Best Books of Summer

Section Header: Literary Fiction
Book Cover: Hedge by Jane Delury

Hedge: A Novel by Jane Delury (2023)

An emotionally charged, richly observed novel about a woman balancing the demands of motherhood and marriage with her own needs. Maud is a talented garden historian and devoted mom to daughters Ella and Louise. Motivated to reignite her career and escape her troubled marriage, she accepts a summer job restoring the garden of a lush, 19th century estate in the Hudson Valley. Hedge is an unforgettable portrait of a woman’s longing to be a good mother while still answering the call of her soul and mind.

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Book Cover: The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (2023)

The Covenant of Water follows the life of a family for three generations where they are afflicted by a morbid pattern, at least one person dies by drowning in each generation. Set in Kerala, an area on the Malabar Coast of South India between the years 1900-1977, The Covenant of Water is a riveting tale of a family cursed by the element that surrounds them.

Book Cover: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake: A Novel by Charmaine Wilkerson (2022)

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that delves into themes of family, identity, and survival. Set in the backdrop of 1980s Barbados, the story follows the lives of the Seaview family, particularly G, a young girl navigating the complexities of her turbulent family dynamics and the oppressive societal expectations placed upon her. As G's world unravels, secrets are unveiled, and she must find the strength to confront her past and carve out her own path in a society defined by class, race, and gender.

Book Cover: The Guest by Emma Cline

The Guest: A Novel by Emma Cline (2023)

The Guest by Emma Cline is a compelling and introspective story that explores the complexities of human connection and the impact of past experiences on present relationships. Set against the backdrop of a remote cabin, the narrative follows a young woman grappling with her own emotional wounds while encountering a mysterious and charismatic stranger. As their paths intertwine, the story delves into themes of desire, vulnerability, and the lingering effects of past traumas.

Book Cover: Yellowface

Yellowface: A Novel by Rebecca F. Kuang (2023)

Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang is a compelling and thought-provoking play that explores themes of identity, cultural appropriation, and the power dynamics of race in the entertainment industry. The story follows a struggling Asian-American actor who decides to don "yellowface" in a controversial casting choice, sparking a series of intense and revealing encounters. As tensions rise and lines blur between reality and performance, the play delves into the complexities of racial representation and challenges the audience to examine their own biases and assumptions.

Book Cover: Age of Vice

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor (2023)

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor is an immersive and gritty novel that delves into the underbelly of contemporary Delhi. The story follows the journey of an unnamed protagonist as she navigates the city's dark and tumultuous landscape, encountering a cast of vivid and morally ambiguous characters. Kapoor's powerful storytelling captures the raw and unflinching realities of urban life, exploring themes of desire, power, and the search for identity in a society on the edge.

Book Cover: I Have Some Questions For You

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai (2023)

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai is a compelling collection of short stories that delve into the intricacies of human relationships and the mysteries of the human experience. Each story offers a unique glimpse into the lives of diverse characters, as they grapple with personal challenges, dilemmas, and moments of self-discovery. Makkai's poignant and nuanced storytelling captures the complexities of human emotion, inviting readers to ponder the profound questions that shape our lives.

Book Cover: Sea Change

Sea Change by Gina Chung (2023)

Sea Change by Gina Chung is a captivating and evocative novel that immerses readers in the transformative journey of its protagonist, Lily. Set against the backdrop of a remote coastal town, the story follows Lily as she navigates personal loss and embarks on a path of self-discovery. Through encounters with enigmatic locals, a mysterious sea creature, and the healing power of nature, Lily undergoes a profound transformation that explores themes of grief, healing, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Book Cover: Trust

Trust by Hernan Diaz (2022) 

"Trust" by Hernan Diaz is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that takes readers on a journey through the American West. The story follows the trials and tribulations of a young Swedish immigrant named Håkan, who embarks on a treacherous quest to find his brother in the vast and unforgiving landscape. As Håkan encounters various characters and faces both physical and emotional challenges, the novel explores themes of trust, survival, and the elusive pursuit of the American Dream.

Book Cover: Lone Women

Lone Women by Victor LaValle (2023)

Lone Women by Victor Lavalle depicts the life of Adelaide Henry as she attempts to move past the trauma of the death of her parents in California. By moving to Montana in 1915, Adelaide strives to overcome the violence in her past while adapting to her life in the West. 

Section Header: Beach Reads

Book Cover: Pineapple Street

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (2023)

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson details the lives of the Stockton family, an enormously and generationally wealthy family living in Brooklyn Heights. While it may seem-near impossible to empathize for these people, Jackson manages to humanize them through the eyes of three protagonists, Sasha, Darley, and Georgiana.

Book Cover: Gilded Mountain

Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning (2022)

Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning recounts the life of Sylvie, a young woman trying to acclimate herself to the American West. An area still under development and nebulous in its identity, Manning paints the wild west as a dangerous but adventurous backdrop for Sylvie to navigate.

