Highly Anticipated Summer 2018 Books That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Updated 10/21/19

Every season, there are those buzzy books that everyone seems to be talking about. Their beautifully designed covers flood your Instagram feed and take up residence on the staff picks table at your local bookstore (and inevitably become blockbuster movies). Just in time for warmer weather, we're sharing a list of the most anticipated books of the season to add to your to-read pile.

Ranging from an unputdownable novel about a young woman who joins a secretive cult to a steamy romance that's equal parts heartwarming and hilarious, these are the best new books of summer 2018 that live up to the hype. Prediction: These picks are going to be so popular that they'll fly off the shelves at your local bookstore. Get your tote bag ready because these books are best enjoyed poolside with a chilled glass of rosé. 

best new books for summer 2018
Fashion Me Now

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

After a particularly bad breakup, Lucy decides to move from land-locked Phoenix to beachfront Los Angeles for the summer. When she unexpectedly falls for an eerily attractive swimmer who—bear with us—turns out to be a merman, she's forced to confront her preconceived notions of love in this mesmerizing novel. "Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic… I loved every dark and sublime page of [The Pisces]" raves Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter.

Melissa Broder The Pisces $25

Florida by Lauren Groff

The best-selling author of Fates and Furies follows up the success of her wildly popular novel with a collection of short stories that paint an intimate portrait of the Sunshine State and its residents. From a mom who wanders the streets of her neighborhood at night to a woman who starts living out of her car after a tough breakup, Groff's poignant stories make for a great beach read with a bit of substance. "Each story is expertly crafted to reveal deep truths about our own lives," endorses PopSugar.

Lauren Groff Florida $27

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Spanning 1980s Chicago to modern-day Paris, Makkai's novel delves into the devastating effects the AIDS epidemic has on one family. Intertwining stories set in the past and the present reveal the lasting effects of loss and the enduring force of love. "This is an immersive, heartbreaking novel—I loved it," gushes Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me. Critics agreed–this book was a Pulitzer Prize fiction finalist, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and it's been optioned by Amy Poehler.

Rebecca Makkai The Great Believers $27

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Lillian Li's debut novel explores the personal lives of the people working at everyone's favorite Chinese restaurant in a small Maryland town. "With wit and heart, Li explores a Chinese-American community torn between ambition and loyalty as each character strives for a world bigger than the restaurant that has bound them together," raves Brit Bennett, author of The Mothers

Lillian Li Number One Chinese Restaurant $27

Fight No More by Lydia Millet

In this collection of interlocking short stories, Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet examines a broken family through the lens of the homes they inhabit. Using equal parts satire and compassion, Millet depicts a view of modern American life that's at once hilarious and heartwarming. Pre-order this book now before it starts disappearing from shelves at your local indie bookstore.

Lydia Millet Fight No More $25

Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt

What makes for better beach reading than a steamy novel about a dangerous love triangle filled with lust, deception, and potential murder? Adrienne Celt's Invitation to a Bonfire ticks all these boxes. "The incendiary title says it all," says Elle of this psychological thriller. "This novel reimagines the marriage of Vladimir and Vera Nabokov, a literary couple whose brilliance and intertwined labor turned him into a household name."

Adrienne Celt Invitation to a Bonfire $26

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

If you read only one book this summer, make it this gripping debut. Set in Colombia during the '90s, this coming-of-age story offers a glimpse into the lives of two young girls growing up during the height of Pablo Escobar's reign of terror. Fruit of the Drunken Tree "is a spellbinding story of two girls whose realities collide and who are forced to make nearly unbearable choices in the name of survival," endorses Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

Ingrid Rojas Contreras Fruit of the Drunken Tree $27

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

In this story, a young woman gets involved with an extremist cult when she goes off to college. After things turn violent, she suddenly goes missing, sending her friend on a quest to find her. "In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R.O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable," recommends Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere.

R.O. Kwon The Incendiaries $26

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexa Arthurs

"In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them shine," writes Zadie Smith of this debut collection from Alexia Arthurs. Touching on issues of race, class, and culture, Arthurs explores various parts of Jamaican identity. While some of the stories are a bit heavier, you'd be remiss if you overlooked this Oprah-approved collection this summer.

Alexa Arthurs How to Love a Jamaican $27

What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan

From navigating difficult family dynamics and trying to fit in culturally to grappling with self-worth, Tan's novel will strike a chord with anyone who looks to the future with uncertainty. "Compassionate and heartbreaking, funny and wise, local and universal, What We Were Promised marks the arrival of an inspiring new voice," says Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists.

Lucy Tan What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan $26

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