There are so many lists now recommending wonderful summer reads. What's different about this one?! Well, these 15 books all have a strong sense of voice and plot, propulsive narratives and beautiful writing, the four things we always look for at my publishing company. These are written by a diverse, interesting mix of authors and they all touch on something a little different, from nursing and voting rights to a courtroom and the south of France. Look for all of them to pop up on beach towels this season.
"You Can't Stay Here Forever" by Katherine Lin
Feel like taking a trip to Hotel du Cap in the south of France? Just open up Katherine Lin's new novel about female friendship, identity, ambition and love. Asian American protagonist Ellie uses her late husband's insurance policy to cope with the news that he had been betraying her with a law firm colleague in this beautiful, atmospheric read.
"Everything's Fine" by Cecilia Rabess
When a Black newbie investment banker joins the ranks of a storied New York firm, she reconnects with a white guy she knew in college who helps her navigate the pitfalls of financial modeling. At first, they can't stand each other. And then, attraction brews. But they couldn't be more different. Is there enough in common to overcome their differences? And how much can she pretend that everything is OK when inside it just isn't?
"Lucky Dogs" by Helen Schulman
Let's go to Paris. In revered literary author Helen Schulman's latest novel, two women meet over ice cream. When one protects the other from lurid male tourists, they form an immediate bond. A look at male violence and its repercussions, this novel turns everything we know on its head as the women navigate the city of love.
"Little Monsters" by Adrienne Brodeur
Let's head to the Cape. "Wild Game" author and Aspen Institute head Adrienne Brodeur weaves a long (probably blonde) braid of a tale about an aging, crusty patriarch and his two grown children who are each navigating their own midlife issues from divorce and parenting to creative ambition. The family drama is set in a highly sensory way on the shores of Cape Cod, so much so you'll feel like your feet are digging into wet summer sand.
"Hedge" by Jane Delury
When Maud spends a summer as a garden historian at Montgomery Place on the heels of her separation, she meets a captivating man whose attention she craves. Later, when her two daughters come to visit, events unfold that challenge everything she thinks and feels. Torn between motherhood, career, and midlife passion, Maud has to decide just who to believe in this elegantly written, propulsive, thought-provoking and sumptuous summer read. (Full disclosure: This is a book we're proudly publishing at Zibby Books!)
"The Girls of Summer" by Katie Bishop
In the Greek islands, Rachel, a 17-year-old Londoner, stays behind when she should've gone home after a summer trip. She befriends locals as she falls madly for a much older man who just might have some secrets of his own. Lust, a luxury location, coming-of-age thoughts and an intriguing sense of foreboding mix with a second timeline in which Rachel is unhappily married, in the present. Can a reunion of sorts bring back those good feelings or will she finally find out what was really going on? This debut novel is the perfect beach read.
"A Quitter's Paradise" by Elysha Chang
As Eleanor mourns the loss of her mother, hiding in her lab research after leaving her Ph.D. program and keeping things from her husband, she revisits her family history in Taiwan and the secrets therein. Written in a funny style, "A Quitter's Paradise" takes us through Eleanor's attempts to escape with unpredictable next steps making it a highly enjoyable read, even as it traverses the rocky terrain of grief.
"Nightbloom" by Peace Adzo Medie
Author of "His Only Wife," an October 2020 Reese's Book Club Pick, Peace Adzo Medie now introduces us to a story of class, friendship, and family in Ghana and life as an African-born woman in America -- with a twist. Cousins Akorfa and Selasi grow up like twins until a traumatic event throws them together and later rips them apart. When Selasi falls off the rails and eventually disappears, Akorfa doesn't bother to find her and leaves for the U.S. It isn't until a family reunion that the two finally face what happened in this bold exploration of a friendship gone awry.
"Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge: Intimate Confessions from a Happy Marriage" by Helen Ellis
Now this is something new: open, honest, funny essays from a wife who is still in love with her husband after 20 years of marriage. (Yes, it's possible.) Helen Ellis, hostess extraordinaire, shares that when all the parties ceased due to the pandemic, she realized that even when she was alone with her husband, just watching "Dynasty," he made her heart go "pitter patter." But don't worry: She is hilarious, not sanctimonious about it! These essays are Ellis at her writerly best.
"The Whispers" by Ashley Audrain
The New York Times bestselling author of "The Push" now turns her keen, observant eye on four fictitious suburban families. When one family's son falls from his window in the middle of the night and lands in a coma, all the families feel the aftershocks. Told over the course of a week by the women of each family, "The Whispers" examines the role of envy among friend groups, the power of maternal love and the ties that bind a community.
"Lady Tan's Circle of Women" by Lisa See
If you loved "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," you'll love Lisa See's latest novel. Inspired by a 15th century female physician, the story follows Tan Yunxian, who is being raised by her grandparents in an elite family. Tan apprentices with a midwife-in-training who becomes a close friend and learns to brilliantly treat all "women's issues" -- until her arranged marriage lands her with in-laws who demand she stop. And yet, she finds a way to not only go on, but to become a legendary leader.
"The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life's Final Moments" by Hadley Vlahos
A powerful memoir from an end-of-life nurse, "The In-Between" is Hadley Vlahos' story, which starts when she drops out of school pregnant at 19 years old and attends nursing school, accidentally finding her true passion in life. She shares patients' stories -- and her own. Brilliant.
"The First Ladies" by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, co-authors of the New York Times bestseller "The Personal Librarian," return to examine and re-imagine the relationship between first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and activist Mary McLeod Bethune. A novel about female friendship and political moves that takes place in Florida, the White House, townhouses in New York and on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, "The First Ladies" reshapes the narrative around voting and civil rights, educates and entertains the reader, and shows us what is possible.
"Famous in a Small Town" by Viola Shipman
Viola Shipman is actually the pen name for internationally bestselling LGBTQIA author Wade Rouse, author of 14 books. In this summertime escapist read set in 1958, Cherry Mary, so named after becoming The Cherry Pit Spittin' Champion of Good Hart, Michigan, is now 80 years old. Mary runs The Very Cherry General Store and is looking for an heir with no next of kin. In comes Becky Thatcher, visiting Good Hart with her best friend to get over a break-up, who can spit berries too. Perhaps she should take over the store?! A heartwarming, wholesome read about what seem like simpler times.
"Trial" by Richard North Patterson
Yes, the Richard North Patterson has returned with his new novel after almost 10 years. Formerly a trial lawyer and author of 22 other novels, he has been busy writing about politics for many esteemed outlets for years. His background led him to a story of racism, love and family set in rural Georgia in 2022. Malcolm Hill, an 18-year-old Black man, is charged with capital murder of a white sheriff at a traffic light. While the story touches on macro themes, it delves deep into the relationship between a father and a son. Enter a local congressman, who convicted the same cop for the shooting of an unnamed Black man years before, and Allie, the one that got away. The trial becomes nationally televised as the nation becomes invested in the outcome. A riveting read from the master of dramatic fiction.