Sticky mouths and hands covered in the juice of melted popsicles. The pop and sizzle of sparklers in the fading light of day. Gleeful screams, the tinkling of distant ice cream trucks making their way through town. Parties lasting until the break of dawn, the smell of burning charcoal.
This is summer. It’s finally here.
More than anything, summer is a release, a deep breath after the stillness of winter. And part and parcel to that release is relaxing with a good book. The long-venerated summer read. Posting up on a beach with the sound of waves crashing in the background and getting lost in a captivating story. Paging through a novel on the porch, iced tea or lemonade in hand. Breaking away from the cookout for a few to catch your break and tear through a quick chapter of your book.
For too long, the summer read has been associated with trash — poorly written yet mysteriously captivating stories du jour to be consumed like junk food. This year, we say: “No more!” No more junk food, it’s time to go high brow. Here are our picks for the literary-yet-riveting summer reads we’re most hyped for this season.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
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Jamaica-born James wrote this sprawling fantasy epic which he calls the “African Game of Thrones,” he says, because he got sick of the debate about where black people belong in fantasy. In an interview about his novel, he said, “I realized how sick and tired I was of arguing about whether there should be a black hobbit in Lord of the Rings. African folklore is just as rich, and just as perverse as that shit. We have witches, we have demons, we have goblins, and mad kings. We have stories of royal succession that would put Wolf Hall to shame. We beat the Tudors two times over.”
World building, a complex cast of characters, a story rooted deeply in mythologies from all over the African continent. All of these combine to make a supernatural, sexy book you won’t want to put down.
The Wall by John Lanchester
An unnamed island is hit by the Change, a nondescript environmental disaster. In response, the island builds a wall, thousands of kilometers around, to completely seal itself off from the outside world and the Others — those unlucky enough to be on the outside of the wall.