Your teens could give a flying F. Scott about their assigned summer reading list. You, on the other hand—given even a tiny sliver of free time—would ravenously devour your next novel in a single sitting. With summer weekends stretched out ahead of you, consider gobbling your way through some of these 37 page-turners, book in one hand and genre-appropriate drink in the other (because a thriller calls for a Dark and Stormy!). Your kids may never get the reference—at least until they read the SparkNotes—but that’s your definition
of This Side of Paradise.
If you're reading Debuts & Rising Stars, brew yourself an Iced Coffee with Coffee Ice Cubes.
by Regina Porter
Over six decades, two big, complicated American families—one black, one white—bump up against each other and finally intertwine in this emotional roller coaster of a novel. The story winds its way across continents and through big moments—the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall—but its characters’ own triumphs and traumas are what actually keep us reading (and reaching for loads of tissues).
The Lager Queen of Minnesota
by J. Ryan Stradal
Minnesota native Stradal’s 2015 debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a best-selling bittersweet mother-daughter story about foodies, won over hordes of moms (and daughters) with its cozy charms and mouthwatering dishes. His follow-up features as many calories and serves up another lovable cast of characters, most notably champion pie maker Edith. Stradal’s signature blend of humor and warmth are back in business, and fans and newcomers will be satisfied to the last sip.
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
by Juliet Grames
If you’re itching for a juicy tale to sink your teeth into, look no further. Loosely based on Grames’s Italian American grandmother’s life story, this family saga focuses on sisters Stella and Tina. They immigrate to America from a Calabrian village and live most of their lives not speaking to each other. Loaded with resentments and romances, and structured around Stella’s multiple near-death experiences, this book is Russian Doll with a dash of Ferrante.
Also Worth a Read:
- The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz
- Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
- Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky
- The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
- The Farm by Joanne Ramos
If you're reading Memoirs, mix yourself a Fuzzy Navel Gazer.
Leaving the Witness
by Amber Scorah
Scorah made waves four years ago with a viral article she wrote about her son’s death at a daycare facility. Now she has another jaw-dropping tale to tell—about growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness community where she wasn’t allowed to attend birthday parties or go to college. It wasn’t until she took a missionary trip to China that exposed her to new ways of thinking, that she arrived at the painful decision to break ties with her religion and family. The story is surprisingly relatable—we all know what it’s like when a loss of faith becomes too urgent to ignore.
by Lara Prior-Palmer
Naïveté and boredom can be a dangerous combination (just ask any parent of a teen). On an internet-fueled whim, Prior-Palmer—a year out of high school and freshly canned from her au pair gig—applied to compete in a 620-mile wild pony race across Mongolia. Barely able to find the country on a map, she showed up for the Mongol Derby expecting an adventurous vacation. Instead, she found extreme heat, dehydration, nasty
bugs, injuries and, in
the end, a grit she
didn’t know she had.
Also worth a read:
- How to Forget by Kate Mulgrew
- Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
- Motherland by Elissa Altman
If you're reading Romance & Beach Reads, pour yourself a Love on the Rocks.
The Wedding Party
By Jasmine Guillory
Guillory published her first book, The Wedding Date, less than two years ago, and she’s already built a devoted rom-com-loving fan base that includes Reese Witherspoon. (The actress picked The Proposal, Guillory’s second title, for her book club last fall). Check out The Wedding Party and you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about. These steamy romances are nothing like those bodice rippers your mom used to buy at the drugstore. Instead of beefy hunks and helpless women waiting to be ravished, they feature a cast of well-read go-getters who are both seriously sexy and wickedly smart. (Think Idris Elba instead of Fabio.) But what else would you expect from Guillory, a Stanford Law grad who started writing love stories as a stress release from her legal career?
By Jennifer Weiner
Weiner is the queen of dreaming up relatable heroines, and we get a double helping with Jo and Bethie Kaufman, the plucky, unlucky sisters at the center of this story. The pair get up close and personal with pretty much every hot topic to captivate post–World War II America, navigating the antiwar movement, abortion, drugs, same-sex relationships and #MeToo moments. Through the drama, they blame and save each other as only sisters can.
By Courtney Cole
In this propulsive page-turner, Tessa Taylor is a happily married and perpetually harried working mother of three—until she glances at her husband’s iPad and sees a NSFW text from his 26-year-old girlfriend. Tessa responds as you would expect: She calls Ethan and reams him out. And then...she replies to the seductive sender (from her husband’s account) and lures her over for a rendezvous. What follows is a battle of the Mrs. versus the mistress you won’t want to miss.
Also worth a read:
- Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
- Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
- The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
If you're reading Mysteries & Thrillers, mix yourself a Dark and Stormy.
Never Have I Ever
by Joshilyn Jackson
Game night goes very high-stakes in this nail-biter. Sweet young mother Amy Whey and her friends are preparing for book club night when an alluring stranger shows up at Amy’s door. She charms the gang into drinking more wine than usual, and they end up playing an exciting parlor game. The thrill ride is far from over when the guests go home. Winner takes all in this addictive, heart-thumping read.
A Better Man
by Louise Penny
Mystery buffs go crazy for Inspector Gamache books—so nuts that droves of them have made the trek to Quebec, just to follow in Gamache’s fictional footsteps on the official Bury Your Dead tour, based on the best seller of the same name. You’ll want to join the Gamache groupies when you read the 15th(!) installment in the series. This time, the caring-but-cranky French Canadian detective is investigating the disappearance of a local woman, dealing with both a social media firestorm and an IRL natural disaster. Binge-read it over Labor Day, and you might just
spend your next three-day weekend up north.
Also worth a read:
- They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
- Furious Hours by Casey Cep
- Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
- The Summer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen
If you're reading Big-Name Authors, blend your friends a Frozen Hemingway.
City of Girls
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert has made a name for herself by diving deep—whether into her own painful divorce (Eat Pray Love) or the complicated lives of her fictional characters (The Signature of All Things). She said her goal with this latest novel, however, was “to write a book that would go down like a champagne cocktail—light and bright, crisp and fun.” Her tale of a 19-year-old Vassar dropout from a “good” suburban family who finds herself among a fast crowd of theater people, playboys and showgirls in 1940s New York bubbles over with sexy drama and adventure.
The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead
Whitehead joined the ranks of living legends with his 2016 take on American slavery, The Underground Railroad. His latest, The Nickel Boys, set in the Jim Crow South, does not disappoint. The devastating and moving novel is set at a reform school where physical abuse is a fact of life and young residents are robbed of hope
and self-respect at every turn. The story is all the more heartbreaking thanks to its studious and sensitive young protagonist, Elwood. This one’s destined to become a classic.
Also worth a read:
- Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat
- The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
- My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates
- Inland by Téa Obreht
- The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams