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Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream

Alvin Cailan, with Alexandra Cuerdo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

It’s a collection of fat-, sugar-, and carb-filled recipes that one should not eat in a single sitting, even if you start with, say, fried lumpia filled with pork and shrimp, before moving on to patis fried chicken, and ending with a bowl of rice drenched in chocolate ganache and condensed milk. But mostly it’s a book of assimilation. As Cailan writes, “It’s the story of not being Filipino enough to be Filipino, and not being American enough to be American.” —Mark Rotella, senior editor



Arlene Heyman (Bloomsbury)

“She did not want to disturb the rats.” There’s the first sentence of a novel by a 78-year-old shrink who knows what life’s all about. The story follows Lottie—sexually aware from the get-go, devoted to science and high on life—from 1940s Michigan to the 1980s. You know what those decades meant, especially for us women. Read this on the beach and, trust me, you’ll never get out from under that umbrella. —Louisa Ermelino, editor-at large


Barcelona Days

Daniel Riley (Little, Brown)

I was a big fan of Riley’s first novel, Fly Me, and I’ve moved this one to the top of the to-read pile. It’s about a young couple digging into the jagged crags of their relationship—jealousy! infidelity!—after they get stuck in Barcelona while on vacation courtesy of the massive cloud of ash spit up by that Icelandic volcano in 2010. Revolutionary Road with tapas? Sign me up. —Jonathan Segura, executive editor


Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion

Bad Religion and Jim Ruland (Hachette)

Sweat and sun are two things I associate with summer, but they’re also two things I associate with hardcore punk and Southern California, which make this biography of one of the region and genre’s most influential and important bands an epic read for the summer. It describes the prolific band’s career trajectory and discography along with their worldview, and lays out why they’re not only in the conversation for best punk band of all time, but why they deserve to be listed among the most important artists and philosophers of the past half-century. —Seth Dellon, director of strategic development


The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)

Katie Mack (Scribner)

Despite an apocalyptic and seemingly all too timely subject, astrophysicist Mack’s look at how everything might end (as theorized by various scientists) actually promises to be a great escape from quarantine, and 2020 in general. Her perspective on the universe isn’t pessimistic or fearful, but enthusiastic and awestruck (and the potential universe-ending catastrophes she discusses are, mostly, reassuringly remote.) —Everett Jones, reviews editor


Florida Man

Tom Cooper (Random House)

Our reviewer told me this reads like a movie, and I’m ready for something that will hold my attention as long as Tiger King did. Cooper’s action-packed, colorful Southern noir follows the vicissitudes of middle-aged Reed Crowe, owner of a fading down-market theme park and motel on the Gulf Coast in the 1980s, in Reed’s possession thanks to a cache of drugs he found in the ’60s as a teenager. Along the way, Cooper seeks the answers to two questions essential to life and the art of fiction: What if? And now what? —David Varno, reviews editor



Kathleen Jennings (

For a delicious break from reality, look no further than Jennings’s immersive, bite-size debut, an eerie fairy tale set in rural Australia about a 19-year-old girl’s investigation into the disappearance of her two older brothers. Delightful snippets of the strange folk tales she grew up with weave through her search for her family, slowly blurring the line between the real and the fantastic. Jennings’s lyrical, dreamlike prose pulled me in from the very first page. —Phoebe Cramer, associate reviews editor


The Imperfects

Amy Meyerson (Park Row)

For summer fun, or Covid-19 self-isolation, I recommend this comic novel that brings together a train wreck of a family, the Holocaust, and a brooch with a 137-carat diamond found behind the dresser of a grandmother, Helen, after her death. The thing is, Helen didn’t live like she had squirreled away Hapsburg jewelry. To cash it in, the grandchildren and their mother have to work together to find out how she came to own it. —Judith Rosen, contributing editor


The Last Great Road Bum

Héctor Tobar (MCD)

Tobar takes readers on a tumultuous travelogue through 20th-century history, a fitting literary journey for summer 2020. The novel follows the real-life story of Joe Sanderson, an aspiring writer who chased revolutions from Vietnam to El Salvador. Tobar seamlessly blends real newspaper clippings, letters, and diaries with fiction. I read this beautiful book while sheltered in place, and the stability of Sanderson’s 1960s middle-class white Midwestern childhood felt distant and exotic. —Jason Boog, West coast correspondent


The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly)

If you collect grudges as a hobby, welcome to the club, and to the joys of this transportingly funny memoir by Eisner Award–winner Tomine (Killing and Dying), who relays and rues affronts and awkward encounters from his past couple decades as one of indie-comics’ favorite shy-boy cartoonists. The book is full of juicy comics scene cameos, but it’s the vulnerable turn Tomine takes when a medical scare grants fresh perspective that truly got me. —Meg Lemke, comic reviews editor


