Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Mrs. Dalloway But Grosser

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Amanda and Jenn discuss LGBT+ history, prickly Westerns, experimental prose and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.

This episode is sponsored by Playster and You Are Here by Jenny Lawson.

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The show can also be found on Stitcher here.




1. I’m 20 years old and after years of struggling with my sexuality, I found a place for myself in the queer community. I’ve met wonderful supportive people, but the thing is they are all my age. I don’t think I know anyone in the community over 25.
There is a huge disconnect between young LGBTA people and the generation that came before. We know so little about our history. Almost everything we know about the AIDS crisis comes from movies and tv and I’m sure you can see why that is a problem. “People were dying and the government did nothing” is the extent of our knowledge.

So I’m hoping you could recommend some LGBTA history books or memoirs, specifically about Ireland and the UK in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I’m also open to earlier time periods and different regions but those are my key interests.

I love the show and look forward to hearing from you!

— Róisín


2. At the end of the day, my boyfriend and I like to share a reading experience before bed, but we are coming to the end of our most recent. We are looking for something with a lot of adventure, deep world-building stuff we can have conversations about later, and complex themes. We want to stay away from plots that are heavy on romance (a little is ok, but pulls us out of the story). We enjoy fiction, mostly fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction so long as it is fun and immersive.

Previous reads are “The Kingkiller Chronicles,” “The Bartimaeus Trilogy,” “His Dark Materials Trilogy,” “Feed” by M.T Anderson, various David Sedaris stories, and “The Sundial” by Shirley Jackson, and “More Than This” by Patrick Ness.

GLBT characters are a plus but not necessary.


3. Love the podcast and I’ve listened to every episode.
I need a book recommendation for my husband. His 40th birthday is coming up and I want to get him a special book to read on vacation together. He loves epic sci-fi and fantasy although his all time favorite book is the Count of Monte Cristo. He’s read and enjoyed The Three Body Problem, Song of Ice and Fire Series, Dune, Ender’s game series and Robin Hobb’s books. He’s a doctor and works with cancer patients so something truly escapist would be appreciated.

For myself I want to say I love your romance and fantasy picks, thanks for doing the show. PS totally on board with your politics, keep up the good work!


4. A bit time sensitive as I am traveling in a few weeks, but in general this would still be helpful.

I am looking for unsparing westerns. I’ll be in Texas in a few weeks then driving to California, and I’d love a bit of a companion read to the landscape I’ll be in. I loved Philipp Meyer’s The Son, and Blood Meridian of course. There’s something about the west, and the unsightly history of how it came to be, that fascinates me. Lonesome Dove is an excellent book but doesn’t have quite the edge I’m looking for.

So, any ideas on some gritty, frontiersy romps? I like ‘em prickly, both the pears and the prose.

Btw I got the recommendation for The Son on your podcast, and just want to say thank you! It’s one of my favorites in recent years.


5. I finished A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing a few months ago and it went instantly to my favorite books list. I’ve been struggling to find a book similar to that disjointed writing style that also has a poetic feel. I also loved Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs and Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski, to give you more examples of what I’m looking for.


6. A good friend of mine asked me to recommend something to her along the lines of Watership Down. When pressed, she clarified that she is not looking for another book with anthropomorphized animals. She wants something else where she is so invested that she does not care if the final pages make her shed tears on the subway. It needs to be uplifting, though, so no Hanya Yanagihara. Another book that she wants to recreate the feeling of is Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Some of my ideas include A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. I’d love to pass along your suggestions, as well.


7. Hi Amanda & Jenn!

I love listening to your podcast every week. While I listen to & enjoy all the BookRiot podcasts, I started yours from the very beginning and feel oddly satisfied by having “gotten in on the ground floor,” so to speak.

I’ve recently decided to become a single mom by choice and am having a hard time finding books on that topic. Most books I’ve found discuss raising kids post-divorce or other “after the fact” single parenting books. I’m glad these are out there for people, but aside from “Single by Chance, Mother by Choice” I’m not finding many books on choosing to be a single parent from the start. Since you guys have done some great recs for rough pregnancy and choosing not to have children, I thought you might be able to help with this. Memoirs, essays, even fiction are all fair play, here. I try to be widely read, so I’m eager to see what you might be able to find.

Thanks in advance and keep up the awesome job!


8. Hi guys!

I work at a job where I get to keep headphones in all shift, so I’m looking for some great audiobooks to keep me going. Fiction or non-fiction, I just want something that will grab me from the start, but I’ve found I have more attention for harder science fiction or nonfiction. I LOVED your recommendation for Sphere by Michael Crichton some episodes back (I was actually excited to go back to work to listen to it!), so something similar to that would be great.

One thing I’m not particularly interested in are celebrity memoirs, though. Other than that, I’m open to anything else. Some audiobooks I particularly enjoyed were The Devil in the White City, Roadside Picnic, Childhood’s End, The Lost City of Z, Quiet, A Confederacy of Dunces, and Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Thank you!,


Books Discussed

HIV/AIDS Reading List by Rah Carter

Scarlet Ribbons: A Priest with AIDS by Rosemary Bailey

The End of Innocence: Britain in the Time of AIDS by Rah Carter

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (Bas-Lag series)

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Room by Emma Donoghue

In Her Own Sweet Time by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt (rec’d by Jaime H)

Knock Yourself Up by Louise Sloan

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

The Black Count by Tom Reiss