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Here in the Northeast, it feels like it started raining in January and never stopped—which is another way of saying summer can’t come soon enough. While we wait for the skies to clear and the sun to return, there’s still time to decide what books to pack for that cross-country road trip, weekend getaway, poolside afternoon, or whatever else you have planned. To help make the choice a little easier, our staff experts and reviews editors have combed through the titles publishing from May to August and handpicked a surefire hit parade for readers of all stripes. Memorial Day will be here before you know it, so don’t delay—your next favorite book is waiting. Happy reading! – David Adams, adult reviews director

  • Bury Your Gays

    Chuck Tingle (Nightfire)

    Tingle continues his horror hot streak with this sharp satirical peak behind the scenes of Hollywood. After gay screenwriter Misha Byrne refuses to kill off the queer characters in his TV series at the request of the network’s new AI algorithm, monsters from his past horror movies start hunting him down. Is it an elaborate prank or something more sinister? The answer makes for clever and wildly entertaining reading.

  • 1974: A Personal History

    Francine Prose (Harper)

    San Francisco. The 1970s. The Vietnam War. On the Venn diagram of subjects I can’t resist, Prose’s first memoir is as dead center as dead center gets. In it, she recounts her brief yet intense relationship with Pentagon Papers leaker Tony Russo, who spent nearly 50 days in jail for refusing to testify against his friend and collaborator, Daniel Ellsberg. It promises to be just the kind of paranoid trip into the dark underbelly of the American experiment I love to take. —David Adams, adult reviews director

  • A Gamble at Sunset

    Vanessa Riley (Zebra)

    The Wilcox family cannot afford another scandal—so when rebellious wallflower Georgina Wilcox is caught kissing aspiring composer Lord Mark Sebastian, the couple must pretend to be engaged to preserve their reputations. With a lively take on the fake dating trope, a diverse cast, and an impressive degree of historical detail, Riley’s sparkling Regency series opener should scratch an itch for any Bridgerton fan.

  • The Jellyfish

    Boum, trans. from the French by Robin Lang and Helge Dascher (Pow Pow)

    The cartoonist behind the delightful Boumeries webcomic delivers a poetic graphic novel, which applies her nimble, fluid art style to a lightly uncanny tale about a bohemian young woman who suffers from a jellyfish floating in her eye. The creature isn’t imagined, it’s diagnosed as such by an optometrist. As the floating blobs multiply, she tries to hide her affliction from the cute girl she’s crushing on—until she can no longer ignore the oddly beautiful darkness coming for her.

  • American Diva: Extraordinary, Unruly, Fabulous

    Deborah Paredez (Norton)

    Mixing memoir and cultural criticism, poet Paradez unravels why such megawatt stars as Tina Turner and Serena and Venus Williams have been maligned for the same larger-than-life personas and talent that bring them fame and adoration. Written with panache that befits its subject, this is an impassioned look at what it means to be a powerful woman on the public stage.

  • Blood in the Cut

    Alejandro Nodarse (Flatiron)

    Heat practically radiates off the page in this Florida noir about a Cuban American ex-con who tries to save his family’s butcher shop—and thus, his family—from collapse. With indelible descriptions of its Miami setting and a three-dimensional look at life in the city’s Little Havana neighborhood, this hard-nosed thriller heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

  • Brownstone

    Samuel Teer, illus. by Mar Julia (Versify)

    When her mother accepts a principal role in a dance tour, almost-15-year-old Almudena must stay with her father, whom she’s never met, while he renovates a dilapidated brownstone in this affecting summer-of-1995-set graphic novel told via the teen’s resourceful and unfettered perspective. Julia’s fluid illustrations, saturated in rich earth tones, breathe life into the vibrant metropolitan neighborhood of Teer’s satisfyingly transformative story about connection and identity, which culminates in an emotionally grounded tale about a teen struggling to determine where—and with whom—she belongs.

  • Emergency Quarters

    Carlos Matias, illus. by Gracey Zhang (HarperCollins/Tegen)

    When Ernesto begins walking to school without his parents, his mother presses a quarter into his hand every morning: “For emergencies.” His peers spend their pocket money, but Ernesto holds onto his daily quarters, until an “emergency” at the barber shop offers a wonderfully surprising opportunity for independent decision-making. In this sparkling picture book, Matias and Zhang supply life-giving sensory details around Ernesto’s Queens community and his own canny balancing of prudence and pleasure.

