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Culture

13 of the best summer reads

Lifestyle

Sun-soaked days by the sea call for frozen margaritas and a stack of unputdownable books. Wondering which titles to add to your vacation packing list? These are the ones to buy or pre-order now…

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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

As a staff writer at The New Yorker, Tolentino has become a go-to voice for clarity on today’s fraught political and cultural landscape – rooting out the truth, however unsettling. Zadie Smith has declared Tolentino’s debut book of nine essays “whip-smart” and “challenging”. Internet, religion, mind-altering drugs and wedding culture are all explored. US: Out August 6, Random House; UK: Out August 8, Harper Collins

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Eat Pray Love author transports us to New York in the summer of 1940 and a vibrant theater scene studded with raucous showgirls – it’s just what the book’s protagonist Vivian needs to ignite her passion and convince her to pursue life and freedom on precisely her own terms. Out June 4, Riverhead Books (US); Bloomsbury (UK)

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

This razor-sharp and important story delivers a profound exploration of black female identity. Political, painful, witty and wise, it’s a timely take on life, love, race and family. The eponymous Queenie is as heartbreakingly vulnerable as she is hilarious – prepare to fall in love with her story. Out now, Gallery/Scout Press (US); Trapeze (UK)

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is an American writer who, to date, is best known for her celebrity profiles (the Bradley Cooper and Tom Hiddleston ones are essential reading). Her debut novel takes her uncanny knack for articulating the human condition with incisive tenderness to new heights; Fleishman is in Trouble is a wisdom-packed story about modern relationships. Out June 18, Random House (US); Wildfire (UK)

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Journalist Lisa Taddeo spent eight years and thousands of hours speaking to women about their intimate relationships, producing a gripping work of non-fiction that reveals the real sex lives and deepest desires of three ‘ordinary’ American women. It’s a page-turner that will make you question sex and sexuality like never before. Out July 9, Simon & Schuster (US); Bloomsbury Circus (UK)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

“Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” says Margaret Atwood of her eagerly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” It’s bound to be epic. Out September 10, Nan A. Talese (US); Chatto & Windus (UK)

The Snakes by Sadie Jones

Long-buried regrets and family secrets resurface in this tense novel. It centers around newlyweds Bea and Dan, who intend to escape London for a few peaceful months and instead come face-to-face with their own shame and a dysfunctional family whose true colors are revealed when tragedy strikes. US: Out June 25, Harper; UK: Out now, Chatto & Windus

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Obama’s election provides a joyous opening and John Legend’s album Get Lifted provides the memorable title for this soulful story covering themes of identity, parenthood, sex, grief, friendship and aging. Two couples find their relationships at reckoning point. Will they unravel? Out now, Liveright (US); Vintage (UK)

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa is one of Japan’s greatest writers (she’s won every one of the country’s major literary awards), and two-time Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel calls her voice “original, elegant, very disturbing”. The Memory Police is a gripping dystopian story of a young novelist that explores the power of memory and the trauma of loss. US: Out August 13, Pantheon; UK: Out August 15, Penguin

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran

This cult gay classic is being rereleased this summer to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It charts the adventures of the unforgettable characters Malone and Sutherland as they navigate New York’s emerging gay scene in the 1970s. It’s a beautifully observed story that will make you laugh and cry. Out June 6, Vintage (US & UK)

Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell

With her signature wit and warmth, the brains behind Sex and the City returns to get a read on dating more than 20 years after she first captured the soaring highs and lows of sex and relationships in her seminal essays. US: Out August 6, Grove Press; UK: Out August 8, Little, Brown Book Group

You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

When The New Yorker published Roupenian’s story Cat Person, it immediately went viral, having captured the chilling realities of dating, power and consent today. The premise of her provocative collection of short fiction is horror stories about women’s lives, and it will repel and delight you in equal measure. Out now, Gallery/Scout Press (US); Jonathan Cape (UK)

Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love by Naomi Wolf

Unpacking the ways in which a single English law, the Obscene Publications Act of 1857, has shaped our perceptions of ‘normalcy’ and ‘deviancy’, this book by the feminist author of The Beauty Myth and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton sheds light on this pivotal event in gay history and the invention of ‘bad girls’. US: Out June 18, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; UK: Out now, Virago

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