Summer Reading

So many books, so little time—even in the summer. Of the many new choices, here are six that caught our eye, a handful of fiction and nonfiction that promises reflection, adventure, and, yes, even fun.

The cover to You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie SmithMaggie Smith

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

Simon & Schuster

Best-selling poet Maggie Smith’s memoir interrogates family, work, and patriarchy. At 320 pages, it’s the perfect length for a long flight, either in print or audio, with Smith providing the narration. After You Could Make This Place Beautiful, go online to the Poetry Foundation and listen to Smith read “Good Bones,” where you’ll see the memoir’s title.






The cover to Cafe Unfiltered by Jean Phillipe BlondelJean-Philippe Blondel

Café Unfiltered

Trans. Alison Anderson

New Vessel Press

Are you a people-watcher? In his follow-up to the hit novel The 6:41 to Paris, Jean-Philippe Blondel peers into the lives of various characters who share a Parisian café as their nexus. WLT contributor and former Neustadt Prize juror Alison Anderson provides the English translation.




The cover to Vehicle by Jen CallejaJen Calleja



A fake residency, researchers on the run, and a student using her old band as cover to gather reconnaissance: this novel in verse—a metafictional work of literary speculative fiction—takes on weighty topics in imaginative ways.








The cover to Beijing Sprawl by Xu ZechenXu Zechen

Beijing Sprawl

Trans. Eric Abrahamsen & Jeremy Tiang

Two Lines Press

June brings Xu Zechen’s Beijing Sprawl, translated by Eric Abrahamsen and Jeremy Tiang. Zechen, who lives in Beijing, is the author of three novels. In these connected short stories, the characters jog excessively, herd pigeons, and build cars from scraps—getting by as best they can.






The cover to To the Lake by Yana VagnerYana Vagner

To the Lake

Trans. Maria Wiltshire

Deep Vellum

You may be familiar with Yana Vagner as the author of Vongozero, which is available on Netflix as the series To the Lake. Maria Wiltshire’s English translation of this story of a group with a complicated family dynamic fleeing an epidemic in Moscow dropped in June.






The cover to the Quickening by Elizabeth RushElizabeth Rush

The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth

Milkweed Editions

Elizabeth Rush’s Rising was a Pulitzer finalist in the general nonfiction category. In her new book—an expedition tale for those on an adventure or feet-up on staycation—Rush documents the voyage of a group of scientists to Antarctica.