  • All Fours

    Miranda July (Riverhead)

    July turns artistic desire and sexual fantasy into riveting fiction in her latest novel. It begins with a middle-aged artist’s cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to New York City but quickly turns into something delightfully weird, as the narrator remodels a roadside motel room and uses it to sort out the next phase of her life.

  • Carnival Chaos (Moko Magic #1)

    Tracey Baptiste (Freedom Fire)

    Three Brooklyn cousins discover they are protector spirits during carnival season in this Afro-Caribbean-inspired story. When strange things start happening to Misty and her cousins, such as flames shooting from their mouths after eating mango anchar, the trio must harness their newfound powers to save carnival festivities from impending disaster. Baptiste imbues the adventures with nuance, emphasizing the high spirits of an exuberant festival season and its importance to the tweens' culture.

  • Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil

    Ananda Lima (Tor)

    These ambitious interconnected stories create a consistently surprising portrait of a Brazilian American woman who is inspired to become a writer by a sexual encounter with the devil. Formally playful, whimsically supernatural, and darkly witty, poet Lima’s prose debut sucked me in from the first page. —Phoebe Cramer, reviews editor

  • Bear

    Julia Phillips (Hogarth)

    San Juan Island feels like a nice place to visit but a difficult place to live, as evidenced by its portrayal in bestseller Phillips’s evocative and nimble novel. Here on this Pacific Northwest hideaway, two sisters respond in very different ways to the arrival of a grizzly bear, and their unsettled question of whether the bear is friend or foe elicits nail-biting suspense.

  • Dinner at the Brake Fast

    Renee Beauregard Lute (Quill Tree)

    After her father’s treasured photograph disappears from the family’s breakfast-only diner, the Brake Fast Truck Stop, Tacoma resolves to track it down in this spirited, electrifyingly original odyssey through Washington State. Rich characterizations, a perceptive voice, and standout compassion and candor distinguish this captivating road trip tale by Lute, which explores the sometimes heartbreaking reality of living with a depressed parent, levied by Tacoma’s ever-present yearning to eat something other than breakfast foods.

  • Broiler

    Eli Cranor (Soho Crime)

    Fresh off an Edgar Award for best first novel, former college footballer Cranor delivers another muscular Southern noir set in his home state of Arkansas. The action centers on a chicken processing plant where a Mexican couple endure brutal working conditions under a white manager. When the manager threatens the couple’s livelihood, they hatch a plan for revenge, which inevitably goes sideways. Cranor remains remarkably attuned to the rhythms—and dramatic potential—of life on the margins.

  • Another Word for Love: A Memoir

    Carvel Wallace (MCD)

    Journalist Wallace roots around for new meanings and forms of love while cataloging his childhood, relationships, alcoholism, and queerness. He comes away with dazzling sentences full of humor and heft, and an infectious worldview so full of compassion it’s breathtaking.

  • Maple Terrace

    Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized)

    A trove of pristine comics hidden by a bully get scooped up by young Van Sciver in this early 1990s period piece, setting off his ill-fated dreams of making a fortune in collectibles. It’s an alternately goofy and gut-punching graphic novella trip back into the chaos and poverty of Van Sciver’s overextended Mormon family, which he drew so poignantly in One Dirty Tree. The over-the-top pathos and deadpan sight gags are uncomfortably hilarious in the best way.

  • The Grandest Game

    Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little, Brown)

    Set a year after the conclusion of Barnes’s Inheritance Game trilogy, this captivating series launch introduces the Grandest Game, an annual competition run by billionaire Avery Grambs and the Hawthorne brothers, the previous series’ protagonists. Fan favorites—such as Grayson from The Brothers Hawthorne—and new characters collide in this high-stakes game of power, wealth, privilege, and revenge that follows eight teens who will do whatever it takes to win a shot at fame and fortune.

  • A Novel Love Story

    Ashley Poston (Berkley)

    For anyone who’s ever wanted to step into the world of a book, bestseller Poston offers pure wish fulfillment. Eileen Merriweather magically stumbles into the small-town setting of her favorite romance series, whose author died before the story was finished. Though she’s warned not to meddle by a handsome and mysterious local bookseller she doesn’t remember from the novels, she can’t resist playing matchmaker. The result is as cute as it is clever.

