Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

16 New Releases to Read for Summer 2016

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Molly Wetta

Staff Writer

Molly Wetta is a feminist Gemini vegetarian librarian. She is employed by a public library in a liberal Midwestern college town selecting young adult literature, media, and graphic novels while also managing the library's Twitter and Tumblr, which is fortunate, as her aspirations of being a professor of Buffy Studies didn't pan out. When not working, she is most likely reading existential Russian novels, regency romances, comics, queer YA, or cereal boxes. Sometimes she finds time to volunteer at her local domestic violence shelter or watch CW shows on Netflix with her cats: Spike, Angel, and Furiosa. Challenge her to a game of Candyland or Risk at your own peril, as she is a very competitive player of board games. Blog: Twitter: @molly_wetta

I work in a public library, so I start thinking about summer reading as I ring in the new year, because that’s when we start planning for all the events and activities over the summer and ordering new releases for our busiest season. About that time I also start planning my own summer reading list, with a mix of backlist titles I’ve been dying to get to as well as the new releases I’m itching to get my hands on.

These are the new releases I’m most looking forward to seeing hit shelves this June, July, and August. They’re a mix of books I read as ARCs and wholeheartedly recommend and titles still on my TBR. You’ll find a mix of genres, big buzz books and under the radar recs, plus lots of diversity, because that’s how I roll. What does this mean for you? There is probably a book or two that interests you as well!

16 new books to read during summer 2016

Rich And Pretty CoverRich and Pretty: A Novel by Rumaan Alam
June 7th 2016 by Ecco

I read this on a long flight, completely enthralled by the nuanced way that female friendship is portrayed. I’ve had the same two best friends since childhood, and totally related to the way you drift apart in ways as life evolves but still remain close in a way no one else can ever match. This is a novel for fans of character studies.


homegoing-cover-yaa-gyasiHomegoing by Yaa Gasi

June 7th 2016 Knopf

This historical novel follows seven generations of the descendants of two half sisters who are unaware the other exists. One is married to an Englishman and lives a life of relative privilege, giving birth to sons who will serve as government officials, and the other is sold into slavery in America. Not only have Rioters and my co-workers been raving about this title, but I’m also always interested in character studies with a dash of tragedy and irony threaded throughout the narrative.

False Hearts by Laura LamFalse Hearts by Laura Lam
June 14th 2016 by Tor Books

This novel seems to have everything and the kitchen sink: conjoined twins! Cults! Psychoactive drugs! Shared dreaming! The mob! But Laura Lam’s YA series about blended magic and the circus and gender identity into an enchanting and unique story, so her first adult novel with a cyberpunk style has piqued my interest.


Signs of Attraction by Laura BrownSigns of Attraction by Laura Brown
June 28th by Avon Impulse

A couple years ago, I would have told you I don’t read any romance, but since then, I’ve fallen hard for historical romance, but have yet to really connect with very much contemporary romance. The conflicts always seem so superficial, and I’m always like “stop being stupid and just get together already, people.” One contemporary romance I did enjoy was Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday, which has a deaf hero, because it introduced me to a culture and struggle that was entirely outside my own experiences. This novel, which has a hard of hearing and a deaf hero and heroine, is written by a debut author who not only is hard of hearing herself but has a background in Deaf Studies, so I’m interested in this both as a romance with some very real struggles driving the narrative and as an #ownvoices story.

We Could Be BeautifulWe Could Be Beautiful: A Novel by Swan Huntley
June 28th 2016 Doubleday

Psychological suspense is not my go-to genre, but the promise of a slow burning feeling of creepiness prompted me to add this to my to-read list. An aging Manhattan socialite who stinks of privilege but really yearns for love and family wanders if a new man with eerie connections to her past can be trusted. Reviews have called this intoxicating and smartly funny with an unexpected ending, so I’m eager to check it out.

Chronicle of a Last Summer A Novel of EgyptChronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi
June 28th 2016 Tim Duggan Books

This debut novel follows an Egyptian woman through three summers: as a child in 1984, as a new President takes office, as a university student in 2004, as she is becoming increasingly engaged in politics, and in 2014, in the wake of the Arab Spring. I’m intrigued by this title as a story that spans decades but focuses on three discrete summers, and also as a way to view political revolution through a personal lens.

