Back in February, we posted our most anticipated books for 2011. About half of the books have already come out by now, but there's a lot more to look forward to. Today, we're sharing BookPage's 20 most anticipated books for summer. This list includes the June, July and August books from our big ole 2011 list, as well as other sure-to-be summer hits.
Go ahead and mark your calendars (our Google calendar makes this even easier) and start making room in your beach bag! Which of these are you going to read this summer?
Eleanor Henderson, TEN THOUSAND SAINTS (Ecco)
In her vibrant debut, a sweeping coming-of-age novel set against the pulsing New York City punk scene of the late 1980s, Eleanor Henderson brings to life both a set of achingly real characters and the unique time in which they lived. Get another taste of the novel in this week's Trailer Tuesday post.
Ann Patchett, STATE OF WONDER (Harper)
BookPage editors liked State of Wonder so much we made an interview with Patchett our June cover story. Set deep in the heart of the Amazonian jungle, State of Wonder tells the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company dispatched to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson. For more on this thought-provoking novel (also a page-turner!), watch our interview with Patchett on YouTube.
Marcus Sakey, THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES (Dutton)
We have good news and bad news. The good: There's an interview with Sakey in the June issue of BookPage—which means it is one of our favorite books of the month. The bad: We can't tell you much about the plot. From the interview, written by Alden Mudge: "In The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, Marcus Sakey has written a seriously good thriller. Really good. So of course we can’t tell you too much about it. 'It drives me crazy when people [he means reviewers] give away all the stuff I worked so hard to make surprises,' Sakey says during a call to his home in Chicago, where, he reports, 'life is a little chaotic.'"
Kate Christensen, THE ASTRAL (Doubleday)
In The Astral—our June Fiction Top Pick—Christensen nails the voice of a male poet in crisis, Harry Quirk. Readers will be sucked into extremely realistic familial dramas while Christensen perfectly captures her Brooklyn backdrop—from dive bars to hipsters drinking overpriced coffee in trendy cafes.
J. Courtney Sullivan, MAINE (Knopf)
Sullivan made a name for herself in 2009 with a smart, incredibly resonant debut, Commencement, about four unlikely friends during their college years at Smith and the turbulent 20-something years that followed. With her sophomore effort, Sullivan turns from friendships to family, writing with the same warmth and nuance as Commencement, but pushing her characters farther, creating an even more complex and satisfying whole in Maine.
Molly Birnbaum, SEASON TO TASTE (Ecco)
Aspiring chef Birnbaum lost her sense of smell after a speeding car slammed into her while she was running. Season to Taste, a memoir, vividly recalls what it was like to suddenly live in a world devoid of scent. Our July Nonfiction Top Pick, this is a truly mouthwatering read.
Stefan Merrill Block, THE STORM AT THE DOOR (Random House)
Block's new novel—his second—is a mythic re-imagining of a period in the 1960s when his grandmother put his grandfather in a mental hospital. You can look forward to an interview with Block in the July issue of BookPage, in which Alden Mudge states that The Storm at the Door is a better novel than Block's heartbreaking and funny debut, The Story of Forgetting.
Bobbie Ann Mason, THE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET (Random House)
This fabulous tale takes readers into France and to the tumultuous years of World War II. Readers who enjoy Anne Tyler and Mona Simpson will want to get their hands on this one.
Josh Ritter, BRIGHT'S PASSAGE (Dial Press)
This fable-like first novel from singer-songwriter Ritter is about a World War I vet in Appalachia who has lost his wife and must care for their baby. Look for its inclusion in our August debut novel feature—and for an interview with Ritter here on BookPage.com in July.
Bonnie Jo Campbell, ONCE UPON A RIVER (Norton)
Add the name of Margo Crane—the protagonist of Bonnie Jo Campbell's passionate new novel—to the ranks of memorable literary heroines. This novel navigates the borderline between civilization and the harsh, dangerous natural world. It's the story of a journey that begins with the search for a missing parent and ends in self-discovery.
Chevy Stevens, NEVER KNOWING (St. Martin's)
This companion book to 2010's Still Missing promises to be good and creepy. A woman learns her biological father is an infamous killer. That's horrifying enough . . . until her father learns about her.
Glen Duncan, THE LAST WEREWOLF (Knopf)
Just when you think you've seen it all in the fictional werewolf/vampire/witch craze, British novelist Duncan comes along with a story unlike anything else out there. It's dark, atmospheric and gripping—and it has more in common with Anne Rice than Stephenie Meyer.
