Apparently this summer I have NO self control when it comes to books. I truly believed I would have four picks for today, but found that I had three more July books that fell into the ‘look really interesting, but no one’s talking about’ so I had to add them. For everyone whose TBR is already blowing up, I’m sorry not sorry. Great reading lies ahead!
(7/9, Nan A. Talese) Delayed Rays of a Star sounds like that rarest of books: literary summer fiction. I’m not being a snob. Summer is a time for all things light—clothes, cocktails, and books. Literary fiction is generally light, so there you are.
Delayed Rays is set in 1920s Berlin and is about three famous, real life women (Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl), all captured together in a photo taken at a party. The author uses this center to expand outward to their lives from that point on. From what I’m seeing this is not a typical summer read as, even though we’re talking celebrities, it’s more about their experience as women and how as different as they appeared on the surface they lived similar lives. It sounds like the perfect recipe for brain candy. I am so intrigued!
(7/23, Viking) I don’t know which blogger friend recommended Kitchens of the Great Midwest but I owe them a huge debt of thanks because I loved everything about that novel. So, I was excited to see that J. Ryan Stradel has a new book out in July. The Lager Queen of Minnesota looks to do for beer what Kitchens did for food- take a straightforward subject, infuse it with humor and quirky characters, and leave readers happy. I’m really hoping this works.
(8/6, Atria Books) I hate to blow whatever credibility I have as a book whisperer, but the first reason I chose this book was the cover. I love it. It makes me think so many things, but mostly the kind of reading I live for—unpredictable. We Are all Good People Here is set in the South in the 1960s and is about two women from different backgrounds who become roommates at college. It’s about the politics of the South at the time, the choices these girls made and the repercussions left decades later by their daughters. This one sounds like it’s going to resonate in a lot of ways.
(8/13, FSG) Another author choice and I am so excited. Tupelo Hassman’s Girlchild was a supernova of a debut that got little attention in 2012, but she’s been quiet since then. I’m hoping it’s because she was refueling to write gods with a little g, a novel about Helen, a teenager growing up in a town called Rosary and taken care of by a woman who runs a psychic’s store. As you can imagine from its name, tolerance runs low in the town and Helen just wants to get out.
(8/13, Simon & Schuster) The Dearly Beloved is a late addition because I hadn’t heard a word about it. Maybe because the subject is religion—not one that draws me in. But my good friend Pam recommended it and as the last book she recommended was Normal People, I listen when she speaks. This is set in the 1960s in NYC where two men have been appointed ministers of a well-respected church. The novel covers decades and is about how they came to their faith, their wives and marriages, and the friendship between the four. I’m getting a Meg Wolitzer The Interestings vibe, which would be fabulous.
(8/27, Little, Brown & Company) This is purely an author choice. I thought Amy Waldman’s debut, The Submission was a searing novel from 2011 about the aftereffects of 9/11 but she hasn’t written anything since then (which I’m not judging because I’ve had almost a decade and I haven’t ever written a novel). I was thrilled to see A Door in the Earth and that Waldman is bringing us the next generation of post-9/11 fiction. It’s about an Afghan-American girl who leaves college to go back to Afghanistan to help rebuild. What she finds there is not what she was led to believe and circumstances devolve from there. My gut says this is going to be amazing storytelling on an important theme.
I know I’ve focused on the smaller books coming out this summer, because I feel like so much outstanding fiction gets overlooked when it can’t compete against the tidal wave of promotion bigger books get, but I’m not leaving you high and dry. Here are four releases from easily recognizable authors (Louise Penny! Louise Penny!) that should make for great summer reading. I’ll be reading and reviewing all of these! You can hurry and get them on hold at your library or pre-order via Amazon by clicking on the title link. Enjoy!
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok (6/4, William Morrow)
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (6/4, Riverhead)
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (7/16, Doubleday)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (8/27, Minotaur Books)