Looking for a great summer read? NPR book editor, Petra Mayer has you covered.
July is crammed full of great books — here are five we’re particularly psyched for.
S.A. Corey follows up his debut thriller Blacktop Wasteland with Razorblade Tears. Out July 6, it’s the story of two hard-bitten middle-aged men, one Black, one white, who team up to solve the murder of their gay sons. The book “is a visceral full-body experience, a sharp jolt to the heart, and a treat for the senses,” says critic Carole Bell. “Cosby’s moody southern thriller marries the skillful action and plotting of Lee Childs with the atmosphere and insight of Attica Locke.”
Reviewer Liza Graham says Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices, edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington and out July 13, “is a collection of short stories inspired by Arthurian legend and written by authors from groups that experience marginalization. Fresh perspectives bring new life to a parade of knights, kings, queens and magicians, creating a Round Table we can all sit at.”
Kristen Radke’s latest graphic novel Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, out July 13, might be too much for those of us just coming out of pandemic-induced isolation — or it might be exactly the right read. Reviewer Gabino Iglesias says it’s the latter: “Seek You is the kind of post-pandemic narrative we’ve been waiting for. It’s sad, profound, and shows a superb understanding of the variety of ways in which we process trauma and isolation. A strange hybrid between a graphic memoir and something like a graphic essay, Seek You might just be what we all need to start truly processing the loneliness we’ve been through.”
Iglesias is also looking forward to What Strange Paradise, by Omar el-Akkad, out July 20. “Great literature about migration should rehumanize the discourse surrounding it,” he says, and “What Strange Paradise does a fantastic job of that. Touching, gritty, and told in a unique voice that places childhood at the center of the discussion, this is a tender, haunting work about refugees everyone should read.”
And finally, critic Annalisa Quinn says reading a book on the history of quarantine seems like the last thing to be doing right now, but she’s “been surprisingly moved by the first few chapters of Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine, by by Nicola Twilley and Geoff Manaugh, out July 20. “I’ve only just started it,” she says, “but so far it’s beautifully written and asks big questions about what people owe each other in moments when we are all potential sources of danger.”