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22 New Books to Read on Your Summer Vacation

These new books are the perfect travel accessory.

Whether or not you actually go on a vacation this season, summer is synonymous with lazy days spent by the pool or beach, preferably with a cocktail or book (or both!) in hand. Reading is the ultimate form of travel, where we can escape our realities and teleport into other times and other places. Pick up one of these new books that will entrance you, delight you, transport you, and teach you a little bit about the world.

1 OF 22

The Shortest Way Home

Miriam Parker

This delicious book is broken into three parts, and each part comes with a food and wine pairing. Set in lush Sonoma County, The Shortest Way Home is about a woman who follows her heart, abandons her career dreams, and starts living the life she didn’t know she wanted.

Where to read it: On your back porch, with a cold glass of California Sauvignon Blanc.

2 OF 22

The Ensemble

Aja Gabel

The Ensemble is one of those books that reminds you that a juicy story can be found everywhere and in this case, it’s a musical quartet. The tale of four talented friends—and all their ups and downs—The Ensemble is about music, art, love, and a friendship that spans 15 years.

Where to read it: On your way to your favorite summer music festival.



3 OF 22

There There

Tommy Orange

This debut novel focuses on the urban Native American experience. A sweeping multi-generational story, There There is a heartbreaking, eye-opening, and poetic portrayal of Native Americans in Oakland.

Where to read it: on a trip to educate yourself about the indigenous past, present, and future of California.

4 OF 22

The High Season

Judy Blundell

This juicy beach read takes place in the town of Orient, New York. On the eastern end of Long Island, it’s a secluded summer respite for New York’s movers and shakers. In this story, a year-round resident who rents her house for the summer begins to feel displaced by her renters–and the glitzy cast of characters her house sets the stage for.

Where to read it: While renting a cottage in the North Fork of Long Island.

5 OF 22

The Incendiaries

R.O. Kwon

Between the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country, the New York Times Magazine expose on Nxivm, and the Heaven’s Gate podcast, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the cult. And R.O. Kwon’s The Incendiaries is more fuel for our curious fire, with a story of students at an elite university who become entranced by a religious extremist group with ties to North Korea.

Where to read it: In the wilderness, where reading this book won’t give you anxiety about a terrorist attack.

6 OF 22

The Occasional Virgin

Hanan Al-Shaykh

So many times, it seems the most popular and widely available books from the Arab world are historical fiction, devoured by people who are told the Middle East is an exotic and dangerous place. This book is something different, as you can see by the cover. Translated from Arabic, The Occasional Virgin is an Arab beach read, taking us from Beirut to the Italian Riviera, telling the story of two friends who are forging a new future while deciphering their past.

Where to read it: On a sunny, sandy stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.

7 OF 22

The Book of Essie

Meghan Maclean Weir

Combining our great national loves of religious cults and reality television, the Book of Essie takes us into the world of Essie, a daughter on the hit show Six for Hicks, which puts her extremist family in the spotlight. Her role in the family (and on the show) is jeopardized when Essie finds out she’s pregnant.

Where to read it: On a family vacation, so you can put your own dysfunctional family in perspective.

8 OF 22

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai’s beautiful (literally—look at that cover!) novel takes us to an art gallery in Chicago at the height of the AIDS crisis. From Chicago to Paris, The Great Believers is a sweeping story of multi-generational trauma and the solitude that the AIDS epidemic created, as an entire generation was decimated by the virus.

Where to read it: While pondering the latest exhibit at Paris’s Jeu de Paume.


9 OF 22

Sweet & Low

Nick White

Nick White’s set of short stories transports us to the South, where summer reigns supreme. With a complex cast of flawed characters, these quirky and sometimes thrilling stories will have you rethinking what you thought you knew about Southern literature. And if Jesmyn Ward is quoted on the cover, you know it’s going to be good.

Where to read it: On a road trip to Dollywood.

10 OF 22

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Michael Pollan

What better way to contemplate drugs and their natural ability to broaden our horizons than on a lazy summer vacation? In his third book, Michael Pollan goes beyond the world of food to explore how psychedelic drugs can expand our minds and possibly even cure depression.

Where to read it: In nature, on the subway, at summer camp, or anywhere else conducive to contemplating the meaning of life and your own untapped potential.

11 OF 22


Rosie Walsh

Ghosted is one of those books you accidentally read in one sitting. It’s a love story, but there’s a mystery at its heart. This book is about what happens when the truth comes out and how people reconcile their pasts when beginning a new relationship. Bonus: a twist ending you definitely won’t see coming because you’ll think you already have it figured out.

Where to read it: In the lush British countryside.

