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22 Books for Summer 2019

22 Books for Summer 2019

We’ll keep it short. Because we’ve all got reading to do. We love every single one of these novels, essay collections, memoirs, short stories, and food and design books enough to read again. For the sake of beach bags and carry-ons, we’ve split them into what’s fairly new in hardcover and what’s now out in paperback. Send us your own reviews: #goopbookclub.

Hardcovers

  • <em>City of Girls</em> by Elizabeth Gilbert

    City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

    For Pleasure
    Don’t bother trying to come up with a genre for City of Girls, or anything that Elizabeth Gilbert writes. With every book, she proves that she’s not interested in our categorization. And we love her for it. On the one hand, City of Girls—Gilbert’s first novel since 2013’s The Signature of All Things—is fun and, yes, light. It’s set in 1940s New York City, in the theater world. There’s a lot of sex. There are a lot of women having a lot of sex. Including nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris, who has just been invited to leave Vassar College after a mediocre academic showing and sent to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a strange, wonderful, stumbling midtown theater. But then there’s the other hand: City of Girls is smart and wise, and if you also want your beach read to speak to your sense of desire, longing, adventure, and coming of age, it certainly will not disappoint.

  • <em>Necessary People</em> by Anna Pitoniak

    Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

    In the News
    What we loved about Anna Pitoniak’s first post-grad novel, The Futures, was that it got at that universal feeling of staring ahead at a blank future and wondering: Now what? It transported us back to our younger selves. Necessary People is also set after college graduation, but what we love about it is that it’s a story that transported us away from ourselves; it’s something you can escape into. Stella (the center of attention) and Violet (her loyal BFF) are living together in New York City (in an apartment owned by Stella’s family). Violet (hardworking) pulls herself up the ranks at a cable news station, where she becomes a producer. Stella (a little wild) works her family connections and becomes the on-camera talent—at the same news station. Let’s just say not everyone plays nice—and it’s thrilling.

  • <em>Trust Exercise</em> by Susan Choi

    Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

    School Novel
    Susan Choi’s latest novel, Trust Exercise, begins at a competitive, quirky performing arts high school in a 1980s American suburb. In one timeline, two freshmen are falling in love. Jump a bunch of years ahead to adulthood, and Choi’s sharp writing starts messing with your mind: What really happened to the students at the Citywide Academy for the Performing Arts (and what didn’t), what’s truth (and what’s not), is up for debate through the last scene.

  • <em>Normal People</em> by Sally Rooney

    Normal People by Sally Rooney

    For the Writing
    Nobody writes like Sally Rooney. Her characters think the same things that we all think but wonder if anyone else has ever thought. Normal People, her second novel, follows Connell and Marianne’s on-again, off-again relationship. When they are teenagers, Connell is the popular football (soccer) player everybody knows; and Marianne, the girl no one does. As they grow together and apart, their sense of self and the way they’re perceived in the world breaks and reforms. The worst thing about Normal People is that it’s over too fast.

  • <em>To Stop a Warlord</em> by Shannon Sedgwick Davis

    To Stop a Warlord by Shannon Sedgwick Davis

    This Matters
    Shannon Sedgwick Davis was visiting the Congo in 2009 when she learned of a massacre that had left 300 people dead. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a Central African genocidal terrorist group led by Joseph Kony, had been committing atrocities for over a quarter century. Davis, an attorney and the CEO of Bridgeway Foundation, a human rights organization dedicated to preventing and ending genocide, had been working to end mass atrocities around the globe. But this particular moment made her change course: In an unorthodox grassroots effort, Davis and her nonprofit collaborated with the Ugandan army and private military contractors to end the wrath of Kony and the LRA. It took a lot of brave people—not to mention unimaginable grace and courage—and it’s the story Davis tells in her book, To Stop a Warlord. (You’ll want to do something after you finish reading: The nonprofit Resolve is a great place to start.)

  • <em>Fleishman Is in Trouble</em> by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

    Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

    Fine Observations
    Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. (She wrote a feature about GP for the magazine last summer.) And this is her first novel. It’s about Toby Fleishman. Toby finds himself in an unexpected position when his ex-wife, Rachel, drops their two kids off at Toby’s place in the middle of a summer day and does not return. What happened to Rachel? And where did things go so wrong between them? It’s a story peppered with Brodesser-Akner’s shrewd, keen, cutting observations and wildly engaging prose. Ambitious and funny.

  • <em>Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century</em>

    Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century

    Design Time
    This megabook of interior design covers 400 rooms, organized by designer (A to Z), and takes you from the beginning of the twentieth century through to today. There are penthouses, beach homes, desert ranches, your signature châteaux. Phaidon finished the book with four different velvet covers (pick the color that matches your space, or a friend’s). It’s beautiful, inspirational, aspirational. And it’s also a design book that—hear us out—you’ll read. Because it’s deeply intelligent. Looking for somewhere to start? We’d go with the essays by David Netto, a Los Angeles–based interior designer and writer.