  • Fake Piñata

    Ashleah Gonzales (Rose Books)

    This is the debut poetry collection from a modeling agent billed by W Magazine as “Kendall Jenner’s unofficial literary consultant.” It’s published by a hot new small press founded by a longtime collaborator of the late great Tyrant Books publisher Giancarlo DiTrapano, and when it’s not distributing its own books, it disseminates only through up-and-coming indie “decentralized distributor” Asterism Books. This book is at the center of a complicated confluence of several different sorts of lit kid cool. Color me painfully curious. —John Maher, senior news and digital editor

  • Lies and Weddings

    Kevin Kwan (Doubleday)

    The Crazy Rich Asians author takes a dishy tour through a contemporary milieu of royals and the über-rich in Europe, Hawaii, and Hong Kong as the wedding plans of a matriarch’s daughter and son are disrupted by an Austen-worthy series of reversals. Kwan’s pitch-perfect observations on art, fashion, and social etiquette make for a delectable feast.

  • Daughter of the Merciful Deep

    Leslye Penelope (Redhook)

    In 1935, the U.S. government plans to flood the all-Black Southern town of Awenasa to create a reservoir. It’s up to nonspeaking heroine Jane Edwards to save her home by embracing her latent ancestral magic. Drawing from American history and African folklore, Penelope crafts a powerful and propulsive tale of community and resistance.

  • Life After Whale: The Amazing Ecosystem of a Whale Fall

    Lynn Brunelle, illus. by Jason Chin (Holiday House/Porter)

    Chin’s magnificent watercolor and gouache spreads capture the grace of a blue whale in life alongside the bustling ecosystem that surrounds it in death, as Brunelle chronicles the countless creatures that its carcass will sustain over a century. Against a background of inky darkness that encapsulates the cold and silence of the ocean floor, this meticulous breakdown of death supporting life offers a brilliant exposition of the way that populations grow and endure.

  • Little Rot

    Akwaeke Emezi (Riverhead)

    Sometimes summer reading means frothy escapism, and sometimes it means a scorching state-of-the-nation novel with lurid scenes of sex clubs, vengeful murder plots, and heartbroken young lovers. Emezi’s latest, set in the elite underground of New Lagos, Nigeria, where a jilted man gets in way over his head after a bad night out, serves up incisive class commentary along with loads of titillating fun.

  • Godwin

    Joseph O’Neill (Pantheon)

    Just like the best writing about drugs isn’t about the drugs, the best books about sports aren’t about sports, and that’s certainly the case here. Yes, the Godwin of the title is a promising soccer prospect, but he’s barely on the page. Instead O’Neill delivers a blazing story of ambition, both misguided and not, and where that goes to die or to fly, whether in a Pittsburgh freelance writing co-op or the backwaters of Benin. —Jonathan Segura, editorial director

  • Someplace Generous: An Inclusive Romance Anthology

    Edited by Elaina Ellis and Amber Flame (Generous Press)

    Many of the authors of these 21 swoony, seductive shorts—among them Richard Siken and Rachel McKibbens—got their start in poetry, which shows in the consistently vibrant and transportive prose. The stories range in both heat level and subgenre, from funny and fantastical to dark and grounded. With something for any mood, this is an easy pick to throw in one’s beach bag.

  • Hip-Hop Is History

    Questlove (AUWA)

    I caught a Roots concert a few years ago in which the band barreled through a medley of rap classics by Biz Markie, Biggie, and DMX, among others, riffing on the sample sources and creating a kind of hip-hop syllabus tracing the evolution of the genre. If this is half as fun as that set, it’ll be a blast. —Marc Greenawalt, reviews editor

  • The (Mostly) True Story of Cleopatra’s Needle

    Dan Gutman (Holiday House)

    Upon arriving at Cleopatra’s Needle, a Central Park landmark, a mother regales her children with its history in this evenly paced, delightfully fact-ional blend of history and adventure. Weighty topics surrounding housing insecurity and child enslavement are counterbalanced by the protagonists’ distinctively rendered diary-style narrations; varying POVs, including that of an Egyptian boy in 1460 BCE and a female inventor in 1880s N.Y.C., enliven Gutman’s sweeping foray into the iconic monolith’s riveting and little-known history.

  • Mothballs

    Sole Otero, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

    Otero’s English-language debut, an Audience Award winner at Angoulême, is a brilliantly colorful whirlwind that will transport readers to Argentina. The story alternates between the present day of Ro, a young woman navigating fraught relationships and an uncertain future against the backdrop of political unrest, and the tumultuous history of her Italian Argentinian grandmother, who escaped Mussolini to set up the home that Ro inherits.

