment with no clear motive.
Hope Never Dies
Andrew Shaffer (Quirk)
In this series debut, set a few months after the 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden turns amateur sleuth when his favorite Amtrak conductor dies in a suspicious accident. Naturally, Joe turns to his buddy Barack Obama for help on the case. This fantasy is perfect for those seeking escape from the realities of Washington, D.C., in 2018.
Lying in Wait
Liz Nugent (Scout)
Late one night in 1980, a judge and his wife rendezvous with troubled prostitute Annie Doyle on a deserted Dublin beach. When Annie threatens blackmail, the couple kills her and hides the body. Irish author Nugent explores the consequences of this initially inexplicable crime over the years that follow in this utterly captivating psychological thriller.
The Mystery of Three Quarters
Sophie Hannah (Morrow)
In bestselling author Hannah’s third Hercule Poirot mystery, an angry woman confronts the Belgian detective outside his London house and demands to know why he sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she’s never heard of. Poirot is shocked—he has never heard of Barnabas Pandy either, nor did he send the woman the letter. Agatha Christie fans won’t want to miss this one.
Louise Candlish (Berkley)
In this devastating novel of domestic suspense, Fiona Lawson and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bram, agree to take turns living with their two young sons in the family house in London. Then one day Fiona arrives home to find Bram and their sons gone—and another couple moving in.
The President Is Missing
Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Little, Brown and Knopf)
The children of American presidents—Elliott Roosevelt, Margaret Truman, Susan Ford—have produced mysteries about the occupants of the White House; now Bill Clinton becomes the first president to jump on the bandwagon, assisted by bestselling author James Patterson. When the president disappears, the world goes into shock. But the reason he’s missing is much worse than anyone could imagine.
White River Burning: A Dave Gurney Novel
John Verdon (Counterpoint)
In the sixth outing for Dave Gurney, the ex–NYPD homicide detective tackles a racially charged murder in economically depressed White River, N.Y. A white cop is killed by a sniper on the anniversary of a controversial shooting of an African-American by a white police officer who claimed self-defense. Verdon brilliantly combines a baffling whodunit with thoughtfully drawn characters.
The Word Is Murder
Anthony Horowitz (Harper)
A fictional version of the bestselling author and screenwriter plays Watson to consulting detective Daniel Hawthorne—an uncouth variation on Sherlock Holmes—in this clever mystery centered on the murder of a London society woman who arranged her own funeral just hours before she was strangled in her home. The chapter where Hawthorne barges in on Horowitz’s script conference with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson is alone worth the price of admission.
Alex Beecroft (Riptide)
In this enjoyable late-18th-century Robin Hood–esque adventure, Perry Dean, an ambitious black customs officer, intends to root out smuggling in Porthkennack, Cornwall; instead he falls for Tomas Quick, a notorious smuggler. Their relationship is complicated by racial and family tensions and enhanced by the protagonists’ shared commitment to saving shipwrecked black men from being sold into slavery. Readers will savor the thrilling action and smoldering sexual energy.
A Devil of a Duke (The Decadent Dukes Society, Book 2)
Madeline Hunter (Zebra)
In Hunter’s sensual second Decadent Dukes Society Regency, Gabriel St. James, a duke trying to rehabilitate his reputation, doesn’t realize that the object of his affection is Amanda Waverly, a lady’s secretary and an expert thief from a family of rogues. Love across class lines is complicated by crime and danger to create a page-turning story.
How to Forget a Duke
Vivienne Lorret (Avon)
In this clever, original standalone Regency set in the Whitcrest area of Sussex, a methodical duke meets his match in an impertinent, unapologetic busybody and matchmaker. Mischief and snappy banter elevate this lighthearted historical romance about plans gone entirely awry.
Kiss of the Spindle
Nancy Campbell Allen (Shadow Mountain)
Allen (Beauty and the Clockwork Beast) delivers pure reading joy in a steampunk riff on “Sleeping Beauty” that is equal parts race-against-the-clock adventure, social comedy of errors, sweet romance, and clever alternate history, with a strong moral compass befitting its fairy tale heritage. The scenes set on an airship make this entertaining tale particularly good reading for long plane flights.
