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This season, you have no excuse for being without something good to read. Offerings include explosive novels, revealing memoirs, brilliant biographies, and everything in between. No matter what you like to read, there’s a title coming out this summer that’s sure to be just what you’re looking for.
White House by the Sea
The Kennedy family might be closely associated with Washington, D.C., Boston, and event New York City, but if there’s one place that’s most powerful for the clan, it’s Hyannis Port, Mass. In this fascinating, deeply reported book, Kate Storey digs into the family’s history in the seaside retreat and examines how the Kennedys impacted the town and vice versa. A perfect read for Cape Cod or wherever you’re planning to sail or play football on the yard this summer.
The Art of Ruth E. Carter
You know her work as the costume designer on films like Black Panther and Selma, and here Ruth E. Carter gives readers a peek behind the scenes of some of her most iconic projects. The two-time Oscar winner shares sketches and stories about the costumes that helped tell stories that changed popular culture forever, and recalls life working with A-list talent like Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, and more.
Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions
In her fascinating and keenly observed new book, T&C contributor Mattie Kahn turns her watchful eye to the role that teenage girls have played in the history of American social progress. She finds truly incredible stories from the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement to one of the U.S.’s first labor strikes. It’s an engrossing, important book to read—and to give to any young person in your life.
Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud
The actor Ben McKenzie, who appeared in The O.C. and Gotham, became obsessed with cryptocurrency during the pandemic, first as a possible investment and then as the subject for a book. The well-timed Easy Money, written with the financial journalist Jacob Silverman, casts a skeptical and incredulous eye on the many ways digital currencies have been promoted in recent years and how their most devoted fans ignored systemic faults and warning signs of possible collapse.
This charming novel follows a young man who’s plucked from obscurity to work for a sultan, apprenticing for a great master and helping to make great toys to delight the finicky royal. When the kingdom finds itself in turmoil, however, Loot becomes a story about heroes’ journeys, unimaginable loss, the power of love, and the immortality of art. It’s an engrossing, delightful, and masterfully told tale that readers won’t soon forget.
Beyond This Harbor
This page-turning memoir from the poet and journalist Rose Styron provides something that too few other books do: a solid, touching story that allows us access to a fascinating life, and a generous serving of first-hand observations of some of the 20th century’s most notable characters. Styron has lived a life among writers, politicians, and movie stars, and here they all find themselves dancing to the beat of her singular, captivating tale of a life turly well lived.
I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home
Lorrie Moore’s first novel since 2009’s A Gate at the Stairs is a sweeping work of historical fiction that spans two centuries and explores love and longing, death and grief, through the stories of her eclectic group of characters, among them a teacher visiting her dying brother, and a therapy clown and an assassin.
Debut novelist Melanie Hamrick is no stranger to the high-stakes world she writes about in First Position, indeed she was a dancer with American Ballet Theatre for more than 16 years. One can only hope Hamrick’s real life experiences were less chilling than those of the characters in this thriller, which follows a star dancer who loses everything to scandal—and finds that her only way back to living her dream might be the most dangerous move of all.
The Life We Chose
Investigative journalist Mark Birkbeck gets unprecedented access into the workings of the Bufalino crime family thanks William “Big Billy” D’Elia, who got his start working as the driver for mob boss Russell Bufalino (who was memorably portrayed by Joe Pesci in The Irishman) before rising through the ranks to become head of the family in the ‘90s. D’Elia was arrested in 2006 and released from prison in 2012. Now he is baring all, offering a candid, unfiltered, and fascinating account of what it was really like to be a part of one of history’s most powerful mobs.
The Rachel Incident
This first adult novel from Caroline O’Donoghue is a smart, funny, and completely captivating look at how the lives of two young people in Cork, Ireland become intertwined forever thanks to shared dreams, mistakes, and some very dark secrets. When Rachel and James meet working at a bookstore, neither knows that their wild, carefree youth will change the rest of their lives, but in the author’s expert hands readers are treated to seeing the two fumble toward adulthood—no matter who gets in the their way.