  • Escape Velocity

    Victor Manibo (Erewhon)

    Manibo’s cinematic sci-fi murder mystery opens on Henry Gallagher floating through space, having been shoved off the luxury Space Habit Altaire, presumably by one of the space station’s other guests. In teasing out who pushed Henry and why, Manibo delivers a rip-roaring, genre-bending blend of glamor and intrigue, rounded out by an eat-the-rich ethos and fascinating science. This far-future noir will have readers hooked.

  • Middle of the Night

    Riley Sager (Dutton)

    Thirty years ago, Ethan Marsh’s childhood best friend vanished from the tent where they both slept in suburban New Jersey. Now Ethan’s back in the house where he grew up, and some spooky omens are making him suspect that whatever took his friend may be back for seconds. Sager works in a familiar, vaguely supernatural register here, but he bolsters it with uncommon compassion. This is a campfire story whose characters stay with the reader long after the jolts have faded.

  • Bird Milk & Mosquito Bones: A Memoir

    Priyanka Mattoo (Knopf)

    “Funny” may not be the first word that comes to mind when describing a memoir about displacement, but former film producer Mattoo’s impressive debut recounts her family’s flight from war-torn 1980s Kashmir with a fleet wit. In nimble essays that trace her moves to more than 30 different addresses in search of a permanent home, Mattoo blends laughs with pathos and paints indelible portraits of the family that bolstered her.

  • Looking for Smoke

    K.A. Cobell (Heartdrum)

    When authorities seem uninterested in solving the disappearance of a Blackfeet Reservation teen and the subsequent murder of another, the teens’ peer group resolves to investigate and apprehend the killer—even if it means condemning one of their own. Interweaving intricacies of reservation life and striving to highlight the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis, Cobell delivers a gut-punch debut thriller via a timely mystery plot that is by turns spine-tingling and emotionally raw.

  • Long Island

    Colm Tóibín (Scribner)

    Sequel season is raging, and Eilis Lacey is back in this welcome follow-up to Tóibín’s bestseller Brooklyn. The action takes place two decades later, with Irish immigrant Eilis unhappily settled down with her Italian American husband on Long Island in the mid-1970s. A revelation prompts her to return to Ireland, where Tóibín unfurls more than enough juicy drama for another great movie.

  • The Pelican Can!

    Toni Yuly (Little, Brown)

    The triumphant titular cry answers rhyming questions in this display of a pelican’s balletic grace. “Who can see it’s time to eat?” Yuly begins, showing a pelican family in silhouette: “The pelican can!” After an ink-stroked adult swoops toward the water (“Who can spy small fish with their eye?”), its efforts lead to a full pouch and a relaxed young pelican ready to sleep. The natural world supplies all the drama needed in this day-in-the-life tale.

  • A Last Supper of Queer Apostles

    Pedro Lemebel, trans. from the Spanish by Gwendolyn Harper (Penguin Classics)

    Penguin Classics continues its welcome run of fresh translations of Latin American literature (including breathtaking works from Alejo Carpentier and Miguel Ángel Asturias) with this first-time-in-English collection of Chilean essayist, memoirist, reporter, poet, and troublemaker Lemebel’s celebrated crónicas of queer life in Santiago during dueling tragedies: the AIDS epidemic and the Pinochet dictatorship. What a joy for English readers to at last meet this humanist provocateur who celebrates and memorializes queer lives in a fascist state with fire, love, and a tireless spirit of play. —Alan Scherstuhl, BookLife reviews editor

  • The Lost Boy of Santa Chionia

    Juliet Grames (Knopf)

    The past comes back to haunt a small Italian village in the 1960s, where an American aid worker is pulled into a plot involving an unearthed human skeleton and the unknown fates of two people who disappeared from Santa Chionia years earlier. As a mystery, Grames’s novel is as gripping as they come; it’s also a deeply satisfying character study of an outsider learning more about a place than she’d bargained for.

  • The Science of Ghosts

    Lilah Sturges and El Garing (Legendary)

    In this thriller drawn in a campy throwback art style, a trans forensic psychologist with paranormal visions (she’s writing a scholarly tome about them, natch) chases leads from apparitions who replay their dying moments. Her investigations involve the scandalous secrets of a corrupt family whose fortune was built on firearms, a wrongful accusation of murder that may have been committed by a ghost, and oodles of sexy seduction. This is escapism at it’s savviest.

  • Of Jade and Dragons

    Amber Chen (Viking)

    Taking her younger brother’s identity as an alias, and getting unexpected help from a prince, Aihui Ying infiltrates the renowned, male-dominated Engineers Guild following the murder of her world-class engineer father. Debut author Chen draws inspiration from Qing dynasty China to craft cleverly complex worldbuilding, employing vivid sensory language to set the stage for a teen’s quest for answers—and revenge—in this gripping silkpunk fantasy that entices from start to finish.

