Books to read this Summer (including Deepti Kapoor and Abraham Verghese)


Whether you’re traveling or catching the sun at home in the coming months, here are 23 books we’ve enjoyed this year that make for good summer reading.

“Age of Vice” by Deepti Kapoor

1. ‘Age of Vice’

By Deepti Kapoor

Fiction| This lush thriller swings back and forth through time and up and down the social ladder, from the hovels to the palaces of contemporary India. On the first page, a Mercedes speeding through Delhi careens off the street and kills five people. That deadly accident ricochets through one of India’s most powerful crime families – and from there the intrigue never pauses to take a breath. (Riverhead, $30)

2. ‘Alexandra Petri’s U.S. History: Important American Documents (I Made Up)’

By Alexandra Petri

Fiction| Washington Post columnist Petri shows what happens when a gifted comedic writer takes bona fide pieces of history and uses them as occasions to go brilliantly bananas. The titles of these 84 short texts include “Richard Nixon Tapes But Just the Parts Where He’s Yelling at Checkers” and “The Team at Build-a-Bear Responds on the Thirteenth Anniversary of 9/11.” (Norton, $27.95)

3. ‘The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions’

By Jonathan Rosen

Nonfiction | We know how this haunting story will end: with a murder that made national headlines. Rosen was friends with the eventual killer, Michael Laudor, from the time they were 10 years old. Throughout this book – part memoir, part manifesto – Rosen asks uncomfortable but crucial questions, some of them unanswerable, all of them compelling, and the result is an incisive but intimate tour de force. (Penguin Press, $32)

4. ‘Birnam Wood’

By Eleanor Catton

Fiction | In the decade since Catton published her gargantuan Booker Prize-winning novel, “The Luminaries,” she dabbled in film, adapting the latest version of “Emma” (2020) for the silver screen. Her new novel is a sleek contemporary thriller featuring a group of guerrilla gardeners that dramatizes political, technical and environmental crises with delicious wit. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28)

5. ‘Collected Works’

By Charles Portis

Fiction | An ex-Marine from the Texas Panhandle adopts a performing chicken on a long bus ride home from New York. A touchingly ineffectual pseudo-religion turns out to harbor real cosmic truth. A hard-nosed, narrowly reformed antiques smuggler finds unlikely love in rural Mexico. These are the sorts of things that occur in the singular novels of Portis. “True Grit” and the rest of his funny, strange novels are gathered here, along with his essays and journalism. (Library of America, $45)

6. ‘Confidence’

By Rafael Frumkin

Fiction | “Confidence” begins with a scrappy underdog down on his luck. Frumkin’s narrator, the spiky but vulnerable Ezra Green, meets fellow grifter Orson Ortman, the handsome and magnetic Jay Gatsby to his Nick Carraway, and the two try to con the wellness industry. This social satire in the form of a crime novel is a propulsive, cheeky, eat-the-rich page-turner to satisfy the craving for a well-crafted caper. (Simon & Schuster, $27.99)

7. ‘The Covenant of Water’

By Abraham Verghese

“The Covenant of Water” by Abraham Verghese.Photo by: Grove. Copyright: Handout

Fiction| The author of “Cutting for Stone” delivers a rich, heartfelt novel, a lavish smorgasbord of genealogy, medicine and love affairs, tracing the evolution of a family in India from 1900 through the 1970s. The family’s dark secret? “In every generation . . . at least one member has drowned unexpectedly” – even though those who sense they are afflicted with “The Condition” try their utmost never to get wet. (Grove, $32)

8. ‘Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You: A Memoir’

By Lucinda Williams

Nonfiction| The great singer-songwriter Williams still considers herself a rebel at age 70, and her memoir tracks her early life and her late path to fame. She was born in Lake Charles, La., the grandchild of Methodist preachers on both sides, and lived in 12 different towns by the time she was 18. Songwriting was a way for her to process her traumatic early years, to talk about it without really talking about it, even if she didn’t always realize it. (Crown, $28.99)

9. ‘The Guest’

By Emma Cline

Fiction| The second novel by Cline (her debut was “The Girls”) is a quintessentially American tale that explores desire and deception from the point of view of a 22-year-old escort named Alex. The story opens in late August, when Alex has fled danger in New York City to find refuge in the Hamptons. We follow her with a mixture of thrill and dread as she lurks around the island, appearing wherever hosts are too polite to question her presence. (Random House, $28)

10. ‘Happy Place’

By Emily Henry

Fiction| “Happy Place” may be Henry’s most serious novel to date, but this book from the queen of romance still deserves a place in your beach bag. When a group of friends convenes in Maine for vacation, one couple – still not over each other – can’t bear to let everyone know they’ve broken up. “Happy Place,” in typical Henry fashion, brings readers wit, charm and heart, satisfying to the last page. (Berkley, $27)

11. ‘King: A Life’

By Jonathan Eig

Nonfiction| The most compelling account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in a generation, Eig’s new biography draws on more than 200 interviews, including with scores of people old enough to have known or observed King, and numerous accounts gathered by other journalists and scholars, some of them never published before. The result is a deeply reported psychobiography, infused with the narrative energy of a thriller. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35)

