Great summer reads: hot takes for hot days from the University Book Store

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Summer reading is a vibe. An escape. A passage to points unknown but utterly captivating.

It delivers liberation from indoor confines and the limitations of genre. Feel like reading in a park, by a pool, at a beach, atop a mountain? Do it wherever. In the mood for a riveting thriller or steamy romance? As you wish. What about a puzzling mystery or droll comedy? Go for it. Or maybe an enlightening biography or mind-bending sci-fi? Sky’s the limit.

The only real challenge, in this anything-goes season, is where to start? To help, we asked our well-read partners at the University Book Store to share recommendations for transporting titles you may not yet have discovered. Brad Craft, the beloved author, illustrator and veteran bookseller, offers this genre-expansive list of ten great summer reads.

Mona of the Manor

by Armistead Maupin

It’s a new Tales of the City novel! If that doesn’t make your heart leap with joy and anticipation, it probably means you’ve yet to be acquainted with this ongoing and delightful series, set in San Francisco, that has become an American institution. Don’t worry, though, the latest can be read with pleasure by anyone new to the series as well. Introducing the new “Lady” Mona, formerly of 28 Barbary Lane. You’ll love her.

Harper Collins, ISBN: 9780062973597

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

by Claire Jimenez

When 13-year-old Ruthy Ramirez disappears without a trace, her Staten Island family is left scarred and scrambling. When they think they spot the long-missing Ruthy 12 years later in a reality TV show contestant name Ruby, the Ramirez women go on a mission to bring their sister home. Road trip! Great Puerto Rican family, heartfelt and fun novel.

Hachette, ISBN: 9781538725979


The Other Half

by Charlotte Vassell

You know how they live, this is how they die. It’s a great tag-line. Is there anything more inherently satisfying than filthy rich and usually awful people — the over-entitled young socialites of London’s upper crust — being murdered? Whip-smart detective Caius Beauchamp is on the case. Bitingly funny, full of shocking twists, this debut novel is exactly what you want this mystery to be.

Anchor Books, ISBN: 9780593685945


Ms. Demeanor

by Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman is an invariable delight: witty, bright, urbane and always genuine fun. Meet Jane Morgan, scandalized New York attorney who is forced to wear and ankle monitor and confined for six months to her rather fabulous apartment building in New York City. But she soon learns that she is not alone and meets another tenant who wears an ankle monitor. Criminality and comedy abound.

Harper Perennial, ISBN: 9780358677888

Long Island

by Colm Toibin

Irish novelist Toibin introduced the endearing Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey in his bestselling Brooklyn (made into a very good movie starring Saoirse Ronan!). Eilis is back and now a respectable Long Island matron when a strange woman comes to her door with a baby she claims to be the child of Eilis’s husband Tony. Another beauty from the great novelist.

Scribner, ISBN: 9781476785110


You Only Call When You’re in Trouble

by Stephan McCauley

Every family has that one reliable soul who sees to the rest of us. Tom is used to looking after his sister and his niece and generally fixing the messes they make. But now, it seems, he’s getting pretty tired of it. McCauley is a master of the comic novel and he’s never been in better form.

Henry Holt and Co., ISBN: 9781250296795


George: A Magpie Memoir

by Frieda Hughes

You want an animal story? Meet the irascible and beloved bird who decides unilaterally to befriend Frieda, a London exile new to the Welsh countryside. George is a rescued wonder of a bird. You’ll love him, too.

Simon and Schuster, ISBN: 9781668016510


The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: An Extraordinary New Journey Through History’s Greatest Treasures

by Bettany Hughes

Exactly the kind of familiar but surprising episodic history that is perfect for picking up and putting down in a hammock. You will both know and not know these stories. A transporting romp through the the most amazing corners of the ancient world.

Vintage Books, ISBN: 9780593686157

Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe

by Philip Plait

Sometimes, on a clear night, you want to just walk out into the stars. Here’s the perfect book to take with you. Written in engaging and accessible prose that explains without condescension and fires the imagination.

Norton, ISBN: 9781324074717


Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir

by Lamya H

In this inspiring memoir, a queer hijabi Muslim immigrant comes of age and discovers a way to teach us all. The winner of the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award will expand your understanding not only of the author’s life—but also of life itself.

The Dial press, ISBN: 9780593448786