  • Cue the Sun! The Invention of Reality TV

    Emily Nussbaum (Random House)

    Few are better poised to chronicle unscripted programming’s ascent to television dominance than New Yorker staff writer Nussbaum, who is one of only a handful of TV critics to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Tracing the genre’s beginnings back to the 1940s, she offers an incisive look at the making of such shows as The Real World, Survivor, and The Bachelor, indulging in the medium’s over-the-top drama without glossing over its darker, exploitative side.

  • The Squish

    Breanna Carzoo (HarperCollins)

    After this picture book’s googly-eyed sandcastle protagonist is stomped by one of its creators, the indignities keep piling up. When refashioning itself, and even quitting, prove fruitless, a similarly afflicted beach creation changes the sandpile’s perception, and the two find a way to support each other in weathering life’s storms. Alongside messages of solidarity and resilience, Carzoo’s images, rendered in subtly dimensional cut-paper collage, have lots of good-hearted, goofy verve.

  • Road to Ruin

    Hana Lee (Simon & Schuster)

    In a gorgeously rendered, Mad Max–esque postapocalyptic fantasy world, Jin risks her life as a magebike courier ferrying love notes between the star-crossed heirs to two rival city-states—while secretly harboring feelings for them both herself. This thorny love triangle adds emotional heft to Lee’s lightning-fast plotting and inventive worldbuilding, which incorporates mana storms and psychic powers. The resulting thrill ride doubles as an impassioned examination of power and privilege.

  • Summers at the Saint

    Mary Kay Andrews (Griffin)

    Traci Eddings finds it hard enough to maintain the idyllic but faded seaside resort left to her by her late husband even before a guest turns up murdered in one of the rooms. As she teams up with the hotel’s gardener, a former P.I., to investigate, unexpected sparks fly. Andrews perfectly balances the second chance-romance with the twisty mystery against a beachy backdrop that will please any armchair traveler.

  • Picture Purrfect (Bodega Cats #1)

    Hilda Eunice Burgos, illus. by Siara Faison (Holt)

    In a family-oriented series opener about the bonds that make life sweet, Burgos centers young Miguel, whose desires—to attend his school’s art club and adopt a stray cat—put him at odds with Mami and Papi, who would rather he focus on helping out at their Washington Heights bodega. Faison’s cozy illustrations, depicting boy, cat, and the surrounding community, buoy this lively portrayal of the many forms that bravery, kindness, and connection can take.

  • Mark Twain’s “War Prayer”

    Illus. by Seymour Chwast (Fantagraphics)

    Mark Twain wrote this brief screed against warmongering and hawkish patriotism in 1910. He refused to allow it to be published until he was dead. Now, in an era blighted by numerous ghastly wars, we get a graphic novelization of his cautionary tale, powerfully rendered by Chwast, a legendary graphic designer, who is himself 92. Like Twain’s best work, it is clever and true, and like the best polemics, it is pointed and to-the-point. —Ed Nawotka, senior bookselling and international editor

  • A Murder Most French: An American in Paris Mystery

    Colleen Cambridge (Kensington)

    Cambridge’s top-shelf American in Paris cozies ask a burning question: what if Julia Child solved crimes in between cassoulets? The author’s wit and gift for description sell the premise, as evidenced by this breezy caper that sees Child teaming up with her neighbor to sleuth, sip, and nosh while they attempt to stop a spate of poisonings in the City of Light.

  • Not a River

    Selva Almada, trans. from the Spanish by Annie McDermott (Graywolf)

    Shades of Deliverance darken this haunting and surprising adventure. Somewhere in South America, two men are on a fishing trip, with another friend’s preteen son in tow. The trio attract negative attention from the locals after the men kill and string up a giant stingray on the island where they’re staying. Almada’s dreamlike prose and taut suspense are the ideal match for a sweltering afternoon.

  • Mina’s Matchbox

    Yoko Ogawa, trans. from the Japanese by Stephen B. Snyder (Pantheon)

    Ogawa’s The Memory Police quietly broke me, and I may or may not have audibly squealed when I saw she had a newly translated novel on the way. The previous book was a dystopian allegory on grief and loss; this one’s set in early 1970s Japan, with WWII in living memory. Its description includes the narrator’s extended childhood stay with wealthy relatives, their complicated family history, and a domesticated pygmy hippo. I’m in. —Carolyn Juris, features editor

  • Oye

    Melissa Mogollon (Hogarth)

    Mogollon builds this irresistible comedy around the serious subject of cancer. Surprisingly, there’s great fun to be had as the teen protagonist is pressed by her mother into helping with her grandmother, who might be terminally ill, while conspiring to keep her in the dark about her prognosis. Lively characters and witty banter make this just the thing to dive into when spending time away from one’s own family.