In the early aughts, American Apparel was inescapable. The L.A.-based brand might have sold mostly basics, but what it was really shilling was a lifestyle—young, care free, effortlessly stylish. In her new memoir, Kate Flannery raises the curtain on what it was really like to work for the brand at the height of its powers, and to enter the work force hoping to change the world only to find it trying to change you. It’s a funny, insightful look back at a defining moment and a meditation on the perils of growing up.
The Art Thief
If you can’t afford an art collection, just steal it. At least, that’s what Stéphane Breitweiser thought in between the years of 1995 to 2001 when he accumulated 239 artworks from 200 museums and galleries while traveling around Europe. Interestingly, these heists were not motivated by profit. But, rather an insatiable desire to acquire beautiful things. In Finkel’s fourth book, Breitwieser offers a series of exclusive interviews, the first that he has granted to an American journalist, about how and why.
Jackie: Public, Private, Secret
This is celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli’s second book on Jackie Kennedy (his first, Jackie, Janet & Lee was about Jackie, her mother, and her sister). Is there anything new to say about one of the most famous women of the 20th century? This promises to be a comprehensive look at her life based on hundreds of interviews and never-before-released material from the JFK Library. Some juicy tidbits: her cold feet before her wedding to Jack, the time she considered meeting Maria Callas, Ari’s mistress, and the nude photo scandal created by a family member selling her pictures.
In the 1950s and 60s, Coentis Slip on the lower tip of Manhattan was an all-but deserted street lined with dilapidated warehouses. A group of artists—among them Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, and Agnes Martin—moved in and soon created a haven for experimental work. Peiffer, who is the managing editor of the creative team at MoMA, has written an insightful and wonderful account of how this disparate group supported and inspired each other and how their work at the Slip altered the course of American art.
In the middle of the 1950s, when the birth control pill was first introduced, the Sullivan Institute for Research in Psychoanalysis sought to dismantle the strict confines of the nuclear family by starting a revolution based on sexual liberation and creative expression. For the two decades that followed its opening in New York City, its founders, Saul Newton and Jane Pearce, attracted a group of nearly four hundred people, including patients such as Jackson Pollock, Judy Collins, and Lucinda Child.
But, by the mid-70s, utopia began to decay and the radical institution soon turned into an insular cult where Newton and Pearce controlled every aspect of their follower’s lives. Through several interviews and personal papers, Alexander Stille reveals the story of danger hiding in plain sight.
There’s more to the success of any band than just the musicians you see on stage. When it comes to the Rolling Stones, much of the group’s mystique is due to the outsized influence of four women–Marianne Faithfull, Marsha Hunt, Bianca Jagger, and Anita Pallenberg–who influenced, inspired, and helped guide them to the iconic status they enjoy today. Here, Elizabeth Winder tells their story and sets the record straight on the previously untold ways they’s changed pop culture forever.
When Hannah Rothschild has a new novel out, we pay attention. Her latest, High Time, delves once again into the aristocratic antics of the Trewlawney family, who might have rescued their crumbling country estate but are just as eccentric and accident-prone as ever. With a sharp eye for detail and a wicked sense of humor, Rothschild paints another thrilling portrait of the perils of great privilege.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Colson Whitehead revisits the main character from his 2021 book, Harlem Shuffle, in this exciting new novel set in 1970s New York City. Ex-fence/current furniture store owner Ray Carney has gone on the straight and narrow and hopes to stay that way despite persistent efforts of his former partners in crime. Whitehead takes Carney through a series of thrilling escapades and along the way illuminates a neighborhood and community that is changing rapidly around him.
The Bee Sting
Paul Murray’s ability to tell a sad story with a smirk is on display once again in this brainy, compelling, and exceedingly enjoyable novel about a family experiencing more than their fair share of bad luck. This book is more than just a witty tale of woe, however, but instead a contemplation of how fortune doles out its favors that makes a reader wonder, how fast does one need to be to outrun fate?
