The concept of the “beach read” is problematic—mainly because most states don’t have beaches, but also because it gives you an excuse to read garbage. Resist the temptation! The only thing breezy about your summer reading should be the cool wind on your sun-baked faces. That said, nobody wants to be puzzling through dense academic tomes either. There’s a way to have fun and be smart about it too. To that end, we have assembled this list of upcoming summer releases with one goal in mind: pick worthwhile-looking books that also promise to be wildly entertaining. You’ll find at least two excursions into cults, everything you wanted to know about penis transplants and gut bacteria (unrelated, as far as we know), penetrating essays on race, the misadventures of chaotic monkeys, exciting new genre works, plenty of LoLs, and much more. Now that’s our kind of summer.

June 7

Magic and Loss by Virginia Heffernan (Simon & Schuster)

The Internet! What is it? No longer capitalized, for one thing—a linguistic development the brilliant tech journalist Virginia Heffernan plainly detests. “Terrible. Standards falling. Lacks proper reverence,” she recently tweeted. (FWIW, we agree. Nobody would dare lowercase “the Matrix.”) That’s about what you’d expect from someone who’s just written a whole book about it, with a subtitle no less reverent than “The Internet As Art.” For Heffernan, the web—sorry, Web—is “the great masterpiece of human civilization… As an idea it rivals monotheism.” Read the book and decide for yourself. At the very least, it contains the best writing on Angry Birds you’ll ever encounter. —Jason Kehe

Simon & Schuster

The Internet! What is it? No longer capitalized, for one thing—a linguistic development the brilliant tech journalist Virginia Heffernan plainly detests. “Terrible. Standards falling. Lacks proper reverence,” she recently tweeted. (FWIW, we agree. Nobody would dare lowercase “the Matrix.”) That’s about what you’d expect from someone who’s just written a whole book about it, with a subtitle no less reverent than “The Internet As Art.” For Heffernan, the web—sorry, Web—is “the great masterpiece of human civilization… As an idea it rivals monotheism.” Read the book and decide for yourself. At the very least, it contains the best writing on Angry Birds you’ll ever encounter. —Jason Kehe

June 7

Grunt by Mary Roach (Norton)

What do fashion, submarines, and shark repellant have in common? Mary Roach, of course. Nobody does weird science quite like her, and this time, she takes on war. Though all her books look at the human body in extreme situations (sex! space! death!), this isn’t simply a blood-drenched affair. Instead, Roach looks at the unexpected things that take place behind the scenes—protecting the hearing of snipers, penis transplants, playing paintball with the US Marine Corps, and the debilitating effects of travel on the digestive system. —Lexi Pandell

Norton

What do fashion, submarines, and shark repellant have in common? Mary Roach, of course. Nobody does weird science quite like her, and this time, she takes on war. Though all her books look at the human body in extreme situations (sex! space! death!), this isn’t simply a blood-drenched affair. Instead, Roach looks at the unexpected things that take place behind the scenes—protecting the hearing of snipers, penis transplants, playing paintball with the US Marine Corps, and the debilitating effects of travel on the digestive system. —Lexi Pandell

June 7

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf)

It’s the Summer of the Debut Novel. A handful of young writers, many of them women, have been given huge sums for their first books in recent months and now those writers are beginning to release their introductory offerings. Among them is Yaa Gyasi, a 26-year-old whose debut, Homegoing, has the literary world buzzing. The novel follows two Ghanaian half-sisters. One, Effia, marries a Brit and lives in luxury at the Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to her, her sister, Esi, is held as a slave in the dungeons below Effia’s feet. The book chronicles the split in their lives and in the paths of their descendants. Relaxing Sunday read? Maybe not. But this is a powerful book people will be talking about for the rest of the year. —Lexi Pandell

Knopf

It’s the Summer of the Debut Novel. A handful of young writers, many of them women, have been given huge sums for their first books in recent months and now those writers are beginning to release their introductory offerings. Among them is Yaa Gyasi, a 26-year-old whose debut, Homegoing, has the literary world buzzing. The novel follows two Ghanaian half-sisters. One, Effia, marries a Brit and lives in luxury at the Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to her, her sister, Esi, is held as a slave in the dungeons below Effia’s feet. The book chronicles the split in their lives and in the paths of their descendants. Relaxing Sunday read? Maybe not. But this is a powerful book people will be talking about for the rest of the year. —Lexi Pandell

June 12

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (Grand Central)

Even if you don’t know Jessi Klein by name, you surely know her work: Klein is the head writer on Inside Amy Schumer and has appeared on VH1’s Best Week Ever and in the film Sleepwalk with Me. Needless to say, she is very, very funny. Case in point: her anti-ode to baths, published in The New Yorker last month. On the appeal of feeling weightless in a tub, she writes of visiting a planetarium “and finding an area where you could stand on different scales to see what you would weigh on other planets. I remember one woman was getting on a scale to find out what she would weigh on the moon, and she handed her purse to her friend. She handed her purse to her friend so that she wouldn’t throw off her weight on the moon.—Lexi Pandell

