6 New Novels That Will Stick with You—Plus 6 Paperbacks for Your Tote Bag

We finished our summer reading list a little early this year and cracked open some new fiction we can’t stop thinking about. All six of these novels are worthy of being toted around in hardcover, but if your beach bag is tight on space, see our picks for what’s new in paperback, too.

Summer Releases

  • <em>A Place for Us</em> by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    Sarah Jessica Parker sold us on this novel when she told GP about it on The goop Podcast. (We became such fans that we’re now carrying A Place for Us in the goop shop.) It’s the first one that’s been published under her new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, and the first by twenty-seven-year-old Fatima Farheen Mirza, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop grad. The book opens at a wedding: Hadia, the oldest daughter of a Muslim American family in Northern California, is getting married. It’s time to take the family portrait, and they’re waiting for Amar—the youngest, estranged son—not sure if he’s even going to show up. From there, you travel with these characters back and forth in time, uncovering, layer by layer, the forces that shaped their family. It’s a sweeping, beautiful novel made up of the keenest of observations.

  • <em>My Year of Rest and Relaxation</em> by Ottessa Moshfegh

    My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

    This darkly comic novel takes self-care to a perverse level: Our unnamed protagonist has decided that the key to self-preservation will be a year spent on any and all sleeping pills and sedatives. Although you might think this would make for an unlikable character, we just loved her. Ottessa Moshfegh—whose last novel, Eileen, won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and National Book Critics Circle Award—is crazy clever.

  • <em>The Incendiaries</em> by R. O. Kwon

    The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon

    Lauren Groff said it best (as she usually does): “The Incendiaries is a God-haunted, willful, strange book written with a kind of savage elegance.” R. O. Kwon’s otherworldly use of language is sparing at turns and then suddenly searing and sensuous, and too gorgeous to read only once. Everything about it resists comparison. This novel, Kwon’s first, revolves around two students at a prestigious East Coast college: Will, a misfit who transferred from Bible college and left his faith behind, and Phoebe, a showstopper with a secret wound who gets drawn into a religious cult. Their love story is unusual, and Kwon’s examination of loss, fundamentalism, fear, and terrorism is so not what you would expect.

  • <em>The Lost Vintage</em> by Ann Mah

    The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

    Ann Mah, a food and travel writer and the author of the memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, has a new made-for-vacation read. The Lost Vintage drops you into Burgundy, where Kate, a struggling sommelier, has momentarily skipped out of life in San Francisco. It’s been years since Kate has been back in France. Yes, there’s a guy: Jean-Luc, a neighboring winemaker and Kate’s first love, whom she never thought she’d see again and now must, in a new way. Her story and his are woven together with one that got lost—a never-before-spoken-about relative who Kate discovers was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.

  • <em>The Mars Room</em> by Rachel Kushner

    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

    After The Flamethrowers, which is set in the New York art world in the 1970s, Kushner switches gears, taking up a distinct fascination with the California prison system, and the women who find themselves moving through it. At the start of 300 essayistic pages—filled with tales of mental illness, mistreatment, and desperation—Kushner introduces us to Romy Hall, a twenty-nine-year-old white woman who is serving two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, for killing a man who was stalking her. Romy’s perceptive, and you find yourself sympathizing with her most of the time: “I don’t plan on living a long life, or a short life, necessarily,” Romy says. “I have no plans at all.” With Romy and the imprisoned women around her, Kushner ambitiously takes on the task of bringing the criminal justice system’s dealings to light in a way that’s at once relentless and jarring—but also, through the eyes of an insightful narrator, hauntingly poetic.

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

    There There by Tommy Orange

    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, which is the centerpiece of his debut book. It’s told through the stories of twelve characters with ties to Oakland who all identify to varying degrees as Native American. Their voices are powerful, sometimes beautiful, sometimes 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.

New in Paperback

  • <em>Fly Me</em> by Daniel Riley

    Fly Me by Daniel Riley

    It’s 1972, and the novel’s brazen protagonist, Suzy, fresh off of four years at Vassar, decides to pack her bags and follow in the footsteps of her older sister, Grace, who is working as a stewardess for Grand Pacific Airlines in California. She finds herself in Sela del Mar, a beach town within striking distance of LAX. As luck would have it, Suzy immediately gets wrapped up with Billy Zar, a local weed dealer who excels at wielding both his charm and influence on impressionable Suzy. Packed with a little bit of everything—drug-running, hijackings, a nod to LA’s surf-skate culture, rock and roll—the plotline is fascinating and intense. It’s reminiscent, at times, of Emma Cline’s coming-of-age story The Girls. Fly Me is the first novel by Dan Riley, a features editor at GQ magazine. Riley is a highly skilled storyteller and grew up in Manhattan Beach, California—both his talent and experience are apparent in Fly Me.

  • <em>Goodbye, Vitamin</em> by Rachel Khong

    Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

    One of the most memorable debut novels from summer 2017, Goodbye, Vitamin is a thoughtful, original exploration of what it means to be a family. It’s told in a diary form, from the point of view of thirty-year-old Ruth, who moves back in with her parents as her father, a college professor, begins to lose his memory. More engrossing and poignant than it is sad, you can easily finish this in a single sitting.

  • <em>Sour Heart</em> by Jenny Zhang

    Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

    The first book published under Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s Lenny imprint, Jenny Zhang’s story collection Sour Heart swept up awards in 2017. It won the LA Times Book Prize and PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, was a finalist for the NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and was named to practically every best-of list—for good reason. Reading Zhang feels like discovering a revelation. In this collection, all of her convincingly relatable characters are young women from immigrant families who are trying to navigate life in America.

  • <em>Spoonbenders</em> by Daryl Gregory

    Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

    Of course we’d read a novel about a family of psychics that includes a telekinetic brother and a human lie detector of a sister: Once known as the Amazing Telemachus Family, Daryl Gregory’s charmingly drawn clan finds themselves sorely down on their luck in the present. Part of the fun here is riding along as they try to get their mojo back, and part lies in untangling the aspects of their characters that make them gifted psychics, clever con artists, and, perhaps most relatable, everyday dreamers.

  • <em>Standard Deviation</em> by Katherine Heiny

    Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

    This novel, which follows the lives of a New York couple with a child on the spectrum, turns the cliché of the older husband and flighty young wife on its head. It’s humorous and touching, lighthearted and real. You’ll miss these characters after you turn the last page—we wished we could have kept peering into their lives a little longer.

  • <em>Stay with Me</em> by Ayobami Adebayo

    Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

    Stay with Me opens in Nigeria in the 1980s with Yejide and Akin, who have been married for four years and remain childless despite consulting all manner of fertility doctors and healers. As the book carries the reader forward into the next decades of their lives, it becomes evident that this is a story at least in part about secrets (no spoilers here), as much as it is a commentary on the division and similarities between tradition and modernity, masculinity and femininity. It’s stirring and sometimes maddening—sections will leave you beside yourself—a debut that marks the beginning of what will likely be a stunning career.