Good news, readers: summer reading season is upon us—and the Summer Reading Guide will be here next week! (Sign up here and I’ll tell you the moment it’s released.)
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Today I’m sharing a peek at the big summer books everyone will be talking about all summer long. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a solid start: I’ve rounded up 20 of the season’s most-anticipated books across a variety of genres so you can add the ones that look good to you to your TBR (and get a jump on that library request list).
Don’t see a book you can’t wait to read on the list and wondering why? Want more options for your summer reading? The SEVENTH (!!!) annual Summer Reading Guide drops next week. This is my personal guide to the season’s best books: the ones I love, and think you will, too.
This year’s guide holds 25 new titles—published between January and the 4th of July (okay, the 10th of July because some great books drop on July 10)—and perfect for summer reading season. I’ve read every word of every one, and my goal is to tell you what you need to know about each book so you can decide which ones are right for YOU.
That’s coming next week. Today let’s take a look at this season’s most buzzed-about titles. (To compile this list, I chose books coming out past the guide cutoff date, books I haven’t read yet, and books I didn’t think were a good fit for the Summer Reading Guide.)
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.
New motherhood is tough, but the May Mothers—whose babies share the same birth month—have each other. They swap mothering tips, confess insecurities, and commiserate about lost sleep in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. When one of the moms spearheads a girls’ night out, it sounds like a much-needed escape from the demands of new motherhood. But while the women drink in a local bar, one of the babies vanishes from his crib. The ensuing media frenzy brings secrets from their long-buried pasts come to light as the friends race against time to discover what happened—and if there’s any hope of saving the baby. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, Malloy drops another surprise in your lap. A fast-paced psychological thriller, soon to be a major motion picture starring Kerry Washington. Publication date: May 1. More info →
Before you crack Center’s new novel open on an airplane (like I did), you should know: this story begins with a plane crash. Margaret has always been afraid of flying, but this doesn’t stop her pilot-in-training boyfriend from taking her for a private flight to propose up in the clouds. When a storm unexpectedly blows in, Chip doesn’t have the skills to safely land the plane. After the crash, Chip walks away without a scratch, but it appears Margaret may have lost everything: she’s severely burned, and her spinal cord injury means she’s unable to walk—which quickly leads to the loss of her dream job, fiance, and any sense of hope she had for her future. How can a woman come back from such a tragedy to regain control of her life? As Center writes, “it’s the trying that heals you,” and Margaret is about to find a reason to try. Publication date: May 15. More info →
From the perennially bestselling author of The Weekenders, a new novel about righting wrongs, making amends, and friendships that last a lifetime, with a heady dose of mystery. 99-year-old Josephine wants to do two things before she dies: protect the Georgia coastal island she owns from being despoiled by development, and make things right with her estrangest oldest friends, the ladies of the High Tide Club. She needs to make things right so she can bequeathe them her property and guarantee its safety. Small town lawyer Brooke—whom Josephine hires to carry out her wishes—soon discovers that Josephine has been keeping explosive secrets involving an unsolved murder for seventy years. But before Brooke discovers the truth or secures her client’s wishes, Josephine dies. In order to save Josephine’s legacy, Brooke and the High Tide Club members must discover the truth of the past. With two timelines—1941 and present-day—Andrews reveals what really happened back then, and the dramatic implications it has for right now. Publication date: May 8. More info →
In this zany romantic comedy with the high drama Bollywood fans know and love, New Jersey high school senior Winnie struggles to find her happily ever after—with the help of her entertaining friends and family. An Indian Priest predicted Winnie would find her soulmate before her 18th birthday, and she thinks her boyfriend’s the one … until she comes back from film camp to find out he’s cheating on her. Even worse, administrative woes lead to Winnie being stripped of her dreamed-of role as the chair of the student film festival, and they give the job to her ex. It’s looking pretty grim until fellow film junkie Dev enters the picture, and soon has Winnie questioning how much of her life is destiny, and how much is up to her to decide. Publisher recommends for ages 14+. Publication date: May 15. More info →
You know Judy Blundell from her award-winning young adult novel What I Saw and How I Lied. This summer she’s back with her first novel for adults. The setting is a tiny town in the “uncool” northern fork of the Hamptons, two ferries away from the summer society scene. Ruthie loves her life there, but can only afford it if she moves out during the summer high season to rent her house to the ultra-rich. Her daughter resents the annual move, but that’s the least of her worries. She’s about to lose it all: her ex-husband unexpectedly falls for someone, her art gallery employees revolt, and she’s driven to take drastic action with unthinkable consequences. This would be an excellent companion to Anna Quindlen’s spring release Alternate Side or Tom Rachman’s The Italian Teacher. Compulsively readable but seriously dark and racy in parts: if you need likable characters this is NOT for you. Publication date: May 22. More info →