  • The Stardust Grail

    Yume Kitasei (Flatiron)

    One part dizzying intergalactic heist, one part thoughtful imagining of human-alien relationships, this dazzling space opera sends semi-retired art thief Maya Hoshimoto on one last job to recover an artifact that could be key to saving the extraterrestrial Frenro race from extinction. Kitasei brings a genuine sense of wonder to her sprawling universe and keeps the pages flying with well-shaded characters and plenty of action.

  • Our Shouts Echo

    Jade Adia (Disney Hyperion)

    L.A. transplant Niarah never expected that her plans to build a backyard doomsday shelter would attract the attention of cute surfer boy Mac, who coaxes her out of her bunker to participate in myriad summer adventures, including sunset bonfires and breakfast burrito runs. Sex-positive messaging throughout adds further depth to Adia’s already potent romance, in which a teen grappling with depression, eco-anxiety, future uncertainties, and burnout endeavors to open herself up to love and possibility.

  • Summer Is Here

    Renée Watson, illus. by Bea Jackson (Bloomsbury)

    A child embraces summer in this heady first-person ode to the season. As a day progresses, sensate lines feature the pleasures of sweet fruit (“fat mangoes, bursting with juice”), pool time with pals (“Our bright swimsuits float... like lily pads”), and more. Jackson employs bright light and sunlit hues to capture the easy, lengthy rhythms of a full day, while Watson’s prose celebrates a fleeting season with an earnest desire: “I wish summer would stay.”

  • The Ministry of Time

    Kaliane Bradley (Avid Reader)

    This debut novel set in the near future checks off all the boxes for me: it’s a clever tale about the U.K. government’s secret experimentations with time travel, pulling a group of long-dead Brits through the space-time continuum into modern-day, multicultural London, where they must navigate their new world with the assistance of people hired by a mysterious ministry. While it’s often hilarious, Bradley’s commentary on Britain’s imperial legacy propels the narrative to another level. —Claire Kirch, Midwest correspondent

  • Plain Jane and the Mermaid

    Vera Brosgol (First Second)

    Setting an upended “The Little Mermaid” against a Dickensian backdrop, Brosgol delivers a rollicking fantasy graphic novel. Upon her parents’ deaths in a runaway fish cart accident, young Jane’s only hope for stability is to secure her dowry through marriage—but her proposal to fisherman Peter is disrupted when a mermaid kidnaps him. To rescue Peter, Jane ventures to the ocean floor and contends with the mermaid’s murderous rage in this hilariously tongue-in-cheek tale.

  • Same as It Ever Was

    Claire Lombardo (Doubleday)

    A married woman’s memories of her affair decades earlier return with a vengeance in Lombardo’s sparkling novel. The story begins in a grocery store, where the narrator runs into a friend she hasn’t seen for ages, and from there it leaps vertiginously into the past as the protagonist considers the cost of the life she’s built for herself. Readers will be torn between their instinct to race to the finish and their desire to savor every page.

  • You Should Be So Lucky

    Cat Sebastian (Avon)

    Sebastian pairs a closeted baseball player with the openly gay reporter assigned to cover his rookie season in this heart-flutteringly sweet 1960-set romance. The men’s relationship burns slow, but their chemistry leaps off the page, making it easy to invest in their tender will-they-won’t-they. Rounded out by exciting ball games and nostalgic set-dressing, this is a home run.

  • Dancing on My Own: Essays on Art, Collectivity, and Joy

    Simon Wu (Harper)

    Art curator Wu covers a lot of ground in these essays, interweaving reflections on feeling indebted to his immigrant parents and the satisfaction of fictional lifestyles in the Sims video games with exegesis on the lyrics of pop star Robyn, all while maintaining a coherent narrative that miraculously ties the pieces together into a satisfying whole. Readers will want to queue this up.

  • The Return of Ellie Black

    Emiko Jean (Simon & Schuster)

    With a pinch of Twin Peaks and a dash of True Detective, this stylish spine-chiller follows a Washington State cop assigned to the case of a long-missing teenager who suddenly turns up alive. As the girl grows increasingly evasive about where she’s been and why, the cop comes to wonder if her disappearance might be linked to her own sister’s decades-old kidnapping. It’s packed with cliffhangers and truly shocking twists.

