The 30 best books to read this summer


The 30 best books to read this summer

Funny, moody, scary, fiery, canny, and bloody books

By Estelle Tang  April 12th, 2018

Swimsuit? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Three books, because you couldn’t choose just one? Check. From complicated meditations on motherhood to dark thrillers that still slot perfectly into a beach bag, here are the 30 books to put on your summer reading list.

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Fans of Celeste Ng and Junot Diaz might find their next read right here, since both those authors have praised this novel—join them in their appreciation of Chinese soon-to-be mom Scarlett Chen, whose escape from her child's father takes her to unexpected places. (Ballantine Books, August 14)


A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

First cab off the rank for Sarah Jessica Parker's SJP for Hogarth imprint is this novel about the subtle but lasting tensions within an Indian-American Muslim family who reunite at a wedding. (Hogarth, June 12)


Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young

A boy with two skeletons. A girl's moustache. A Japanese woman building a path from the cave where she lived to the sea. These are just some of the little nuggets around which New Zealand writer has constructed her debut collection of essays. (Riverhead Books, July 3)


American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes

National Book Award–winning poet Terrance Hayes scorches the page with seventy poems written during the first 200 days of the Trump presidency. (Penguin Books, June 19)


Open Me by Lisa Locascio

Summer is for sexiness, so yield to this coming-of-age novel about a teen whose erotic awakening in Copenhagen circles around two men: an older local and a refugee from the Balkan War. (Grove Atlantic, August 14)


Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane

Based on this title, I can think of no reasons not to read this dark novel about the swirling social world of college sisterhood. Sorry about that. (Gallery/Scout Press, May 1)


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Author Helen Hoang has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and her life inspired this romantic debut about a math-obsessed woman with Asperger's who hires an escort to help her figure the whole love thing out. (Berkley, June 5)


Sick by Porochista Khakpour

The author of The Last Illusion (and sometime ELLE contributor) Porochista Khakpour has been open on Twitter about her experience of late-stage Lyme disease, and now she has a memoir about her illness, addiction, and diagnosis. (Harper Perennial, June 5)


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

What draws someone to extremism? Two very different people—a young Korean-American woman mourning her mother's death and the former fundamentalist man who loves her—find out when a mysterious, destructive cult gains support. (Riverhead, July 31)


Tonight I'm Someone Else by Chelsea Hodson

Many book lovers would jump on board any train Miranda July and Maggie Nelson are on; this essay collection, which explores the body, desire, and Grand Theft Auto, is their latest recommendation. (Holt Paperbacks, June 5)


Motherhood by Sheila Heti

A woman who tosses coins to assist her decision-making might be expected to have a difficult time with the question of whether or not to have children, the increasingly urgent question Sheila Heti's almost-40-year-old narrator faces. (Henry Holt and Co., May 1)


Some Trick by Helen DeWitt

If there's any author bookish types trust to take them down the twistiest of rabbit holes with humour and winking unpredictability, Helen DeWitt is it. Take the plunge with these 13 short stories. (New Directions, May 29)


Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt

The incendiary title says it all; this novel reimagines the marriage of Vladimir and Vera Nabokov, a literary couple whose brilliance and intertwined labor turned him into a household name. (Bloomsbury Publishing, June 5)


The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

You'll be seeing this pink umbrella on beaches everywhere this summer. The next thriller from the pen of Luckiest Girl Alive has a reality TV show as its setting, and a pair of sisters—who are definitely no Housewives—with a dark secret to get the action going. (Simon & Schuster, May 18)


Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

Lagos-born Chibundu Onuzo pays tribute to her hometown with this fine-grained account of an army officer, a rebel fighter, a teenaged girl, and a beautiful runaway. (Catapult, May 1)


The Ambition Decisions by Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace

There's not much historical precedent for the continual societal change around women and work. So journalists Schank and Wallace interviewed their former classmates to find out how a generation of women are grappling with questions of ambition, work, and balance. (Viking, June 19)


No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol

In 2015, Glynnis MacNicol wrote an essay for ELLE.comabout how society doesn't know what to do with women who don't have children. In July, you'll be able to read her memoir about her fortieth year, which covers the persistent questions about womanhood that she fields from herself and others. (Simon & Schuster, July 10)


The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Flamethrowers has been a stalwart on reading lists ever since its 2013 debut, and Rachel Kushner's novel follow-up is this tale of a mother sentenced to life in prison at the beginning of the aughts. (Scribner, May 1)


The Pisces by Melissa Broder

With The Shape of Water's extraordinary awards season, we might all be thinking about sex with fish-men far more than we might have expected or wished. But Melissa Broder's tale of ennui and the unknown is worth another dive. (Hogarth, May 1)


Kudos by Rachel Cusk

London-based author Rachel Cusk has lit a fiery fervor in fans with her acclaimed Outline trilogy. The final volume, Kudos, finds protagonist Faye in Europe, where political upheaval is sparking change. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, June 5)


Love That Bunch by Aline Kominsky-Crumb

This retrospective collection from underground comics legend Aline Kominsky-Crumb is the only book devoted to her work, tracing a path from unpretty youthful bodily explorations to quotidian adventures with her husband, cartoonist Robert Crumb. (Drawn & Quarterly, May 1)


My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Her dark debut novel Eileen scored all manner of awards, and fans, so Ottessa Moshfegh's follow-up will be a welcome addition to many bookshelves. In the early aughts, a wealthy young woman gets some very bad help from doctors and prescriptions. (Penguin Press, July 10)


The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Yrsa Daley-Ward made a splash online with her popular poetry Instagram account. This time, she's chosen a different way to tell her story—a part poetry, part prose memoir of her youth in northwest England. (Penguin, June 5)


This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Almost 30 years have passed since Tsitsi Dangarembga's debut, Nervous Conditions, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. Here, we find protagonist Tambudzai older, driven to unenviable decisions by her lack of choices in modern Zimbabwe. (Graywolf Press, August 7)


The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

Want to read an under-the-radar psychological thriller? Feel smug about pocketing The Good Son, by South Korean author You-Jeong Jeong, which centers on a young man wondering whether he's killed his own mother. (Penguin Books, June 5)


The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg

Clare used to see her husband all the time. But when she sees him in Havana, Cuba, that's different—he's supposed to be dead. In this meditation on the mysteries of grief, Laura Van Den Berg looks at a marriage through the fog of loss. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 7)

 


Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

Mourning the soon-to-come end of The Americans? View the Cold War from another angle in this forthcoming spy novel about a young American woman embedded in a group of Buenos Aires activists in the 1960s. (Tin House, June 12)


Florida by Lauren Groff

Barack Obama loved Fates and Furies, just like everyone else—author Lauren Groff's new book is a collection of stories set in Florida. (Riverhead Books, June 5)


Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

Kelly Sundberg's lyrical, devastating 2014 essay about domestic violence, "It Will Look Like a Sunset," made readers hold their collective breath. It's now expanded into a full-length memoir about Sundberg's husband, a man who was wonderful and violent at turns. (Harper, June 5)


From ELLE.com