Summer Reading 2023

Summertime is officially here! Time for picnics in the park, beach days, and of course, Book Culture's summer reading.

Here's what we're reading, or hoping to read, during those lazy, hazy days ahead.



Brittany - Bookseller, Book Culture on Broadway

  1. The Princess & the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz | The title caught my attention and when I found out it was a sapphic graphic novel with punny character names like Princess Brie of Fromage, I was hooked. The illustrations are colorful and the story is supposed to be cute so it sounds like the perfect summer read.
  2. The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar | Apparently, this is my summer of puns. I love competition shows and lesbian stories so I'm sure to love this. Shireen is selected to compete in The Junior Irish Baking Show- the only problem is she'll be competing alongside her ex-girlfriend. At the same time, a potential new crush is brewing. I'm ready for the drama!
  3. Night Shift by Kiare Ladner | Nothing to cool you down like a chilling story of an all-encompassing obsession. This story takes place in 90s London and features a woman who throws her comfy life away and potentially spirals into self-destruction.



Cara - Manager and Remainder Buyer, Book Culture on 112th

  1. When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà | It's billed as an atmospheric, plotless novel but also as a feat of evocative nature writing-- how better to sink into the naturally plotless rhythm of a hot NYC summer?
  2. The Priory of the Orange Tree bySamantha Shannon | Time for my yearly plunge into an epic fantasy. I can't believe I haven't tried Shannon's massive classic yet; it is often described as a feminist/queered twist on Tolkien-esque themes. What more could a diehard LOTR fan who was nevertheless upset Arwen only gets a weak subplot in the appendices want?
  3. Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova | I'm not usually a fan of horror, but this recently released novel caught my attention and drew me in like that horror movie character who keeps walking into danger even though all signs point to their imminent demise.. now that I've experienced it firsthand, maybe next time I watch one of those scenes I won't yell at the screen too much (lol yeah right, good try Cara)



Catherine - Manager, Book Culture LIC

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | I keep seeing this book all over BookTok, so I think my For You page is trying to tell me that it's finally time to read this.
  2. The Priory of the Orange Tree bySamantha Shannon | I was putting this book off for a while since it's 800 pages and fantasy books always confuse me, but it's time I face my fears. I've heard a lot of great things about this book, like the prose, storytelling, and characters, all of which I'm really excited to read about!
  3. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro | To end my fantasy summer reading, I should end it with Ishiguro. I've heard mixed reviews about this book, but that just intrigues me further.



Christian - Bookseller, Book Culture on 112th

  1. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson | James Weldon Johnson was an esteemed polymath, and most notably author of the Black national anthem. Ex-Colored Man was his earthshattering debut novel. Originally published in 1912, it laid the groundwork for future Black novelists & thinkers like Hughes, Wright, Ellison, and eventually, Morrison. The story explores the depths and intricacies of Black double consciousness, so this novel is probably not only beautifully written, but eerily prophetic.
  2. King: A Life byJonathan Eig | Seems like the world has been talking about this masterful new account of Dr. King’s time here on earth. I read Eig’s biography about The Champ a little over a year ago. If this new work is anything like it, I’m sure I’ll be swept away.
  3. Imperium in Imperio by Sutton E. Griggs | To riff off Du Bois: what if “the slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun” and then STAYED in that sun? In this forgotten classic, activist & minster Sutton E. Griggs manages to paint a world in which the check has been cashed! Where the dream has not been deferred! I’m excited to get to this one.



Devon - Lead Buyer

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert | I've never read Herbert's Sci-Fi classic, but I feel like it's got all the summer reading essentials. Sand? Check. Heat? Check. Over 600 pages? Big check.
  2. Summerwater by Sarah Moss | After all that spice, I'll probably need a cool drink of water. Summer water. I loved Moss's debut, Ghost Wall. Summerwater promises to be just as haunting and beautifully written.
  3. Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung | Speaking of haunting, what better way to round off the summer season than with a little K-horror? I've had my eye on this collection from Bora Chung for over a year, so it's high time I dive into the uncanny.


