I have the luxury of receiving a ton of books pre-publication since my (current) job is to select materials for a public library. While I don’t always read frontlist titles, this summer I’ve been drawn to a lot of new releases. They all have one theme in common: they are primarily about the relationships between women. These books are all titles that are just out or coming out in June and July that I highly recommend, especially if you’re fond of literary fiction about women. My favorite stories are often about the interior lives of women or what Rachel Fershleiser describes “women figuring out their shit” and these all fall into that category.
If you love wine and ill-advised romantic relationships…
Sweetbitter: A Novel by Stephanie Danler
I love food and wine and writing that invokes all five senses. I devoured this novel and it left me with the worst (best) book hangover. It’s about a young woman who gets a job in a fancy NYC restaurant as a naive college graduate and becomes entangled with the drama of her co-workers, including sophisticated older woman and the sexy and troubled bartender.
If you love stories of lifelong friendship and the New York elite…
Rich and Pretty: A Novel by Rumaan Alam
There’s nothing better than childhood friends. People who just know you to you core in all your incarnations and who can indulge in nostalgia both wistful and cringe-inducing are to be treasured, and I’m lucky enough to have both. But that doesn’t mean these friendships aren’t complicated and that they don’t change over time, especially as goals and lifestyles change. I could relate to a lot of this novel, and both the writing and character development were outstanding. Highly recommended.
If you love fictional twists on true crime…
The Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline
This is the big buzz book of the summer, and while I appreciated it to a certain extent, I wasn’t in love with it. But YOU might love it. The writing is good; there are beautiful sentences full of imagery, even if some are a little ambitious or distracting. I might have enjoyed the story more if the structure had been different (it’s told in flashback) and if there had been less obvious homage to the inspiration of the Charles Mansion murders. It definitely delves into the psychology of why would a woman would buy into a patriarchal system so wholly as to commit murder. An interesting exploration of how the desire to belong can push individuals to sacrifice their sense of self.
If you love political dramas and complicated marriages…
The Hopefuls: A Novel by Jennifer Close
I’ve enjoyed Jennifer Close’s previous novels, but this one is definitely my favorite! I loved The West Wing and Scandal and basically any show that looks at the circus of American Politics (my undergrad degree is in Political Science) and I have been really interested in stories of how career ambitions can effect a marriage and friendships. Can you be married to or friends with someone who you are competitive with or who is more successful? Smart and insightful! This was so good it interrupted my binge-watching of The Mindy Project, currently in progress (and that’s saying something!)
If you love quirky characters and dry humor…
Losing It by Emma Rathbone
I found this book about a 26 year old virgin who quits her terrible office job to go live with her spinster (and also virgin) aunt adorable and enchanting. The narration is so honest and really digs deep into the thought processes of the main character in a breezy, stream of consciousness way, and the plot hooked me. I often wonder if I would have found myself in a similar situation had I not met Mister BS my sophomore year in college, because the prospect of dating and negotiating intimacy are so daunting to me. But the relationship between Julia and her aunt Vivienne was what really charmed me. It’s not often explored in fiction and I really appreciated it.
If you love The Office, nonprofits, and feminism….
Break in Case of Emergency: A Novel by Jessica Winter
I love checking out debut authors, and this novel sounds was definitely my style. A workplace comedy about a woman floundering in a toxic workplace at a feminist nonprofit while simultaneously navigating complicated friendships with a dose of wry humor is very relevant to my interests. If navigating adulthood has ever felt impossible, this is the book for you.
What books are on your summer reading list?