Best novels for reading
It isn’t just Hollywood that saves its blockbusters for summer. Book publishers are gearing up for one of the hottest lineups in years.
This crowded season includes a novel by Harper Lee, her first in more than half a century, Judy Blume, who hasn’t delivered a book for adults in 16 years, and another (perhaps final one) by literary legend Milan Kundera.
No list would be complete without some hits from the perennially prolific — Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Candace Bushnell and Jennifer Weiner. And, of course, there are a few sparkling debuts and literary surprises to satisfy all desires.
We’ve gathered this list with help from some of our friends at Amazon, the Strand, Astoria Bookshop, Word Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Mysterious Bookshop.
The Post Picks
In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume (Knopf), out June 2
Judy Blume has shaped so many of our young-adult perspectives on sex and friendship, and now she’s back with a novel for adults inspired by her own childhood in Elizabeth, NJ. Set in the 1950s, the story is told through a chorus of related voices — ninth-grader Miri Ammerman, her mother and grandmother, her journalist uncle and her rich best friend — as they deal with a shocking series of plane crashes around their home.
by Sarai Walker (HMH), out now
The overweight Plum Kettle opens the book obsessed with dropping the pounds that plague her by attending “Waist Watchers” meetings. But this is no “woe-is-me” narrative — Kettle is soon recruited into a feminist guerrilla-warfare underground group attempting to strike down our society’s notion of “beauty.” Walker says she was inspired to write the book after watching the movie “Fight Club”: “I have to write something like that for women.”
by Candace Bushnell (Grand Central), June 23
A case of art imitating life. The woman who gave us “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw is back with a novel about writer PJ Wallis, who is trying to emerge from the shadow of her famous creation Monica, the main character in a series of bestsellers that were made into an even bigger movies (sound familiar?). Fresh off a divorce, Wallis tries to reinvent herself as a serious novelist without success. Her only recourse? Kill off Monica. Watch your back, Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Underwriting: Get Rich. Get Laid. Get Even.
by Michelle Miller (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), out now
Miller, who used to work at JPMorgan, shows the inner workings of bringing Silicon Valley dating site Hook (i.e., Tinder) public. The man in charge is “American Psycho”-esque investment banker Todd Kent and a team of misfits: the party boy, the nerdy girl, the former flame. Things get even more complicated when someone winds up dead.
The Festival of Insignificance
by Milan Kundera (Harper), out June 23
Already in love with Kundera? Then this one is for you. The slim volume follows four Parisians as they philosophize through cafes, museums and parks. It might not be his best work, but it’s the 86-year-old’s first work in 15 years — and might just be his last.
Who Do You Love
by Jennifer Weiner (Atria), out August 11
An abandoned wife in her 40s lives alone in her cluttered house until a friend gives her a push. “What do I do now?” the protagonist Rachel asks. “You start again, ” her friend responds. To move on, you must look back. The story is told in flashbacks starting in 1985, to the beginning of her ill-fated relationship.
by Sue Grafton (Putnam), out August 25
As we near the end of Grafton’s beloved alphabet series, the action hits a crescendo in her 24th installment that continues the work of private investigator Kinsey Millhone, who is tasked with tracking down one of Grafton’s darkest, most frightening serial killers yet.
by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown), out June 16
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer. She’s back on Nantucket again, this time with a writer who finds the cure for her writer’s block in her friend’s affair with her hot gardener. Rich people behaving badly — perfect poolside.
by Louisa Hall (Ecco), out July 7
Hall delivers a dystopian A.I. novel with real heart and soul. Told through 17th century diary entries, letters by Alan Turing, court transcripts in 2040 and instant messages between a bot and a young, brokenhearted girl, this book is strange, beautiful and unputdownable.
The Melody Lingers On
by Mary Higgins Clark (S&S), out June 23
Author of over 40 books, a summer list would be lacking without one from Mary Higgins Clark, a k a “the queen of suspense.” In her newest, Lane Harmon, an assistant to an interior decorator is called in to help with the home of a Madoff-inspired disgraced financier, who has absconded with his money. His wife and son insist that he’s innocent — and it’s not long until Harmon is dragged into the mess.
Run You Down
by Julia Dahl (Minotaur), out June 30
Dahl’s sequel to her “Invisible City” continues the story of journalist Rebekah Roberts and her mother, who escaped her Hasidic life in Brooklyn only to disappear once again after Roberts was born. As Roberts is pulled back into another murder in the Orthodox community, she must reexamine her feelings about her mother and herself.
Mysterious Bookshop PicksIn a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware (Scout Press), out August 25
A reclusive crime writer wakes up in a hospital bed unable to remember anything except that someone has died — now she must retrace her steps in this psychological thriller. “[It] will keep you guessing to the very end and will make you look at your friends in a whole new light, ” say Mysterious Bookshop manager Ian Kern and paperback buyer Steve Viola.
by Christopher Bollen (Harper), out now
A series of strange occurrences rock a small, historic town in Long Island. “Sublimely creepy and unnerving, ” say Kern and Viola. “Readers will feel as if they’re on the set of ‘Twin Peaks’.”
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter
by Malcolm Mackay (Mulholland Books), out now
The first book in a trilogy chronicling the lives of hit men and crime bosses in Glasgow. “Fast, brutal and brimming with intrigue and betrayal, ” say Kern and Viola.
The Strand’s PicksThe Knockoff
by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (Doubleday), out now
An “incredibly indulgent” insider look at the back-biting at high-fashion magazine “Glossy.” Brianne Sperber, marketing manager at the Strand, says “I’ve been telling people that ‘The Knockoff’ is the ‘The Social Network’ meets ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ ”
Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll (S&S), out now
The story of one woman’s seemingly perfect life (perfect fiancé, perfect body, perfect job) — who is hiding a bitterly dark secret. “[It’s] ‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘Gone Girl, ’ ” says Sperber. “If that doesn’t sell you…I don’t know what will.”
The Dead Lands
by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central), out now
Love the premise of this one: In Percy’s dark world, he presents a post-apocalyptic retelling of the Lewis and Clark expedition, in a world rocked by super flu and nuclear war. “Percy’s last book, ‘Red Moon, ’ was a wild ride. I can’t wait to see how he’s transformed the Lewis and Clark journey in this genre-bending thriller, ” says Sperber.
Astoria Bookshop’s PicksHow to Start a Fire
by Lisa Lutz (HMH), out now
Known for her Spellman mystery series, Lutz’s newest revolves around complex relationships among three women told out of chronological order, which gives it “the feel of a mystery, as the reader gradually learns about each woman’s closet of skeletons, ” says Lexi Beach, owner of Astoria Bookshop. “I’ve never read a better portrayal of women’s friendships.”