  • State of Paradise

    Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    Van den Berg is a master at nudging the familiar world slightly off its axis, and few places are riper for that treatment than Florida. Her latest is about a ghostwriter who returns to the Sunshine State after an unspecified pandemic and discovers that the neighbors are obsessively using a new VR device and that many people have gone missing.

  • The Miracle of the Black Leg: Notes on Race, Human Bodies, and the Spirit of the Law

    Patricia J. Williams (New Press)

    Don’t be fooled by the serious subject matter; this whip-smart collection is the perfect beach read for readers getting a little fed up with current affairs. Writing in high literary style, Williams pokes at the tender spots in America’s psyche where law, science, and race intersect, arching a skeptical eyebrow throughout rigorous dissections of current events ranging from the cult of AI to book banning to Covid denialism. Absurdities and insights abound. —Dana Snitzky, reviews editor

  • Wish You Weren’t Here

    Erin Baldwin (Viking)

    In this charming debut from Baldwin, which gives way to electric romance, Juliette is ready for a break from class frenemy Priya. When Priya arrives at Fogridge Sleepaway Camp, though, Juliette realizes she doesn’t hate Priya after all—she might even like her. This organic enemies-to-lovers summer camp romp unspools via biting and introspective prose that amps up the seasonal vibes by humorously highlighting Fogridge customs and the characters who take part in them.

  • There Was a Shadow

    Bruce Handy, illus. by Lisk Feng (Enchanted Lion)

    Lulling, mesmerizing lines by Handy contemplate shadows as they grow and fade, reflecting life over the course of a day. Short sentences reveal fresh surprises, inviting readers to observe types of shadows, including that of an insect (“a look-closely shadow”) and evening (“an almost everywhere/ sort of shadow”). Sunny, atmospheric spreads by Feng pay attention to the play of light and its source as the creators’ shared intensity gives this carefully observed work its playful resonance.

  • Such a Bad Influence

    Olivia Muenter (Quirk)

    When ultra-popular teenage influencer Evie goes missing, her older sister, Hazel, sets out to find her. But what if Evie doesn’t want to be found? Muenter’s debut crackles with wit and surprisingly trenchant critiques of online fame—no easy task for such a soft target. Breathless suspense and a delightfully acidic finale make this a beach read with bite.

  • This Strange Eventful History

    Claire Messud (Norton)

    In the end, summer reading means whatever one is reading in the summer, and sometimes that means carving out time for a hefty literary event. Messud’s saga, which spans from 1940 to 2010, follows a pied-noir family exiled from Algeria during the country’s war for independence. The magnificent sentences and staggeringly deep characterizations are cause enough to save this for a week free of interruptions.

  • Parade

    Rachel Cusk (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    Cusk is one of my favorite writers to read during the summer. Her spare and seemingly effortless prose operates like a mind-clearing tonic, just the thing for a day when one has nothing to do. Her latest novel once again shows what she can do within that space of refreshment, as she develops complex ideas about art and gender and offers a deep view into her characters’ consciousnesses. —David Varno, reviews editor

  • Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People

    Tiya Miles (Penguin Press)

    With characteristic lyricism, Miles unspools a biography of Harriet Tubman that focuses on the inner life of the revolutionary figure and the outer forces that forged it: the wilderness, other women, and a life of transgression. The riveting and dramatic events of Tubman’s abolitionist career are related as a transporting and mystical hero’s journey. A unique admixture of excitement and serenity, this is a beach read for dreamers.

  • Summer Vamp

    Violet Chan Karim (Random House Graphic)

    In crafting a bus mix-up that sends aspiring chef Maya to vampiric Camp Dracula instead of culinary Camp Umami, Karim employs expert comic timing and tonal savvy to create a “regular summer camp” where “garlic is strictly forbidden!” Typical middle school woes rear their head throughout Maya’s stint living as a stealth human among vampires in this wholesome debut graphic novel, which seamlessly blends silliness and sentiment to examine timely topics surrounding acceptance and self-confidence.