Gabi - Bookseller, Book Culture on 112th

  1. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | For whatever reason, "fantasy" and "summer" exist on the same plane in my brain (perhaps because they both bring me copious amounts of joy. This book has been sitting on my shelf for more than two years, and I'm thinking it's about time I finally dove into the land of Orïsha. Besides, nothing quite hits like speculative fiction based on mythology and belief systems from (and for) The Diaspora.
  2. Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo | I will simply read anything Elizabeth Acevedo writes. Added bonus: "Family Lore" is a homage to matriarchal power ... it doesn't get better than that.
  3. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor | “HOT” - Maggie Nelson.  “TIGHT” - Eileen Myles.  "DEEP” - Michelle Tea.  "GAY" -a Book Culture Customer.
    As if I needed anymore convincing.



Grainne - Bookseller, Book Culture LIC

  1. Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh | Emily Tesh's first two books (Silver in the Woods and Drowned Country) captivated me immediately, becoming some of my all-time favorite reads. I have very high hopes for this new book though the genre definitely diverges greatly from the previous duology. Summer also just feels like the perfect time to read a queer space-opera.
  2. Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar | I love bringing a book of poetry to the park or to the Elizabeth Street garden in Soho. There's just something about reading poetry surrounded by flowers and tree on a sunny day that feels magical and quintessentially New York. I picked up this collection after leafing through it in the Strand and I'm very excited to see if it lives up to the beauty of those few poems I skimmed through. Also, the cover is gorgeous.
  3. The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan | I've been making my way through the Wheel of Time series and this is the next one up! The series is definitely an undertaking (14 books!!), but for the most part it's really well-paced, has interesting characters, and is very entertaining.



Hannah - Manager, Book Culture Pittsford

  1. A Life of One's Own: Nine Women Writers Begin Again by Joanna Biggs | Hailed as the perfect blend of memoir, biography, and literary critcism, this new book by Joanna Biggs looks at the lives of nine famous women writers (Ferrante! Woolf! Plath! Morrison!) and examines why it is so important for women to read women writers.
  2. Either/Or by Elif Batuman | I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to this one, the sequel to Batuman's The Idiot, but I am eager to spend more time with Selin, my favorite quirky protagonist, during her sophomore year at Harvard.
  3. Arrangements in Blue by Amy Key | Amy Key's memoir examines the unexpected life she has created for herself using Joni Mitchell's album "Blue" as her means of storytelling. I'm especially interested to read Key's take on "loving and living alone" while I move into my first solo apartment this summer.



Joe - Chief Technical Officer

  1. Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey | I absolutely loved The Expanse, the sci-fi TV series based on this book series. I read the first book a few months ago, unsure if I'd like reading the books after watching the shows since I already knew the general plot, but it was so good! It's different enough from the show to be interesting (and from what I hear there are more differences the deeper you get in the series), but everything that made me love the show is here... A disparate crew thrown together in a crisis and forming bonds, a much more realistic take on spacefaring than anything involving warp drives or hyperspace, an interesting alien mystery unfolding, and an occasional sense of humor that feels just right. Despite the fact that the books in this series are a little bit bigger and longer than typical books, I read the first one really quickly (couldn't put it down), so I may have to also read the next book in the series after this one!
  2. Starfish by Peter Watts | I'm part way through another book (Echopraxia) by Peter Watts now as we ease into the summer, and I'm really enjoying it! I'll probably finish it soon, which means I'll need another Watts book to read. He has a background in marine biology, so his sci-fi books are very grounded in real science yet have some very bizarre concepts and aliens that surely stem from all the weirdness seen in the ocean depths. The first book of his that I read (Blindsight) has an appendix where he explained where all his concepts came from, and it was just as good a read as the rest of the book! I suspect this will be just as good.
  3. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin | I read the first book (The Fifth Season) in Jemisin's Broken Earth series and quite enjoyed it even though it was much more of a fantasy book than a sci-fi book (I usually prefer books that are more science-grounded sci-fi than magic-grounded fantasy), so I figure I might as well read this next book in the series. The first book had such great world-building and interesting concepts. Plus, I hear the series gets more sci-fi as it goes along, so I'm definitely intrigued.



