10 Books To Add To Your Summer Reading List

by Shaun Fitzpatrick
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As a nerdy bookworm of a kid, my favorite part of summer was having unlimited time to read all of the books that I wanted. Finally I could put aside my schoolwork and do what I really wanted to do: stay cooped up in my room reading books all day long.

Even though I've been out of school for a few years now and no longer have a few months of leisure to look forward to, I never quite outgrew the feeling that summer meant reading a ton of new books. So when the weather gets warmer, I find myself stocking up on new novels at my local library. I still do summer activities (going to parks, checking out the newest outdoor beer gardens, heading to the beach), I just do them with a book in my hand. Perfect, right?

While typically I'm a classics girl (and I have a ton of classics I haven't gotten around to reading yet), I decided that this summer I am going to focus on novels that came out in the last year or so. Yup, I'm joining the modern reading world! So I went searching for recent books that looked like they would make great beach reads (or park reads, beer garden reads, etc.) Below are the ten books that are definitely on my reading list this summer.

1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

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We don't know much about the newest Harry Potter novel yet, only that it takes place 19 years in the future and revolves primarily around Harry and his son, Albus Severus. But honestly it doesn't matter what the plot is, you know you're going to line up to get a copy of this book. Probably at a midnight premiere, dressed as wizard. Or at least, that's what I'll be doing.

2. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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This book has unfortunately been marred with controversy over whether the author only received a large advance because she's good-looking (UGH leave her alone!). All that nonsense aside, this novel about a waitress working in a ritzy New York restaurant and dealing with the objectification that goes with it has garnered great reviews.

3. Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson

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The nerdy academic side of me always loved reading the literary criticism surrounding The Merchant of Venice, so this modern retelling definitely needs a place on my bookshelf. Art dealer Simon Strulovitch is worried sick about his daughter, who has abandoned her Jewish faith and run off with a footballer who regularly gives the Nazi salute on the field. If you're familiar with the play, you know what happens next.

4. The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

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The Plumb children are all looking forward to becoming fabulously wealthy through an inheritance that has grown beyond imagination during their lifetime. When their brother Leo has to pay off a lover who he's left amputated, however, he uses his siblings' shared inheritance to take care of his debts. Get ready for a tale of dysfunctional family dynamics among upper class New York society.

5. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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Confession: I know about this book because Emma Watson posted a picture of herself reading it and chose it as one of her feminist book club reads (thanks Emma!). But Maggie Nelson's tale of going through pregnancy as her gender-fluid partner begins transitioning has gotten rave reviews for exploring what it means to be a queer family and challenging the notion of assigning labels to ourselves and those we love.

6. You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale

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Barrodale, the fiction editor for Vice, has a new collection of short stories coming out that involves everything from an abused starlet to a psychiatrist caught between a mother and daughter to an otherwordly possession. Despite their vastly different set-ups, Barrodale's wit runs through each of the tales, so whether they involve a movie star or a ghost you can bet the stories will have a darkly funny bite to them.

7. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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A modern take on a Jane Austen classic sounds like the perfect beach read to me. This Elizabeth is a magazine writer who is approaching 40 and still hasn't found a husband. Ditto her older, yoga instructor sister Jane. So when doctor and reality TV-star Chip Bingley moves to town, their meddling mother means to marry him off to one of the girls. Unless his good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, a neurosurgeon, has anything to say about it...

8. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

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You probably know Carrie Brownstein from the groundbreaking riot-grrrl band Sleater-Kinney, or at least more recently from her work on Portlandia. Brownstein's memoir of her years as a musician in the Northwest's feminist punk-rock scene chronicles her life from fan to feminist superstar. Bonus points if you go through Sleater-Kinney's discography while you read it.

9. The Girls by Emma Cline

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Lonely teenager Evie Boyd meets a group of girls in a park one day who seem to have everything that she ever wanted. She quickly becomes obsessed with them, especially the beautiful Suzanne, and willingly follows them to the home (well, that's a generous word for their set-up) of a charming and terrifying cult leader. Oh, did I mention this takes place in California in the late '60s? You can probably see where this is going.

10. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

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This will have to be a late summer read, since it doesn't come out until the end of August, but I have to get my hands on any novel that's being compared to Americanah. Jende Jonga has come to the United States in 2007 from Cameroon in the hopes of building a better life for himself and his family. He takes a job as a chauffeur for the wealthy Clark Edwards and thinks he has it made. But when Clark's company collapses, Jende and his wife desperately try to keep their lives, as well as those of their employers, together.

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