Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

New Releases Tuesday: Books Out This Week To Add To Your TBR

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a new batch of book releases! Here are a few of the books out today worth reading. This is a very small percentage of the books out this week, though, so stick around until the end for some more Book Riot resources for new releases, including our YouTube channel, where I talk about each of these! The book descriptions listed are the publisher’s, unless otherwise noted.

Half of this week’s picks I read in preparation for today’s All the Books podcast, so I can personally vouch for how amazing they are! You can listen to today’s episode to hear my full thoughts on those.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength book cover

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel

Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the ’60s (“Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!”) to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. Readers will see their athletic or semi-active pasts flash before their eyes through an ever-evolving panoply of running shoes, bicycles, skis, and sundry other gear. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. She turns for enlightenment to Eastern philosophers and literary figures, including Beat writer Jack Kerouac, whose search for self-transcendence in the great outdoors appears in moving conversation with the author’s own. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.

Reasons to read it: From the author of Fun Home comes her first new book in almost a decade! This is a chronicle of the cultural obsession with exercise, told through Bechdel’s lifelong love affair with exercise trends. If you’re familiar with this author, you’ll know to expect a lot of philosophical diversions and fascinating asides, with an honesty and depth to her personal anecdotes.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Vern ― seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised ― flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future ― outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Reasons to read it: This promises to be a “genre-bending work of Gothic fiction” that outlines America’s dark history of how it treats Black people. It’s an ambitious and harrowing read that comes highly recommended by Roxane Gay! Rivers Solomon is an author like no other, so expect a singular and memorable narrative.

Meet Cute Diary cover

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem — all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Reasons to read it: I really enjoyed this one. Noah is mixed race (his mom is white and Japanese and his dad is Afro-Caribbean) as well as being trans and bi, which isn’t something we’ve seen represented much until recently! I appreciated how flawed Noah was. He’s a bit of a snob and makes snap judgements, but he grows over the course of the novel. There’s also a charming side character who is questioning eir gender label and pronouns who steals the show (e is also asexual and androsexual).

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical romcom tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Reasons to read it: This is the first book in a new culinary cozy mystery series. It promises humor as well as food descriptions that will make your mouth water. It even includes recipes! As for the cute dog on the cover, the author has the answer to the most important book question of all: the dog will never die in these books.

Luck of the Titanic cover

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

Reasons to read it: This was a fascinating historical YA about mixed race Chinese-British twin acrobats on board the Titanic. The first page that prefaces the story is a historical fact: six of the eight Chinese passengers on board the Titanic survived — a much higher rate than the rest of the ship, despite being on the lower decks. We then go on to meet all eight Chinese passengers, which sets a countdown clock for readers even as the plot for most of the book has nothing to do with the ship’s eventual sinking, which was a great way to add tension. I won’t spoil it, but I get the feeling that the ending of this book will be one people either love or hate!

Stranger Care by Sarah Sentilles cover

Stranger Care: A Memoir of Mothering What Isn’t Ours by Sarah Sentilles

After their decision not to have a biological child, Sarah Sentilles and her husband, Eric, decide to adopt via the foster care system. Despite knowing that the system’s goal is reunification with the birth family, Sarah opens their home to a flurry of social workers who question, evaluate, and ultimately prepare them to welcome a child into their family — even if it means most likely having to give them back. After years of starts and stops, and endless navigation of the complexities and injustices of the foster care system, a phone call finally comes: a three-day old baby girl, named Coco, in immediate need of a foster family. Sarah and Eric bring this newborn stranger home.

“You were never ours,” Sarah tells Coco, “yet we belong to each other.”

A love letter to Coco, and to the countless children like her, Stranger Care chronicles Sarah’s discovery of what it means to mother — in this case, not just a vulnerable infant, but the birth mother who loves her, too. Ultimately, Coco’s story reminds us that we depend on family, and that family can take different forms. Sentilles lays bare an intimate, powerful story, with universal concerns: How can we care for and protect each other? How do we ensure a more hopeful future for life on this planet? And if we’re all related — tree, bird, star, person — how might we better live?

Reasons to read it: This is a beautiful, vulnerable, heart-wrenching story — one of the most emotionally affecting books I’ve ever read. I do want to say that anyone interested in this topic should also read accounts from adoptees and people who have gone through the foster system, especially stories from Indigenous people and people of color. My other hesitancy about this book is that although it changes her name, it does refer to personal aspects of the biological mother’s story. It is, however, an empathetic, melancholy, painfully tender story that explores and critiques the foster system, how we take care of each other, and what family looks like.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir cover

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission — and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery — and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

Reasons to read it: Do I really need to convince you of this? It’s an alone in space survival story from the author of the The Martian. It’s supposed to be a science-based thriller, and Brandon Sanderson calls it “Weir’s finest work to date.”

Last Gate of the Emperor cover

Last Gate of the Emperor by by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family…and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.

Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle…and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.

Reasons to read it: This is fast-paced fantasy-meets-sci-fi Afrofuturist Ethiopian middle grade book that gave me Star Wars vibes. Also, the main character’s best friend is a bionic lioness, which was honestly already enough to sell me on this book. Prince Joel Makonnen is the great-grandson of the last Emperor of Ethiopia, and in an afterword, he explains how the story was inspired by his own family history. This is a cinematic read that is begging to be adapted into a movie!

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources

This is only scratching the surface of the books out this week! If you want to keep up with all the latest new releases, check out:

  • Book Riot’s YouTube channel, where I discuss the most exciting books out every Tuesday!
  • All the Books, our weekly new releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts (including me!) talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot Insiders’ New Releases Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!