Kyle - Bookseller, Book Culture on 112th

  1. Greek Lessons by Han Kang | Han Kang's work is human yet uncanny, grounding yet disturbing, all while musing on art, grief, and nostalgia---some of my favorite subjects to see explored in fiction. The Vegetarian and The White Book defined certain parts of my life, and I can't wait for my next Kang era.
  2. In Memoriam by Alice Winn | For a while now I've been interested in reading works from and about World War I (see the WWI poets and the novels of Pat Barker). I also love queer fiction, so once this title was released in the spring I knew I had to get my hands on it.
  3. Esther's Notebooks by Riad Sattouf | Riad Sattouf is one of my favorite francophone graphic novelists and is the artist behind my favorite graphic novel series, The Arab of the Future. I'm thrilled to see another of his series get translated into English so we can keep promoting his work (praying for Le Jeune Acteur next!).



Leo - Manager, Book Culture on 112th

  1. Uranians by Theodore McCombs | As Carmen Maria Machado said, "...McCombs is a poet of queer pasts, presents, and futures," and that's all I needed to hear! A series of short speculative stories depicting queerness and the Self in different worlds and realities, this seems like such a wild ride that I am SO excited about.
  2. Small Pieces by Micheline Aharonian Marcom & Fowzia Karimi | My dad and I routinely bond over Micheline Aharonian Marcom's absolutely poetic, vivid, and tender prose, especially her trilogy depicting her connection to the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath. This is her newest book, being published on 6/13, and it's a series of ultra-flash fiction paired with watercolor accompaniments by Fowzia Karimi! I'll be buying a copy for my dad and myself this summer :)
  3. Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski | If my Staff Picks page is anything to go by, I love a book with queer yearning, exploration of the Self, and depth of memory. I have no doubt this book will break my heart. Can't wait for it to join the likes of Winman's Tin Man and Besson's Lie With Me on my bookshelf.



Lucy - Bookseller, Book Culture LIC

  1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros | Dragons AND an enemies to lovers romance subplot? Of course I'm interested. I have a feeling that once this book is in my hands, it'll scarely leave them.
  2. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner | You may be wondering how I haven't read this yet. I'm wondering that too. Could it be that I'm scared? Maybe, but don't say it so loud. I think this summer is finally the time to take the plunge and figure out why everyone adores this book.
  3. King Rat by China Mieville | If there's one thing you need to know about me, it's that I love rats (see the tattoo on my bicep as proof). So when I read the blurb while labelling this book and saw that it was not just a cool sci-fi novel set in a seedy London, but also that there are RAT PEOPLE? Count me in.



Madi - Bookseller, Book Culture LIC

  1. How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler | The concept of this book is so unique that I can't help but be intrigued - it's part memoir, part scientific account of deep-sea creatures - and manages to tie these things together while covering topics like gender identity, body image, and sexual assault. Plus, even if it's a somewhat atypical beach read, this will enable me to either delight or annoy my friends with sea creature facts at the beach this summer. (They have been warned!)
  2. Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz | A recent release in paperback, this book has been described as a zany, surrealist dark comedy about a man trying to seek revenge on his murderer from the far reaches of the afterlife. It sounds fun, thought-provoking, and potentially pretty weird - so essentially, right up my alley.
  3. Hit Parade of Tears by Izumi Suzuki | The hotter the weather, the shorter my attention span seems to get. This makes it the perfect time to pick up counterculture icon Izumi Suzuki's recently translated collection of speculative short stories which, though written during the '70s, will undoubtedly still feel funky and fresh.



Yunuen - Bookseller, Book Culture on 112th

  1. Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez | This summer is about exploring generational trauma through horror novels! Fresh, culty, latinx, ancestral homes, queer, survival - horror reading can be summer-y too!
  2. Buenos Días/Good Morning by Eva Maria Gey | Baby tummy-time is important! Babies can perceive stark contrast images and learn about objects around them in Spanish and English - and my favorite thing is the accordion fold out feature.
  3. Chlorine by Jade Song | Nothing better (or worse) than swimming pool horror. Have you played mermaids with your friends this summer yet? Tbh I might not after this one...