Grand Central

Even if you don’t know Jessi Klein by name, you surely know her work: Klein is the head writer on Inside Amy Schumer and has appeared on VH1’s Best Week Ever and in the film Sleepwalk with Me. Needless to say, she is very, very funny. Case in point: her anti-ode to baths, published in The New Yorker last month. On the appeal of feeling weightless in a tub, she writes of visiting a planetarium “and finding an area where you could stand on different scales to see what you would weigh on other planets. I remember one woman was getting on a scale to find out what she would weigh on the moon, and she handed her purse to her friend. She handed her purse to her friend so that she wouldn’t throw off her weight on the moon.—Lexi Pandell

June 14

The Girls by Emma Cline (Random House)

When 14-year-old Evie sees Suzanne, a raven-haired hippie leading a pack of girls through a park, something shifts inside of her. The Girls, one of the most anticipated books of the year, is about many things. On the surface, it’s about a girl caught in the web of a Manson-like California cult, her loss of innocence, and how an average person can become complicit in that kind of insanity. But more than that, it’s about the feminine gaze—women watching each other, watching others watch them, and wanting to be really seen. It’s a magnetic debut worth the hype. —Lexi Pandell

Random House

When 14-year-old Evie sees Suzanne, a raven-haired hippie leading a pack of girls through a park, something shifts inside of her. The Girls, one of the most anticipated books of the year, is about many things. On the surface, it’s about a girl caught in the web of a Manson-like California cult, her loss of innocence, and how an average person can become complicit in that kind of insanity. But more than that, it’s about the feminine gaze—women watching each other, watching others watch them, and wanting to be really seen. It’s a magnetic debut worth the hype. —Lexi Pandell

June 14

False Hearts by Laura Lam

A near-future San Francisco is the setting for this biotech thriller, in which conjoined twins Taema and Tila, raised in a cult and surgically separated at 16 when their heart begins to fail, find themselves at the center of an unprecedented crime involving murder and a terrifying narcotic called Verve. The drug seems to give you some kind of power to carry out dark deeds in your dreams—sorta Freddy Krueger-style, maybe? (We’re promised a cross between Orphan Black and Inception. Sure!) Anyway, to summarize: twins, cults, drugs, and dream-murder. If you don’t think that’s the most perfect recipe for a summer read, just go knit alone in a corner or something. —Jason Kehe

Tor

A near-future San Francisco is the setting for this biotech thriller, in which conjoined twins Taema and Tila, raised in a cult and surgically separated at 16 when their heart begins to fail, find themselves at the center of an unprecedented crime involving murder and a terrifying narcotic called Verve. The drug seems to give you some kind of power to carry out dark deeds in your dreams—sorta Freddy Krueger-style, maybe? (We’re promised a cross between Orphan Black and Inception. Sure!) Anyway, to summarize: twins, cults, drugs, and dream-murder. If you don’t think that’s the most perfect recipe for a summer read, just go knit alone in a corner or something. —Jason Kehe

June 28

Chaos Monkeys by Antonio García Martínez (Harper)

The truth about the HBO satire Silicon Valley is that it’s not satire at all but, well, truth. Exhibit 1,725,604: this latest contribution to the growing subgenre of tech-bro tell-all. It’s written by Antonio García Martínez, who worked at [insert big tech company names] and while there did [insert ridiculous embarrassing unbelievable things, man]. He now lives on a 40-foot boat on the Bay, because of-effing-course he does. You’ll read his book for the same reason you watch Silicon Valley: for entertainment, but also for that painful, necessary awareness that, somehow, this really is the world we live in. —Jason Kehe

Harper

The truth about the HBO satire Silicon Valley is that it’s not satire at all but, well, truth. Exhibit 1,725,604: this latest contribution to the growing subgenre of tech-bro tell-all. It’s written by Antonio García Martínez, who worked at [insert big tech company names] and while there did [insert ridiculous embarrassing unbelievable things, man]. He now lives on a 40-foot boat on the Bay, because of-effing-course he does. You’ll read his book for the same reason you watch Silicon Valley: for entertainment, but also for that painful, necessary awareness that, somehow, this really is the world we live in. —Jason Kehe

July 12

The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer (Vintage)

