Though summer's end is closing in on us, it's still the dog days of summer: hot August days that send us to the beach or pool before the leaves start turning. Here's a list of books to amuse you, captivate you, educate you, and get lost in . . . good company while soaking up the end of summer sun.
In this expansive novel, two childhood best friends create a blockbuster video game together as college juniors, and overnight, they find themselves thrust into a world of fame and fortune though that wild success ends up putting a major strain on their bond. This summer's Big Read!
If we make wise choices today, our grandchildren’s grandchildren will thrive, knowing we did everything we could to give them a world full of justice, hope and beauty.
“This book will change your sense of how grand the sweep of human history could be, where you fit into it, and how much you could do to change it for the better. It’s as simple, and as ambitious, as that.” — Ezra Klein
In her newest novel that spans centuries, Geraldine Brooks charts the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred race horse named Lexington. Set in 1850 Kentucky, 1954 New York City, and 2019 Washington, DC, the story begins with an enslaved groom named Jarett and continues with Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, who teamed up to understand the Black horsemen lost to history.
Nearly two decades after first profiling in the New Yorker magazine the now-disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, Ken Auletta couldn't stop thinking about him, wanting to explore more deeply how Weinstein became who he did, and why he was able to get away with his behavior for so long. This book gets to the heart of how he was made, and the ways he built a world that protected him from consequences, until it didn't.
This slip of a summer destination off of Long Island isn't just a vacation spot, it's also a movie and the subject of Jack Parlett's engrossing history. He tells the story of the getaway for many, but specifically the queer community, through the stories from Oscar Wilde to James Badlwin, Frank O'Hara, and Patricia Highsmith who of whom who've loved the island and the freedom, magic, and community it represents. An essential read for the ferry from Sayville or wherever you happen to be going.
Think your family get-togethers are dysfunctional? Likely they've got nothing on the Darker family, who get together at Nana Darker's creepy island estate for the matriarch's 80th birthday only to find themselves killed off one by one. This fun fun fun book is all kinds of twisty.
“Even with the best love,” says the narrator of this humorous and heartfelt novel, “you could still wake up one day next to a beautiful man with a beautiful penis and be bored.” From the creator and star of the Netflix comedy Special, adapted from the author’s memoir about being a gay man with cerebral palsy, comes the story of a television writer living his supposed best life.
After surviving a difficult heartbreak and battle with cancer, author/columnist Julia Baird did some deep thinking about how we persevere through the most challenging circumstances. She wondered: when we are overwhelmed by illness, loss or pain, or a tragedy outside our control, how can we keep putting one foot in front of the other? She then searched for the magic that fuels the light within — our own phosphorescence. She reflects on the things that lit her way through the darkness, especially the surprising strength she found in connecting with nature and not just experiencing awe and wonder about the world around her, but deliberately hunting it, daily.
Moshin Hamid reimagines Kafka's famous novela The Metamorphosis. The story begins: "One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown..." Soon, other white folks find themselves waking up in new bodies. Hamid's novel is a compelling literary unpacking of whiteness. "I wanted to explore whiteness as honestly and sympathetically but also unsparingly and brutally as possible," he told the Oprah Daily.
“By the time I was two years old, I knew to yell ‘Story! Story!’ at the squawks of my parents’ police scanner. By four, I could hold a microphone and babble my way through a kiddie news report. By the time I was in high school, though, my parents had lost it all. Their marriage. Their careers. Their reputations,” MSNBC anchor Katy Tur writes in her memoir. She details her childhood as the daughter of journalist parents and her career from local reporter to national correspondent.
In her introduction, Rebecca Solnit speaks to Barry Lopez’s keen attention to the world, including its spiritual dimensions. In his last book released prior to his death, Lopez opens our minds and souls to the importance of being wholly present for the beauty and complexity of life.
“This posthumously published collection of essays by nature writer Barry Lopez reveals an exceptional life and mind . . . While certainly a testament to his legacy and an ephemeral reprieve from his death in 2020, this book is more than a memorial: it offers a clear-eyed praxis of hope in what Lopez calls this ‘Era of Emergencies.’” — Scientific American
“This is the perfect summer read, it grabs you from the first few pages and engrosses you in its murder mystery. Problems and worries slip away as you delve deeper and deeper into the story. Isn’t that what we all need from time to time?” — BJ Hegedus, Postalworks Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA
Norma Desmond might have hated the word comeback, but Carrie Soto doesn't have the same problem. The tennis champ might have retired years ago, but when her legacy in on the line, she decides to return to the court — and the tricky, troublesome things that come along with it — to prove to the world, and herself, that she's still at the top of her game.
