Belinda Huang ‘17 and Jess Waters ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Book Section Editors
Choosing the right books for summer reading can be a difficult task. Depending on the day, the urge may be to find a fun page turner, reread old classics, or tackle a larger literary project. In our summer preview, we look ahead to what’s new in books this season. And though we may have stacks of unread books still sitting on the bedside table, here are a few more we’re adding to the pile this summer — one for every month left.
Muse: A Novel, by Jonathan Galassi (June 2nd)
In the way that people in the entertainment industry love movies about the entertainment industry (see Birdman and The Artist, for example), there’s been a lot of buzz from the publishing world for this debut novel by Jonathan Galassi, the President of publishing house Farrar Straus & Giroux. The story centers around two publishing houses competing for the work of a fictitious poet; it’s the kind of story that benefits from the knowledge and credibility of a long-time industry insider. Besides the decades of reading experience, Galassi is also a well-regarded poet, which should shape a well-crafted literary voice. For anyone who wants a glimpse into the publishing world, even through fiction, Muse: A Novel looks like the perfect match.
Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee (July 14th)
According to HarperCollins, pre-sales for Harper Lee’s sequel to the middle-school classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, have already set a record for the publisher. The book is set twenty years after the original novel but was actually written first, and it follows the well-loved characters of the Finch family in New York. As most Americans have already read To Kill a Mockingbird, and it is viewed as a staple of American literature, Go Set a Watchman is already well on its way to being the most anticipated American novel in decades. Despite the controversy behind its publication — with Harper Lee having suffered a stroke in 2007 and her lawyer having just died, could she consent to its publication? — the book is set to make waves. And as people are guaranteed to have strong opinions about it, there’s no question that the book is going to be in the news plenty, which means we better read it first if we don’t want to hear about it second-hand.
The Last Love Song, by Tracy Daugherty (August 27th)
Daugherty has written two successful biographies featuring the writers Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller. Having proven his chops as a biographer, Daugherty’s new book tackles the behemoth task of writing a biography of Joan Didion, one of the most well loved essayists and writers of our time. Didion’s work, which includes fiction, essays, and screenplays, has won the National Book Award and been shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. Also, Goodbye To All That, an essay about Joan Didion’s time in New York as a young woman, has recently been optioned for the big screen. An official documentary about her life, called “The Stories We Tell Ourselves in Order to Live” successfully completed a Kickstarter in late 2014. Clearly, there’s a strong interest in Joan Didion and her work. In The Last Love Song, the first print biography of Didion, Daugherty pays tribute to a career and life well spent.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz (September 1st)
The fourth book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy may technically come out in September, but that hasn’t stopped the summer hype. After the first book’s successful outing in Hollywood and as a Swedish mini-series, Larsson’s thrilling trilogy is getting another go around after his death. David Lagercrantz, another Swedish author, has penned this latest installment with Larsson’s protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. The first three books are an engrossing read, covering plots about abuse of state power, gender and sexual expression, mental illness, and self-determination. The hope is that this fourth book, written by a different author, will continue to be as engrossing and exciting a story while having the same complex social and political narratives.
Of course, this is only a small sample of what’s coming out this summer. But with the breadth and variety of new material about to hit the shelves, there’s sure to be plenty for everyone.