The Summer Reading Guide is my personal guide to the season’s best books: the ones I love, and think you will, too. I limit myself to recommending only books I’ve read cover to cover. And since it’s a summer reading guide, I try to not recommend too many books that aren’t coming out till later this season, because I want you to be able to get your hands on them! (This year I did stretch those bounds some, as you can read in the Letter from the Editor I included in the guide.)
Today’s list of hot summer books includes some titles I enjoyed but didn’t find right for the guide, some much-buzzed books I haven’t read yet, and some that come out too late in the season to include in the guide. I can’t vouch for these titles the same way I can for those in the guide. With these, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a bookshelf, hoping to find some fantastic summer books.
So grab your TBR, enjoy today’s list, and let me know in the comments section what YOU want to read this summer. I can’t wait to hear all about it.
A pregnant teen. A wealthy socialite. A disgraced former nun. The lives of three women intersect in unexpected ways in post-Apartheid South Africa after the discovery of an abandoned baby. Their beliefs about race, identity, and motherhood will be challenged as the mystery of the infant grows. Marais's debut Hum If You Don't Know the Words was a 2017 Summer Reading Guide selection and I've been looking forward to her new release. Publication date July 16. More info →
Lippman combines mystery with classic noir in her latest, whose plot is based on a real 1960s unsolved mystery. Maddie knows what it is to have secrets. Freshly out of her twenty year marriage and going hard after a fresh start as a journalist, she throws herself into a story about a missing Black woman whose body has just been discovered. Maddie's going to find the truth about Cleo, whether the dead woman wants her to or not. But in 1966 Baltimore, secrets have a way of coming out for both Maddie and Cleo and the consequences could be devastating. Lippman isn't much for likable characters: take note when deciding whether to add this to your TBR. Publication date July 23. More info →
Inspired by historical events, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls in Texas is a port in the storm for "fallen girls." The progressive home offers training and rehabilitation to young women going through hard times. A century later, reclusive university librarian Cate stumbles on to the cemetery, leading her to combing through the archives to learn about the residents. What Cate discovers will help her make peace with her own heartbreaking past. Dual timelines make this a moving and resonant story about the power of love and friendship and the things we must overcome to find ourselves again. Publication date July 23. More info →
Colson Whitehead brings Jim Crow-era Florida to life through the real story of a reform school in Tallahassee that claimed to rehabilitate delinquent boys and instead abused and terrorized them for over one hundred years. Elwood Curtis is bound for a local black college when an innocent mistake lands him at The Nickel Academy instead. Elwood finds comfort in Dr. Martin Luther King's words and holds to his ideals, whereas his friend Turner believes the world is crooked so you have to scheme to survive. All this leads to a decision with harrowing repercussions for their respective fates. Publication date July 16. More info →
Every family has secrets. Lena Donohue reinvented herself in New York City after she was betrayed by her sister on her wedding day. She rarely returns to her small Southern hometown, until her father's worsening Alzheimer's calls her back. As she and her siblings work together to preserve his failing memories, a secret from his past emerges. Lena will have to decide whether she has the strength to forgive in this absorbing story. Publication date June 4. More info →
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep." Inspired by Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, this genderbent story pits neurosurgeon Dr. Trisha Raje against chef DJ Caine in a series of misunderstandings and unfair judgments. But Trisha is the only surgeon who can save DJ's sister’s life and these two will have to find a way to work together. Read this for Dev's take on Austen, the mouthwatering descriptions of food, and the way the story examines class and privilege in our modern world. More info →
Books have the power to change lives and nowhere is this more true than the story of 19-year-old Cussy Carter, an Appalachian woman who joins the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and delivers books to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky. She's also the last living female with Blue People ancestry, all of whom had a skin condition called methemoglobinemia, which really did turn their skin blue. Inspired by real history and set in 1936, this is a story of hope and heartbreak and how fierce determination can challenge the grasp of poverty and oppression. More info →
Pavone is back with the exciting second installment of the Kate Moore series. It's a day like any other in Paris or so everyone thinks until a massive terrorist attack begins. But Kate soon realizes things are not what they seem and somehow the truth involves her family. My husband enjoyed this espionage thriller, but I didn't persevere till the end.) More info →
It sounds like a dream: go to the Farm and take advantage of every amenity, from the organic meals to the daily massages. Not only that, you'll be paid for the privilege. All you have to do once you're chosen to be a Host is become a surrogate. Immigrant and single mother Jane is thrilled when she's selected, until she realizes she no longer belongs to herself. Cut off from her daughter, she cannot leave the grounds and she has no freedom. And she dare not risk what will happen if she tries. This dystopian tale raises questions about motherhood, money, and the ethics of the concessions and trade-offs we sometimes make for those we love. I thought the premise and world-building were fantastic but found the execution unsatisfying. More info →