Book Riot favorite, Moreno-Garcia, author of Mexican Gothic, returns with a reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set in 19th century Mexico.
A must-read memoir about artistic ambition and a complicated father-daughter relationship, Calhoun’s journey began as a simple mission, to finish the biography detailing the life of poet Frank O’Hara that her father, art critic Peter Schjeldah, had started. However, what ensued was an unimagined trip down memory lane, where Calhoun not only discovered O’Hara’s past, but confronted her father’s, and her own.
Ottessa Moshfegh's newest novel is a story of secrets and power set in a medieval village, where a young boy growing up without a mother finds himself on an unexpected path. Over the course of an eventful year, he'll question everything he's been told, find himself at odds with the most terrifying man he knows, and uncover truths that will change the course of his live forever.
In this dishy memoir, the raucous Tony Award-winning actor, playwright, and gay icon reveals the trials and triumphs behind some of showbiz’s most indelible productions and performances. Past all the hairspray and glamorous stagecraft is a touching story of what it means to live against the grain.
For fans of A Man Called Ove, this is charming novel is a witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus.
This is the highly anticipated new collection by the award-winning author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain featuring 12 stories about people on both sides of the law.
This page-turner story centers on Lola, who, while out to dinner in NYC's Chinatown, runs into on of her ex boyfriends. Soon, she bumps into another. Before long, Lola is running into nearly every person she's dated, and it's no longer just coincidences. No spoilers, but this is a fun, gripping read on relationships, modern love, and what closure truly looks like.
At the beginning of David Santos Donaldson’s debut novel its narrator, Kip, a Black British expat studying in New York, holes himself up in his basement study to churn out his first book in three weeks. The book in question is based on the life of Mohammed el Adl, E.M. Forster’s young Egyptian lover, and Kip begins to find his grip on reality disintegrating as his interest in el Adl descends into obsession. As it weaves in meditations on colonialism, spirituality, and the erotic, Santos Donadlson’s stylish fever dream of a novel may delve most deeply into a specific subset of the queer experience, but the bigger questions it poses about how we come to terms with our own social and cultural identities make it feel surprisingly universal.
David Sedaris’s life gives him his material, and in following up his last book, the humorous grief journey Calypso, Sedaris once against confronts death, as well as his own work as a memoirist and reflector. Happy-Go-Lucky is a deeply sardonic and comically blistering analysis of his father, or really the tension and difficulties between them that were never settled before his recent death. Sedaris has written about his father a lot, but rarely with the frankness he employs in this book, 18 essays about the dramatic final months and aftermath of his parent’s life, which could serve as a textbook to readers dealing with the end times of their own parents with whom they don’t get along.
Nearly 25 years after Election was published, Perrotta's hyper-competent heroine returns. Now in her forties, Tracy Flick is ruminating on roads not taken: the #MeToo movement causes her to question a long-ago sexual encounter with a teacher, while caretaking responsibilities have dashed her law school dreams and led her back to Green Meadow High School as the beleaguered assistant principal. With her boss set to retire, Tracy seems like a shoe-in for the top job — but first, she’ll have to overcome the male stakeholders seeking to derail her ascension. Told with Perrotta’s piercing wit, wisdom, and exquisite insight into human folly, Tracy’s second act delivers acerbic insight about frustrated ambition.
Heading up north for one last beach-bound weekend? Bring along this collection from Michigan nature writer Jerry Dennis that captures his lifelong journey to better know this place he calls home by exploring it in every season in every kind of weather, on foot, on bicycle, in canoes and cars. The essays in this book are more than an homage to a particular region, its people, and its natural wonders. They are a reflection on the Up North that can only be experienced through your feet and fingertips, through your ears, mouth, and nose — the Up North that makes its way into your bones as surely as sand makes its way into wood grain.
This is one of the most highly anticipated story collections of the year! In twelve incendiary stories set in a Native community in Maine, Talty illustrates what it means to be Native in America in the 21st century.
The acclaimed author/activist and cultural icon Michelle Tea, whose 2000 novel Valencia changed the game for queer fiction, and whose 2019 essay collection Against Memoir played fast and loose with the rules of autobiography, returns with an often irreverent sendup of the “Fertility Industrial Complex,” and a complex portrait of a 40-ish mother-to-be.
A loving family gathers one last time at their summer home in Cape Cod for the wedding of twenty-two year old Ruby. No loving family is complete without its share of secrets. Sarah is worried her step-daughter is rushing into this marriage with her pandemic boyfriend, a man she feels she barely knows. Sarah’s husband has been distant lately, as something from his past threatens to come to light. Sarah’s twin brother is dealing with his own issues and hopes the weekend at the Cape will help him find new direction. And Ruby must finally address old wounds left by the mother who abandoned her when she was a baby. Secrets, revelations, laughter and love abound in this complex exploration of family and home.
With their new book, writer Huw Lemmey and academic Ben Miller are bringing their fascinating and funny deep dives into the lives of the most dastardly queer people in history from the podcast to the page. Bad Gays offers a riveting look back at historical figures whom the present-day LGBTQ+ community might be less eager to reclaim, from outright murderers like Andrew Cunanan and Aileen Wuornos to more insidiously sinister figures like J. Edgar Hoover or Donald Trump’s infamous mentor, Roy Cohn, while also exploring how their queerness might have played a part in the alienation or deeper societal resentments that sent them down the wrong path.
One of our finest practitioners of the short story form returns with an ebullient second collection. Fans of Walter’s seminal Beautiful Ruins will fall hard for the swoony title story, in which a Nebraska co-ed studying Latin in Rome encounters the Italian bombshell of his teenage dreams. In another darkly comedic standout, a middle-aged divorcée goes to desperate lengths to find a home for his aging father, a “horny alcoholic toddler” unfit for traditional assisted living. Elsewhere, a woman suffering from cancer seeks out her stoner ex, the only person who can assuage her fear of dying.
Pasulka takes us down a glittery rabbit hole in this engrossing look at the last decade of Brooklyn ballroom culture, introducing readers to electric performers like Merrie Cherry, who overcame a stroke to continue her drag career; Aja, a multiple-time contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race; and Sasha Velour, who made waves with her bald head. Through this electric constellation of performers, Pasulka paints a vivid portrait of a singular subculture: joyful and scrappy, it’s gone on to galvanize a community and inspire a wider cultural movement.
limelight retreats to her remote lake house in Vermont. There she develops an intense fascination with her neighbors across the way, whose marriage is apparently not as perfect as it seems. It's a familiar plot, but Sager still manages to make it feel totally fresh.
It has been nine years since Marra’s amazing debut novel, A Constallation of Vital Phenomena, but it was worth the wait! This is an incredible tale of a woman at a Hollywood studio as America begins its entry into World War II.
In this stunning work of memoir and reportage, journalist Casey Parks who currently covers gender and family issues for the Washington Post, writes about her Southern upbringing, detailing how coming out as a lesbian in 2002 contributed to a fraught relationship with her mother, her home, and her faith. The story gets even more interesting when Parks’ grandmother tells her about her childhood neighbor, described by the older relative as a “woman who lived as a man” named Roy Hudgins. As Parks tenaciously tries to learn all she can about Roy, she learns just as much about herself. Delving deep into ideas of sexuality, identity, otherness, and love, this is a must-read.
Paul Tremblay's latest psychological thriller follows the unusual friendship between Art, a former high school dork with some dark interests, and the cool older woman who likes the fact that he hangs out in funeral homes . . . maybe a little too much. And when Art goes to chronicle these peculiarities in his memoir several years later, his friend isn't too happy about it. Expect the unexpected with this one.
This is a true crime book about . . . tree theft! It sounds wild, but as you’ll learn in Bourgon’s book, tree theft is a billion dollar industry.
This debut short story collection from fiction writer/cartoonist Lydia Conklin is joyful and dark, following characters who are all at the precipice of some kind of transformation. A closeted nonbinary person in their 50s takes their trans nephew to a queer YouTube convention; a lesbian couple who are not quite on the same page with each other seek out a sperm donor; another nonbinary character navigates dating and human connection at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic right before undergoing top surgery. Rainbows appear throughout, just one symbol of the shafts of light and humor that cut through these stories.
From 1929 to 1974, in New York’s Greenwich Village, near the end of Christopher Street, in the place that contains the Jefferson Market Garden, there stood a prison: a detention center housing women and transmasculine people that was “dangerous, vile, violent, dirty, and cruel” — but also a place that became a locus of the local queer community. Among those incarcerated were Angela Davis and Andrea Dworkin, and punishable crimes included everything from murder and larceny to writing a letter with the word “lesbian” in it. In this essential, abolitionist work, historian and author of When Brooklyn Was Queer Hugh Ryan uncovers the stories of this bewildering place and of the people who populated it.
