It’s June, which hopefully means we’re all finding more opportunities to loaf about. Proper loafing, we tend to think, requires very little: a sunny spot, sunscreen, and a just-for-fun book.
We have you covered on the sunscreen front: read this, or this, or this. As for the book? Here we are: ten fiction editors on what they’re reading for pleasure this summer.
“I am most excited to read Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room. I don’t write in the margins of my books, but when I’m reading something I love, especially something that feels groundbreaking, I find myself saying aloud, ‘yep yep yep!’ and fist pumping, which was a regular occurrence while reading The Flamethrowers, Kushner’s last book. I’m looking forward to expressing the same enthusiasm while reading The Mars Room, a novel about a 29-year-old woman serving two life sentences in prison in California, my home state.” — Emily Bell, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, edited The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg
“After having a think on it—so many good books!—the book I, personally, am most excited to read this summer is There There by Tommy Orange. There’s been so much buzz about this book well ahead of its publication and the glowing reviews since it’s been on sale have made me even more eager. There’s something so delicious about being fully transported and immersed in novel and world in terms of the makings of a good summer read—surrendering completely to a captivating story and having the time to luxuriate in exceptional prose as you lay on the beach, have a long plane or car ride, or enjoy a publishing summer Friday. This novel promises that by all accounts. And it’s always thrilling when an exciting new literary voice arrives on the scene. All to say, I have my copy ready and can’t wait to dive in!” — Christine Pride, Simon & Schuster, edited Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Joe Piazza
Tom Mayer at Norton also recommended There There. “The next book I’m going to read is There There by Tommy Orange because he has an amazing story to tell—about 12 Urban Indians who converge for an annual event called the Big Oakland Powwow—and he’s from Oakland, where I was born.” — Tom Mayer, Norton, edited Fight No More by Lydia Millet
“After that it’ll be Ben Rhodes’s The World As It Is, a book I really wanted to publish. It gives this extraordinarily intimate view of Barack Obama—it’s like great sportswriting in a way: here’s how a hall of fame talent does his job.”— Mayer
“I have rarely heard people gush about a novel the way they have about Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers. It takes place during the AIDS crisis, and I’ve heard many people liken it to A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which is one of my all-time favorites. It sounds courageous and innovative and compassionate at once, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth (or, well, eyes) into it.” — Rakesh Satyal, Atria Books, edited Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley
“My treat every summer, starting July 4, is to finish a book that has been hanging out by my bedside for months. This summer it’s Jane Delury’s The Balcony. I heard Jane read a piece from the book this spring, and was so intrigued by her pitch—a century-spanning look at the various occupants of a single estate over several generations—that I bought a copy on the spot. I read the first chapter on the subway home from the reading, which follows a young American au pair spending a summer in France, and can’t wait to get back to it. Subsequent chapters promise tales of an ex-courtesan, a Jewish couple hiding from the Gestapo, and others, all against lush French countryside. Perfect summer escapist reading.” — Maya Ziv, Dutton/Penguin Random House, edited An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
“One of my favorite summer reads is, appropriately, Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book—about an elderly woman who spends the summer with her 6-year-old granddaughter on an island in the Gulf of Finland—so I’m looking forward to reading a collection of her short stories, The Woman Who Borrowed Memories. She’s an exquisite writer, able to illuminate the light and dark aspects of life with wry humor and characters who are unsentimental yet still caring.” — Anna deVries, Picador, edited No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
“And then I am going to beg, borrow, or steal an early copy of Kiese Laymon’s memoir Heavy, because he’s simply one of the most talented writers in America and I don’t think I can wait until October to read it.” — deVries
“I’m looking forward to reading Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient this summer. I loved Jasmine Guillory’s recent novel The Wedding Date—about a woman who agrees to go to a wedding with a guy she got stuck in an elevator with—and a pal recommended The Kiss Quotient as another quirky, fun love story. It’s about a woman who has Asperger’s and is looking for love. — Laura Perciasepe, Riverhead Books, edited The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
“I’m also planning on diving into Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation—I was a huge fan of her Eileen, about a young woman who works as a secretary at a boys’ prison (and later disappears), and can’t wait to go back into her incisive, weird, witty writing.” —Perciasepe
“One of the most exciting recent literary sensations is Rachel Cusk’s trilogy: Outline, Transit, and most recently Kudos, which I’m thrilled to read this summer. Her writing invigorates the form of the novel—it’s post-plot, post-character, post-autofiction—reminding me of how one critic described W. G. Sebald’s writing: “like a dream you want to last forever.” — Tynan Kogane, ND Books, edited The Hole by José Revueltas
“I have a long list of books I’m begging copies of from publishing friends but I confess, I feel like I made a date with destiny when I pre-ordered my copy of How Hard Can It Be? By Allison Pearson. Here’s why: I first read I Don’t Know How She Does It in my 20s, when it was both an aspirational and cautionary tale for a young woman dreaming of having a family and big career. Fast-forward to 2018: I’m an executive editor with two little kids, my life churning with the very work-life balance issues Kate Reddy embodies. I’m ready for the next installment; I want to know what else I have to look forward to.” —Rachel Kahan, William Morrow, edited The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
“Ever since I tore through Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels a few summers ago, I’ve been searching for a novel (or four) that will distract me with as much force and pleasure. This summer I’m going to try Rachel Cusk’s autofiction trilogy, Outline, Transit, and Kudos, about the life of a divorced writer named Faye. Cusk’s essays “Aftermath” and “Making House”–about divorce and domesticity—are two of the best I’ve read this decade.” —Allison Lorentzen, Viking, edited A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen