Summer may feel like it’s nearly over, but here’s a secret: Summer reading is forever. So we rounded up page-turners that’ll help you sail into Labor Day with a literary flourish — and keep your TBR full as the leaves start to fall. Here’s to another season of great books.
“Time’s Mouth” by Edan Lepucki
Sixteen-year-old Sharon discovers a unique gift: She can travel back in time to re-witness key moments from her life. It’s 1955 when she escapes an abusive family member in Connecticut and runs all the way to counterculture revolution-era California. In this mystical landscape, she reinvents her identity and spearheads a cult of women drawn to her special powers. Years later, in 1980, her son Ray flees the commune with his pregnant lover to gritty Los Angeles, taking the family gift — or curse — with him. A gripping intergenerational family saga with a slight fantastical bent, this asks big questions about motherhood, time, and how we can ever appreciate right now while it’s still here.
“Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros
Rebecca Yarros’ latest may have come out back in May, but this wildly popular and fantastically action-packed (and, yes, very sexy) novel is the platonic ideal of a late-summer read. The first installment in Yarros’ planned Empyrean quintet, it follows Violet Sorrengail, whose mother — among the highest-ranking generals in the Navarre army — forces her to train as a dragon rider. Expect some tropes familiar to the genre, like enemies to lovers and an underdog heroine, delivered in a totally refreshing way. Plus, it’s the rare “romantasy” novel that Sarah J. Maas devotees confirm will actually rival that ACOTAR high. If you know, you know.
“Piece of Cake” by Mary Hollis Huddleston and Asher Fogle Paul
In this “13 Going on 30” meets “Sweet Home Alabama” romp, Claire is working hard as a wedding magazine staffer in Nashville. When she finds out that the publication she works for is in trouble (and her coveted editor role along with it), she comes up with a plan to keep the company afloat: a reality TV show covering outrageous weddings. Before she knows it, Claire is creating a full-fledged docuseries alongside Dom, an attractive social-media star brought in by her boss. If you’re looking for a light read with a touch of romance to get you through the rest of the summer, this book is it. PS: We loved this author duo’s previous book too.
“Who We Are Now” by Lauryn Chamberlain
Is there anything better than a coming-of-age story? Lauryn Chamberlain’s latest novel follows four best friends from college over the course of 15 years. It kicks off in 2006 the night before their graduation, with the following chapters alternating character viewpoints. From their 20s into their 30s, they navigate love, loss, and success as both professionals and creatives. This one oozes nostalgia…so if you’re reminiscing about your “Girls” era, check it out.
“With Regrets” by Lee Kelly
It’s every introvert’s worst nightmare: A dinner party you literally can’t leave. It’s in this hellish scenario that we find Liz Brinkley, who regretfully accepts an invitation to a party hosted by her “lifestyle guru” neighbor and attended by other insufferable social climbers. It turns into a lockdown situation when mysterious, cloud-like entities descend over major metropolitan areas, instantly killing everyone they touch. Even worse? Liz left her children at home. Equal parts social commentary and survival thriller, this inventive read is seriously un-put-downable.
“Those We Thought We Knew” by David Joy
A young Black artist visits her ancestral home in North Carolina to make progress on her graduate thesis, but she soon refocuses her project to unearth the town’s racist foundations. At the same time, authorities discover that a high-ranking Ku Klux Klan member has plans to target local figures, including the chief of police. These parallel plots — and ensuing acts of violence — are at the heart of this thought-provoking read that deftly explores racism’s deep and complicated roots.
“The Deep Sky” by Yume Kitasei
Speculative fiction meets espionage thriller meets eco horror in this immersive debut novel. It follows Asuka, who — in the face of the earth’s environmental collapse — is among an elite cohort tasked with propagating the human race aboard the spaceship Phoenix. When a deadly bomb thwarts the ship’s mission, Asuka finds herself as the only surviving witness — and suspect. But it’s not all interstellar spycraft; Kitasei also skillfully explores some big, deeply human issues, like imposter syndrome and tricky family relationships. Even staunch literary realist lovers will have fun with this foray into genre fiction.
“They Called Us Exceptional” by Prachi Gupta
Journalist Prachi Gupta has covered elections, data privacy, and countless politicians. In her debut memoir, she unpacks subjects close to her heart — like her Indian American family, mental health, her sense of self, and the tension between the inner and outer pressures of the model minority myth. Hello, new book club read.
“The Lookback Window” by Kyle Dillon Hertz
Hertz’s debut novel centers on Dylan, a 20-something graduate student who’s recently become engaged to his boyfriend. He’s also the survivor of childhood sexual abuse. His painful history comes into full focus with the passage of the Child Victims Act, which enables victims to file suits against their attackers after the statute of limitations has passed. The subject matter is heavy, but Hertz handles it with profound skill and grace. This one’s bound for the contemporary queer-lit canon. You heard it here first.
