Finally, a chance to stop checking Twitter and open a book — for pleasure. But what to read? For a little help, we asked some popular authors: What are you planning to read this summer, and why?
Ann Patchett, author, most recently, of “Commonwealth”: I’ll want a book that’s thrilling and artful, a true page turner that will leave me feeling smart, so I’ll read Maile Meloy’s “Do Not Become Alarmed.” Roxane Gay’s “Hunger” will be at the top of the stack for life-changing memoirs (she is brilliant). And of course I’ll be reading David Sedaris’ “Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002” because a summer in which there is a new Sedaris book is the very definition of a good summer.
Jodi Picoult, whose novels include “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Small Great Things”: I have three books on my summer reading list! “The Stars Are Fire” looks like Anita Shreve at her best, exploring real-life New England history through the lens of complex characters. I’m also looking forward to “Everyone Brave Is Forgiven,” by Chris Cleave, a love story cast against the backdrop of World War II. Finally, “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, a YA novel that brings the Black Lives Matter movement to life through the eyes of a young black girl who witnesses the shooting of her friend at the hands of the police.
Tana French, author, most recently, of “The Trespasser”: I’m finally going to finish Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House.” No one does eeriness like Shirley Jackson; no one breaks down the boundaries of your reality and draws you into hers with quite the same inexorable power. I started “Haunting” once before, and it spooked me so badly that I stopped, so I’m hoping that reading it on a sunny beach will defuse it a little. I’m also planning to read Marlon James’ “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” and I cannot wait to read Dennis Lehane’s “Since We Fell,” about a woman who finds both her marriage and her mind threatened after she spots her husband — or his doppelganger — somewhere he’s not supposed to be. Lehane writes expert, compelling thrillers that dive into mysteries much more universal and more urgent than just whodunit; he’s one of the game changers who smashed the imaginary boundary between genre and literature, proving that we can have the best of both at once.
Chimamanda Adichie, author of “Americanah” and, most recently, “Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”: I’m planning to read Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” which I have been saving to read for a while and am very much looking forward to.
Carl Hiaasen, whose most recent book is “Razor Girl”: I’m looking forward to “The Last Hack,” a novel about cyber-stealth by Christopher Brookmyre, a sharp and funny Scottish writer. Another book high on my summer list is George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo.”
Diane Rehm, radio personality and author, most recently, of “On My Own”: I’m totally hooked on Elizabeth Strout. First I reread “My Name Is Lucy Barton.” Now I’m reading “Amy and Isabelle” and finishing up her latest, “Anything Is Possible.” Her characters, their stories, their interwoven lives have me mesmerized.
Philip Kerr, whose novels include “Prussian Blue”: I’m planning to read “The Essential Paradise Lost,” by John Carey. “Paradise Lost” was once celebrated throughout Europe as one of the sublime achievements of mankind. Today, this masterpiece is little read except by students. It’s years since I was forced to read Milton’s poem in school, and, in an attempt to bring it to a wider audience, Carey has shortened the text and reveals new insights into the poet’s sources of inspiration.
Imbolo Mbue, author of “Behold the Dreamers”: Recent or soon-to-be-released books I would love to read this summer include Naoki Higashida’s memoir of living with severe autism, “Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8”; Jonathan Dee’s “The Locals” (it sounds very ambitious and seemingly explores several social issues our country is currently dealing with); Stephanie Powell Watt’s “No One Is Coming to Save Us”; Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s debut novel, “Kintu”; Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing”; and Jim St. Germain’s “A Stone of Hope,” a memoir that I’ve heard presents an exceptional argument for criminal justice reform.
Nathan Hill, author of “The Nix”: I’m finishing a book tour this summer, and the novels I’ve packed to keep me company on airplanes are “Private Citizens,” by Tony Tulathimutte, “The Muse,” by Jessie Burton, and “Imagine Wanting Only This,” by Kristen Radtke. I’m also looking forward to “Blind Spot,” by Teju Cole, a book that combines two of my favorite hobbies: photography and reading Teju Cole.