Home Health 24 Books to Read This Summer – The New York Times

24 Books to Read This Summer – The New York Times

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You have your sunscreen and beach chairs. Once you pick up any of these 24 books, summer can really begin.
Joumana KhatibJohn WilliamsNoor Qasim and
Whether your summer plans involve clamming on the beach or clambering into a hammock, chances are they include a book.
We can tell you about the buzziest new books arriving this season, along with highly anticipated titles from best-selling writers. In the mood for some true crime? We’ve got suggestions for those — and for thrillers to delight readers who prefer being swept up by a fictional crime.
Perhaps you want some engrossing nonfiction to read while sinking your toes into the sand. (We can advise.) And, for the literalists among us, three new books about summer phenomena — sweat, seashells, the sea — may help you appreciate the season in a whole new way. — JOUMANA KHATIB
☀️☀️☀️
Korelitz’s latest novel features a fellow writer, Jake Bonner, whose career has sputtered: After modest success with his first book, he can’t sell his next novel and is teaching at a no-name M.F.A. program. He meets a young, outrageously self-assured writer who is certain the premise of his manuscript is destined to make him famous. So when Jake learns that that too-good-to-waste plot is up for grabs, he takes it — and finds all the success the other writer predicted for himself years earlier. Someone knows Jake’s secret, though, and spares nothing to make his life miserable.
Celadon, May 11
In this debut novel, Nella is delighted when another Black woman is hired at the publishing house where she works: someone who can commiserate about microaggressions and awkward company seminars about diversity, and help elevate authors who may not otherwise get published. But Hazel — charming, confident and immediately successful in a way that Nella was not — doesn’t turn out to be the ally Nella had hoped for. Is she behind the threatening notes left at Nella’s desk?
Atria, June 1
Feeling lonely? Raven’s memoir might help, which finds her after she completed a Ph.D. in biology, deeply alone in rural Montana — until she is visited by a persistent fox. It’s a real-life friendship that mirrors the one between Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince and his fox, full of tenderness and understanding.
Spiegel & Grau, July 6
Three characters from distinct eras — 1700s Ohio, the latter half of the 21st century and a millennium from now — confront their roles in a disordered world (and eventually, an environmental apocalypse) but find some traces of hope, too. With its urgent warnings about our ecological future, this novel may not be textbook escapist reading, but it conjures up thought-provoking, immersive worlds.
Custom House, July 13
In her debut novel, Jeffers, a National Book Award nominee for poetry, traces the history of an African-American family from the arrival of its earliest enslaved ancestors. The story shifts perspective, opening with a Greek chorus that guides readers through generations but eventually focusing on Ailey, a teenager in the 1980s who balances her life in the city with annual visits to the family’s ancestral home in Georgia. As Ailey becomes an adult, she uncovers more history, forcing a reckoning with her sense of self and place in the world.
Harper, August 24
— JOUMANA KHATIB
☀️☀️☀️
After the success of their first political thriller, “The President Is Missing, Patterson and Clinton have teamed up for another. When the daughter of former President Matthew Keating is kidnapped, he draws on all his experience — as a global leader, parent and Navy SEAL — to bring her home.
Knopf/Little, Brown, June 7
Think of this as an epistolary memoir from the author of “The Death of Vivek Oji” and “Freshwater”: In a series of letters to friends, ex-lovers, family members and others, Emezi charts their creative formation, drawing on Igbo belief systems and more.
Riverhead, June 8
After a Cambridge student is found dead, Mariana, a grieving psychotherapist in London, is drawn into the murder investigation. The dead woman was one of the Maidens, a group of female students in thrall to a charismatic professor who is Mariana’s prime suspect. Pick up this novel if you’re after a bookish thriller with stunning backdrops — Cambridge’s rarefied campus, Aegean seascapes — scattered with clues in Ancient Greek.
Celadon, June 15
In her latest novel, Hawkins, the best-selling author of “The Girl on the Train” and “Into the Water,” focuses on the murder of a young man on his houseboat in London. Could his killer be Laura, the off-kilter woman who went home with him and was later seen covered in blood? Miriam, his odd, uncomfortably nosy neighbor on the river who’s trying to play Miss Marple? And what to make of his aunt Carla, with whom he shared a lifetime of grief? The flaws of each character will surprise and perhaps even enchant you — and only a clairvoyant could anticipate the book’s ending.
Riverhead, August 31
— JOUMANA KHATIB
☀️☀️☀️
It’s been six years since the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Issenberg’s new book chronicles the 25 years leading up to that moment. He starts in Hawaii, in 1990, when Genora Dancel met Ninia Baehr. They would go on to challenge the state’s prohibition against their marrying, but before Issenberg gets us to the courtroom, he writes fully fleshed mini-biographies of the two women. At more than 900 pages (with 100 pages of those being endnotes), this is a comprehensive history. But it conveys social history as the grand drama it really is, full of intimate details, battling personalities, heated court cases, public persuasion.
Pantheon, June 1
The historian Tiya Miles’s wide-ranging new book was inspired by one modest item: a sack passed from mother to daughter. The mother, an enslaved woman named Rose, gave the sack — containing a dress, pecans and a braid of her hair — to her daughter Ashley in 1852. Ashley was 9 and was being sold and separated from Rose. Tracing that artifact through the generations of Ashley’s family, Miles, a professor at Harvard, writes about “the salvaging of vital things that hold the deep meanings of our lives.” The central story leads her to consider the larger arc of African-American women and their crafts throughout history, including in her own family, and the ways they have expressed love, hope and continuance.