“The One That Got Away” by Charlotte Rixon
Heart-wrenching romance, anyone? Fans of Jojo Moyes and Jill Santopolo will be all over this first love story that spans two decades. Benjamin and Clara meet in college and are inseparable…until one night shakes up their entire relationship. Fast forward 20 years: Benjamin is a single father struggling to get by, and Clara is a successful writer who feels that something in her life is missing. The duo cross paths again, after a major life-threatening accident occurs in the town where they met. TW: This includes topics such as manslaughter, addiction, and sexual assault.
“Mobility” by Lydia Kiesling
It’s the 1990s, and Bunny Glenn knows that the climate crisis is real; as the teenaged daughter of an American diplomat based in post-Soviet Union Azerbaijan, she’s privy to compelling conversations about the oil industry. Yet as an adult, she’s driven to pursue a successful career at a Texas-based energy company. If a novel about geopolitics, the climate crisis, and oil wars sounds intimidating, we get it. But filtered through Bunny’s lens, it all becomes the fascinating backdrop to a classic coming-of-age novel.
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Beth Nguyen
When Beth Nguyen was eight months old, at the tail end of the Vietnam War, she and most of her family fled Saigon for America — but her mother stayed behind. While Beth grew up in the Midwest, she and her mother had an estranged relationship. In the author’s second memoir, she unpacks the story of her childhood without her mom; getting reacquainted with her as an adult; and becoming a mother herself. This memoir is one of self-discovery, illuminating how someone’s absence can shape who we become.
“I’m A Fan” by Sheena Patel
Patel’s debut novel has already earned raves in the author’s native Britain, and its American release will no doubt garner an equally zealous fanbase. (Sorry, had to.) An unnamed narrator enters into an affair with a married man, a highly regarded artist — then becomes obsessed with another woman he’s sleeping with after discovering her Instagram page. More broadly, it’s a searing observation of wealth, gender, race, and the influencer economy. Slim and fast-paced, you’ll devour this in a single, deliciously unsettling sitting.
“Family Lore” by Elizabeth Acevedo
There’s nothing we love more than a family saga told from multiple viewpoints. Throw in a cast of wise, resilient women, and we’re completely sold. This one (by a National Book Award winner, NBD) centers on Flor, who has the ability to predict when someone will die. When she decides to throw a living wake — for herself — her sisters and nieces are worried. In the days leading up the big event, we hear from each family member, and piece together their collective story. Read with tissues.
“None of This Is True” by Lisa Jewell
Thriller veteran Lisa Jewell is back with another delightfully twisty-turny tale. Alix, a successful podcast host, randomly encounters her birthday twin, Josie, at a local pub — they were born on the same day, in the same year, and at the same hospital. Seems cute. But things get really dark, really fast when Josie ingratiates herself in Alix’s life and reveals some disturbing details about her past, triggering events that land Alix as the subject of her very own true crime podcast. If you love “Only Murders in the Building,” pick this up.
“The First Ladies” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
If your group chat couldn’t stop raving about “The Personal Librarian,” you should definitely be grabbing the author duo’s newest piece of historical fiction. This time, Benedict and Christopher Murray tell the story of the friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune. The two bond over their shared passion for women’s rights and education, and once FDR is elected president, the First Lady turns to Bethune to help shape her own agenda separate from her husband’s. A powerful story of friendship + women getting things done = a yes from us.
“Bellies” by Nicola Dinan
This Sally Rooney-esque novel follows British university sweethearts Tom and Ming. After graduation, the two move back to London, where Ming comes out as transgender and shares her intention to transition. As the pair navigate their relationship shifting, their friendships changing, and their careers developing, we experience their humor and heartbreak, and root for them as they reckon with their senses of self. PS: Be sure to read before you watch, because Dinan has a TV adaptation in the works.
“My Husband” by Maud Ventura
Our unnamed narrator has a perfect life on paper: a beautiful home, healthy children, and supreme wealth. But there’s just one problem. She’s obsessed with her husband, and 15 years into the marriage, she still isn’t sure if he’s as obsessed with her as she is with him. This novel is filled with game-playing galore, and as you read, you’ll be constantly trying to figure out how on earth this relationship dynamic came to be. Esther Perel, we need you to read and assess this one for us, please.
“Valiant Women” by Lena Andrews
We tend to associate war with all things men: male soldiers, male officers, and male heroes. This book’s author, who happens to be a military analyst for the CIA, would like to have a word about that. In this can’t-miss piece of nonfiction, she gets into the many achievements of the women who served during World War II — working as everything from codebreakers to translators to parachute riggers and beyond. If you’re a history buff (or just love stories of women breaking barriers), add it to your list.
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