A Wedding on Bluebird Way
Lori Wilde, Janet Dailey, Allyson Charles, and Stacey Keith (Zebra)
When small-town society bride Savannah Loving jumps on her uncle Tom’s Ducati to bolt from her wedding at the bucolic Bluebird Inn, it sets the stage for four warmly written, cohesively plotted romance novellas set in Texas. Contemporary romance fans will be delighted by these shorter love stories, in which everyone linked to the ill-fated wedding finds an unexpected path to a happy ending.
The Cabin at the End of the World
Paul Tremblay (Morrow)
Readers spending the summer in isolated cabins should turn all the lights on before opening this taut horror-thriller. A couple vacationing with their daughter is shaken when four strangers arrive and say that one member of the family must kill another in order to prevent global disaster. News reports of portentous world catastrophes back up the strangers’ claims. This unsettling novel invites readers to ask themselves whether they would do the unthinkable to prevent the unbelievable.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution
Peter Watts (Tachyon)
Charged with building interstellar wormhole gates for 66 million years, the human crew of the construction ship Eriophora has lots of time to ponder issues of purpose. After the ship is damaged and crew members go missing, a loyal worker and the ship’s AI work together and at cross-purposes to figure out what’s going on. Watts combines mystery, futuristic technology, and philosophical questions to keep readers enthralled.
Kill the Farm Boy: The Tales of Pell
Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson (Del Rey)
In this pun-laden quest, Hearne and Dawson skewer the traditional tropes of epic fantasy sagas. The titular farm boy dies on page 31 before his hero’s journey can ever truly begin. Now it’s up to a ragtag band of unlikely heroes to save the kingdom from magical misdeeds. Merriment abounds in this whimsical story that pokes sly fun at the genre’s clichés.
Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
This gorgeous, complex, and magical novel, grounded in Germanic, Slavic, and Jewish folklore but with a cohesive, creative story of its own, rises well above a mere modern reimagining of classic tales. A Jewish moneylender’s daughter attracts the attention of a gold-loving fae king, and soon secondary characters become narrators, creating new pathways through which to explore this vibrant world. Readers will fall headlong into this deeply immersive fantasy story.
The Warrior Within
Angus McIntyre (Tor.com)
This strong novella intricately captures a slice of life on a dusty backwater planet ruled by augmented-human priests whose mobile temples are moved by enormous wheeled machines. When off-world mercenaries arrive, planning to kill a local woman, a mechanic whose head is inhabited by additional implanted personalities must contend with momentous changes and unexpected realizations. This is a perfect story for those looking to be fully transported to a strange world.
The Ghost Script
Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
Bursting with Feiffer’s frenetic character drawings, this McCarthy-era noir romp set in L.A. takes readers alongside gumshoe Archie Goldman as he tries to track down the Ghost Script. That legendary screenplay supposedly uncovers a conspiracy behind the Hollywood blacklist, but no one can quite separate the truth from fiction in this wild tale. From a cartooning master, this is the culmination of his trilogy beginning with Kill My Mother and Cousin Joseph—take them all on vacation for a lively binge.
Luisa: Now and Then
Carole Maurel and Mariko Tamaki (Humanoids)
Luisa is a teenager transported from the 1990s to meet her grown-up self in the present day. What she encounters is a disappointment—in her thirties, she hasn’t lived up to her ideals. But as Luisa “then” gets to know “now,” they both uncover important truths about their identities, reshaping both past and future. With dialogue adapted from the original French by indie comics star Mariko Tamaki, this gorgeous volume is a fantastical discovery.
The Bride Was a Boy
Chii (Seven Seas)
This boundary-breaking manga features the romantic story of Chii, a pseudonymous transgender cartoonist, and her “Husband-kun.” In a flirty pink package, with energetic artwork, the true-life tale of Chii’s gender transition, from her childhood as a boy to becoming “Bride-chan,” is as fun as it is in fact revolutionary—and helpfully stocked with “trans 101” tips for any reader who needs guidance as they cheer Chii along in reaching her dreams.
Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life
Ellen Forney (Fantagraphics)
Following up on the memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, bipolar cartoonist Forney shares more prescriptive advice for anyone who struggles with a mood disorder and making time for self-care. The accessible, peppy artwork and “you can do this” message, combined with Forney’s authentic and practical experience, provide welcome inspiration and tips for myriad readers who look to the respite of a summer break to regroup, recoup, and get healthier day by day.
Bella Figura: The Art of Living, Loving, and Eating the Italian Way
Kamin Mohammadi (Knopf)
Mohammadi recounts leaving behind her stressful life as a London magazine editor to spend a year in Florence, where she quickly became enamored of a way of life focused on “making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be.” Her book is part travelogue, part romance—Mohammadi finds herself involved with several of the city’s most eligible bachelors—and part guide to the slow life for busy people.
Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto
Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (Picador)
In a riveting narrative destined to become a classic of popular science, Stern (who led the NASA mission to send the first probe to Pluto) and astrobiologist Grinspoon (a contributor to the mission) reveal the many roadblocks, technological and bureaucratic, involved in sending an unmanned spacecraft over three billion miles from Earth.
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
Margalit Fox (Random House)
Fox, a senior writer at the New York Times—whose byline is on some of the most entertaining obituaries published by the Times over the past decade and half—turns to true crime with her latest full-length book. It’s a bona fide page-turner that tells the story of how Sherlock Holmes-creator-turned-real-life sleuth Arthur Conan Doyle helped to overturn the murder conviction of Oscar Slater.
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”
Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Deborah G. Plant (Amistad)
This previous unpublished manuscript from Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) is a remarkable account of the life of Kossola, also known as Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the last American slave ship. Kossola was 19 years old when he was captured and sold into slavery; thus, his accounts of folkways and traditions offer more graphic and personal immediacy than other surviving narratives of the slave trade, written by those who were small children at the time of their capture. While it’s not the most uplifting book published this summer, it’s certainly one of the most significant.
The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England
Graham Robb (Norton)
Historian and author Robb invites readers to join him on this enthralling exploration, via bicycle and historical research, of the Debatable Land on the border of Scotland and England. Combining history of the warring clans of “reivers” who terrorized the area in centuries past with present-day observations, Robb’s love letter to his new home will charm readers.
And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove
Henry Alford (Simon & Schuster)
In this witty and inspiring book, Thurber Prize–winner Alford takes a great leap into the world of dance and experiences the genre’s profound levels of intimacy. Along the way, he takes a look at the history of dance in American culture—and packs in countless laugh-out-loud anecdotes and insightful examinations of human interaction.
Project Fire: Cutting-Edge Techniques and Sizzling Recipes
Steven Raichlen (Workman)
Summer is great time for projects, and for Raichlen, that project is creating fire in the grill. With enticing photos and clear instructions, Raichlen encourages upping your game by pouring sizzling beef fat over grilled T-bones and serving a dry-brined peppered filet mignon with a dollop of anchovy cream. Even nonmeat dishes get their time on the flame, such as chive-grilled artichokes and Thai-grilled kale.
Hartley Lin (AdHouse Books)
Set in a high-pressure Toronto law firm, this graphic novel surveys the friendship between Frances, a smart though less-than-ambitious law clerk who negotiates cutthroat office politics, and her best friend, Vickie, a talented and gorgeous actress who lands a role on a TV potboiler. Lin uses great drawing and droll, pitch-perfect dialogue to create an irresistibly entertaining portrait of young professionals. —Calvin Reid, senior news editor
Minh Lê, illus. by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion)
In this tender multigenerational story, a boy and his grandfather don’t speak the same language, but learn to communicate through their mutual love for telling visual stories through art.
Julián Is a Mermaid
Jessica Love (Candlewick)
When a child named Julián becomes enchanted by a group of mermaids en route to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, he fashions his own fishtail from his grandmother’s curtains and the two join the revelers. Author-illustrator Love’s debut is a joyful celebration of free expression.
Daniel Miyares (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
In a story reminiscent of a fairy tale, a lonely boy at a boarding school follows his escaped pet turtle—who has grown big—on a nighttime adventure. They arrive at an inviting celebration with friendly animals, music, and cake, and the boy treasures the special experience as he slips back into his school at dawn.
Ocean Meets Sky
The Fan Brothers (Simon & Schuster)
The creators of The Night Gardener and The Antlered Ship return with another fantastical picture book outing, in which a boy takes a journey on a makeshift vessel to a fabled land of magical beings to honor the memory of his beloved grandfather.
Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
In the second volume of Barnett and Klassen’s Shape trilogy, Square spends his time pushing stone blocks onto a hill. Circle is convinced that Square is a brilliant artist and asks Square to sculpt her, but such high expectations send Square into a fit of self-doubt. Is Square an artist or is Circle mistaken? It’s up to readers to decide, in this gently philosophical story.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion)
Penelope is a cute T. rex with an enormous appetite. On the first day of school, she gobbles up—then spits out—her human classmates. Being nibbled on by a goldfish provides Penelope with a whole new perspective; Higgins warmly suggests that school is an adjustment for all kids—and that a little empathy can go a long way when it comes to making friends.
All Summer Long
Hope Larson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
With humor and warmth, graphic novelist Larson captures the growing tension between two friends, one away at soccer camp and the other stuck at home, over the course of one summer.
Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, illus. by Nicholas Gannon (Feiwel and Friends)
In this collaborative tale, filled with magic and mystery, Libby returns to her grandmother’s home in Australia after five years to discover that she’s left something—or rather someone—very important behind.
Endling: The Last
Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins)
The Newbery Medalist kicks off a gripping fantasy trilogy starring Byx, the sole survivor of a near-extinct species. The massacre of Byx’s pack leaves the 11-year-old runt on a life-or-death quest, drawing on her extraordinary powers.
The Penderwicks at Last
Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf)
Birdsall draws the curtain on her beloved Penderwicks series as the family comes together for a joyous occasion: a wedding at Arundel, the grand estate in the Berkshires where their story began.
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea
Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow)
In this evocative snapshot of summer, Newbery Medalist Perkins conjures all the sensory and emotional detail of a girl’s beach vacation with her parents and her older sister.
She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)
Ann Hood (Penguin Workshop)
Bestselling novelist Hood makes her children’s debut with this nostalgic coming-of-age tale, set at the height of Beatlemania, in which sixth grader Trudy struggles to navigate the social minefield of middle school.
Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons)
Sarah J. Maas (Random House)
The author of the Throne of Glass books turns her talents to pop-culture fiction, in this series in which bestselling YA writers portray popular superheroes. In Maas’s tale, Selina Kyle returns to Gotham City as the wealthy Holly Vanderhees, and plots to pull off a daring heist.
How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation
Edited by Maureen Johnson (Wednesday Books)
In this timely compendium, 30 contributors offer essays, reflections, illustrations, and poems from a wide range of perspectives, sharing their experiences encountering various forms of injustice.
Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illus. by Giovanni Rigano (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
The creator of Artemis Fowl has co-written his first graphic novel, the gripping story of a boy’s journey from Ghana across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, illuminating the perils faced by refugees and immigrants.
Monday’s Not Coming
Tiffany D. Jackson (HarperCollins/Tegen)
This suspenseful, heartwrenching followup to the author’s acclaimed debut, Allegedly, features another ripped-from-the-headlines premise: Claudia’s best friend Monday has gone missing, and while no one seems concerned, Claudia worries that she may be in real trouble, and discovers potentially dangerous secrets that Monday has been keeping.
Julie Murphy (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
Millie Michalchuk, who also appeared in Murphy’s Dumplin’, may be a lifer at fat camp, but that doesn’t mean she buys into how the world sees her, in this tale of unexpected friendship, chasing one’s dreams, and finding love.
Smoke in the Sun
Renée Ahdieh (Putnam)
June brings the sequel to Ahdieh’s bestselling Flame in the Mist, an elaborate fantasy duology set in feudal Japan, where a resilient young woman defies class conventions and gender roles in a quest for vengeance and autonomy.