Refresh Your Library: Better Summer Reads


Longer summer days mean more time for reading. In a season of highlights, it’s tough to trim the list, but we’ve rounded up our favorite new books that should absolutely be in your beach bag this summer. After you refresh your library/e-reader, check out our Ultimate Summer Guides for awesome things to do in LA & NYC (if you can pull your nose out of these books).

Save the Date, by Jen Doll

Because it’s wedding season, we had to include Jen Doll’s hilarious and insightful observations on weddings and wedding culture. Think of it as a (much) smarter, funnier 27 Dresses in print form.

The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

Just in time for your own summer vacay, Emma Straub shares a Cheever-esque tale of WASPS on parade. The Vacationers is full of Straub’s well-known wit; a thoroughly entertaining read.

I’ll Be Right There, by Kyung-Sook Shin

Already a star in her native South Korea, Shin should net some serious crossover fans thanks to I’ll Be Right There. The novel brilliantly uses European literature to familiarize Western readers with Eastern turmoil. Set amidst uncertain times in 1980s South Korea, the book concerns a woman who receives a phone call from an ex after eight years apart, which brings back intense memories of the most tumultuous time in her life.

The Last Illusion, by Porochista Khakpour

It may be difficult to imagine any humor (dark or otherwise) coming out of a novel about an Iranian boy who thinks he’s a bird after years of torture, but Khakpour brings it. A stunning and positively engrossing book.

An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a heavy-hitter in the literary community as both a writer and editor. Her debut novel is a hotly anticipated 2014 read, which follows a woman who is kidnapped in Haiti, and her attempts to make sense of it. Flavorwire’s books editor Jason Diamond promises it will “stick with you for a very long time after you’ve closed it.”

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker

This thriller has already taken Europe by storm, and Dicker is being heralded as the next Stieg Larsson (in fact, they share a publisher). The English translation is brand-new and guaranteed to be on everyone’s Kindle and nightstand this summer. Ron Howard has already optioned the film rights, so don’t get left out.

The Noble Hustle, by Colson Whitehead

On its surface, this nonfiction book is about Whitehead’s time competing in the World Series of Poker for Grantland. But as our own Jason Diamond recently pointed out, it’s really about much more. A sweeping portrait of America at its most mediocre, Diamond says “it works because Whitehead paid close attention to everything going on around him, and distilled it in his own unique way.”

The Hundred-Year House, by Rebecca Makkai

An imaginative and lively epic, The Hundred-Year House explores the ascent and decline (and possible new ascent) of the Devhor family via their renowned estate, which once served as an artists’s colony. If you caught Makkai’s debut novel, The Borrower, you know just how clever and engaging she can be. Prediction: The Hundred-Year House will be her breakout hit.