No Room at the Morgue

Jean-Patrick Manchette, trans rom the French. by Alyson Waters (New York Review Books)

I recently read A Long Way Off by Paul Garnier (1949–2010). Its bleak, darkly comic story put me in the mood for more French noir. This short novel from Manchette (1942–1995), about a Paris private eye who can’t resist helping a beautiful woman who arrives in his office with blood on her hands, looks like just the ticket. —Peter Cannon, senior editor


On Time and Water

Andri Snær Magnason (Open Letter)

Icelandic writer Magnason gave me a tour of Reykjavik exclusively featuring buildings abandoned after the 2008 financial crash. He’s a great guide of lost worlds: witty, irreverent and insightful. The same goes in this book, already a global bestseller, which began as an obituary for the melting Okjökull glacier and builds into a lament for our ruined future and a prayer that we may yet forge a different path. —Ed Nawotka, bookselling and international editor


On Ajayi Crowther Street

Elnathan John and Àlàbá Ònájìn (Cassava Republic)

This scathing satirical portrait of the family and friends of a conniving Christian minister in contemporary Lagos, Nigeria, offers keen social insight in a wickedly funny, irresistibly readable graphic novel that examines the social fault lines of middle-class urban Nigerian society. While the demented pastor is hiring men to fake being cured of being gay by religious conversion, his own children are desperately hiding their own true sexuality, and he’s also secretly preying on a young female domestic in his own house. It’s a vividly illustrated exposé of social hypocrisy, vicious homophobia, and sexual assault in contemporary Nigeria. —Calvin Reid, senior news editor


One Step Ahead

David Sally (St. Martin’s)

Applying psychology and game theory to negotiation might seem like a dry exercise, but this is anything but. Behavioral economist Sally updates negotiation tactics made famous in Machiavelli’s The Prince and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People for the 21st century. He takes readers into the board rooms of Bain & Co., the cozy back room of secret IRA liaison Brendan Dunny’s fish-and-chips shop, and the Beirut apartments where UN diplomat Gianni Picco used “divergent creative thinking” to free eight hostages. Want to confuse your counterpart? Play the part of the bumpkin Hayseed, the bumbling Inept, or the erratic Kramer. Sally’s clever book demonstrates how to “bring the gift of the psychologist synchronously to the task of the prophet” to get what you want. —Seth Satterlee, reviews editor


One True King

Soman Chainani (HarperCollins)

This is the last book in the sequel trilogy to the School for Good and Evil series. Whew, that’s a mouthful. The books play with fairy tale tropes in such a wonderfully unexpected way that I was beyond thrilled when Chainani announced a follow-up trilogy to the original three books. The world is so richly imagined with characters that you can simultaneously root for and against. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the finale. —Drucilla Shultz, bookroom editor


The Paris Hours

Alex George (Flatiron)

This elegiac novel, set in my beloved Paris between the world wars, suits my current mood: the four main characters, living their lives in the shadow of celebrated artists and writers, are each desperate to recover something—or somebody—they have lost. It’s a lovely story about the essentialness of human connection, making this the perfect read when forced to practice social distancing. —Claire Kirch, Midwest correspondent


Red Ants

Pergentino José, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Deep Vellum)

José is a rising star in Mexican literature, and this collection of short fiction, which examines indigenous life in the U.S.’s southern neighbor through the lens of a contemporary magic realism, should only further his acclaim. Veteran Spanish translator Bunstead, who adds translating from Sierra Zapotec to his résumé (and to the English-language book market for the first time), takes José’s clean, punchy lines and makes them sing—and stick with you. —John Maher, news and digital editor


Utopia Avenue

David Mitchell (Random House)

For some people—*raises hand*—the words “new David Mitchell novel” are recommendation enough. (Bonus: obvious and less-so connections to the Mitchell multiverse.) For everyone else: enviably assured dialogue, immersive scene-setting, precise wit, and disarmingly human characters will convince you that in late 1960s London, a bright-shining psychedelic-folk-rock band named Utopia Avenue really did (figuratively and often literally) seduce the bell-bottomed trousers off its eager fans. And you’ll count yourself among them. —Carolyn Juris, features editor


The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice

David Hill (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good mob war? Or a tale of a down-on-her-luck gambler holding out for one more hot hand? Or the rags-to-riches story of a poor kid who grows up to become one of the most powerful men in his town? Hot Springs, Ark., native Hill delivers all that and much more in this cinematic history of his hometown’s star turn as “perhaps the most sinful little city in the world.” —Dave Adams, reviews editor


When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse

Chuck DeGroat (IVP)

DeGroat, a licensed therapist and professor of pastoral care and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary, unveils the hidden vice behind many church structures and leadership that has made the modern Christian church a breeding ground for abuse and cover-ups. This is a fascinating and eye-opening read. —Marian Amo, digital editorial coordinator


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