Happy summer! My hometown in New York tends to skip the spring season and head straight from blizzards to sweltering heat, and, given that it snowed here on May 9 (!!!), and that I’ve been cooped up in the house for the past few months self-isolating, I am beyond ready for the summer months! This summer will be a busy one for me with my full-time internship and my family’s relocation to Massachusetts, but I’m sure I’ll be spending some quality time with these reads between evaluating manuscripts and packing boxes!
As a mood reader, I generally find it difficult to commit to strict monthly TBRs, but picking a few specific books I’d like to read over the course of three-ish months may be more realistic for me. Plus, it’ll be nice to work through my collection of unread books, which has evolved from a small bedside stack to an overflowing book cart… oops. The books on this summer’s to-read list are a mix of new releases, back-list titles I want to make time for, and books I feel fit that summery mood.
First up is the 1,000-page behemoth DUCKS, NEWBURYPORT by Lucy Ellmann. When this one first made the Booker shortlist, I didn’t think I would ever read it, primarily due to its length, but also for the fact that it’s comprised of just a few sentences. I’ll admit curiosity got the better of me, though, especially when I’ve heard many reviewers I trust raving about this one. I love stream-of-consciousness when it’s well done, so I’m really hoping DUCKS will be worth the commitment. Plus, this one is surprisingly related to my move to Massachusetts; I read somewhere that Ellmann’s mother grew up in the town of Newburyport, MA, a beautiful riverside village that’s one my favorite places to visit!
Next is THE VACATIONERS by Emma Straub. With all of the talk surrounding Straub’s latest release ALL ADULTS HERE, which came out in early May, I was reminded of my interest in this, her 2014 novel. THE VACATIONERS follows an extended family of affluent Manhattanites over the course of their two-week trip to Mallorca. I’m sure it’s chock-full of snobby, unlikable characters and upper-class drama, but I love the way Straub writes about familial relationships so I’m looking forward to this gossip-y, elitist read.
I’m also looking forward to Emily Henry’s BEACH READ, a book I’ve had my eye on for forever. I got hooked on adult rom-coms last summer, and BEACH READ sounds right up my alley: two writers, staying in neighboring beach houses attempt to cure their writer’s block by writing the other’s genre for the summer… and as always, romance ensues! I love easy breezy romance, especially during the warmer months, and hopefully I can read this one on an actual beach! BEACH READ made my most-anticipated releases list and it’s the only book I asked for as a birthday present, so you know I’m excited for it!
Also on my list is Bernardine Evaristo’s GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER, which is one I’m both dying to get to and seriously intimidated by. If you know me, you’ll know I actively follow book prizes, with two of my favorites being the Booker and the Women’s Prize. GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER has been acknowledged by both, having co-won the Booker alongside Margaret Atwood and her TESTAMENTS, and currently shortlisted for the Women’s Prize (with the winner announcement coming September 9). I want to go into it somewhat blind, but I know it weaves together a narrative of twelve black British women in a technique I think I’ll love. I’ll turn to GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER next time I want a smart, literary novel.
One of my one-a-whim picks is THE LAST BOOK PARTY by Karen Dukess, which follows a recent college graduate working as an assistant to a famed New Yorker writer and spending her summer among the literary elite in Cape Cod. I love a good coming-of-age story and a book about books, plus I’m hoping I’ll be able to relate to main character Eve as a twenty-something trying to make my way into the literary world. THE LAST BOOK PARTY, Dukess’ debut, hasn’t had the best reviews since its release last year, but fingers crossed it will prove to be an enjoyable read nonetheless! Again, I’m also looking forward to this one because it’s set in Cape Cod, an area I’ll be exploring at some point after the big move.
Next is Elena’s Ferrante’s THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD, the last of the infamous quartet. The Neapolitan Novels scream summer to me–probably due to those endless descriptions of the glittering beaches of Ischia–and I can’t wait to transport myself back into the Naples of Elena and Lila. I read MY BRILLIANT FRIEND last summer and have spread my reading experience of the series out over the last year, but by finishing with the fourth and final book this summer, I’ll have come full circle. It’s a book I’m eager to read but I know I’ll dread turning the final page, as I feel I’ve really gotten to know Ferrante’s massive catalogue of characters. Still, I know once I finish it I’ll have her next book, THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS, to look forward to when it releases in English this September.
I’m also excited for Marcy Dermansky’s VERY NICE, a novel that first sparked my interest because of its intriguing premise. VERY NICE involves a kind of love triangle featuring a young woman in love with her creative writing professor, who, unbeknownst to her, is having an affair with her mother. As a college student myself with a really close relationship to my mom, I can’t imagine how the events of this novel will play out! Dermansky’s novel has been hailed as “brilliantly funny” and “addictive,” which is everything I need in a poolside read. I’m hoping it will be a great escape from the stress and headaches of relocating my entire life to a new state!
Last on this list is DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz. Like GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER, DOMINICANA also makes an appearance on this year’s Women’s Prize shortlist, and I’m determined to finish it before the winner is announced. Cruz tells the story of fifteen-year-old Ana, a Dominican girl who married a man twice her age in order to move to New York. Miserable in her new home, Ana tries to escape but is stopped by her husband’s much younger brother, with whom she lives a life full of freedom while her husband is away. When he returns to the city, however, Ana must decide between her heart and her duty. DOMINICANA is another case in which I hope the novel’s execution lives up to its premise!
SO these are the eight books I am most looking forward to reading this summer! Even with completing my summer internship, relocating to a new state, and trying to figure out how on Earth I’m going to finish my degree, I’m hoping to read at least the eight books on this list!