It’s finally summer and with everything that’s going on in the world, you could probably use a little escape. As many of us retreat to beaches and pools for a break from the heat, here are eight books from the summer edition of NPR’s Books We Love to take with you.
The exact definition of a beachy read depends on who you ask. But hopefully you’ll find something in our picks below that suits your tastes – whether you’re in the mood for light romance, short stories or a thriller.
I kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Shara Wheeler kissed Chloe Green and then had that nerve disappear. Luckily, Shara left a trail of leads in pink envelopes and a bunch of high school detective boys who she Also kissed The ragtag trio tears apart their small town in Alabama in search of Shara – but what they find reveals as much truth about themselves as Shara. This is a teenager Harriet the Spy – complete with Romance, Fear, Rebellion and Taco Bell. In a year when LGBTQ youth and their families have faced intense political attacks, this book feels like a warm hug.
— Lauren Migaki, Executive Producer, NPR Ed
the swimmers by Julie Otsuka
In Julie Otsuka’s new novel the swimmers, a ragtag group of regulars turn up each day to swim laps at a college pool. On one day, a crack appears on the ground near the drain, then on another, it reproduces in spider-like clusters. When the pool is closed for safety reasons, the bathers’ daily rhythm of life is abruptly interrupted. the swimmers is a sleek, brilliant novel about the value and beauty of everyday routines that shape our days and identities. Dive in and enjoy Otsuka’s distinctive style, which has all the panache and playfulness of spoken-word poetry.
— Maureen Corrigan, book critic, Fresh air
book lover by Emily Henry
In someone else’s rom-com, literary agent Nora Stephens is the villain – a city slicker and workaholic whom the hero leaves for a small-town love. This script is turned around when Nora’s sister drags her to Sunshine Falls, an idyllic small town in North Carolina. Nora’s vacation is off to a good start, until she meets cold-hearted New York book publisher Charlie Lastra, whose family owns the seedy local bookstore. Their chemistry is sizzling as they try to outwit each other with taunts, teasing and maybe flirting. Between laughs at Bigfoot erotica, they ponder what “happily ever after” looks like for two rom-com “bad guys.”
— Lauren Migaki, Executive Producer, NPR Ed
All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews
If you’ve always wanted to read a love letter to friendship, this is it. All this could be different follows Sneha, a 22-year-old counselor in Milwaukee as she makes a life for herself in a new town. From dating women to coping with financial anxieties to finding an unlikely group of friends, the novel explores the tenderness and struggles of Sneha’s early adult years. Through exquisite observation, Sarah Thankam Mathews reflects on the gift of having people you can count on to anchor you in new chapters.
— Nayantara Dutta, freelance writer
The old woman with the knife by Gu Byeong-mo, translated by Chi-Young Kim
The opening of The old woman with the knife – 65-year-old Hornclaw chases her target in a subway car while passengers avoid offering her a seat – sets his gripping, bone-dry tone. Originally titled Pagwa (Bruised Fruit), the novel is alternately a character study, a one last job thriller, and a dark comedy about the humiliations of aging and work (her mom-and-pop killer business, like everything else around her, is gentrified) . But some of his best moments make a poignant register of life’s little stings; Seldom has a peach forgotten in the kitchen been felt so intensively.
— Genevieve Valentine, author and book critic
The novelist by Jordan Castro
Jordan Castro is a novelist and also a supporting character in The novelist, a novel about a budding writer attempting to write a novel. I have it? Sure, Castro’s fiction debut is about as meta as it gets, but that’s part of its immense charm. The narrator of the book, set in a morning, is determined to work on his novel but is constantly distracted by making tea, the internet and his need to go to the bathroom. Castro’s book is weird – there’s no question about it – but it’s also sweet, funny, and beautifully written.
— Michael Schaub, book critic
mouth to mouth by AntoineWilson
If you save someone’s life, do you become responsible for them? That is the question that drives mouth to mouth Forward. In the affluent art world of Los Angeles, a young man with a secret seeks his fortune by joining a wealthy but cruel and duplicitous merchant. It’s a sleek, existentialist drama and topped with a satisfying twist ending.
— Anya Kamenetz, correspondent, NPR Ed
present machine by Gunnhild Øyehaug, translated by Sophie Hughes
In Gunnhild Øyehaug’s playful but poignant novel, a mother misreads a word while her young daughter is playing nearby – a mistake that splits the mother’s world into two parallel universes, irrevocably wiping her out of her daughter’s life and vice versa. From then on, mother and daughter continue to exist as thinkers and artists – but in their own worlds. Each woman’s identity reflects the novel’s central duality: being a biological mother means being separated by pregnancy and childbirth, but being a creator means embracing an eternal, genderless, and indivisible presence. Rejecting the classic concept of tragedy, Øyehaug’s modern Genesis story beautifully combines life and art.
— Thúy Ðinh, writer and book critic
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.