Wherein our editors weigh in on the best reads of the season.
Laura & Emma
by Kate Greathead
I have no idea how I came across this book. Oh, you may say avid reader who's an avid reader, I do that all the time. The problem is, my avid reading days are well behind me, replaced by avid internet surfing, so choosing a book should be a serious decision for me. I do know that I was searching for a book for my Dad for Father's Day and somehow, in looking for a biography on Andrew Carnegie, I came across this little gem by first-time author Kate Greathead. It tells the story of Laura, an introverted, frankly somewhat odd, Upper East Sider raising her child, Emma in 1980's New York on onwards. It is, to say, an odd pick for a 47-year-old man to gravitate to, but there's an effortlessness to Greathead's prose that makes it fantastically easy to fall into, while still having some literary street cred kicking around (the magic formula that made A Visit from the Goon Squad or The Goldfinch so attractive). And there's some real interesting observation on class and privilege that harken back to Cheever or Updike. And the print is pretty big. too.—Neal McLennan, Travel Editor
by Agnete Friis
Last summer, a friend would ask, "What, more Swedish crime novels?" whenever I would pull out my next read at the beach. He wasn't wrong: my summer reading is either the dark thriller (said Swedish crime novel) or sometimes, if it's near the end of August and I need a wee break, GenX romance. But it's early in the season, so I'm diving into my next Nordic chiller—this time from a Dane. The Summer of Ellen follows Jacob, a middle-aged architect living in Copenhagen (so many architects in books and movies!), an alcoholic in the throes of a bitter divorce who's forced to visit a farm he hasn't been to since the summer of 1978, to confront a question that haunts him: What happened to Ellen? The book promises to explore themes of obsession and toxic masculinity (woot!), so I'm all in. Pass me the sunscreen and a spritz.—Anicka Quin, editorial director
by Celese Ng
There's a special disappointment to be found in picking up a book you're excited about—books that have won prizes or received rave reviews from trusted sources or been blurbed enthusiastically by comedy darlings you know and love—and getting a quarter way through before a sinking feeling sits in: this isn't going to get any better, is it? I started The Idiot (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) this weekend and forced myself through 100 pages before giving up on the meandering "what does college mean" navel-gazer. Then I finished Normal People (long-listed for a Man Booker Prize) almost by accident, not realizing I was at the end because literally nothing was happening (synopsis: young Irish lovers can't communicate...and never learn to). Maybe I hate literature? Anyways, these early summer-read let-downs have me reminiscing about my fave from last year, Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, a book that had me disappointed in a whole other way: that there was only one other book in the author's back catalogue to turn to. Little Fires features a mysterious fire, teen romance, class clash and a cast of intriguing multi-generational characters, all told with thoughtful detail and warmth. But if you're worried about this recommendation letting you down (it happens!), you can always wait for the Reese Witherspoon Hulu series to come out next year. —Stacey McLachlan, executive editor