As we head into Memorial Day weekend, summer reading previews are arriving. While others can only salivate over the forthcoming titles, librarians can begin reading most of them now, in the form of galleys from Edelweiss and/or NetGalley (see our catalog of all the titles here)
Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Amazon Editors, B&N, Buzzfeed, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (widely syndicated in other regional newspapers) all have suggestions for readers. (EW‘s is not available online, so we’ve put together a downloadable spreadsheet of their picks),
Among the titles getting the most attention Modern Lovers, Emma Straub (PRH/Riverhead; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), has an impressive showing, making the lists of The New York Times, Amazon Editors, B&N, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It is also gets an A- from Entertainment Weekly this week .
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is making a splash, partly because of its $1 million advance, as The Wall Street Journal notes in a profile of the author, adding that the book “is flecked with magic, evoking folk tales passed down from parent to child.” The debut made Entertainment Weekly‘s top ten picks for the season as well as hitting lists complied by B&N, BuzzFeed, and the NYT.
The Girls, Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio), another debut that’s received advance attention, also impresses the Amazon Editors, BuzzFeed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and the NYT. It is also the #1 Indie Next Pick for June. Entertainment Weekly says: “This breathtaking novel — about a young woman entangled in a Masonesque cult — is so accomplished that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut. Cline’s powerful characters linger long after the final page.”
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson (HC/Amistad) is the National Book Award winner’s first novel for adults in 20 years. B&N, BuzzFeed, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and WSJ each take note. BuzzFeed says: “Gorgeously written and moving, Another Brooklyn is an examination of the complexities of youth and adolescence, loss, friendship, family, race, and religion.”
But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman (PRH/Blue Rider; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is on B&N, Harper’s Bazaar, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Entertainment Weekly‘s lists. EW says: “The essayist’s new book scrutinizes seemingly immutable concepts, like gravity and history under the assumption that we could be proved totally wrong about them in the future.”
It seems Hemingway still fascinates. Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, Lesley M. M. Blume (HMH/Eamon Dolan; OverDrive Sample) is picked by B&N, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Wall Street Journal, with the latter saying: “The story behind Ernest Hemingway’s debut novel, The Sun Also Rises, involves the “Lost Generation” and the trip to Pamplona … It also shows how delicately editor Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s had to handle the manuscript, with its four-letter words, drinking and philandering.”
In addition to these highlights, below are a few more selections from each list.
Entertainment Weekly dives in with a rich collection of activities entitled “99 Ways to Spend 99 Days” – a number of which include reading. Featured on their cover is The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer (S&S/Gallery), one of the buzzy books from BEA. EW points out it is not the only book in Schumer-land. The head writer for Inside Amy Schumer also has a book out, You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein (Hachette/Grand Central).
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child makes the cover too and is set for a big splash. EW highlights both the London play and the script: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine).
The New York Times daily reviewer Dwight Garner likes Emma Cline’s The Girls, but also Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer, Arthur Lubow (HC/Ecco; OverDrive Sample), saying: “Diane Arbus is one of the most important and unsettling figures in the history of photography, known for her pictures of people on the margins — dwarfs, cross-dressers, giants, sideshow freaks. Mr. Lubow’s biography of this pioneering artist … is the first since Patricia Bosworth’s in 1984, and it looks serious, sensitive and wide-ranging.”
Daily nonfiction reviewer, Jennifer Senior, highlights Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn (Norton/Liveright): “This novel may take place in Jamaica, but do not mistake it for a traditional beach read. It’s for readers who want to know what’s really behind the lacquered smile of the desk clerk at that lovely resort in Montego Bay, and what the pleasant woman at the market is really thinking when she sells tourists her jewelry and trinkets. The answers are often far less pretty than the scenery, but all evidence suggests that this debut deserves its ballyhoo.”