How-to-Set-a-Fire-and-Why-CoverHow to Set a Fire and Why: A Novel by Jesse Ball
July 5th 2015 by Pantheon

Jesse Ball is known for his experimental styles, but this epistolary novel of a troubled teen girl in written with a more accessible approach but still delivers on wit, humor, and unexpected plot twists. Lucia is a cynical, aimless, and self-aware teenage girl desperate to join the arson club at her new school, and I’m excited to meet her.


Break in Case of Emergency A NovelBreak in Case of Emergency: A Novel by Jessica Winter
July 12th 2016 by Knopf

I love checking out debut authors, and this novel sounds just my style. A workplace comedy about a woman floundering in a toxic workplace at a feminist nonprofit while simultaneously navigating complicated friendships with a dose of wry humor is a promising premise, and I look forward to checking this out.


The Sunlight PilgrimsThe Sunlight Pilgrims: A Novel by Jenni Fagan
July 19th 2016 by Hogarth

I really loved Jenni Fagan’s debut about teenage delinquents, The Panopticon, and her new novel about a band of misfits surviving in a near-future post-apocalyptic world promises the same type of attention to characters combined with subtle social commentary.


Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-BennHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn
July 19th 2016 W. W. Norton

This beautiful cover belies the darker story it holds. Debut novelist Dennis-Benn captures the beautiful Jamaican setting in a novel of sacrifice and forbidden love that offers commentary on race, class, gender, and sexuality without distracting from a gripping plot, eloquent and moving writing, and vivid characters.


The Hopefuls by Jennifer CloseThe Hopefuls: A Novel by Jennifer Close
July 19th 2016 by Knopf

I like women’s fiction. I identify as a woman, and I enjoy stories that focus on the internal lives of women and feature domestic, real life conflicts. Jennifer Close writes about marriage and friendship, and her latest tackles these issues against the backdrop of DC politics, which is totally my jam.



you will know meYou Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott
July 26th 2016 by Little Brown

I always say I don’t like crime fiction or thriller-type books, and then I remember I love Megan Abbott’s novels, because not only are they full of twists and interesting characters, the writing is so precise, with each word carefully chosen. Her latest explores the dark side of competitive gymnastics, and is sure to be an engrossing read.


A Wife of Noble CharacterA Wife of Noble Character: A Novel by Yvonne Georgina Puig
August 9th 2016 by Henry Holt Co.

Edith Wharton is my favorite novelist, and The House of Mirth is definitely my favorite of her novels. I was so excited to get my hands on this debut that reimagines the story in modern day Houston. The characters hearken back to Wharton’s while still not feeling like archetypes, and the interior narration matches the introspective style of Wharton’s writing. While it doesn’t quite deliver on the ironic tragedy that I so love about the original, it’s still a compelling and complicated love story.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline WoodsonAnother Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
August 9th 2016 by Amistad

I love Woodson’s books for teens and children, but was thrilled when I heard her latest was a novel for adults. In this story, a woman reflects on growing up in Brooklyn with her three best friends, contemplating the experiences that shaped their lives. Though a slim volume, the novel explores everything from life to death, poverty and race, friendship and family. Even when Woodson writes prose rather than verse, her sentences and paragraphs flow with the rhythm of poetry. The imagery she employs is startling yet familiar, and is best read slowly enough to savor. A must-read coming-of-age novel.

behold the dreamersBehold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
August 23rd 2016 Random House

Stories about the way the lives of two families intertwine are usually a big hit with me. This novel follows an immigrant family from Cameroon and the wealthy family they work for. The marriages of both couples are strained and their notion of the American Dream is challenged against the backdrop of the recent recession. This debut has also been getting a lot of buzz and has been praised for writing sympathetic and realistic characters, so I’m eagerly anticipating getting a chance to check it out for myself.

The Secret Book of KingsThe Secret Books of Kings by Yochi Brandes
August 23rd 2016 St. Martin’s Press

Brandes, an Israeli author, has written several international bestsellers, and this novel is now translated into English. Her sweeping biblical epic that takes everything you thought you knew about the founding of Israel and turns it on its head promises authenticity, as Brandes is a scholar of both the bible and Judaism who is extremely engaged with original texts that influenced the characters and story.

What new releases are you looking forward to reading this summer?