Thrillers and romantic comedies and memoirs, oh my!
Summer is in full swing, which means beach books galore — whatever type of story that might mean to you. Solve a mystery or get deep in your feels; we’ve got something for everyone on this list of recent book releases I just couldn’t put down.
1. devour a good thriller: We Were Never Here, Andrea Bartz
Andrea Bartz (The Herd) writes great thrillers, and her latest is no exception. Emily and Kristen are two friends who travel the world together, but things go sideways when one is attacked and they have to kill a man in self-defense. But when it happens again a year later Emily has to wonder just how much of an accident it really was. Bartz is so good at writing about toxic female friendship, and this one crackles with the lived-in, slow-burning tension of a woman realizing all is not well with her dangerous best friend. (Out Aug. 3.)
2. watch You’ve Got Mail at least once a year: Hana Khan Carries On, Uzma Jalaluddin
This sweet take on You’ve Got Mail brings the action to dueling halal restaurants in Toronto. You know where this is going the moment Anger Sparks start to fly between a young podcaster and an opinionated online commenter, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a blast getting there. Jalaluddin keeps the romantic tension bubbling while also weaving in a thoughtful story about community and family secrets (classic novel stuff). Flipping through this is like curling up on the couch to watch a comforting Netflix rom-com.
In this moving memoir, Ford recounts her difficult childhood and a turbulent relationship with her abusive mother. Troubling and heartfelt, it’s a moving story about making peace with your past — and rising above all kinds of difficulties. What is most memorable is how clear-eyed Ford is able to look at her heavy past, while also holding space and love for her family and her childhood.
John Green is internet and book royalty, and in his first non-YA book, the brain that has so captivated millions of readers and podcast listeners gives his memorable perspective on everything from Halley’s Comet to old photographs to the invention of Monopoly. I learned so many little facts about so many things from this thoughtful, inquisitive, funny book about the breadth of the human experience. It made me excited about the future of humans, and even made me care about soccer. This book is a marvel.
Full disclosure: Nedd is a Mashable writer. But just about anyone would love her YA debut about star-crossed teens who play for opposing esports teams. Video game fans will find plenty to love as Nedd nerds out in the world and the language, but even those who don’t know a controller from a screen will still be tickled by the whip-smart dialogue and Big Teen Feelings.
6. rewatch Groundhog Day: The Rehearsals, Annette Christie
Fans of do-overs will love this quirky romance, which follows a couple during their wedding rehearsal day from hell. By the end of the night, they’ve decided to call it quits on the relationship and not get married, but when they wake up in the morning…it’s that day all over again. The fun premise is well executed with just enough surprises to keep the romantic story fresh. A perfect beach book (or train book, or lying on your couch soaking up the AC book in the middle of August…).
7. need a convo-starter for your bookclub: The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris
Part mystery, part social commentary, The Other Black Girl is a sharply observed tale that will leave you guessing right up until the end. Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at her book publishing house, so when another young Black woman, Hazel, shows up, she’s thrilled. But weird events start occurring, and when threatening notes appear on her desk, Nella begins to spiral. Who is behind all this, and is Hazel really as helpful as she appears? This book has plenty of that horror, dread-in-your-stomach feeling, and it’s also a delightful peek behind the curtain into the wild world of book publishing (perhaps not surprisingly, Harris worked in publishing before writing this buzzy debut).
8. enjoyed The Undoing: The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Plot (by the author of the book the HBO series The Undoing is based upon), is a neat literary mystery: A college professor and one-time promising novelist hears an absolutely incredible novel idea in his class one day by a smug student. Years later, when the student has died without writing said instant bestseller, the professor writes the killer story himself and becomes an overnight success. But when he starts getting mysterious emails accusing him of plagiarism, he becomes convinced someone out there knows the truth — but how? A quick page turner, it’s brainy and fun and a delightful puzzle of a tale.
9. think “food and feelings” is your mantra : Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner
Foodies, listen up. This memoir from singer/songwriter Zauner focused on the year her mother died is both terribly sad and deeply heartwarming, as she recounts a difficult childhood growing up one of a few Asian American kids in her school and reconnecting to the food and culture of Seoul following her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Zauner is able to closely tie the recipes and foods of her mother’s culture to nostalgia for home itself. With beautiful prose, Zauner writes lovingly about the tastes and smells of home and all the things we don’t truly miss until they are gone.
10. want to be inspired: Home Made, Liz Hauck
Another book centering on food! Home Made: A Story of Grief, Groceries, Showing Up — and What We Make When We Make Dinner is a touching firsthand account of a woman who, while grieving her dad’s death, decides the best way to honor him is to volunteer at the group home for teen boys that he worked at for years by showing up weekly to cook and chat with whomever is interested. The result is years of weekly dinners with a group of young men, and some surprising and moving revelations for all involved as the relationships grow.
Highly aware of “white savior” stories and how much the world does not need another one, Hauck is quick to educate readers about systemic issues and regularly calls herself out. Nobody is saving anyone here, but this book is deeply moving, unforgettable, and will make you sit with plenty of hard questions about the individuals society ignores — and, perhaps, become invested in a better way forward.