12 OF 22

Social Creature

Tara Isabella Burton

Party Monster meets The Talented Mr. Ripley, Social Creature is a novel about New York City’s club kid scene, where everything is possible and nobody ever says no to anything. In this mysterious and addictive thriller, two young women from opposite ends of the economic spectrum become fast friends–until one of them ends up dead. Fun fact: The film rights for this sold before the book even went on sale.

Where to read it: Anywhere the jet-set is traveling this summer. St. Tropez? Mykonos? Marrakech?

13 OF 22

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier

Mark Adams

Mark Adams has famously written about Machu Picchu and Atlantis, and in his latest book, he’s sharing hilarious anecdotes and fascinating facts from Alaska, which is truly America’s last frontier. His writing illuminates this massive and magical land, and will have you booking your next trip A.S.A.P.

Where to read it: Holed up at Sheldon Chalet, a remote luxury cabin in Denali National Park.


14 OF 22

You Me Everything

Catherine Isaac

Summer 2018 is the summer of books about France, which I think you should probably take as a hint: It’s time to finally move to France and write that book you keep talking about. You, Me, Everything takes us to the Dordogne, where a woman and her 10-year-old son must face his estranged father (her ex) and try to make a relationship from scratch. It’s sweet, at times funny, and full of dreamy descriptions.

Where to read it: At a rambling old hotel in the Dordogne, with sweeping views of the countryside. Preferably one not owned by your ex.

15 OF 22

Alternative Remedies for Loss

Joanna Cantor

This debut coming-of-age story focuses on a young woman coming to terms with a life without her mother. As most of her family has seemed to move on, she tries to create a path for herself in the cutthroat world of Manhattan media. As she begins to cope, she unravels a mystery about her mother that takes her on an unexpected journey halfway around the world.

Where to read it: Anywhere you’re headed to eat, pray, and love this summer.

16 OF 22

The Favorite Sister

Jessica Knoll

Jessica Knoll’s debut Luckiest Girl Alive was fanatically devoured as a New York Times bestseller. Her second novel, The Favorite Sister, is a book about a competitive reality T.V. show in New York City that turns deadly. It’s a Bravo-thriller mashup that will leave you on the edge of your beach chair.

Where to read it: It really doesn’t matter, because this book is so riveting you’ll forget where you are.

17 OF 22

Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude

Stephanie Rosenbloom

Stephanie Rosenbloom’s Alone Time is all about the art of solo travel and the indulgent pleasure of dining alone. A sort of memoir/ nonfiction study into the social science of solitude, Alone Time is enlightening, empowering, and inspiring–it will make you want to make your next trip alone, even if that next trip is just to the movies or the new restaurant down the street.

Where to read it: Alone at a cafe in Florence, lingering over espresso, and watching the world unfold before you.

18 OF 22

My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now

Peter Mayle

The late Peter Mayle literally wrote the book on lazy summer days in Provence. If you haven’t indulged in his famous first travelogue yet, start there before you dive into this, his final memoir.

Where to read it: At a rented stone cottage in Lourmarin, the town where Mayle lived.

19 OF 22

Invitation to a Bonfire

Adrienne Celt

This juicy historical novel is about the downfall of a Russian writer (Nabokov, is that you?) whose marriage is put at risk by a young student he befriends at an all-girls school. Set in New Jersey in the 1920s, it’s a sensual and dazzling novel, full of cinematic characters worthy of a Sofia Coppola film.

Where to read it: In St. Petersburg, Vladimir Nabokov’s hometown.



20 OF 22

A Terrible Country

Keith Gessen

Russia is in the news every single day, and it’s not just because of the World Cup. But if you’d like to read something about Russia that doesn’t have to do with collusion or soccer, this is the book for you. Keith Gessen’s hilariously depressing novel is about a man forced to return to Moscow to care for his dying grandmother. While living in Russia for a year, he’s confused by his Russian past and his American present, and what his heritage really means.

Where to read it: On a trip to visit your grandmother, wherever she may be.

21 OF 22

The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran

Masih Alinejad

Masih Alinejad has famously protested the compulsory hijab laws in Iran by posting selfies of her uncovered head. Her bravery sparked a social media campaign called My Stealthy Freedom, where women all over Iran posted photos of themselves without a hijab. The Wind in My Hair tells the story of the woman behind the movement, an exiled journalist separated from her homeland and her family.

Where to read it: On your way to a protest.

22 OF 22

Whiskey When We’re Dry

John Larson

This historical novel has an epic setting: the wild mountains of the west, when outlaws roamed the land. In this coming of age story, a young woman finds herself abandoned at her homestead. Left with no choice but to leave, she cuts off her hair and dresses as a man in order to make her way across the mountains in search of her estranged brother.

Where to read it: On your couch, waiting for the next episode of Westworld.

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