With the stress of finals week looming over our heads, it’s hard to remember that summer is just around the corner. So to get you through those long nights closing out the library at 2 a.m., I recommend using some positive visualization. I like to picture myself at the beach with my favorite book in hand. Not sure what to read after leafing through textbooks all semester? Here are the top five books I’m most excited about this summer.
Memoir: Trying To Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel by Nicolaia Rips
On sale July 12
“New York’s Chelsea Hotel may no longer be home to its most famous denizens – Andy Warhol, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, to name a few – but the eccentric spirit of the Chelsea is alive and well. Meet the family Rips: father Michael, a lawyer turned writer with a penchant for fine tailoring; mother Sheila, a former model and renowned artist who matches her welding outfits with couture; and daughter Nicolaia, a precious high school senior working on a record of her peculiar seventeen years.
Nicolaia is a perpetual outsider who has struggled to find her place in public schools populated by cliquish girls and loudmouthed boys. But at the Chelsea, Nicolaia need not look far to find her tribe. There’s her neighbor Storme, a tall albino woman who keeps a pink handgun strapped to her ankle; her babysitter, Jade, who may or may not have a second career as an escort; her friend Artie, former proprietor of New York’s most famous nightclubs. The kids at school might never understand her, but as Nicolaia endeavors to fit in, she begins to understand that the Chelsea’s motley crew could hold the key to surviving the perils of a Manhattan childhood.”
Romance: We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
On sale June 28
“Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . ” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.”
Mystery: Death At Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon
On sale May 10
“Recently retired school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, socialite Hope Babbin, are heading to Maine. The trip – a five day cooking class at the Oquossoc Mountain Inn resort – is a trial run to see if they travel well together, as they decide to do with the rest of their lives. It is also a thinly veiled excuse to visit Buster, the local deputy sheriff, who is Maggie’s former student and Hope’s long-estranged son.
As their idyll is just beginning, the inn’s serenity is shattered by the arrival of Alexander and Lisa Antippas and Lisa’s actress sister, Glory. Loud, demanding, and rude, these Hollywood one-percenters quickly wreak havoc without even trying, upsetting the inn’s staff, dismaying the other guests, and igniting a flurry of speculation and gossip upstairs and down.
But the disruption soon turns deadly. When a suspicious late-night fire in the new wing is brought under control, Alexander’s charred body is found in the ashes.
Enter the deputy sheriff. A man who’s finally found his footing. Buster needs a big win. Maggie knows the justice system can be expedient – and that the difference between convicting the wrong person and the right one is too often determined by lazy police work and prosecutors with misplaced ambitions. To give Buster a hand that he isn’t sure he wants, and to prevent his bosses from making a hash of things before it’s too late, Maggie and Hope decide that there is a role for two experienced, curious, and sensible women to play in solving the crime.”
Metaphysical Fiction: The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj
On sale May 3
“Max Pzoras is the poster child for the American Dream. A child of Greek immigrants who grew up in a dangerous New York housing project, he triumphed over his upbringing and became a successful Wall Street analyst. Yet on the frigid December night he’s involved in a violent street scuffle, Max begins to confront questions about suffering and mortality that have dogged him since his mother’s death.
His search takes him to the farthest reaches of India, where he encounters a mysterious night market, almost freezes to death on a hike up the Himalayas, and finds himself in an ashram in a drought-stricken village in South India. As Max seeks answers to questions that have bedeviled him – Can yogis walk on water and live for two hundred years without aging? Can a flesh-and-blood man ever achieve nirvana? – he struggles to overcome his skepticism and pull of family tugging him home. In an ultimate bid for answers, he embarks on a dangerous solitary meditation in a freezing Himalayan cave, where his physical and spiritual endurance is put to its most extreme test.
By turns a gripping adventure story and a journey of tremendous inner transformation, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is a contemporary take on a man’s classic quest for transcendence.”
Nonfiction: The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine di Giovanni
On sale May 3
“Once in a decade comes an account of war that promises to be a classic. Doing for Syria what Imperial Life in the Emerald City did for the war in Iraq, The Morning They Came for Us bears witness to one of the most brutal, internecine conflicts in recent history. Drawing from years of experience covering Syria for Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and the front pages of the New York Times, award-winning journalist Janine di Giovanni gives us a tour de force of war reportage, all told through the perspective of ordinary people—among them a doctor, a nun, a musician, and a student. What emerges is an extraordinary picture of the devastating human consequences of armed conflict, one that charts an apocalyptic but at times tender story of life in a jihadist war zone. Recalling celebrated works by Ryszard Kapus´cin´ski, Philip Gourevitch, and Anne Applebaum, The Morning They Came for Us, through its unflinching account of a nation on the brink of disintegration, becomes an unforgettable testament to resilience in the face of nihilistic human debasement.”