From the author When Dimple Met Rishi, a new YA novel about friends, young love, and filmmaking. Sixteen-year-old Twinkle wants to fight the patriarchy through her art. She dreams of becoming a successful filmmaker one day, and much of the story is told through her diary-style letters to famous filmmakers. But for now, she’s dealing with typical teenage problems: her BFF’s newfound popularity has put their relationship seriously on the rocks, the boy she’s crushing on doesn’t know she exists, and her cute co-creator of a movie for the Midsummer Arts Festival has her feeling confused about everything. Sweet and relatable, with characters you can root for. Publisher recommends for ages 12+. Publication date: May 22. More info →
From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Paris Apartment, a new historical novel based on the life of Alicia Corning Clark and her real-life romance with then-Congressman JFK. In 1950 Alicia emigrates from Poland to the U.S. under the Displaced Persons Act, and is hired to work as a housekeeper for the wealthy Kennedy family in Hyannis Port, Maine. That’s when she meets oldest son and rising politician Jack. The two fall in love and quickly become engaged, but Jack’s father forbids the marriage because Alicia is Jewish, so Alicia takes off for Hollywood, while Jack focuses on his political ambitions. But neither forgets the other. Readers will be consulting their history books to see what’s fact and what’s fiction in this story about the woman who J. Edgar Hoover was convinced bore JFK’s child. Publication date: May 29. More info →
This one wins for best title of summer. After a long hiatus, Weisberger returns with her third installment in the Devil Wears Prada series, this time focusing on everyone’s favorite character, the snarky and entertaining Emily Charlton. Fifteen years after Devil, Emily works as an image consultant doing damage control for A-list celebrities: she’s a “fixer” in the vein of Olivia Pope. But neither her career nor her marriage are going particularly well, and Miranda Priestly even wants her to return to Runway. It’s time to shake things up, so when the call comes inviting her to move from L.A. back to the East Cost to save the reputation of a supermodel Senator’s wife, she can’t say no. Publication date: June 5. More info →
From the author of I Don’t Know How She Does It, which sold a breathtaking four million copies worldwide. Critics are calling Pearson’s sequel better than the original. (This never happens!) The story picks up seven years later, with our heroine Kate Reddy staring down her 50th birthday—and she doesn’t like what she sees. The intervening years haven’t been kind: her husband lost his job and proceeded to have an inconvenient midlife crisis, she’s struggling with her work and caring for aging relatives, and she’s currently doing damage control on her 16-year-old’s “belfie” (that’s a selfie of your bum, and her daughter’s belfie went viral). But the Reddys are broke, so Kate needs to go back to work—even though a terrible job interview makes it clear she’s aged out of her field. Antics ensue. Perfect for Sophie Kinsella fans. Publication date: June 5. More info →
Orange’s multigenerational, multivoiced novel offers a nuanced glimpse into contemporary Native American life in Oakland, Calfiornia through the experiences and perspectives of twelve wide-ranging characters. As they prepare for the city’s first Big Oakland Powwow at the Oakland Coliseum, the lives of Orange’s diverse characters become intertwined: an aspiring filmmaker, a man who’s taught himself traditional Native dance with YouTube videos, a woman traveling to meet her grandchildren for the first time—on the condition that she remains sober. Orange says he wrote this novel to “try to honor and express fully all that it entails to be Native and be from Oakland,” and the early reviews say he nailed it. Publication date: June 5. More info →
From the author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a new young adult novel the publisher calls Father of the Bride meets Sixteen Candles. 17-year-old Charlie is the youngest of five siblings and the only one still living at home. It gets a little lonely sometimes, but for one epic weekend, her close-knit family will all be together again for her sister’s wedding. Except that when the wedding weekend gets underway, everything that could possibly go wrong, does: a dog won’t stop barking, the house alarm keeps going off, a tuxedo disappears—and then so does the wedding planner. Publisher recommends for ages 12+. Publication date: June 5. More info →
Safi’s YA debut addresses identity, female friendship, and finding your place in the world. High school senior Lulu Saad doesn’t fit neatly in anybody’s boxes—and it’s a real pain. Lulu sees herself as American and Arab: her father is an Iraqi immigrant; her Catholic mom is from Louisiana. But her Houston classmates just see her as Arab (and therefore a terrorist). She likes to party with her three best friends, but she fasts during Ramadan—and her family doesn’t see her as being Muslim enough. Things get messier as she strives to straddle the racial and religious tensions of her two worlds, but is it even possible? Kirkus calls this “delightful and funny but still giving voice to serious issues of sexual consent and xenophobia.” Publisher recommends for ages 13+. Publication date: June 19. More info →
A new historical novel with a vintage vibe from the author of A Hundred Summers. There are two kinds of people on Long Island Sound’s Winthrop Island: the summer residents with their patrician ways and old money, and the working class populated by domestic workers and Portugese fishermen. In the the summer of 1951, society girl Miranda Schuyler created a stir when she crossed the divide and got involved with the lighthouse keeper’s son. Too many of the island’s secrets came to light in the process, and the summer ended in tragedy. Twenty years later, Miranda, now a successful Shakespearean actress, finally returns to the island to right this old injustice. A story of islands both real and metaphorical, exiles, and one woman’s search for atonement. Publication date: July 10. More info →