I can't tell you how many MMD readers have said it's not really summer till they pick up the new Jane Green novel. Friends since college, Evvie, Maggie, and Topher swore nothing would keep them apart. Instead, they've drifted apart over the years until their 30th reunion brings them back together. No one is where they thought they'd be but now they have a second chance to reconnect with themselves and each other. Jane Green's latest reminds us our regrets and disappointments don't have to define us and that it's never too late for love and forgiveness. Publication date June 4. More info →
Elizabeth Gilbert delivers a love story set in the 1940s New York City theater scene. Vivian Morris is shipped off to her Aunt Peg after she's kicked out of college. Her aunt's theater introduces her to a dazzling array of people and life experiences. But when Vivian is embroiled in a professional scandal, it will not only turn her new life upside down, it will put her on the path to the great love of her life. Exploring female sexuality and human desire, City Of Girls will have you questioning what it means to be "good." I thought this was SO MUCH FUN, and adored the narrative voice, which is quite different from Gilbert's previous works. Publication date June 4. More info →
In this luminous debut about family and first love, a gay Vietnamese immigrant man writes his mother a letter in which he reveals their painful family history and gives her insights about his own life. His mother doesn't know how to read but the letter is a window for her to better understand him, if she so chooses. With evocative prose, Vuong reminds us of the power in telling your own story, especially when your voice was previously silenced. Publication date June 4. More info →
Natalie Tan returns home to San Francisco after her estranged mother's death and finds a changed city and the unexpected inheritance of her grandmother's restaurant. When the neighborhood seer tells her she must cook three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook for her struggling neighbors in order for the restaurant to succeed, she couldn't be less interested. After all, her neighbors didn't help her deal with her mother. Or did they? This lush debut shows how we can find community and support in unexpected places. And it's guaranteed to make you hungry! Publication date June 11. More info →
Is it really summer if you don't read Elin Hilderbrand’s latest novel? This time she's back with her first historical fiction. The Levin children love spending their summers at their grandmother's home in downtown Nantucket but this summer finds them torn in other directions—Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Vietnam—with the exception of 13 year old Jessie, who's suddenly not so sure about getting stuck with her grandmother. Get a front seat view as the family experiences the changing times for their country and for themselves. I'm looking forward to reading this. Publication date June 18. More info →
Fans of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series will be delighted to learn about this release, nine years after the last book Started Early, Took My Dog. Brodie lives in a quiet seaside village now and works as a private investigator. When his current job leads him to discover a human trafficking network, he also learns just how far back the crimes go. Atkinson writes mysteries exploring the human condition with trademark wit balancing out the devastation. You'll fly through the pages until justice is served. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but thought it would be doing readers a disservice to recommend the fifth book in a series in the guide. Publication date June 25. More info →
Avery is inseparable from her friend Sadie every summer in Littleport, Maine; a feat in a village where locals and visitors rarely go beyond acquaintance. But then Sadie is found dead and ruled a suicide and Avery can't help but feel the community blames her for the loss. The truth will out and Avery must do all she can to clear her name. Come for the story, stay for the unexpected twist. This psychological thriller is the very definition of a beach read! Publication date June 18. More info →
Nina Hill is content with her bookstore job, trivia team, and cat. When the father she never knew suddenly dies, she learns she has a huge extended family, who all want to meet her—the horror! And if that wasn't enough to wrap her mind around, her trivia nemesis starts seeing her in a romantic light. None of this can be a good idea. Or can it? Looks like Nina's bookish life is about to get much more interesting. I found this to be fast, light, and fun. Publication date July 9. More info →
If you've ever wondered about the road less taken, you'll love this inventive thriller. One of criminal defense attorney Lila Bennett's bad choices splits her life in two. In one version of her life, she's taken hostage. In the other, she avoids being kidnapped but still falls prey to someone who wants to destroy her happiness. Lila will have to figure out not only who's out to get her but how she can possibly survive. Publication date July 23. More info →
The Chelsea Hotel is a long-time haven for creatives, making it the perfect setting for playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead to use to their advantage. But as they work on bringing their show to Broadway, they find a roadblock in the Red scare targeting the entertainment industry. Fiona Davis brings the glitz, glam, and danger of 1950s New York to life with a revealing look at the toll of McCarthyism and the complications it brings to Hazel and Maxine's dreams and friendship. Publication date July 30. More info →
One of the only female firefighters in her firehouse, Cassie always knows how to deal with an emergency. At least, when it comes to others. When her estranged mother asks her to move back to Boston to help take care of her, Cassie thrown into the deep end. Her new firehouse doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms, with the exception of the handsome rookie. But Cassie never dates fellow firefighters and taking this risk could jeopardize her career. She's about to learn what courage really looks like and how to love against all odds. Publication date August 13. More info →
What new summer titles are you most looking forward to?