12. ‘Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages’

By Carmela Ciuraru

Nonfiction| “The problem with being a wife is being a wife,” Ciuraru writes in her new book, which tracks the marriages of five literary couples, including Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl. A tour de force that focuses on “how women have defined themselves through or in opposition to men,” the book delves into these colorful relationships as a way to show how not to be married. (Harper, $32)

13. ‘Lone Women’

By Victor LaValle

Fiction| Sci-fi and fantasy lovers will enjoy LaValle’s latest novel, which strays from his typical urban settings and ventures into the Great Plains. The story’s heroine, Adelaide Henry, sets out from Southern California in 1915 to live in Montana, lugging a trunk that contains a literal demon. LaValle adroitly intertwines the eerie fairy tale with early-20th-century historical realism. (One World, $27)

14. ‘Maame’

By Jessica George

Fiction| In George’s striking debut novel, 25-year-old Maddie, a Londoner of Ghanaian descent, strives to find her place in the world as she balances the pressures of filial duty with a yearning for independence. With its lively self-referential tone, its many lists and texts, “Maame” has a Bridget Jones vibe, but with richer substance. (Grove, $27.99)

15. ‘Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma’

By Claire Dederer

Nonfiction| How badly must an artist behave before he is canceled? Should any artist be canceled, ever? Is there a proper way to balance our admiration for their work with our loathing of their deeds? These are the questions Dederer considers in this vital, exhilarating book. She shows the queasy, perhaps unresolvable back-and-forth we engage in when we consider these issues. (Knopf, $28)

16. ‘My Father’s House’

By Joseph O’Connor

Fiction| O’Connor’s new novel is a gripping drama featuring the unlikeliest of heroes, one whom the reader roots for every step of the way. It’s based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish envoy to the Vatican who assembled a ragtag group to smuggle Jews out of Italy during World War II. This is a hugely satisfying book, from its explosive opening to its bittersweet end. (Europa, $27)

17. ‘Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World’

By Malcolm Harris

Nonfiction| Palo Alto: land of Stanford University, heart of Silicon Valley. In his new book, Harris does for the city of 70,000 what Mike Davis’s classic “City of Quartz” did for Los Angeles, looking past the fables about the place to its darker underbelly. Harris narrates the town’s evolution and influence throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and theorizes, above all, that it is defined by its rapacious, exploitative approach to capitalism and profit. (Little, Brown, $36)

18. ‘The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos’

By Jaime Green

Nonfiction| Humanity has entered its singleton era, searching for life in a universe where we fear there is none. In this wide-ranging and delightful survey, science journalist Green argues persuasively that it’s the search that matters; looking for friends among the stars is what defines us as human. Inventing aliens – in science and in fiction – gives us a vantage point from which to see ourselves anew and figure out where we’d like to go next. (Hanover Square, $32.99)

19. ‘Romantic Comedy’

By Curtis Sittenfeld

Fiction| Sittenfeld’s novel is set in the writers’ room at “The Night Owls,” a show modeled on “Saturday Night Live.” Its narrator, Sally Milz, is a misanthrope who has given up on the idea of romantic partnership. But when a pop star hosts the show, sparks fly and complications ensue. Sally is hyper-aware of the conventions of romantic comedy, and she knows full well that real life is no fairy tale. But could it be this time? (Random House, $28)

20. ‘Small Mercies’

By Dennis Lehane

Fiction| Lehane’s latest novel visits a setting similar to that of his powerful “Mystic River” (2001). “Small Mercies” takes place in Boston in 1974, when a federal judge has ordered the busing of students to desegregate the city’s public high schools. The suspenseful story tracks a fearless mother’s search for her missing daughter. Lehane’s sociological precision gives this book a gravitas seldom found in crime novels. (Harper, $30)

21. ‘The Terraformers’

By Annalee Newitz

Fiction| This work of science fiction takes place in such a distant future – 60,000 years from now – that its author is free to imagine an entirely different Earth. The result is a thrilling world that will leave readers stunned. This generously overstuffed tale has enough ideas and incidents to populate half a dozen lesser science fiction books. (Tor, $27.99)

22. ‘The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder’

By David Grann

Nonfiction| Grann, a master of narrative nonfiction (including “The Lost City of Z” and “Killers of the Flower Moon”), takes to the sea in this relentless, horror-filled story of an 18th-century disaster. “The Wager” is a maritime tale in which everything goes wrong over and over – and over – again. It’s a tightly written, relentless, blow-by-blow account that is hard to put down. (Doubleday, $30)

23. ‘The White Lady’

By Jacqueline Winspear

Fiction| Winspear, whose Maisie Dobbs detective series has achieved cult status, brings fans a new character to love: Elinor White, the enigmatic war hero at the center of this stand-alone novel. Elinor’s war with London’s most-feared crime family opens the door for Winspear to write about the dark side of post-World War II Britain. (Harper, $30)



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