From the author of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. Pastry chef and author Miller takes her readers back to Guthrie, Vermont in her feel-good novel about following your dreams … after finally figuring out what it is you actually want. Nora Huckleberry (that name!) has lived in the same small town all her life, where she raised her baby sister and ran the family diner alongside her dad. When Peggy the cake maker unexpectedly dies, Nora and her sister inherit a house, land, and a host of complications——including the handsome man who wants to buy Peggy’s property to build a big-box store. Everyone in town has an opinion about what Nora should do. If you like the sound of two headstrong sisters, small town vibes, and plenty of food, this may be your perfect summer novel. Publication date: July 17. More info →
From the Edgar-award winning author of You Will Know Me, a psychological thriller about friendship, rivalry, ambition, and fear set in the world of science. Kit and Diane forge an unlikely friendship in high school chemistry class. But after Diane shares a terrible secret, it destroys their friendship and nearly derails Kit’s life. Their paths don’t cross again until ten years later when they’re hired to work in the same research lab, and then begins a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both. friendship, rivalry, ambition, fear. Abbott’s pacing is excellent; her dark and mysterious story unfolds in alternating chapters jumping backward and forward in time. Publication date July 17. More info →
I’m excited for this new release from one-half of the duo that wrote The Knockoff, and the solo author of the terrific nonfiction If Nuns Ruled the World. Charlotte Walsh is COO of one of the world’s fastest-growing companies, and then she decides to uproot her family from their California home to run for Senate in her home state of Pennsylvania. If she wins, she’ll be the first woman to hold that office. Her campaign quickly becomes a fight about her gender, and she’s not having it. Piazza has said she didn’t plan on writing this book, but real-life politics inspired her to write a novel about politics and media right away. The story is told through a variety of mediums—an Emily’s List endorsement, an MSNBC interview transcript, a twitter thread. Advance reviews say the ending is a doozy. I’m intrigued. Publication date July 24. More info →
In Liz and Lisa's new work of psychological suspense, three estranged friends take a much-needed vacation to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in an heal their fractured friendship. Domestic drama. Psychological suspense. Multiple points of view. Tulum, Mexico. Over the course of the trip, each discovers the others are dealing with plenty of trouble in their own lives; meanwhile, a handsome local man draws one of the friends’ attention. After a night out spent drinking (and arguing), one of them goes missing. Was she running away her friends, or towards her love interest—or did something truly sinister go down? Liz and Lisa leave you to draw your own conclusions, and early critics love it. Publication date: July 24. More info →
From the author of The Dollhouse, a new historical novel with a fabulous setting. Few remember it now, but a thriving art school (the Grand Central School of Art) was housed for twenty years in the upper eaves of the east wing, beginning with its founding in 1924. The book switches back and forth in time between the art school years and 1974, when Grand Central Terminal was very nearly razed by developers in order to build a skyscraper. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (who briefly appears in the novel) led the fight to save the terminal by granting it landmark status. Davis has said that her new novel “touches upon issues dear to me: how women’s voices and agency have changed over time, the importance of the arts in our lives, and the hidden stories within New York’s historic skyline.” Publication date August 7. More info →
Kim has previously been known for her short stories and won the PEN America Best Debut Short Story honor; her debut novel is set in Korea during the 1950s and ‘60s, where two childhood friends and ill-fated lovers are forced to make terrible choices against the backdrop of the Korean War. The story shifts between multiple points of view, exploring the terrible choice the young woman was forced to make between true love and a secure future, if she can live with herself after that decision, and what will happen next in this love triangle. Jessica Shattuck describes this as “a gripping, heartrending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story.” Publication date: August 7. More info →
Hua’s debut novel introduces Scarlett Chen, a factory clerk from a Chinese village who fell in love with her boss, and is now pregnant with his baby. Her boss, parent to three daughters, is delighted when the ultrasound reveals Scarlett is carrying his son, and sends her to a secret maternity home in Los Angeles where she will stay until she delivers a boy who will be guaranteed U.S. citizenship. But a later ultrasound corrects the error of the first. When Scarlett realizes she’ll have a daughter, she flees to San Francisco, and makes an unlikely friend in the process. The brave and determined pair attempts to eke out an existence on the streets of Chinatown—but more surprises await them. Celeste Ng calls this “an utterly absorbing novel about the ruthless love of parenthood and the universal truth that sometimes family runs deeper than blood alone." Publication date: August 14. More info →
P.S. On Tuesday’s new episode of What Should I Read Next bookstore owner Annie Jones and I talk more about the books we can’t wait to read this summer—some from this list, some from the guide, and more. That’s available wherever you get your podcasts, or right on this blog next Tuesday. Happy listening!