The Literary Edit: 10 Summer Reads For Every Occasion and Destination

Literary Editor, Elizabeth Lane, takes a look at the summer book releases you will want to accompany you on your warm weather adventures.
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For July's literary edit, Literary Editor Elizabeth Lane offers you a list of books that are many things: complex, fun, heartbreaking and hilarious — and not one of them is a mindless read. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

This novel takes the form of a letter written by the main character, Little Dog, to his mother — an immigrant from Vietnam who cannot read. Grappling with themes of identity, sexuality, addiction, violence, and finding your place in a world where you feel you don't belong - the narrator, Little Dog, offers vignettes of a life marred by trauma as he tries to understand his relationships with family, friends, and self. This book is more than a story, it is an experience.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

At its core, Ask Again, Yes is a family drama that penetrates into the essential fears, weaknesses and connections that bind two families, centered around one night that changed their lives forever leading us, as readers, to ask: are the worst scenarios survivable? Keane tells a tragic and triumphant story of two families living as neighbors, whose lives are singularly shattered in one act of profound violence. At once a look into mental illness, coping, and forgiveness, Keene writes with tenderness, creating each character with such depth and humanity that redemption feels not only possible, but hopeful and wholly life affirming.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (released on 7/9)

Though non-fiction, Three Women reads like a novel and captures you from page one. Lisa Taddeo's raw unflinching and gripping read is an honest and raw portrait of three modern women, her prose a reflection on longing, desire and need. As Taddeo follows the lives of these three women over the course of eight years, her words are intimate and extravagant, painting a portrait of what womanhood looks like today. A must read for 2019 and perhaps sunburn inducing as I, for one, couldn’t stop turning the page!

The Travelers by Regina Porter

Told over the pan of 50 years, Porter’s The Travelers weaves together the stories of two families, while at the same time presenting a searing portrait of a county and society in the midst of massive social change. Shifting fluidly between time-periods, Porter investigates the dynamics of love and family and the ties and conflicts inherent in both.

Mostly Dead Things: A Novel by Kristen Arnett

After her father’s suicide, Jessa must save her father’s taxidermy business from going under, alongside fixing a myriad of other strange family problems. A fun, eccentric, and odd book that is sure to show up in countless hands beachside this summer, Mostly Dead Things will bring all the emotions – laughter, tears, and the heart tugs that keep us engaged chapter after chapter. A surprising, delightful and wonderful book.

The Last Book Party: A Novel by Karen Dukess

Set on Cape Cod in the 1980s, The Last Book Party follows the aspirations of a young writer as she joins the circle of the literary elite for the summer. Light and breezy, you can almost smell the salty cape air with each turn of the page.

The Most Fun We Ever Had: A Novel by Claire Lombardo

Claire Lombardo has written a rich and rewarding novel that shines light on the messiness of families with a soft touch that will feel so familiar. Secrets kept and revealed provide a backdrop for the life-long love affair of Marilyn and David Sorenson as they raise their four daughters. In her debut novel, the author displays considerable understanding of human action and reaction, the rigors of siblinghood and the opportunities that life offers for hurt, shame and redemption.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel by Otessa Moshfegh (now out in paperback)

A perfect paperback for the beach and the weirdest bit of fun you’ll ever have reading about a character whose only goal is to sleep for a year. Moshfegh’s narrator has it all—she’s young, she’s gorgeous, and she’s wealthy, so . . . why isn’t she happy? To press reset her life, she embarks on a year of rest and relaxation with help in the form of a perfect trinity for success: a cloying best friend, a wholly irresponsible psychiatrist and a performance artist. Throughout the book, I hated and adored the narrator in equal measure. If you missed this one in hardcover, the time is now.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (now out in paperback)

At once an historical look into the outbreak of the AIDS crisis in Chicago, and a tale of a mother’s desperate quest to find her estranged daughter, the core of The Great Believers is a story of friendship – how it evolves over time, adjusts after loss, and strengthens alongside turmoil. One of the best books of 2018 / 19 and now out in paperback.

Florida by Lauren Groff (now out in paperback)

Following the stunning Fates and Furies, Groff’s Florida is a series of short stories by one of the best writers of our generation with the sunshine state as her main character. In this collection of linked narratives, the author remembers Florida as it once was, before the vacationers and gated retirement communities, that “damp, dense tangle,” home to the wildlife of the swamp. But Groff also imagines Florida of the present, lifting the rug on this state we think we know, revealing again that Florida as “an Eden of dangerous things."

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