A tender and surreal love story about a woman whose wife goes missing on a submarine expedition and what happens when she returns.
Literary champion and writer Isaac Fitzgerald shares the many stories of his life — from an unhappy home, to the streets of Boston, to bartending in San Francisco, to smuggling in Burma — as he seeks to find peace within himself.
Nora Stephens agrees to join her sister for a month-long getaway to a small town in North Carolina. Her sister is hoping Nora will finally get the time and space she needs to live life for herself. When Nora runs into someone she knows from the city — a moody editor named Charlie — she tries not to let his presence bother her. But multiple run-ins suddenly spark an attraction that takes them both by surprise.
Following the likes of comedy pillars such as Tina Fey and Steve Martin, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama offers rare insight into the mind of a next-level genius who is usually inscrutable and lets his work speak for itself. Follow Odenkirk as he rises through the ranks of the Chicago comedy scene; through Saturday Night Live, The Ben Stiller Show, and Mr. Show With Bob and David; and shepherding Tim and Eric to TV. His sensibility has shaped comedy and television, and this memoir shows how he wormed his way into the comedy mainstream and bent it to his impeccable standard.
When it comes to relationship advice about how to steer clear of players and heartbreak, Kiki Banjo is the authority on campus, especially for women who are fellow members of the Afro-Caribbean society. When she is caught kissing Malakai, a man she just publicly denounced on her show, her reputation in on the line. The two form a fake relationship to save their reputations. As their friendship becomes genuine, Kiki realizes that some of her assumptions about Malaki were wrong.
Feltman’s follow-up to her debut novel Willa & Hesper — a wonderful novel of family, faith, and first love — centers on Morgan, a nonbinary teenager, and their father, both of whom are thrown for a loop when Morgan’s mother, who’d left her husband and child when the latter was an infant, returns to the fold.
Fajardo-Anstine took the literary world by storm with her first book Sabrina & Corina. Now she returns with this multigenerational saga about the Lopez family, an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West.
Veteran Nashville journalist Marissa R. Moss’s story of how in the past two decades country’s women fought back against systems designed to keep them down, armed with their art and never willing to just shut up and sing: how women like Kacey, Mickey, Maren, The Chicks, Miranda Lambert, Rissi Palmer, Brandy Clark, LeAnn Rimes, Brandi Carlile, Margo Price and many more have reinvented the rules to find their place in an industry stacked against them, how they’ve ruled the century when it comes to artistic output — and about how women can and do belong in the mainstream of country music, even if their voices aren’t being heard as loudly.
After a terrible tragedy, sixteen-year-old Sara flees her hometown for a new life in Los Angeles, where, years later, she crosses paths with Emilie, an aspiring florist who’s trying to outrun her own demons. The first adult book by YA superstar LaCour, whose previous novel, We Are Okay, was a best-selling Printz Award winner, is a heartbreakingly beautiful story about two lost women who somehow find each other and in doing so find themselves.
Michael Schur uses humor to invite in the reader and disarm them into what feels like a conversation about ethics, and they leave feeling pretty good about themselves and the inherent goodness of humanity, as you do watching an episode of Parks and Recreation with a Good Place chaser. It really does function as a life guidebook while remaining extremely, gently funny.
James Hannaham, a prolific writer and artist from New York, has written the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel Delicious Foods and the Lambda Literary Award winner God Says No, among many other works of fiction, nonfiction, photography, and performance. With this new novel, Hannaham brings the reader along on an epic July 4th weekend shortly after Carlotta, a trans Afro-Latinx woman, is released on parole after spending decades in a men’s prison for her involvement in a robbery gone wrong. Over the course of the holiday, she navigates a different New York City than she remembers, exploring complex relationships with family and friends while dealing with the relentless injustice of the prison system. His neweset novel expertly balances the seriousness of the criminal legal system with the irreverence, absurdity, humor, and healing connections of Carlotta’s world.
Set in 19th-century Mallorca, this deeply wild debut follows the unconventional love triangle that unfolds between real-life French novelist George Sand, her lover Frédéric Chopin, and the teenage ghost who died over 400 years earlier and pines after George from afar.
Felicia Berliner's seriously juicy debut takes place in a Brooklyn Hasidic community, following a young woman named Raizl on her quest to find a husband, despite her college degree . . . and her secret addiction to the world of online pornography. Prepare yourself for lots of graphic sex, laugh-out-loud moments, and Yiddish vocab.
A candid, compulsively readable, hilarious, and heartbreaking memoir of resilience and redemption by comedic genius Molly Shannon.