Your summer reading list: 9 books to dive into

Published May 30, 2017

What makes for a great vacation escape? A book you can dive into. A story you can submerge yourself in. Every summer, publishers send out a tsunami of new titles aimed at vacation readers. Here are some promising books from this year's wave.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

The Thirst

By Jo Nesbo

Knopf, 462 pages, $26.95

Nesbo's gripping novels about Oslo homicide detective Harry Hole have been keeping readers up late for years. In this one, 11th in the series, Harry is drawn back to the police force he quit to investigate a strange case of serial murders of Tinder users. The women are found in their blood-spattered apartments, the only solid clue (but a baffling one) tiny fragments of paint and rust in their puncture wounds. Then, something begins to speak to Harry …

I'll Eat When I'm Dead

By Barbara Bourland

Grand Central, 325 pages, $27

When Rage Fashion Book editor Hillary Whitney is found dead in a locked conference room in the magazine's Manhattan offices, her demise is blamed on starvation: She dieted herself to death. But a few months later, when a cryptic note written in her hand turns up, Rage's editor, Cat Ono, launches her own investigation of Hillary's death. I'll Eat When I'm Dead combines sharp satire of the beauty-and-fashion industry with a twisty mystery.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

By Jennifer Ryan

Crown, 368 pages, $26

Ryan's debut novel is set in a small village in England during World War II. With most of the men gone to fight, the women and girls must soldier on at home, and that they do — starting with defying the local vicar's edict to shut down the choir because it has no male voices. As social norms shift, so do the characters' skills and relationships. Ryan recounts their strengths and secrets through their letters and diary entries, creating a warm, sometimes funny and poignant look at life in wartime.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

By Samantha Irby

Vintage, 272 pages, $15.95

This collection of comic essays by the blogger who created B----es Gotta Eat is the next-best thing to bringing your most fun, foul-mouthed girlfriend on vacay with you. The book is emphatically NSFW, but a scathingly funny blast outside it. If you are suffering bathing suit anxiety, read the section called "Million Dollar Mermaid" and snort your margarita right out through your nose.


By Jill Eisenstadt

Little, Brown, 261 pages, $26

Eisenstadt first made her literary mark three decades ago as part of the group of novelists dubbed the Brat Pack. She's back with this mordantly funny novel about the Glassman family, who, in the months after 9/11, move from a cramped apartment in Tribeca to a ramshackle beach house in Rockaway, Queens. It's bad enough their new home's inauspicious nickname is the Murder House; then 90-year-old Rose, its original owner, escapes from her assisted living facility and shows up on the doorstep, determined to move back in.

Fly Me

By Daniel Riley

Little, Brown, 391 pages, $27

In this first novel, young Suzy Whitman heads west after getting her Vassar degree in 1972. In search of adventure, she moves to the groovy Southern California beach town of Sela del Mar and signs on as a swinging stewardess (nobody would have called them flight attendants then) for Grand Pacific Airlines. She finds plenty of adventures, some of which take dark turns, in this skillfully written look at another era.

Planning your weekend?

Planning your weekend?

Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter

We’ll deliver ideas every Thursday for going out, staying home or spending time outdoors.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy

Riverhead, 342 pages, $27

This riveting novel begins with cousins Liv and Nora, their husbands and their total of four kids setting out from Los Angeles on a cruise to Central America. While on an excursion away from the ship, the kids go tubing on a river — and vanish. Meloy's well-crafted, suspenseful tale of mounting desperation and its impact on adults and children alike is amplified by issues of class and race.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

By Matthew Sullivan

Scribner, 328 pages, $26

In this debut novel, Lydia Smith lives a guarded and well-ordered life as a clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, which is populated by eccentric regulars called the BookFrogs. One day a BookFrog named Joey commits suicide in the shop — and in his pocket, Lydia finds a photo from her own childhood. At Joey's home she finds a collection of bizarrely defaced books, which may lead her to the reason for his death and to secrets buried in her own past.

Magpie Murders

By Anthony Horowitz

236 pages, $27.99

Horowitz is a TV screenwriter (Midsomer Murders), YA novelist and author of a couple of fine Sherlock Holmes homages. In Magpie Murders he tips his hat to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers with the tale of Alan Conway, author of bestselling cozy mysteries. When his editor, Susan Ryeland, starts reading his new manuscript, she realizes that between its lines lie jealousy and ambition that could well lead to real-life murder. Horowitz combines the vintage mystery with a cleverly contemporary plot.

Contact Colette Bancroft at or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.