Book Cover: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a poignant and introspective novel that explores the complexities of love, loss, and the passage of time. The story follows protagonist Caroline as she navigates the challenges of a failing marriage, career uncertainties, and the inevitable changes that come with aging. Through evocative prose and relatable characters, Zevin delves into the universal themes of identity, regret, and the enduring power of hope, weaving a narrative that invites readers to contemplate the fleeting nature of life and the importance of embracing the present moment.

Book Cover: Of Manners and Murder

Of Manners and Murder: A Dear Hermione Mystery by Anastasia Hastings (2023)

Of Manners and Murder: A Dear Hermione Mystery by Anastasia Hastings is a delightful and captivating mystery novel set in the Victorian era. The story follows the intelligent and inquisitive Hermione Kingsley, who finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation when a member of high society is killed during a social event. As Hermione unravels the secrets and scandals of the aristocratic world, she must navigate the complex web of manners, alliances, and hidden motives to uncover the truth before the killer strikes again.

Book Cover: Happy Place

Happy Place by Emily Henry (2023)

Happy Place by Emily Henry follows the lives of ex-financés Harriet and Wynn that, to their chagrin, continue to share a close friend group. Every year, they retreat to a small cottage in Maine, but this year is different. Harriet and Wynn are attending this trip broken up, but still haven’t told their friends.

Book Cover: Celebrants

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley (2023)

"The Celebrants" by Steven Rowley is a poignant and heartwarming novel that explores the complexities of family, love, and the power of connection. The story follows the dysfunctional Celebrant family as they come together to plan a joyous wedding celebration amidst their own personal struggles. With wit, humor, and deep insights, Rowley delves into the dynamics between siblings, parents, and children, painting a vivid portrait of the joys and challenges of navigating the intricacies of family relationships.

Book Cover: Meet Me at the Lake

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune (2023)

Taking place a decade after two strangers spend a magical day together, Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune follows the lives of Fern and Will. The pair had an undeniable connection and promised to meet up again a year later; Fern showed up, but Will didn’t. When Will comes to Fern nine years too late, how could she possibly trust this almost-stranger that broke their promise all those years ago?

Book Cover: The Collected Regrets of Clover

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer (2023)

After the tragic death of her father, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, someone who aids individuals in the transition to death in the most restful way possible. When a patient of hers demands that she start living her own life, Clover travels across the country to chase after her own unfinished love story. Brammer’s novel is a book of self-discovery, introspection, and excitement.

Book Cover: Homebodies

Home Bodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst (2023)

Home Bodies is a heartfelt and relatable novel that explores the joys and challenges of finding a sense of belonging and identity within the spaces we call home. The story follows a diverse group of individuals who navigate the complexities of love, friendship, and personal growth as they navigate their lives within the backdrop of their homes. Through richly developed characters and compelling storytelling, Denton-Hurst offers a poignant exploration of the emotional landscapes we inhabit, reminding us that home is not just a physical place, but a reflection of the connections we forge with others.

Book Cover: Going Zero

Going Zero by Anthony McCarten (2023)

Going Zero details the life of Boston librarian Kaitlyn Day, and how it turns upside down, when she is chosen for a technological experiment that requires her to go off the grid and remain undetected by government intelligence. Kaitlyn is expected to be an easy target, but when her talent at avoiding capture brings her ever closer to the three million dollar cash prize, can she outlast the security experts for just long enough?

Book Cover: The Soulmate

The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth (2023)

The Soulmate is a captivating and emotionally charged novel that explores the complexities of love, fate, and the search for one's true soulmate. The story follows Alice, a woman who seemingly has it all until she meets a stranger who awakens her desire for a deeper connection. As Alice grapples with her feelings and the consequences of her choices, the novel delves into the power of love and the unpredictable paths it can take us on.

Section Header: Non Fiction

Book Cover: Quantum Supremacy

Quantum Supremacy: How the Quantum Computer Revolution Will Change Everything by Michio Kaku (2023)

Quantum Supremacy is a groundbreaking exploration of the revolutionary potential of quantum computing. Drawing on cutting-edge research and scientific insights, Kaku delves into the principles and capabilities of quantum computers, highlighting their immense computational power and the transformative impact they could have on fields such as cryptography, drug discovery, and artificial intelligence. With his signature clarity and expertise, Kaku presents a compelling vision of the future, where quantum supremacy unlocks new frontiers of technology and reshapes our understanding of computation itself.

Book Cover: Bird Girl

Bird Girl: Looking to the Skies in Search of a Better Future by Mya-Rose Craig (2023)

Bird Girl is an inspiring memoir that follows the author's journey as a young birder and environmental activist. Through personal anecdotes and reflections, Craig shares her passion for birding, the challenges she faces as a young person of color in the field, and her commitment to conservation. With a mix of scientific observations, environmental advocacy, and personal growth, the book offers a powerful testament to the transformative power of nature and the importance of protecting our planet for future generations.

Book Cover: The Story of Art Without Men

The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel (2023)

The Story of Art Without Men gives voices to female artists from the 1500s through the 1900s, and is a revolutionary study of the work from women who have been overshadowed by the patriarchal structure of “high” and “low” art. It is the story of art through the eyes of women.