The Amazon editors offer lists for fiction, beach reads, kids, and YA. In fiction they note, as does Entertainment Weekly, the attention given to Blake Crouch. The novelist is gaining traction based on the adaptation of his books into the Fox studio’s Wayward Pines series. His newest title is Dark Matter (PRH/Crown; RH Audio). Also on the list is Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty (Macmillan/Flatiron Books). It is another impressive choice, making multiple lists including Entertainment Weekly‘s and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
B&N‘s list includes Invincible Summer, Alice Adams (Hachette/Little, Brown), offering: “This engaging first novel begins with a question posed by one of four close college friends in 1995: “If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?” Two think big, wondering about the meaning of life and what happens after death. Another quips about next week’s lottery numbers. Adams follows the appealing Brits — two artsy types, a banker, and a physicist, split between the sexes — through their ups and downs and the ins and outs of their relationships over the next twenty years.”
Also making their list is I Almost Forgot About You, Terry McMillan (PRH/Crown; RH Audio; BOT): “A novel that encourages risk-taking and shaking things up by the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Feeling stuck and dissatisfied despite her relative good fortune, twice-divorced 50-something optometrist Georgia Young decides to quit her job, reinvent herself and – yes – get her groove back.”
The Wall Street Journal includes the massive new novel by Annie Proulx, a 700 page tome she spent close to a decade writing. Barkskins (S&S/Scribner, S&S Audio) spans 320 years as it traces the fates of a pair of indentured woodcutters and their descendants through history, as, according to WSJ, “they exploit the forest, and grapple with the ecological consequences.”
Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt, Yasmine El Rashidi (PRH/Tim Duggan Books; RH Audio; BOT) gets featured as well. It is a debut that tracks the fall of President Hosni Mubarak during the Egyptian Revolution, placing his story against that of a character readers meet at age 6, as a college student, and as an adult. WSJ says that El Rashidi watched the Egyptian Revolution “unfold in real time, covering the overthrow … in dispatches for the New York Review of Books.” WSJ also has a nonfiction summer preview out.
BuzzFeed leads with The Girls and Homegoing but then highlights another debut, Problems, Jade Sharma (Coffee House; OverDrive Sample), saying: “Bold and honest, Problems is a fresh look at recovery, redemption, and one woman’s increasing nest of problems.” Also on the list of 18 picks is Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel (PRH/Riverhead). BuzzFeed offers: “Filled with humor and heart … a wonderfully whimsical tale of privilege and class and what happens when you lose everything you’ve come to take for granted.”
Harper’s Bazaar offers a list of 12 titles which includes The Nix, Nathan Hill (RRH/Knopf; RH Audio), a book EW called the “wildest debut.” Harper’s says: “College professor Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since childhood, the day she walked out of his life. One day, he recognizes Faye on the news, caught on camera pelting rocks at a presidential candidate. He soon decides to write a tell-all biography of his mother, delving into her personal history as it fits into the rural Midwest in the 1960s to Occupy Wall Street and ultimately to Norway, home of the storied “Nix” that she often told Samuel about as a boy.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch complies a long list that includes Marrow Island, Alexis M. Smith (HMH; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). It is Smith’s second novel after the cult favorite Glaciers (Tin House) and marks Smith’s quick jump to a big six publisher. The paper offers a brief summary: “Journalist who left her island home after a devastating quake returns to find it inhabited by an eerie, suspicious colony run by a former nun.”
It is an Indie Next pick for June as well, with the longer annotation:
“After an earthquake destroyed the oil refinery on Marrow Island and killed her father, Lucie Bowen left. Twenty years later, she returns to the Puget Sound and discovers her friend Kate is now living on this toxic island with members of ‘The Colony.’ Set in the Pacific Northwest, Marrow Island is a mystery/thriller that encompasses communal living, natural and man-made disasters, and what can happen when we tinker with the ecosystem and try to play a larger role.” —Tracy Taylor, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA.
See our catalog for a running list of all summer picks. Links to each of the summer previews can be found in the column to the right.