Summer reading isn’t just for the kids – parents can kick back with a book and enjoy some literary fun during the hot months, too. Here’s some fiction and nonfiction picks to add to your “to-read” list, from funny family dramas to the biography that inspired “Hamilton.”
The Girls by Emma Cline
The gripping novel “The Girls” takes place at the end of the 1960s, when 14 year old Evie Boyd meets a group of girls who live on a ranch together. She's soon sucked into their cult, centered around a charismatic male leader, and becomes obsessed with and desperate for their approval. What she doesn’t know is that the more time she spends with them, the more she endangers her own life.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters who don’t know each other are born in different places in 18th century Ghana in Yaa Gyasi’s first novel, which has received praise by writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay. Effia marries and Englishman and lives in comfort, while Esi is imprisoned, sent to America and sold into slavery. “Homegoing” spans continents and generations, showing landmark events in both the history of the United States and Ghana.
The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear by Stuart Stevens
During this wild election year, Stuart Stevens’ satirical novel about a campaign manager trying to get the sitting vice president elected as they head to the Republican National Convention in New Orleans rings eerily true. Campaign manager JD Callahan is a New Orleans native and is not too excited about going back – even less so when his brother shows up. Then a bomb is set off, and the events swing votes over to JD’s opponent, as he has to figure out how to get his candidate to win amidst all of the chaos.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Emma Straub’s latest novel follows three college bandmates who have stayed friends into their adulthood--now as neighbors in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn--and watched each other change over the years. When a producer calls and wants to make a movie about the fourth member of the band, who died during her own solo career, they have to decide whether or not to sign off on the film. On top of that, their teenage children begin to date each other, and old secrets threaten to come out.
They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
Molly and Daniel Bergman’s parents are growing older, and when their father dies they offer to help their mother, Joy, avoid loneliness in old age. But when Joy’s ex from her college days reappears, Joy becomes just as rebellious as a teenager. Schine’s novel explores the relationships and dynamics of different age groups within a complicated family.
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
The Plumb siblings reunite in New York to confront their oldest brother, who has put their family trust fund in danger with troubles of his own, in Cynthia Sweeney’s funny debut novel. Picking up after Leo Plumb is released from rehab, his sisters Melody and Beatrice and brother Jack need the money from their trust fund to deal with some of their own financial issues, but Leo’s recklessness puts the money in question. The siblings have to find a way to piece their family back together while dealing with old resentments.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Since you can't get tickets, read the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway hit. Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton is over 800 pages long, but if you want to learn more about the founding father that all of those catchy songs are about, this is a great place to start.
All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
Brooklyn-based journalist Rebecca Traister’s book covers the history of single women in America and how they have changed the country. Intending to focus on the 21st- century single woman, Traister found that women getting married later in life or not getting married at all was not new, and that single women have effected massive social change throughout history. “All the Single Ladies” takes readers on this fascinating journey up to the present day with research, anecdotes, and statistics.
I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro
Comedian Tig Notaro’s memoir gives readers a glimpse into the worst year of her life – she went through a breakup, her mother died unexpectedly, she was put in the hospital with an intestinal disease, and then found out she had breast cancer. Notaro describes all of these events in detail, but her signature sense of humor still manages to make the book a funny and inspiring read.
Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping by Dan White
Dan White tried every kind of camping there is to try as research for “Under the Stars.” He spent time in the American National Parks, tried “glamping,” and compared himself to Thoreau to prove what the draw to living in nature is. He outlines the evolution of the wilderness and why Americans like spending so much time in it.
Your Favorite Band is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life by Steven Hyden
Music critic Steven Hyden explores a common question in pop music: which artist is better? Hyden makes arguments for classic bands like the Beatles versus the Rolling Stones, battles of 1980s stars like Prince versus Michael Jackson, and more recent rivalries like Taylor Swift versus Kanye West. Sprinkled with his own anecdotes and personal opinions, Hyden concludes that none of these squabbles can really be won. But the cases for each artist, regardless of whether you’re a fan, are fun to read.