  • <em>How Could She</em> by Lauren Mechling

    How Could She by Lauren Mechling

    About Friends
    Some people will pick up this novel because they like stories about the competitive New York media scene (also see Necessary People and Savage News)—and this one covers a wider swath than most (podcasts!). But most people will be drawn to it because it’s a story about adult friendship. How Could She drops into midlife for three women who have their career, family, and romantic chips in order to varying degrees. Each one is trying to renegotiate her past as a means to getting somewhere else in the future. And in the process, they all have to navigate their increasingly complicated ties to one another.

  • <em>The Mistresses of Cliveden</em> by Natalie Livingstone

    The Mistresses of Cliveden by Natalie Livingstone

    For the Downton Abbey Set
    Natalie Livingstone was born and raised in London and graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge, with a first-class degree in history. This, her first book (nonfiction), focuses on the Cliveden estate, which sits about five miles from Windsor Castle and has been something of a scandalous fixture in British culture from the 1660s into the 1960s—things went down in this house. Through the women who stayed at Cliveden and made it their home over the years, Livingstone tells a larger historical story about sex and conflict and power. And in some ways, it’s a story that only she, as the current woman of Cliveden (really), could tell.

  • <em>The Kitchen Is for Dancing</em> by Karlene Karst

    The Kitchen Is for Dancing by Karlene Karst

    Eat It
    We fell for nutritionist Karlene Karst’s easygoing nature and pocketed her food tips at our In goop Health summit in Vancouver last fall. The Kitchen Is for Dancing is her first cookbook in a minute. The first few chapters cover her food philosophy and her personal health journey, then meal prepping and pantry help. Recipes are organized into breakfast, snacks, soup, veggies, weekday dinner, and sweets. But we truly applaud that there’s also a whole chapter for Sunday dinner—i.e., Braised Cauliflower and Kale, Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, and sauces to stock up on like Cashew Cream, Sunflower Seed Alfredo, and Pumpkin Marinara.

  • <em>Savage News</em> by Jessica Yellin

    Savage News by Jessica Yellin

    Politics Lite
    Jessica Yellin is the former chief White House correspondent for CNN. She’s interviewed Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush, among many others. Her fictional heroine in Savage News is: a reporter. When Natalie Savage finally gets her chance to cover the White House, there’s a golden boy colleague in her way, abetted by a sexist boss. To outsmart them, Natalie pulls off some crazy, ninja-level shit in DC’s social and political scene. Funny, satirical, and couldn’t be timelier.

Paperbacks

  • <em>Outline</em> by Rachel Cusk

    Outline by Rachel Cusk

    Trilogy Fix
    Cusk is the author of a few memoirs and several novels; her Outline trilogy swept critics and readers right up. It begins with Outline, which follows a woman through ten conversations between herself and the various people she encounters while teaching in Greece for a summer. All the reader knows about the narrator and her story is revealed through these limited conversations. So it’s not the plot that propels you forward; it’s Cusk’s deft understanding of the complicated exchange that can happen when two people simply connect in the same place at the right time. (All three books in the trilogy are published—the final, Kudos, came out in paperback this April. We recommend a wholehearted binge.)

  • <em>State of the Union</em> by Nick Hornby

    State of the Union by Nick Hornby

    Fast Read
    True story: One of our editors read Nick Hornby’s entire novella-esque exploration of marriage while getting a pedicure. Which is to say, it’s quick, sharp, and absorbing, and it fits in a small handbag. State of the Union is a ten-chapter conversation between a husband and wife. It takes place in the minutes before their weekly therapy sessions, when they meet at a pub across the street from their therapist’s. It’s there, over a glass of white wine and a pint, that they look a little bit closer at their marriage, each other, and themselves for the first time in a while. We did, too.

  • <em>You Me Everything</em> by Catherine Isaac

    You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

    Summer in the French Countryside
    This novel is a delight. Catherine Isaac’s American debut (she’s British) came out last May and is coming out in paperback at the end of this June. It takes place in the French countryside (the Dordogne) over a summer vacation at Château de Roussignol. Jess shows up there with her ten-year-old son and a goal: She wants Adam, her ex who runs the castle where they’re staying, to connect with her—their—son. There’s romance and tears—and hope.

  • <em>Look Alive Out There</em> by Sloane Crosley

    Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

    Charmer
    Ten years later, we still think about Sloane Crosley’s debut essay collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. She is a master at the form and a darling of the one-liner (and how about those titles?). In Look Alive Out There, Crosley pivots the reader along a string of her adventures. Because it’s Crosley, everything feels very specific to her while also capturing ideas that are so much larger and more relevant.

