We thoroughly research all the products we feature, and we honestly think they’re great. But just so you know, things you buy from links on this page may earn us a commission. All prices were accurate at publish time.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived—are you sitting down? Okay, good. We asked our favourite book nerd, Jess Allen, to help us sort through our bookshelves to share her top picks for titles we need to be reading this summer. They range from a collection of short stories to a crime fiction, and with Jess’ stamp of approval, we couldn’t be more excited to get reading. As the latest instalment in The Social‘s Summer Reading List, these books are meant to be enjoyed outside in the gorgeous weather, preferably on a patio.
Check out her recommendations below and why she loves them so much.
There There, by Tommy Orange
McClelland & Stewart, 2018
Out of the 50 books we’ve read in The Social Chapter, I think this one is my favourite: First-rate writing (from a first-time novelist!) in an ambitious structure with a story that tackles pain, loss, rage, love, and the quest to figure out how we become the people we become. This is a portrait of America that I’ve never seen before.
BUY NOW: Amazon | $29
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
Random House, 2017
Not everyone I know loved this book, which at its core is about grief. I think that’s on account of its very experimental structure. But I love Saunders’ short stories and I guess I was just in the right headspace. I loved it. And I don’t often cry when I read fiction. I did when I finished this.
BUY NOW: Indigo | $23
In a Lonely Place, by Dorothy Hughes
NYRB Classics, 2017
When you think of classic LA-based crime fiction, Raymond Chadler probably comes to mind. But Dorothy Hughes’ In a Lonely Place is on par with the best of his work. Fine, maybe it’s even better! She writes with such “controlled elegance,” as the New York Review of Books put it. It’s “at once an early indictment of a truly toxic masculinity and a twisty page-turner with a surprisingly feminist resolution.” Plus, it’s super short.
BUY NOW: Indigo | $18
Patrick Melrose series, by Edward St Aubyn
This is a collection of five novels that I tore through in one long weekend because the narrative is so good that I couldn’t stop. Only I wanted to stop in order to underline all the beautiful bits of writing (which the recent TV-adaption of the series couldn’t really capture.) The writing was so good it was laughable. And then the story was also making me laugh. But it’s also really heartbreaking. Think Evelyn Waugh meets Greek tragedy?
BUY NOW: Amazon | $37
The Lottery and Other Short Stories, by Shirley Jackson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005
Maybe you read The Lottery, a short story first published in the New Yorker in 1948, in high school. I didn’t. But I’m so glad I grabbed this collection of short stories from Simon’s reading pile. Jackson, a mother of four, used to write comic essays for women’s magazines in the ‘40s and ‘50s. And at times, these stories are funny, sometimes darkly funny. They are also deeply sinister, revealing dark undercurrents of American life that, unfortunately, are more than still alive today.
BUY NOW: Amazon | $16