John Hart, IRON HOUSE (Thomas Dunne Books)
With each subsequent novel, it seems that John Hart gets more acclaim. His first novel, The King of Lies, received an Edgar nomination; his second, Down River, won an Edgar Award; and his third, The Last Child, was a New York Times bestseller. (BookPage called it “a lineal descendant and spiritual soul mate of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield.”) Iron House is about two orphaned brothers accused of murder.
Jenny Wingfield, THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE (Random House)
This story takes place on a farm in the south of Arkansas in 1956, where the charms range from spunky children creating worlds for themselves on large stretches of property, to family suppers complete with pineapple upside down cake and made-from-scratch biscuits, to neighbors who operate on the honor system. This idealized, simple life is rocked by no small list of heartbreaks: animal abuse, suicide, rape, murder and the near falling apart of a family. Read an excerpt on The Book Case.
Melanie Benjamin, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB (Delacorte Press)
The author of Alice I Have Been has created an imagined autobiography of the famed 32-inch woman (aka Lavinia Warren) who used her diminutive stature to take her to fame, fortune and great heights.
Amy Waldman, THE SUBMISSION (FSG)
The Submission is about the competition for a 9/11 memorial—with a twist that could be lifted from current headlines. After the planning committee for the memorial chooses a submission, they discover that the anonymous designer is Muslim. If the chaos surrounding the “Ground Zero mosque” is any indication, we can bet that this will be a debut that gets people talking.
Lev Grossman, THE MAGICIAN KING (Viking)
The Magician King is Grossman's follow-up to The Magicians, Grossman's bestseller that combined fantasy and psychological realism. As reviewer Jillian Quint described in BookPage: "Think J.K. Rowling meets C.S. Lewis meets Donna Tartt."
Deborah Lawrenson, THE LANTERN (Harper)
This U.S. debut, set in Provence, is a modern Gothic—and an homage Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It's drawing praise from authors like Garth Stein and Tatiana de Rosnay. We smell a book club favorite in the making.
Alexandra Fuller, COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS (Penguin Press)
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller’s memoir of growing up as a white girl in Rhodesia, is a contemporary classic of the memoir genre. With Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her mother and father.
Tom Perrotta, THE LEFTOVERS (St. Martin's Press)
Just when we thought there was nothing new under the (dead) sun of post-apocalyptic literature, Tom Perrotta comes up with an addition to the popular genre. In The Leftovers, the aftermath of a rapture-like event is explored through the life of a family in small-town New Jersey. Why did the people who disappeared disappear, and where are they now?
Our November book club column also highlights a debut novel and the latest from Malcolm Gladwell—but the top paperback release this month, according to columnist Julie Hale, is "a fascinating exploration of gender, history and female friendship"—Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures.
Reviewer Jessica Inman said, in her review of the hardcover edition, "There’s humor, romance and a down-to-earth kind of suspense. But most of all, there are the believable and well-crafted personal triumphs and tragedies of two women who defied convention and changed their corner of the world."
Historical fiction has often been of interest to my book club, since the contrast between past and present mores adds another topic to be discussed. Does your book club read historical fiction? What are you reading with your book club this month?
This month, Julie Hale selected Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood as her top pick for book clubs. "A strange and beautiful work, this masterful narrative proves that Atwood can do anything as a novelist," says Hale, who knows her literary fiction (in addition to having an MFA, she's been writing this column for nearly 10 years!).
What is your book club reading this month?
Is there something about the last name "Patterson" that gives you automatic thriller writer credentials? Maybe. According to audio columnist Sukey Howard, Richard North Patterson's courtroom scenes, "with their edgy retorts and rebuttals, showcase the immediacy and emotional force of a good audio performance." His latest book, In the Name of Honor, is her top audio pick for this month.
Read the full review here. Have you heard any good audiobooks lately?
Our romance columnist Christie Ridgway is a best-selling author in her own right, so when she says a novel is "A satisfying, sweet and sexy read," it's definitely a winner. This month, A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr is her top pick for romance. Read the full review here.
Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife has become a modern book club classic. Our book club columnist Julie Hale thinks Niffenegger's follow up, the creepy Gothic tale Her Fearful Symmetry, which has just been released in paperback, will prove just as appealing: "Niffenegger writes with persuasiveness and originality about matters of the heart and matters of the afterlife."
What is your book club reading this month?
I have never met anyone who's read more mysteries than our own Bruce Tierney, Whodunit columnist extraordinaire. For years he's been choosing a mystery of the month, and Karin Slaughter has been a pick multiple times. He says her latest, Broken, which went on sale Tuesday, is the best so far: "There are secrets in Grant County, and unearthing some of them can be lethal, even if you carry a badge."