11 New Books You Can Definitely Finish Before Summer Is Over


The end of summer is fast approaching — insert a collective groan here. These warmer months have been a dream for summer book reading, and I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not ready for it to end. Luckily, you have most of August and all of September (and, with a little luck, part of October, too) to enjoy the sunshine and get lost in a few good books. But I understand that these finals weeks might be busy with last-minute beach trips and end-of-summer picnics, so here are a few suggestions for short new books that you will easily be able to finish before the end of the season.

This summer brought with it a storm of fantastic new novels and nonfiction books from Rosalie Knecht, Alice Bolin, Anne Tyler, R.O. Kwon, Porochista Khakpour, Laura Van Den Berg, and more, and you definitely want to make sure you read at least one more before you trade in your glasses of chilled rosé for mugs of spiced apple cider. The 11 new books I've recommended below all clock in at around 300 pages or fewer, so you can definitely finish them in these last few weeks before autumn begins:

'The Third Hotel' by Lauren van den Berg

Shortly after arriving in Havana, Cuba, Clare sees her husband standing outside a museum — which is strange, considering her husband is supposed to be dead. As she chases after her husband — and answers — Claire's hold on reality slips, and the truth of their marriage unspools before her eyes.

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'Who Is Vera Kelly?' by Rosalie Knecht

Vera Kelly is an American spy who has been sent to Buenos Aires to help monitor a coup. She is also a young, single, queer woman living in the '60s, when her identity couldn't be lived in the open. As the political situation in Argentina becomes more and more heated, Vera Kelly realizes she might be in for quite the adventure.

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'The Incendiaries' by R.O. Kwon

In their first month at prestigious Edwards University, Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet and form an immediate, intense connection. But when Phoebe is drawn into an extremist cult that has ties to North Korea, Will — a former fundamentalist — must confront his own past and his obsession with her.

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'Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession' by Alice Bolin

In this stunning collection of essays, Alice Bolin expertly unpacks our cultural obsession with fictional women who have been abused, murdered, and disenfranchised and the real women whose suffering has been exploited for the sake of a good story. This is an extremely timely book that will get you thinking about toxic masculinity, privilege, and the persistent injustices that white women help perpetrate.

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'Clock Dance' by Anne Tyler

When Willa Drake receives a phone call that her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help, she makes a flash decision: She drops everything in her life to fly across the country to take care of the woman and her nine-year-old daughter.

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'Fruit of the Drunken Tree' by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Set during the violence of Colombia in the late '80s and '90s, during the height of Pablo Escobar's power, this unforgettable novel tells the story of two young girls from different worlds who form a close bond during unstable times.

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'Jell-O Girls: A Family History' by Allie Rowbottom

In this memoir, Allie Rowbottom takes a look back at her fascinating family history. In 1899, Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for just $450. But while this exchange eventually brought prosperity to her family, the generations of Rowbottom's that followed were haunted by the "Jell-o curse."

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'A Study in Honor' by Claire O'Dell

This book is a black, queer, gender-bent retelling of Sherlock Holmes set in the future — need I say more? When Dr. Janet Watson returns from the battlefields of the New Civil War, she finds herself drawn into the world of the utterly brilliant Sara Holmes, a covert agent who becomes her roommate and her sidekick in investigation.

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'America for Beginners' by Leah Franqui

Pival Sengupta has booked a trip to America with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But she's not a tourist; she's looking for answers about her son, Rahi. One year ago, Rahi told his parents that he was gay, then shortly after, Pival's husband told her that Rahi had died suddenly. But Pival refuses to accept this, so she embarks on a mission to the United States to find out the truth about her son.

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'Sick: A Memoir' by Porochista Khakpour

In this memoir, Porochista Khakpour meditates on her experience with late-stage Lyme disease, chronicling the intense and expensive journey to receiving a diagnosis and treatment.

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'Severance' by Ling Ma

In this apocalyptic satire, Candace Chen is an office worker who is more than content with her routine. So when a plague of biblical proportions hits NYC, Candace volunteers to stay at her company's office to keep working — which means she's not all alone in an abandoned city. Alone, that is, until a group of survivors comes through on their way to a mysterious place called The Facility.

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