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From The Magazine

The It Girl’s Summer Reading List

Delicious new releases for long days by the pool.

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In the online literary discourse, “beach read” as a term has gone the way of “chick lit” — as in, why do the books women bring to enjoy at Jacob Riis or El Matador have to be unserious?

You could, conceivably, haul every volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in an extra-large Boat and Tote to prove a point, but you could also save yourself the back pain and pack one of the juicy (but substantive) new releases below instead. From It Girl Honor Levy’s surreal short stories to a Lorde-backed, 18-year-old Māori poet’s incendiary second collection, see 18 titles you won’t be able to put down, not even for a quick dip.

A Good Happy Girl by Marissa Higgins

Marissa Higgins has an uncanny ability to write about devastating topics with a shrug. It’s a talent that’s on full display in her original and stylish debut novel, which follows a young attorney pursuing an intense relationship with a married lesbian couple as she navigates her parents’ recent incarceration.

Rangikura by Tayi Tibble

At only 28 years old, Tayi Tibble has already been called “one of the most startling and original poets of her generation” by the U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and she counts fellow New Zealander Lorde as one of her superfans. The Māori writer’s incendiary second collection arrives on the heels of 2022’s Poūkahangatus and is as stylish and fearless as she is.

Honor Levy has been hailed as a riveting voice of Gen Z for her surreal, electric flash-fiction stories that find her characters increasingly enmeshed in a digital age on the edge of collapse. Now, she’s releasing a debut short-story collection full of young people in strange situations.

All Fours by Miranda July

Miranda July — actor, filmmaker, and literary “it girl” of the 2010s — is releasing her first novel in nine years. All Fours is an irreverent, erotic novel about a semi- famous, middle-aged artist who upends her life. (Is there any better genre?)

Very Bad Company by Emma Rosenblum

In 2023 Emma Rosenblum brought us Bad Summer People, a salacious tale of murderous intrigue featuring a gossiping group of wealthy New Yorkers vacationing in Fire Island. Next up is Very Bad Company, a story of 10 dysfunctional colleagues brokering a billion-dollar deal over a work retreat in paradise that turns deadly. Think The White Lotus meets Succession.

Rebel Girl: My Life As A Feminist Punk by Kathleen Hanna

The legendary Bikini Kill and Le Tigre lead singer’s gripping memoir guides us through a tumultuous childhood and coming of age in Olympia, Washington. Also included: the scoop on starting the Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s, her friendship with Kurt Cobain, falling in love with Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, and her debilitating battle with Lyme disease.

We Were The Universe by Kimberly King Parsons

From the author of Black Light comes a richly psychedelic and smart novel about a young former rocker coping with the dizzying effects of grief after the death of her sister. After a trip to Montana with her best friend, she returns to Dallas and tries to balance her daily routine with reminiscing about her past life and pondering new sexual fantasies.

Perfume & Pain by Anna Dorn

Simon & Schuster, May 21

Anna Dorn’s last book, Exalted, was for the astrology girlies; Perfume & Pain is for the fragrance heads. In her new sultry romp of a novel, a controversial L.A. author attempts to revive her career and finally find true love in this hilarious nod to 1950s lesbian pulp fiction.

Exhibit by R. O. Kwon

Riverhead Books, May 21

Jin Han has been told that she’s never to share anything about an old familial curse, lest she risk death and ruin. But she can’t help herself when she meets Lidija, an injured pro ballerina on hiatus for sketchy reasons from her ballet company. R.O. Kwon’s Exhibit is an exhilarating novel about being caught between the desires of the future and the specters of the past.

Brat by Gabriel Smith

Penguin Press, June 4

Gabriel Smith, a buzzy literary talent with an irreverent clarity of voice, debuts an inventive and spooky novel about a writer living in his dead father’s house while struggling to finish his second book. As his surroundings slowly start to deteriorate, the writer embarks on a surreal journey into the mystery of his home, which further unravels when he finds a bizarre homemade video.

Role Play by Clara Drummond

FSG Originals, June 4

In this original satire, a wealthy young gallery curator in Rio de Janeiro has a class awakening when her picture-perfect existence is threatened by a shocking proximity to state violence. Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn, Clara Drummond’s English-language debut skewers the fun-house effects of wealth for a biting and seductive read.

Tehrangeles by Porochista Khakpour

Pantheon, June 11

Reality TV, Los Angeles, and a fast-food empire are all ingredients in Porochista Khakpour’s tragicomic story of Iranian-American multimillionaires living in an L.A. McMansion with their four spirited daughters. The family is on the verge of landing its own reality TV show when it becomes clear that their deepest secrets are about to be dragged out into the open before the cameras even roll.

Ask Me Again by Clare Sestanovich

Knopf, June 11

Clare Sestanovich’s intimate short stories paved the way for her novel Ask Me Again, a coming-of-age story set between two boroughs of New York. The book follows Eva and Jamie, who develop a profound friendship but are pulled into separate worlds, leading to an ultimate reckoning exploring destiny, identity, and faith in the world at large.

Parade by Rachel Cusk

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 18

Rachel Cusk has been praised for her gut renovation of the novel in her Outline trilogy. Now, she’s back with a new novel that demolishes traditional storytelling conventions. In Parade, an artist starts painting upside down, finally reaching great acclaim.

Little Rot by Akwaeke Emezi

Riverhead, June 18

Lives get plunged into chaos when a sex party goes awry — thrusting a newly single man, his best friend, and two sex workers into the tangled elite underbelly of a Nigerian city as they all desperately try to locate the escape hatch.

Banal Nightmare by Halle Butler

Penguin Random House, July 16

Halle Butler’s mastery of writing uniquely infuriating characters is front and center in her latest novel, Banal Nightmare. This exacting and hilarious work follows Moddie as she returns to her Midwestern town of X, where she’s met with old friends, renewed revenge fantasies, and demons that refuse to stay hidden.

The Hypocrite by Jo Hamya

Pantheon, Aug. 13

Father-daughter animosity is on full display in Jo Hamya’s The Hypocrite, a searing novel that follows young playwright Sophia, who debuts a well-received new show centered around a Sicilian vacation she took with her dad, a famous and embattled author, years prior.

Blue Sisters by Coco Mellors

Ballantine Books, Sep. 3

As you await the TV adaptation of Coco Mellors’ debut novel, Cleopatra and Frankenstein, whet your appetite with Blue Sisters, which follows three estranged siblings who return home to save the New York City apartment they grew up in from being sold after the untimely death of their other sister.