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These New Paperbacks Will Be Your Summer BFFs

The perfect travel companions.

Posted on June 18, 2018, at 11:36 a.m. ET

Summer is a great time to be a reader because all the great books you might have missed from the previous year are all available in paperback. This list of novels, stories, true crime, and incredible reissues are the perfect companions for a day at the beach.

1. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Riverhead, mailemeloy.com

When a group of kids become separated from their parents on a trip to Central America, the dream vacation turns into a nightmare. Meloy has written a number of books that are quite perfect on the sentence level, but in this novel you may not get to savor her words because the pacing becomes thrillingly frenetic as the panic sets in.

Get it from Amazon for $14.87, Barnes and Noble for $16, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

2. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Scribner, Pieter M. Van Hattem

Turns out the queen of the experimental novel is pretty damn great at writing more traditional historical novels as well. Manhattan Beach is an impeccably researched depiction of life in New York City during World War II, filled with memorable characters, suspenseful diving expeditions, and ill-fated romances.

Get it from Amazon for $13.58, Barnes and Noble for $14.53, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

3. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Penguin Books, zinziclemmons.com

A young woman grieves for her mother and grapples with racial identity, sexuality, and feminism in this breathtaking debut. Clemmons has one of those ultra distinctive narrative voices that grabs you and doesn't let you go until she's thoroughly depleted you in the best way.

Get it from Amazon for $12.01, Barnes and Noble for $12.97, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

4. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Back Bay Books, andrewgreer.com

The Pulitzer winner for fiction may have flown under the radar before it won the 2017 prize, but now it’s the ultimate summer read. Andrew Sean Greer is the author of many excellent novels (see The Path of Minor Planets for another underrated gem) but Less is his masterpiece--the adventures of a novelist who seeks to escape his troubles (namely, his ex-boyfriend’s upcoming wedding) by traveling the world.

Get it from Amazon for $9.73, Barnes and Noble for $10.31, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

5. American Fire by Monica Hesse

Liveright, monicahesse.com

A meticulously reported story set in a declining rural Virginia county, Monica Hesse’s true crime is incendiary both in its subject matter and its suspenseful telling. In American Fire we encounter the Bonnie and Clyde of arson, the local firefighters who volunteered their time and sleep and resources to help stop the destruction, and the systemic struggles that made the area so vulnerable.

Get it from Amazon for $11.11, Barnes and Noble for $11.89, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

6. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Vintage, ayobamiadebayo.com

A Nigerian couple tries to conceive in Adebayo’s debut novel, which has enough twists and turns to thrill you, even as it rips out your heart. It’s a meditation on jealousy, grief, and the limits of both traditional cultural rituals and modern medicine.

Get it from Amazon for $12.80 or Barnes and Noble for $12.93.

7. The Fact of A Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Flatiron, alexandria-marzano-lesnevich.com

When a young lawyer meets a pedophile convicted of murdering a child, she must reckon with her own demons even as she works to defend him. The Fact of a Body is a chilling mixture of true crime and memoir, a thoughtful and harrowing examination of how our pasts define how we make sense of the world in the present.

Get it from Amazon for $14.39, Barnes and Noble for $15.40, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

8. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

Coffee House Press, Twitter: @gabehabash

In his excellent debut, Gabe Habash takes us deep inside the disordered mind of a college wrestler. Welcome to the hall of fame of unreliable narrators, Stephen Florida: Your thoughts are troubling, obsessive, captivating, and funny, and we can’t help rooting for you.

Get it from Amazon for $16.59, Barnes and Noble for $16.95, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

9. No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

Picador, Melissa Melling

A man dresses in his dead sister’s sari to comfort his grieving mother; a middle-aged woman writes paranormal romances to stave off loneliness. Satyal’s utterly charming novel about Indian Americans assimilating well and not so well in the Midwest contains just the right blend of sorrow and levity to bless your beach bag.

Get it from Amazon for $12.67, Barnes and Noble for $13.81, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

10. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

HMH, Beowulf Sheehan

Poet Hala Alyan’s fiction debut is the saga of a Palestinian family and the homesickness that defines their decades of displacement following 1967’s Six-Day War. Told from the points of view of family members located in different cities throughout the world, Salt Houses is perhaps the most underrated novel of 2017.

Get it from Amazon for $11.93, Barnes and Noble for $14.32, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

11. Here Kitty Kitty by Jardine Libaire

Hogarth, jardinelibaire.com

The author of White Fur writes with prose so lush her words make rampant self-destruction seem lovely and glamorous. In her debut novel, recently re-released for those of us who missed it the first time around, she captures the ugly and the beautiful depravity of life in New York City’s pre-Sweetbitter restaurant scene of the late 1990s.

Get it from Amazon for $14.04, Barnes and Noble for $15.53, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

12. New People by Danzy Senna

Prentice Hall Press, PRH

You just need one long sunny day to get through this engrossing novel about an Maria, an academic who struggles under the weight of representing a new sort of cultural idea: She and her fiancé are a mixed race power couple in Brooklyn in the 1990s, symbols of how the world can improve when racial boundaries blur. Of course, being a symbol sucks when you’re an actual human being, and the stress begins to show even as Maria writes her dissertation on the Jonestown massacre.

Get it from Amazon for $15.39, Barnes and Noble for $16, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

13. Black Swans by Eve Babitz

Counterpoint, Delacorte

The rediscovery of the fiction and essays of 1970’s Hollywood It Girl Eve Babitz has been a literary joy, and as her backlist has been slowly re-released it’s fun to savor each and every morsel. Black Swans is a collection of stories set in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, in which the sex and drugs and rage of Babitz’s earlier works, but with some more serious consequences.

Get it from Amazon for $12.92, Barnes and Noble for $13.95, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

14. Ayiti by Roxane Gay

Grove Atlantic, Jay Grabiec/HarperCollins

Outspoken feminist, New York Times columnist, novelist, essayist, Bachelor fan, and prolific GoodReads reviewer Roxane Gay may need no introduction, and yet reading her debut collection is perhaps the best way to get at her origin story. These stunning stories viscerally describe the Haitian experience both on the island and in America. Read an excerpt here.

Get it from Amazon for $14.76, Barnes and Noble for $16, or a local bookseller through IndieBound.

Maris Kreizman's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Esquire, GQ, OUT Magazine, and more.

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