Random House, June 8
We’re in a period of re-examining our cherished myths, and in Texas they don’t come more cherished than the Alamo. “Its legends comprise the beating heart of Texas exceptionalism,” Burrough, Tomlinson and Stanford write, and they are here to deconstruct those legends, pushing back against the “Heroic Anglo Narrative” of the past two centuries. Their project includes appreciating the contributions of Mexican-Americans to Texas’s early years and emphasizing the importance of slave labor to Texas’s early development. (Mexico wanted to abolish slavery.) The authors credit the historians who have done this work before them, and hope their book for a general audience may play a significant role in just what we remember about the Alamo.
Penguin Press, June 8
Wright is best known for his nonfiction, but in spring 2020 he published a novel, “The End of October,” that was an eerily timed thriller about a pandemic. Now he’s following it with a real-life account of the dizzying year just past. Wright propels the story with dramatic set pieces: an emergency doctor in Wuhan, China, circling in red the curious diagnosis of an “atypical pneumonia” in December 2019; an otherwise healthy lawyer in New Rochelle, N.Y., waking up in late February with a cough and a low fever, put on a ventilator days later. (“Weeks had passed from the point when containment was possible.”) Wright’s scope includes the murder of George Floyd, the presidential election and all that made 2020 so momentous.
Knopf, June 8
— JOHN WILLIAMS
☀️☀️☀️
In July 1970, 18-year-old Paula left her home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and never returned. As Dykstra, a journalist, delves into the old case files, she realizes she’ll never solve the crime. “Even if we knew how Paula died,” she writes, “it wouldn’t solve the fundamental problem I’d been circling: To what degree does being a woman implicate one in violence? Maybe this wasn’t a mystery of one woman’s life and why one woman died, but the mystery of why women die.”
Norton, June 15
In 1992, a young man named Brian Bechtold was judged “not criminally responsible” for the murder of his parents, a crime he had never tried to conceal. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was sent to a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Though the book does explore Brian’s life before the killings, when he was abused, Brottman’s real goal here is to shine a light on Brian’s decades-long captivity.
Henry Holt, July 6
Thomas Neill Cream, one of the earliest known serial killers, was a doctor who poisoned his victims in the United States and Britain in the late 19th century. Forensic crime-solving research was still in its infancy; it could be very difficult, if not impossible, to prove that someone had administered poison. In addition, doctors were exalted, and often the last to be considered as murder suspects — though as Sherlock Holmes mused to Watson in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” “When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals.”
Algonquin, July 13
Brown expands upon her groundbreaking reporting in The Miami Herald by sharing her journey to expose Jeffrey Epstein’s predation of young women and the plea deal that let him off easy.
Dey Street, July 20
— NOOR QASIM
☀️☀️☀️
In this adrenaline-spiked pulse-pounder, Oliver’s decision to cheat on his longtime partner turns out to be an exceedingly bad one. Someone tries to strangle him at the bathhouse where he goes for anonymous sex, plunging him into a nightmare of lies, stalking and betrayal.
Doubleday, June 15
This roller coaster of terror, marked by whip-fast twists and turns, follows a small-town Maine lawyer who — several years after her brother-in-law was raped — finds herself drawn back into the case.
Pamela Dorman Books, June 15
Cosby, who burst onto the scene last summer with a gritty, thrilling debut, “Blacktop Wasteland,” here introduces Ike Randolph, a Black man who’s led a completely clean life since his release from the state penitentiary. When Ike learns that someone has murdered his son Isiah — and Isiah’s white husband, Derek — he joins forces with Derek’s dad, also an ex-con, to find out who killed their boys.
Flatiron, July 6
Abbott — so good at plucking the dark and twisted strands of female friendships and rivalries in books like “You Will Know Me” and “Give Me Your Hand” — fashions her unsettling new novel around a ballet academy run by three high-strung former dancers, two of them sisters.
Putnam, August 3
— TINA JORDAN
☀️☀️☀️
Those of us lucky enough to visit the beach this summer will experience the ocean the typical way: gazing at it from a blanket, or swimming in it not far from the safety of shore. “The Brilliant Abyss” is about the vast majority of the ocean that we never see, the watery places so deep you could stack 10 Empire State Buildings in them. But because of technological advances, we’re learning more: about the creatures that live there (worms that are nine feet long; the “slimehead,” a fish that can live up to 250 years); about the possible beginnings of life itself; and about the surprising ways in which we depend on ecosystems most of us could never visit.
Atlantic Monthly Press, July 6
Barnett begins this paean to the seashell with a description of how they are made. Long before beachcombers collect them as empty beauties, the shells are created as protection by the mollusks that live inside them. Like many details in this book, it’s a process that will have you marveling at nature. The seashell might seem a decidedly small foundation for a book, but Barnett’s account remarkably spirals out, appropriately, to become a much larger story about the sea, about global history and about environmental crises and preservation.
Norton, July 6
As summer humidity approaches, some of us — ahem — might argue with the idea that there is any joy in sweat. But “wouldn’t it be better to find serenity instead of shame in all the sweating that we do?” Everts asks in her new book. OK, I’m listening. Everts says that sweat is a “fascinating and little understood” secretion, and it’s hard to deny that after she’s done walking us through the history and science of perspiration — including plenty of odd facts, like the woman whose sweat turned red because she was eating (way) too much of a popular corn chip.
Norton, July 13
— JOHN WILLIAMS
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