  • The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History

    John Vasquez Mejias (Union Square)

    Each page of this elegant, agit-prop stylized, confrontational yet nuanced account of the 1950s Puerto Rican independence movement is printed from painstakingly hand-carved woodblocks. It took Mejias a decade to create this art object—cutting into the negative space to reveal history more often swept away. I’ve been a fan of Mejias’s since I first (many years ago) picked up his zine Paping. It’s cheering to see the dedication he puts to his craft respected in such a high-quality hardcover release. —Meg Lemke, reviews editor

  • The Witches of Bellinas

    J. Nicole Jones (Catapult)

    A foggy seaside grove in Northern California provides the stage for Jones’s intriguing novel. Yes, there are witches; they’re members of a cult run by a tech guru and a wellness influencer. There’s also a dead body: the husband of the narrator, who gradually unfolds the mystery of what happened to each of them after they arrived in the witches’ idyll turned nightmare. Jones puts her snappy prose, incisive commentary, and natural storytelling chops on full display.

  • Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk

    Kathleen Hanna (Ecco)

    Bikini Kill lead singer Hanna holds nothing back in a debut that traces her chaotic childhood through to founding the riot grrrl punk feminist movement and her time in such bands as Viva Knievel and Le Tigre. Visceral prose is undergirded by clear-eyed insight into the flaws of early punk feminist activism—including its overwhelming whiteness—making this a memoir with depth and edge to spare. —Miriam Grossman, associate reviews editor

  • A Talent for Murder

    Peter Swanson (Morrow)

    Bestseller Swanson folds characters from The Kind Worth Killing and The Kind Worth Saving into this head-spinning standalone about a librarian who worries her new husband might be a serial killer. For help, she turns to charismatic Swanson antiheroine Lily Kintner, and not long after, the reveals and reversals start flying. The resulting page-turner is “a masterpiece of misdirection,” per PW’s starred review.

  • A Place of Our Own: Six Spaces That Shaped Queer Women’s Culture

    June Thomas (Seal)

    Thomas surveys the spaces essential to queer women’s socializing since the 1970s, from the rural commune to the sex-toy boutique, the lesbian softball league to the women-owned bookshop. A breezy chapter on queer vacation spots is especially sure to do the trick this summer.

  • Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell

    Ann Powers (Dey Street)

    The moment I saw this book’s title—which comes from the opening (and, as it happens, my favorite) track on Mitchell’s 1971 masterpiece Blue—I knew it would be one of my favorite reads of the year. Powers, one of the very best music critics we’ve got, masterfully guides readers through Mitchell’s life and work at a fascinating slant, her approach both sweeping and intimate as she occupies the dual roles of biographer and fan. —Sophia Stewart, associate news editor

  • The Uptown Local: Joy, Death, and Joan Didion

    Cory Leadbeater (Ecco)

    Like many journalists, readers of memoir, and/or publishing employees, I spend roughly two months per year thinking about the life and work of Joan Didion. This debut memoir from her former assistant, who recounts his experiences living with and being mentored by Didion during the final years of her life, promises that rarest of treats: a close observation of a great observer. I can’t wait to dive in. —Conner Reed, reviews editor

  • What You Leave Behind

    Wanda M. Morris (Morrow)

    Down-on-her-luck attorney Deena Wood returns to her Georgia hometown and uncovers a potentially deadly scheme to dispossess Black residents of their land, with roots that stretch back to Reconstruction. By turns gripping, enlightening, and unexpectedly moving, this is another first-class legal thriller from Morris.

  • The Playbook: The Story of Theater, Democracy, and the Making of a Culture War

    James Shapiro (Penguin Press)

    In a captivating chronicle from theater historian Shapiro, things heat up between the unabashedly leftist Federal Theatre Project, a barely remembered New Deal program that staged radically progressive plays in every major American city, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, which chose the Federal Theatre as its very first target. Featuring drama, political posturing, and a lot of Orson Welles, this is not to be missed.

  • Sing Like Fish: How Sound Rules Life Under Water

    Amorina Kingdon (Crown)

    Contrary to French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s famous description of the seas as “the silent world,” Kingdon suggests the ocean actually teems with noise that serves a variety of purposes. For instance, coral larvae (which can swim) instinctively move toward sound to find nearby reefs and dolphins develop unique whistles to identify themselves to others. It’s a marvelous tour of an overlooked aspect of underwater life.

  • Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics

    Ernesto Londoño (Celadon)

    Is the field of medicinal psychedelics a hotbed of “C-list celebrities, bro-ey podcasters, and #blessed Instagram influencers,” a wild west of unregulated substances, or a promising frontier of mental health treatment? All three, according to New York Times reporter Londoño, who intertwines research with vulnerable disclosures of how he sought relief in psychedelics for his own mental health issues. The result is a kaleidoscopic survey of an ever-shifting field.

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