  • <em>The Peacock Emporium</em> by Jojo Moyes

    The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes

    If You Love Jojo Moyes
    We appreciate that Jojo Moyes’s US publisher has come up with a strategy to keep us occupied while we wait for her next book to come out: The Peacock Emporium is an early Moyes book that was published in the UK in 2004—and now it’s here. It’s a classic Moyes story. Two timelines: In the 1960s, Athene Forster is the “Last Deb,” who says yes to handsome heir Douglas Fairley-Hulme. A couple years later, there are rumors of an affair with a salesman. Thirty-five years later, Suzanna Peacock is sorting through her mother’s legacy. Try to read it slowly. And then preorder The Giver of Stars, Moyes’s new novel, coming this October. We’re not parting with our early copy.

  • <em>Tell Me More</em> by Kelly Corrigan

    Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

    To Be Seen
    There’s a sense of nostalgia and familiarity to Kelly Corrigan’s writing. Tell Me More, her fourth book, feels like an arrival at an understanding of both the complexity and banality of life. It’s a compilation of personal essays in which Corrigan reveals a lot about herself, her family, her insecurities. The book is punctuated with everyday phrases, chapter titles like “I Was Wrong,” “I Love You,” and “Good Enough”—in which Corrigan writes about the beauty and necessity of being seen, of having people believe in you. “Over time, we begin to believe too—not in our shot at perfection, mind you, but in the good enough version of us that they have reflected.”

  • <em>There There</em> by Tommy Orange

    There There by Tommy Orange

    Knockout
    This is the kind of novel you finish and immediately need your book club to read so you can talk about it with other people. The author, Tommy Orange, graduated from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, the centerpiece of his debut book. It’s told through the stories of twelve characters with ties to Oakland who all identify as Native American to varying degrees. Their voices are powerful, sometimes beautiful, occasionally unnerving. And the whole time you’re trying to work out the puzzle of how they fit together, all the while knowing you won’t be able to get them out of your head for a long time after. There There is a book about pain and beauty, about a culture that has repeatedly been abused and ignored, about belonging and unbelonging, about searching for identity in history. It’s also a powerful reminder of the ability of narrative to move minds.

  • <em>Florida</em> by Lauren Groff

    Florida by Lauren Groff

    Short Stories
    We would probably give a five-star review to Lauren Groff’s grocery list. Her language is beautiful, surprising, and always unfolding. Florida is a visceral story collection about the state where she’s lived for over a dozen years and the conflicted feelings that come with our relationship to home. It’s told through a series of rich, layered characters. In the first story, she writes: “On my nighttime walks, the neighbors’ lives reveal themselves, the lit windows domestic aquariums. At times, I’m the silent witness to fights that look like slow-dancing without music. It is astonishing how people live, the messes they sustain, the delicious whiffs of cooking that carry to the street, the holiday decorations that slowly seep into daily decor.” And this is the intimate effect that Florida has on the reader: It’s as if you’re eavesdropping the whole time, peering in on lives vastly different from and yet so familiar to your own.

  • <em>Little Panic </em>by Amanda Stern

    Little Panic by Amanda Stern

    Can’t Look Away
    Amanda Stern’s can’t-look-away memoir of living with anxiety is annotated with doctors’ notes and the results of the many cognitive, behavioral, and other tests that she endured throughout her childhood as experts tried to figure out what was different about her. Combined with Stern’s curious and self-critical eye, these illustrate a point that should be obvious but often isn’t. To borrow from one of Stern’s chapter titles: There’s no one right way to be a person. There’s something magnetic about Little Panic. And that’s the picture of 1970s and 1980s New York City that Stern re-creates from her childhood, split between Greenwich Village, where she walked barefoot with her mom, and uptown, where she visited her dad’s pristine home every weekend.

  • <em>I Am, I Am, I Am</em> by Maggie O’Farrell

    I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

    Cuts Through
    A nod to Sylvia Plath, Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am is a memoir told through seventeen moments that she maybe almost didn’t live through. Some are quiet—when a car gets uncomfortably close to you on the road—and others more chilling. (We’ll let you find those.) O’Farrell explores the way surviving a childhood illness made her bold and how having children reshaped her sense of vulnerability. The book is clever and poignant and deeply affecting. (Same goes for this original essay that O’Farrell wrote for us on raising a daughter with a chronic illness.)

  • <em>A Little Life</em> by Hanya Yanagihara

    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    Join the Club
    There was a group of us at goop brave enough to admit that we hadn’t read A Little Life. We formed a support group (#goopbookclub) and got to it. Everything is true: This book will rip your heart out. And we would welcome it all over again.

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