A Pocketful of Happiness
Richard E. Grant arrived in London from Swaziland in 1982 to pursue his dreams as an actor. Along the way, he fell in love with the renowned dialect coach, Joan Washington. For forty years, the two embarked on life together–highs and lows of Hollywood, parenting, and all. When Washington passed away in 2021, she left him with a challenge: find a “pocketful of happiness in every day.”
Written like diary entries, this memoir is written in honor of that challenge. Grant shares the details of his life’s experiences from the pain of losing his beloved wife, to their memories spent together, from his roles in Withnail and I to his thrilling Oscar Award nomination thirty years later for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Quiet Street: On American Privilege
The protagonists of Nick McDonnell’s first book, the 2003 novel Twelve, were private-school kids living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He has returned to the subject in his latest work, Quiet Street, but this time with a non-fiction, first-person account of what it was like to grow up among, and reap the same benefits as, this advantaged group. It is a short, beautifully written book that unmasks the many ways class and wealth are used to perpetuate social and economic inequality.
The Orchid Hour
Set in 1920s New York City, Nancy Bilyeau’s novel centers around a mysterious Greenwich Village speakeasy called the Orchid Hour. Her heroine: a widow named Zia de Luca who lives with her children and in-laws in Little Italy and works at the library. After her lover is murdered, she becomes the center of the police investigation. Zia chooses to dig into the mystery herself—and is led to the Orchid Hour, and its shady underworld ruled by mob bosses Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein.
How do you right a wrong? The question takes a mind-bending turn at the hands of Andrew Lipstein, whose latest novel centers on a rising hedge fund titan named Herschel Caine, whose path to becoming a master of the universe is all-clear—until a prank goes terribly wrong and leads him down a spiral of guilt and shame. How does he find his moral center again? With the help of a neighborhood dog.
Hilary Leichter’s sophomore novel is a mesmerizing, surrealist tale of love and family. When Annie and Edward find a hidden terrace in their closet, an oasis in the crowded city, it changes their lives—but it only appears when their friend, Stephanie visits. What results is a moving story of love, exctinction, and finding space in a world that is shrinking.
Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson
Finally, tennis trailblazer Althea Gibson gets her due in this riveting biography from Sally H. Jacobs. Gibson, one of the first Black athletes to cross the color line, was the first Black player to win a Grand Slam title. Her success would pave the way for players like Arthur Ashe and Serena and Venus Williams. For tennis fans, a must-read.
What if you solved your own murder? That’s the premise of Katie Williams’s daring novel, about victims of a local serial killer brought back to life by a government program. Williams does not linger on the scifi, but instead focuses in on the very humanity of the victims—specifically Lou, the last victim. As she readapts to her old life, some things don’t add up, and Lou sets out to understand the circumstances of her death. A fantastic thriller.
Business or Pleasure
This steamy romance novel features Finna, a struggling actor, who is stuck attending fandom conventions promoting his cult-status werewolf show from years ago, and his ghostwriter, Chandler, who aspires to write her own mystery novels. Finn and Chandler had actually met once before—on a terrible one-night stand—so tension bubbles throughout the course of their partnership (and Chandler agrees to give Finn tips on how he can be better in the bedroom). A sex-positive and tender romance that features frank discussions of mental health that you won’t want to miss.
Bob is a retired librarian who, one day, helps a confused elderly woman find her way back to a senior care center. Soon, he is wrapped up in the world of the retirement home, but not before long, the reader is thrown back into Bob’s history and life story. A quiet, melancholy novel, one that is perfect for long summer evenings.