Everything about this book is exciting. First, it’s huge—some 750,000 words fill its 1,200 pages. Second, it’s been compiled by one of sci-fi’s coolest power couples—she’s a distinguished editor (Tor.com, Weird Tales), he’s a superb writer (2014’s Southern Reach trilogy). And finally, it’s not just another survey of white men in science fiction (aka Phillip K.’s dicks). For every Wells and Dick and George R.R. Martin, there’s work by Le Guin, Butler, and Katherine MacLean—not to mention stories from all over the world, from China (Liu Cixin) to Argentina (Silvina Campo). Gift it to a friend, then buy one for yourself. —Jason Kehe

Vintage

Everything about this book is exciting. First, it’s huge—some 750,000 words fill its 1,200 pages. Second, it’s been compiled by one of sci-fi’s coolest power couples—she’s a distinguished editor (Tor.com, Weird Tales), he’s a superb writer (2014’s Southern Reach trilogy). And finally, it’s not just another survey of white men in science fiction (aka Phillip K.’s dicks). For every Wells and Dick and George R.R. Martin, there’s work by Le Guin, Butler, and Katherine MacLean—not to mention stories from all over the world, from China (Liu Cixin) to Argentina (Silvina Campo). Gift it to a friend, then buy one for yourself. —Jason Kehe

July 31

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2, Official West End Production Script (Arthur A. Levine)

Harry Potter is obviously massive. So when news of an “official eighth story” was announced, it sent fans into a frenzy. Let’s be clear on this, people: This is not a new book. It’s the full script for the two-part stage adaptation of a new Harry Potter story that premieres at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End this summer. It’s also not entirely written by J.K. Rowling—she collaborated with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany on the story, and Thorne wrote the script. That said, it is a continuation of the story of The Boy Who Lived, so it will surely fly off the shelves. Set 19 years after the events of Rowling’s novels, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child centers on Harry’s midlife crisis as a Ministry of Magic employee, with his son Albus Severus Potter struggling “with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted” (no wonder—that name). Theatre-goers have to view the plays on consecutive evenings to get the whole story, but readers will be able to devour the entire script in one go. As long as it’s better than that frightful epilogue, everyone should go home satisfied. —K.M. McFarland

Arthur A. Levine

Harry Potter is obviously massive. So when news of an “official eighth story” was announced, it sent fans into a frenzy. Let’s be clear on this, people: This is not a new book. It’s the full script for the two-part stage adaptation of a new Harry Potter story that premieres at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End this summer. It’s also not entirely written by J.K. Rowling—she collaborated with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany on the story, and Thorne wrote the script. That said, it is a continuation of the story of The Boy Who Lived, so it will surely fly off the shelves. Set 19 years after the events of Rowling’s novels, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child centers on Harry’s midlife crisis as a Ministry of Magic employee, with his son Albus Severus Potter struggling “with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted” (no wonder—that name). Theatre-goers have to view the plays on consecutive evenings to get the whole story, but readers will be able to devour the entire script in one go. As long as it’s better than that frightful epilogue, everyone should go home satisfied. —K.M. McFarland

August 2

The Hike by Drew Magary (Viking)

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist, a correspondent for GQ, and a Chopped champion. His Hater’s Guides are so cutting he even earned a Hater’s Guide to himself from a thin-skinned Notre Dame football fan. His work is conversational, vulgar, and relatable—but don’t tell him that, because any praise will go straight to his head, and we don’t want to make the problem any worse. His new book, The Hike, is about “a suburban family man” who takes, you guessed it, a hike before a business dinner in rural Pennsylvania, and ends up on some sort of supernatural path where he can only go forward. It’s kind of a more cynical version of The Phantom Tollbooth mixed with a game of Dungeons & Dragons from Community creator Dan Harmon’s podcast Harmontown. —K.M. McFarland

Viking

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist, a correspondent for GQ, and a Chopped champion. His Hater’s Guides are so cutting he even earned a Hater’s Guide to himself from a thin-skinned Notre Dame football fan. His work is conversational, vulgar, and relatable—but don’t tell him that, because any praise will go straight to his head, and we don’t want to make the problem any worse. His new book, The Hike, is about “a suburban family man” who takes, you guessed it, a hike before a business dinner in rural Pennsylvania, and ends up on some sort of supernatural path where he can only go forward. It’s kind of a more cynical version of The Phantom Tollbooth mixed with a game of Dungeons & Dragons from Community creator Dan Harmon’s podcast Harmontown. —K.M. McFarland

August 9

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole (Random House)

You may know Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole from his Twitter, where he sparked conversations about a white savior complex through his critique of Kony 2012 and Nicholas Kristof. Or from his New Yorker essay on the role of photojournalism in Ebola coverage. Or from his meditative 2012 novel, Open City. Cole’s voice has been central in recent conversations about race and representation, from the role of Instagram to James Baldwin in the era of Black Lives Matter. If you don’t know him yet, look forward to a crash course in Cole with this debut essay collection. —Charley Locke

