This summer is going to be HOT. And I don’t just mean the weather. There’s a mouthwatering lineup of new books coming out over the next few months. Forget beach body preparation, I need to get my bookshelves in shape. In anticipation of new books from major authors—Ruth Ware, Rachel Kushner, Lauren Groff, and Fredrik Backman to name a few—I’m catching up on these essential, must-read novels.
From the National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of THE FLAMETHROWERS, Rachel Kushner's masterful debut novel tells the story of the Americans who were driven out of Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1958. TELEX FROM CUBA is an astonishingly wise, ambitious, and riveting novel you should read. Kushner's new novel THE MARS ROOM is already flying off the shelves.
From the National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of THE FLAMETHROWERS, Rachel Kushner’s masterful debut novel tells the story of the Americans who were driven out of Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 1958.
This deeply intimate novel captures the love affair between two unforgettable figures: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Despite their extraordinary bond, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard drinking and fast living of Jazz Age Paris, and they find themselves facing a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they've fought so hard for. Fans of THE PARIS WIFE will love Paula McLain's return to Hemingway in her new novel LOVE AND RUIN.
This deeply intimate novel captures the love affair between two unforgettable figures: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Despite their extraordinary bond, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, and they find themselves facing a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
Sarah and Lauren have been inseparable since high school, but as they settle into their postgrad lives, things start to change. In RICH AND PRETTY, Rumaan Alam masters not just the characters but the question every twentysomething asks: Is it a real connection or just force of habit that keeps friends together? Pick this one up along with Alam's new novel THAT KIND OF MOTHER.
A sweeping and romantic story, THE ENGLISH PATIENT traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. At the center is the English patient, a nameless pilot whose plane crash left him hideously burned. The one thing that survived the fire is a book with handwritten notes throughout describing a passionate and tragic love affair. Michael Ondaatje's mesmerizing storytelling continues in WARLIGHT.
Before you dive into Jessica Knoll's latest nail-biter, THE FAVORITE SISTER, revisit the brilliant book that first caught our attention. In Knoll's debut novel, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, Ani FaNelli leads a covetable life, with a glitzy magazine job, a blue-blooded fiancé, and a wardrobe to match. But when a violent, public trauma from her past threatens to destroy the life she's worked tirelessly to attain, Ani must carefully weigh her chance at redemption.
Ani FaNelli is the epitome of young, modern women. And that’s not a good thing. Image-obsessed, cruel, and deceptive, Ani isn’t crazy so much as extraordinarily damaged from two traumatic high school events that are expertly revealed, piece by piece, in this masterful debut. I loved the anger in this political, well-observed novel, made more powerful by the reveal that Knoll’s own sexual assault contributed to its creation. Contemporary and timely: believe the hype.
Crazy like: Carrie Bradshaw with a cleaver.
Best crazy moment: Ani’s choice of porn. (Ouch.)
A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, THE YELLOW BIRDS is the powerful, groundbreaking, and award-winning story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. Kevin Powers's new book, A SHOUT IN THE RUINS (on sale May 15), is set in Virginia during the Civil War and sure to be just as insightful as his first novel.
I'm so excited for Ruth Ware's forthcoming THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY (on sale May 29) that I'm revisiting all of her previous books—starting with THE LYING GAME. This is an atmospheric, twisty novel about four friends whose past lies come back to haunt them. It will keep you on your toes until the last page. You should also tune in to Off the Shelf's book club discussion on Friday, May 18.
You know how much I love books about books. So you know how excited I am to finally read THE DANTE CLUB while I wait for Matthew Pearl's follow up, THE DANTE CHAMBER (on sale May 29). The literary geniuses of the Dante Club—poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell—are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy. But the powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard College are trying to keep Dante in obscurity. As the members of the Dante Club fight to keep their sacred literary cause alive, all plans fall apart when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge.
One of our favorite characters—Emily Charlton—finally gets her own story in WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS (on sale June 5). For those of you who don't know, Emily was Miranda Priestly's assistant in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. She was the one who got injured and couldn't go on the fabulous trip to Paris (and was played by Emily Blunt in the movie). Fall back in love—or fall in love for the first time—with THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA before the new book hits bookshelves.
Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling novel was a higher-profile literary work than Bushnell’s Sex and the City, and the movie version a closer adaptation. But what an adaptation it is: the book set the bar high, it was smart and fun, but the movie was a romp that brought romantic comedy to new heights. Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci all created unforgettable characters, but Meryl Streep’s performance as the Prada-wearing devil herself, Miranda Priestly, is one for the ages.
The story of a marriage told from the perspectives of both husband and wife, FATES AND FURIES is a raw, dark, and dazzling examination of how a relationship—and the people in it—can change over 24 years, for better or worse. Readers absolutely loved this novel and are sure to love Lauren Groff's short story collection, FLORIDA, as well (on sale June 5).
For fans of “The Affair”
There are two sides to every story—and the psychological drama “The Affair” explores that quite creatively. FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.
Fredrik Backman fans, rejoice! US AGAINST YOU, the highly anticipated sequel to BEARTOWN (on sale June 5), is almost here. By the beloved author of A MAN CALLED OVE, BEARTOWN explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. If you've already read it, refresh your memory with a re-read. It's even better the second time around. If you haven't, you're in for such a treat.
THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE is a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate. In this brilliantly conceived and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse—leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. You only have to read Makkai once to know you want to read her again. Thankfully her new novel THE GREAT BELIEVERS (on sale June 19) is on the way.
TURN OF MIND is a literary thriller about a retired orthopedic surgeon suffering from dementia and accused of killing her best friend. With unmatched patience and a pulsating intensity, Alice LaPlante's debut novel brings us deep into a brilliant woman's deteriorating mind, where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse. LaPlante's thrilling writing continues in HALF MOON BAY (on sale July 10).
Eileen is an unassuming, troubled woman with a dreary existence as an administrator at a juvenile detention center and an alcoholic father at home. Then one day a glamorous woman arrives in her life and Eileen is spun into actions she's always dreamed of taking, but they also lead her to disappear from her dark life altogether. Readers who love this propulsive and gritty novel will also love Ottessa Moshfegh's new book MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION (on sale July 10).
This gritty first-person narration is one of the most captivating and suspenseful voices I’ve read recently (think HAUSFRAU with less empathy). It’s my current subway read, which has me opting for the local to have more time to read! —Elizabeth
Megan Abbott took the world by storm with her suspenseful novel YOU WILL KNOW ME. How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits—until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk. You're going to also want to read Abbott's next book GIVE ME YOUR HAND (on sale July 17).