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store
James McBride, author of Deacon King Kong and The Good Lord Bird, returns with another powerful novel. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is set in Chicken Hill, a neighborhood of Jews and African Americans in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The heart of the story is Chona, who runs the novel’s eponymous grocery store, who helps Nate, a Black usher at her husband’s theater, protect a young orphan. It’s a story McBride, as a Black Jewish man, is uniquely suited to tell, and makes you want to revisit all his past works.
Every Drop is a Man’s Nightmare
Megan Kamalei Kakimoto’s debut collection centers native Hawaiian and Japanese women through contemporary Hawai’i. Using Hawaiian folklore and mythology to reflect on womanhood and identity, the eleven stories within the collection are raw and searing, and force the reader to not look away.
The Duchess Effect
Tracey Livesay returns to her fictional American rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson and British royal Prince Jameson (based on an American actress and British prince you may be familiar with) in this delightful follow-up to last year’s American Royalty. Livesay intentionally takes on Harry and Meghan’s story, she told T&C, to get readers “to think about what it may have been like to be a Black woman in this institution.”
How Can I Help You
Margo’s coworkers think she is a small-town librarian. No one knows she’s fleeing the police, after a string of patients died in her care when she was a nurse. No one, that is, until Patricia joins the library staff—and begins to pick up on Margo’s oddities. What begins is a cat-and-mouse between the two librarians, told from their alternating perspectives. A very fun thriller set at a local library.
How to Love Your Daughter
How to Love Your Daughter is the tale of a mother-daughter relationship over the course of many years beginning when Yoella, a mother, travels to the Netherlands to reconnect with her estranged daughter, Leah, who left home at 18. As Sigrid Nunez wrote, Blum’s “novel takes us on a suspenseful psychological journey as she plumbs a great mystery: how the purest maternal love can lead to the most unwanted and even disastrous consequences.” It’s truly a novel for anyone who has ever been a mother or a daughter.
Evidence of Things Seen: True Crime in an Era of Reckoning
Sarah Weinman, who edited Unspeakable Acts, returns with another true crime anthology—this one focusing on the future of the genre, and particularly grapples with what stories have been ignored. What does justice look like in 2023? And who gets their stories told in “true crime” media? These fourteen essays all look at some aspect of the state of the genre, and crime, today.
Shark Heart: A Love Story
Soon after Wren and Lewis marries, Lewis receives a diagnosis: he will soon turn into a great white shark. What results is a poetic love story, focusing not just on Wren and Lewis, but also tells the tale of Wren’s mother, and on what happens to Wren after Lewis. It’s a poignant tale of navigating grief and change.
The Brightest Star
Anna May Wong, widely considered the first Chinese American movie star, had a major moment last year when she became the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency. Her moment continues into 2023 with Gail Tsukiyama’s novel, which is a fictionalization of Wong’s life.
It’s 1988, and Bunny Glenn is a lonely American teenager in Azerbaijan with her family. A coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the oil industry and geopolitics, Mobility grapples with the personal, the political, and late stage capitalism. “This sly bildungsroman has subterranean intent,” Geraldine Brooks wrote. “A masterpiece of misdirection and a cautionary tale for our times.”
The description for Nothing Special immediately captured us: “A wildly original coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl working at Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1960s New York.” Mae, aforementioned teenage girl, is hired as Warhol’s typist, and Nothing Special is a look at the famous faces of the ’60s from the fringes.
Watch Us Dance
Another historical fiction novel set in the 1960s, but this one in newly independent Morocco. Siblings Aicha and Selim, with a Moroccan father and French mother, grapple with their disillusionment after decolonization and independence. Based on her family own history, writer Leila Slimani adeptly paints a portrait of Morocco at a complicated moment in time.
The Blonde Identity: A Novel
Ally Carter’s hit young adult series The Gallagher Girls followed teens at a spy school, and her Heist Society books centered on Kat, a young girl from a family of thieves. Carter is finally bringing this fun energy to adult fiction, with a romance about a woman with amnesia who discovers she’s the identical twin sister of a rogue spy. A true blast.
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