Random House

You may know Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole from his Twitter, where he sparked conversations about a white savior complex through his critique of Kony 2012 and Nicholas Kristof. Or from his New Yorker essay on the role of photojournalism in Ebola coverage. Or from his meditative 2012 novel, Open City. Cole’s voice has been central in recent conversations about race and representation, from the role of Instagram to James Baldwin in the era of Black Lives Matter. If you don’t know him yet, look forward to a crash course in Cole with this debut essay collection. —Charley Locke

August 9

I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong (Ecco)

You probably know that germs are not the enemy anymore. You’re probably aware that there’s this thing called the microbiome. But what you probably do not know is that this microbiome is, as Ed Yong puts it in his beautiful and terrifying book, “more management than labor.” Vibrio fischeri tell the bodies of the Hawaiian bobtail squid what to do and when. Bacteroides thetaiotmicron actually activate mouse genes telling them to absorb nutrients and otherwise engage in a little murine gut-sculpting. Fed by human breast milk, Bifidobacterium longum infantis busies itself in baby bellies, keeping infections at bay, telling gut cells to make anti-inflammatory molecules, and doing who knows what else. We used to think germs were hostile invaders, to be nuked from space with antibiotics and slathered out of existence with hand sanitizer. But if we treat them well and cultivate them properly, they won’t be the end of us. They’re actually kind of the boss of us. —Sarah Fallon

Ecco

You probably know that germs are not the enemy anymore. You’re probably aware that there’s this thing called the microbiome. But what you probably do not know is that this microbiome is, as Ed Yong puts it in his beautiful and terrifying book, “more management than labor.” Vibrio fischeri tell the bodies of the Hawaiian bobtail squid what to do and when. Bacteroides thetaiotmicron actually activate mouse genes telling them to absorb nutrients and otherwise engage in a little murine gut-sculpting. Fed by human breast milk, Bifidobacterium longum infantis busies itself in baby bellies, keeping infections at bay, telling gut cells to make anti-inflammatory molecules, and doing who knows what else. We used to think germs were hostile invaders, to be nuked from space with antibiotics and slathered out of existence with hand sanitizer. But if we treat them well and cultivate them properly, they won’t be the end of us. They’re actually kind of the boss of us. —Sarah Fallon

August 16

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

We Wiredlings loved the first book in Jemisin’s latest trilogy. We even did a book club about it! She’s drawn a world in which constant, destructive seismic upheaval is controlled by orogenes, people with an innate ability to sense and manipulate massive planetary energies. Simultaneously feared and reviled by the powerless-over-earthquakes stills, orogenes are either indoctrinated and trained at an institution called the Fulcrum, or they are murdered by hostile bigots. Jemisin is brilliant at world-building, and the social justice component of her story is absolutely unflinching. So we’re eagerly awaiting the second book of the trilogy. Because we have questions that need answering! What’s going on with the moon? What’s up with Hoa? Is Essun going to find her daughter? Is Alabaster going to find some peace? Will someone please explain the obelisks? And, crucially, how will Jemisin train our gaze on this actual real society that we live in? What issues will she compel us to see? What sorrow will we feel for a world in which, for many, constant upheaval, destruction, and injustice is the all-too-tragic norm? —Sarah Fallon

Orbit

We Wiredlings loved the first book in Jemisin’s latest trilogy. We even did a book club about it! She’s drawn a world in which constant, destructive seismic upheaval is controlled by orogenes, people with an innate ability to sense and manipulate massive planetary energies. Simultaneously feared and reviled by the powerless-over-earthquakes stills, orogenes are either indoctrinated and trained at an institution called the Fulcrum, or they are murdered by hostile bigots. Jemisin is brilliant at world-building, and the social justice component of her story is absolutely unflinching. So we’re eagerly awaiting the second book of the trilogy. Because we have questions that need answering! What’s going on with the moon? What’s up with Hoa? Is Essun going to find her daughter? Is Alabaster going to find some peace? Will someone please explain the obelisks? And, crucially, how will Jemisin train our gaze on this actual real society that we live in? What issues will she compel us to see? What sorrow will we feel for a world in which, for many, constant upheaval, destruction, and injustice is the all-too-tragic norm? —Sarah Fallon

August 16

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (Gallery Books)

It may feel like the past few years have exhausted the genre of smart, candid women-in-comedy memoirs: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. But wait! There’s one more that you really, really need to read. Thanks in advance, Amy: We predict this’ll be our laughing-loudly-on-public-transportation read of the summer. —Charley Locke

Gallery Books

It may feel like the past few years have exhausted the genre of smart, candid women-in-comedy memoirs: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. But wait! There’s one more that you really, really need to read. Thanks in advance, Amy: We predict this’ll be our laughing-loudly-on-public-transportation read of the summer. —Charley Locke

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This Summer’s 14 Must-Read Books