Book Cover: Directions to Myself

Directions to Myself: A Memoir of Four Years by Heidi Julavits (2023)

Directions to Myself is a compelling and introspective memoir that chronicles the author's journey through a pivotal period in her life. Julavits explores themes of self-discovery, identity, and the complexities of relationships as she grapples with personal challenges and transformations of being needed by your children and then not as they grow. With raw honesty and sharp observations, the memoir navigates the intersections of memory, ambition, and the quest for authenticity.

Book Cover: All the Beauty in the World

All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum and Me by Patrick Bringley (2023)

After his brother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Patrick Bringley decides to quit his job at the New Yorker to seek solace being a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Over the course of his story, Bringley rediscovers his voice and comes to appreciate the bubble that the museum affords him.

Book Cover: Empress of the Nile

Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction by Lynne Olson (2023)

Empress of the Nile is a captivating non-fiction account of the extraordinary life and achievements of Amelia Edwards. Set in the 19th century, the book follows Edwards as she defies societal norms to become an intrepid explorer and advocate for the preservation of Egypt's cultural heritage. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous research, Olson brings to life the thrilling adventures, archaeological discoveries, and the lasting impact of Edwards' pioneering work in Egypt.

Book Cover: Lives of the Wives

Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages by Carmela Ciuraru (2023)

Lives of the Wives offers a captivating exploration of the complex dynamics and intimate lives of five remarkable literary marriages. Through the lens of famous authors and their spouses, Ciuraru delves into the joys, struggles, and sacrifices that accompany the creative process. With insightful analysis and vivid storytelling, the book paints a vivid portrait of the interconnected lives of these literary couples, shedding light on the impact of partnership, love, and collaboration on their literary legacies.

Book Cover: Dress Code

Dress Code: Unlocking Fashion From the New Look to Millennial Pink by Véronique Hyland (2022)

Dress Code explores the evolving world of fashion and its cultural significance. From iconic fashion moments to societal shifts, Hyland takes readers on a journey through time, examining how clothing choices reflect and shape our identities and the world around us. With a blend of historical context, personal anecdotes, and insightful analysis, the book offers a fresh perspective on fashion's power to express individuality, challenge norms, and leave an indelible mark on our collective consciousness.

Book Cover: An Immense World

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong (2022)

Ed Young uncovers the hidden and fantastical ways that animals perceive the world differently than humans. This colorful analysis of sensory wonders, Yong conveys that the manner in which humans experience the world is extremely limited compared to other creatures. With detailed descriptions of the unique sensory habits of animals, Yong asks his readers to consider that sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch are not the only ways we can understand the world around us.

Book Cover: Existential Physics

Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions by Sabine Hossenfelder (2022)

Existential Physics is an illuminating exploration of the fundamental nature of reality and our place within it. Drawing on the principles of physics and philosophy, Hossenfelder delves into the profound questions surrounding existence, consciousness, and the limitations of human understanding. Through a captivating blend of scientific inquiry and philosophical reflection, she challenges conventional wisdom, offers fresh perspectives, and invites readers on a thought-provoking journey to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Book Cover: Rivermouth

Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration by Alejandra Oliva (2023)

Alejandra Oliva studies the way that immigration manifests itself in physical locations and the movement of language. Oliva’s memoir is an example of master storytelling; she recounts other’s harrowing experiences of the U.S. immigration and asylum policy. Raw with emotion, Rivermouth is a moving piece that demands to be seen and heard.

Section Header: Memoirs, Short Stories, & Poetry

Book Cover: Happily

Happily: A Personal History–with Fairy Tales by Sabrina Orah Mark (2023)

Happily is a memoir that intertwines the author's personal experiences with the enchanting world of fairy tales. Through a blend of candid reflection and imaginative storytelling, Mark explores themes of love, loss, motherhood, and the complexities of identity. As she examines the impact of fairy tales on her own life, the book offers a unique perspective on the power of storytelling to shape and illuminate our understanding of the world around us.

Book Cover: Marigold and Rose

Marigold and Rose by Louise Glück (2022)

Marigold and Rose follows the lives of infant twin sisters voiced through the witty commentary of their narrator.

Book Cover: Minor Notes

Minor Notes: Eight Supremely Gifted, Unsung Black Poets of the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Joshua Bennett and Jesse McCarthy (2023)

A powerful and enlightening anthology that brings to light the poetic brilliance of eight often-overlooked Black poets. Through a carefully curated collection of their works, the book showcases the diverse voices, experiences, and artistic contributions of these literary pioneers. From vivid imagery to profound social commentary, the poetry of these unsung heroes shines a much-needed light on their enduring impact and rightful place in the canon of American literature.

Book Cover: To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness

To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness by Robin Cost Lewis (2023)

The narrative of Lewis’ discovery of a series of photographs under her bed frame following the death of her grandmother is. Adding to the powerful presence that these photos of 20th-century Black life carry, Lewis’s poetry comments on Black joy, struggle, and the perpetuation of white supremacy into the present day.