There’s no question that this summer reading season will be different from any we can remember. But despite the state of the world, a number of absorbing books are on their way. So we’ve taken a look back at some very popular books of summers past with an eye toward what their fans might enjoy among the titles being published in the coming few months.
IF YOU LIKED “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” John Berendt’s classic account of a murder case in Savannah, Ga., which captured the place’s eerie beauty and the quirkiness of its residents, YOU MIGHT LIKE “The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, July 7), by David Hill. “The Vapors” brings back to life three real characters from the first half of the 20th century, and tells the story of their connection to the lavish casino from which the book takes its title. Before the family-friendly Las Vegas of recent decades, there was the danger and glamour of Hot Springs.
IF YOU LIKED “Sweetbitter,” Stephanie Danler’s novel about a young woman’s experiences in New York, set in the world of the city’s high-end restaurants, YOU MIGHT LIKE “Luster,” by Raven Leilani (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Aug. 4). Edie, the 20-something aspiring artist at the center of Leilani’s first novel, shares an apartment in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and works in an administrative job. She becomes involved with a married man who has a family in New Jersey — and then develops relationships with his wife and adopted daughter.
IF YOU LIKED “Into Thin Air,” Jon Krakauer’s harrowing account of a doomed expedition to climb Mount Everest in 1996, YOU MIGHT LIKE “Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy,” by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano (W.W. Norton & Company). Gee and Anguiano offer a gripping ticktock account of the massive fire that devastated Paradise, Calif., and neighboring communities in 2018, killing 85 people and destroying 90 percent of residents’ homes. The book covers the history of that part of California and the influence of climate change on these disasters, but at its core are visceral individual stories of bravery and tragedy.
IF YOU LIKED “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Helen Fielding’s blockbuster, film-franchise-inspiring comic novel about the life of a single woman in London, YOU MIGHT LIKE “Becoming Duchess Goldblatt,” by Duchess Goldblatt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 7). Goldblatt is the fictional character who writes a popular Twitter account of the same name. She is the author of nonexistent books that include “An Axe to Grind; Feasting on the Carcasses of My Enemies: A Love Story.” In this memoir, her creator remains anonymous while writing about how the creation of her alter ego helped her through her own difficulties.
IF YOU LIKED “The Name of the Rose,” Umberto Eco’s intellectual mystery set in a 14th-century Italian monastery, YOU MIGHT LIKE “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell (Alfred A. Knopf, July 21). O’Farrell’s new novel is about Hamnet, a son of Shakespeare’s who died at 11 years old and inspired the name of his father’s most famous tragic character. The Bard plays less of a role in O’Farrell’s book than the boy and his mother, whose lives are recreated against the backdrop of the late 16th century.
IF YOU LIKED “Something Borrowed,” Emily Giffin’s novel about a New York City woman turning 30 and trying to sort out her romantic life, YOU MIGHT LIKE “Sex and Vanity,” by Kevin Kwan (Doubleday, June 30). The latest by Kwan (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is a homage to E.M. Forster’s “A Room With a View.” It concerns the life of Lucie Churchill, a New Yorker whose mother is an American-born Chinese woman. Lucie, torn between two men — and two cultures — navigates her troubles amid Kwan’s characteristically decadent settings, from Capri to the Hamptons.