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Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

David K. Randall (Norton)

A warm, lazy, summer day, the sound of waves rushing in the background—what could be more sleep inducing? But why is that nap so refreshing? And why is sleep so elusive at other times? Before dozing off in your hammock, read this entertaining, informative look at how and why we sleep. —Sarah F. Gold


Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces

Cory MacLauchlin (Da Capo)

As a fan of Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, I'm looking forward to reading the first biography to make full use of the Toole papers and interviews with the people who knew the creator of that brilliant misfit, Ignatius J. Reilly. An unexpected bonus: the index lists a real-life brilliant misfit, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. —Peter Cannon


Ravishing the Heiress

Sherry Thomas (Berkley Sensation)

I love books where the wedding precedes the romance, for whatever reason—scandal, arranged marriage—and love and friendship slowly develop between two people trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Thomas's take on this age-old story sounds like the perfect summer escape: thoughtful and sweet, with very sympathetic characters. —Rose Fox


The Cove

Ron Rash (Ecco)

Dark and ominous (an antidote to all that seasonal sun and exposed flesh), Rash dishes up Appalachia with a mute stranger and a dangerous secret set during WWI. The prologue features a hideous surprise in a bucket drawn up from an old well, but fear not, it's a love story! —Louisa Ermelino


The Guardians: An Elegy

Sarah Manguso (FSG)

Summer is the best time for short but sweet books—The Guardians; Home by Toni Morrison; and I'll hopefully get around to Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. —Gabe Habash


The Forever Marriage

Ann Bauer (Overlook Press)

I've always enjoyed Ann Bauer's writing, her nonfiction magazine articles and blogs, as well as her debut novel, A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards (Scribner, 2005). The Forever Marriage is the tale of a widow, reflecting upon the decisions she made years earlier that made her the woman she has become. It's a provocative theme that resonates with me when I ponder the paths not taken in my own life: what minor decision I may have made years ago irrevocably set me on one journey as opposed to another? —Claire Kirch


The Beginner's Goodbye

Anne Tyler (Knopf)

No contest here. I'm always near the head of the line for the newest Tyler. This one, about a widower whose dead wife appears to him—he's a classic Tyler character, a gentle quirky fellow—reminds me that she's getting older, so possibly I am, too. —Marcia Z. Nelson


James Joyce

Gordon Bowker (FSG)

It is bold to follow up on Richard Ellman's classic 1959 bio of Joyce, a writer about whom few mysteries remain (especially after the wonderful recent bios of his wife, Nora, and daughter, Lucia). Still, Bowker's light, fresh touch animates the striving and at times ridiculous ex-pat Dubliner, whose body of work continues to sparkle with genius. —Michael Coffey


Whiplash River

Lou Berney (Morrow)

In this entertaining sequel to Gutshot Straight, Berney has a great time tweaking the familiar: there's the ex-con trying to go straight; the local drug lord making it awfully hard on him; the evil fracking executive (that's not an adjective). And, uh, a former stripper turned venture capitalist. Okay, so not everything's that familiar. Which is a good thing. Set in Belize and featuring a number of great set pieces, snappy dialogue, and colorful characters, the plot hums along like a mosquito cloud over a puddle. —Mike Harvkey


In One Person

John Irving (Simon & Schuster)

As a longtime John Irving fan, I was naturally excited for his latest— about one man's struggle with identity and sexual exploration. But after reading PW's amazing q&a with Irving, I knew In One Person was not to be missed. —Adam Boretz


The Disenchantments

Nina LaCour (Dutton)

Looking for a last-minute graduation gift? Or just a great poolside read? LaCour's sophomore YA novel, about a (less than amazing) girl band's West Coast tour in a VW bus, has what you need: an unpredictable road trip, romance and relationships put to the test, humor, music, and unexpected moments of self-discovery and revelation. —John A. Sellers


The Infinite Tides

Christian Kiefer (Bloomsbury)

Kiefer's fiction debut follows astronaut Keith Corcoran—returned to Earth, abandoned by his wife, and coping with the tragic death of his daughter—as he rebuilds his life by smoking pot, drinking beer, and stargazing in an empty lot with a former engineer from Ukraine who now stocks shelves at Target. Not as sunshiney as other summer reads, but I sunburn easily. —Samuel R. Slaton


Mother and Child

Carole Maso (Counterpoint)

There is lyricism and then there's Carole Maso's lyricism. In her first novel since 1998's Defiance, each evocative sentence is an incantation that embraces the reader and refuses to let go. Maso's surreal exploration of the fraught mother-daughter bond (complete with magical journeys and mysterious creatures) should be read in the afternoon shade, when you can savor each line. —Jessamine Chan


My Cross to Bear

Gregg Allman, with Alan Light (Morrow)

I find myself looking forward to reading about the story of this great Southern rock band—and a 1970s glimpse into my home state, Florida, where the band got started. —Mark Rotella


I Hunt Killers

Barry Lyga (Little, Brown)

Seventeen-year-old Jazz received a grisly education at the hands of his father, an imprisoned serial killer. When another murderer targets Jazz's small town, he channels his intimate knowledge of the killing mind to help the police find the perpetrator. Blisteringly entertaining, Lyga's YA mystery features a troubled but redeemable outsider with a serious set of daddy issues. —Matia Burnett


Dispatch from the Future

Leigh Stein (Melville House)

I have been looking forward to this debut poetry collection for months now, having previously enjoyed some of these "dispatches" in various journals. Stein possesses a comic's honesty and sense of timing, simultaneously enchanting and dark, yet never cynical. She's already published a wonderful debut novel this year, but I think she's arguably an even better poet. —Alex Crowley


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