There’s something about posting up under an umbrella and diving into a good book that just makes life worth living. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the must-reads out this season that are perfect for everything from laughing to crying to impressing your smartest friends.
"Sweetbitter" by Stephanie Danler
Danler’s first novel is a fun look behind the scenes at a famous New York restaurant, where Tess has just gotten her first job in the city. It perfectly skewers foodie culture and has all the trappings (love triangles, drug addicts) of an enthralling summer read.
"Rich and Pretty" by Rumaan Alam
Two childhood best friends, one rich and one pretty, come to grips with the fact that their relationship has changed without their noticing. It’s an honest and funny look at female friendships, set against the background of Manhattan’s elite aristocracy (think Gossip Girl 15 years later).
"Losing It" by Emma Rathbone
A hilarious story about a not-quite-40-year-old virgin (Julia is 26) on a quest to “lose it” one summer, Rathbone’s novel is a wry look at relationships through the eyes of someone who has never really been in one.
"Monsters: A Love Story"áby Liz Kay
OK, so this one will make you laugh and cry, but Kay’s debut novel, about a poet grappling with the death of her husband, is a must-read. A smart look at grief and how we bounce back from it, Monsters is fast-paced and completely addictive.
"Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty"áby Ramona Ausubel
What happens when a family who has it all loses it all? That’s what we learn in this excellent novel about a Waspy clan whose fortune disappears suddenly, forcing them to figure out how to live without. It’s deeply human and surprisingly sympathetic.
"Harmony" by Carolyn Parkhurst
A Washington, D.C., family picks up everything and moves to a camp in the woods of New Hampshire in the hopes of solving their daughter’s mysterious behavioral issues. Alternately heartbreaking and hopeful, the novel beautifully sums up the love between parents and children.
"Greetings From Utopia Park"áby Claire Hoffman
After Hoffman’s father abandons the family, her mother moves her daughters to an isolated meditation community in search of transcendence. As the girls grow up, however, the community’s previously impenetrable facade begins to crack and adolescent skepticism sets in.
"You'll Grow Out of It" by Jessi Klein
Comedienne Jessi Klein is the head writer and producer for Inside Amy Schumer, so yeah, she’s hilarious. Her memoir is a startlingly funny look at what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and perfectly captures all those impossible-to-meet expectations. (No, we can’t all look like Barbies, and yes, it’s OK not to care.)
"I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This" by Nadja Spiegelman
Spiegelman, whose mother is the New Yorker’s art director and father is the creator of the graphic novel Maus, writes candidly and beautifully about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters.
"Under the Harrow" by Flynn Berry
Psychologically intense and thrillingly page-turning, Berry’s first novel is a slow burn as a woman searches relentlessly for her sister’s killer. Vividly drawn characters and relatably complex relationships make it all the more scary as you wonder if it could happen to you.
"The Heavenly Table" by Donald Ray Pollock
Gritty and darkly funny, The Heavenly Table details the increasingly strange and disturbing relationship between two families living in Ohio and Alabama in 1917. Think: a more twisted Flannery O’Connor.
"The Woman In Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware
Haunting and absurdly suspenseful, Ware writes about a journalist given the assignment of a lifetime--a weeklong trip on a luxury cruise. But what starts out pleasantly soon spirals into something much darker when she witnesses a passenger being thrown overboard.
"The Dragon Behind the Glass"áby Emily Voigt
Who would’ve thought the history of a rare fish could be so enthralling? Voigt traces the bizarre story of the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, the Asian “dragon fish,” in a story that reads more like fiction, what with all the murder, smuggling and general intrigue.
"Everybody Behaves Badly" by Lesley M. M. Blume
The true story behind Hemingway’s 1926 masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, Blume’s book is jam-packed with insider-y details like drunken antics and unrelenting womanizing--and is a fascinating portrait of one of the most revered and imitated writers of all time.
"Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching" by Mychal Denzel Smith
An important exploration of black manhood in 2016, Smith writes candidly about his political awakening and the puzzling dichotomy that exists in a country where a black man can be president, but can also be killed for no reason and with no repercussions.
"N'ice Cream" by Virpi Mikkonen
This book has recipes for more than 80 frozen vegan treats. But before you dairy lovers roll your eyes, know that a lot of them are really delicious. Take the apple avocado mint pops, which will make sweltering summer days way more tolerable.
"A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches" by Tyler Kord
Kord, the chef and owner of the No. 7 and No. 7 Sub restaurants in New York, writes hilariously about everything from sandwich philosophy to what he’s learned from failed relationships. Don't miss the life-changing fried zucchini and barbecue chip sandwich.
"Hot Dog Taste Test"áby Lisa Hanawalt
Less traditional cookbook than funny illustrated guide, Hanawalt’s book includes diagrams about choosing the right wine (red is “good for fights,” while Merlot “makes you ask strangers for piggyback rides”) and absurd baking tips (“You can do anything to eggs”).
"Zero K" by Don DeLillo
Lit-world favorite DeLillo’s newest is a moving meditation on death told through the story of an aging billionaire who has invested in a secret compound where bodies are preserved until future technology can bring them back to life. Creepy!
"Barkskins" by Annie Proulx
Pulitzer Prize-winning Proulx is back with another doozy--this time, a 700-pager about French-Canadian woodcutters in the 17th century. Sure, it’s on the heavy side, but Proulx’s epic prose and eviscerating meditations on nature make it well worth the effort.
"Multiple Choice" by Alejandro Zambra
Formatted like a standardized test, Zambra’s novel is wildly inventive and utterly confusing in the best way possible. It’s also extremely hard to define, jumping between themes of love and family and authority and philosophy in a way that’s as exciting as it is mind-bending.