Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Quiz: What Book Should I Read Next?

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Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

Leah Rachel von Essen reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

As we near the end of summer, school days approach and work threatens to amp up again. Vacation days have been used up and the beaches are closing. It’s time to choose some final reads to get done before autumn and pumpkin spice and Halloween movies start taking over our lives, and then it’s Thanksgiving, and then we’re all putting together Christmas decorations too early and the year is almost over…

Sorry, I got ahead of myself there. Point is, it’s time to turn to our final reads of the summer, and I want to help you choose which book you put on hold at your local library.

Now, I’m sure you’ve taken many a book quiz. I’ve written many a book quiz. And I know a lot of them have similar questions. You start to get an idea of where you’re headed. What genre you’re going to get. What vibes the book will have.

I put a lot of work in to make sure that this quiz is unpredictable. On your end, at least. On my end, I’ve plotted to get you a book recommendation that matches the deeply seeded reading desires you probably didn’t even know you had. To match you with the book you didn’t even know you needed. Trust the process.

Enjoy the experience, and enjoy the quiz! (All book results are below for anyone who wants to skip straight to the recommendations.)

All Book Results:

Love & Other Disasters book cover

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

A queer romance set on a Master Chef–like reality show, with a great nonbinary storyline included? What’s not to love? Young and newly divorced Dahlia Woodson is determined to make it work on the show Chef’s Special, but the very first thing she does is fall in front of the judges, taking her food down with her. Luckily there’s a consolation prize: the growing chemistry with fellow competitor London Parker, who came out to the public as nonbinary and is hoping to win the whole thing in order to beat the haters (included in that category: their dad.) This is technically a romance, but I fell in love with this book for its fun depiction of a food reality competition from the inside, with all the drama that comes with it, for the pansexuality rep, and for London’s powerful character arc.

Content warnings for misgendering, homophobia, classism.

Eve Out of Her Ruins book cover

Eve Out of her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Eve is a magnetic young teen who is willing to do what she has to if it will mean escaping her abusive household. Around her swirl other figures of her tough neighborhood in Port Louis, Mauritius: sweet Savita and their deep romance, Saadiq and his crush, and Clélio, who hides his own pain behind a macho exterior. As Savita and Eve try to find a safe space for themselves, the male teens of the story flare and spark with rage and hurt, and the neighborhood and its rules push all the teens to grow up way too fast. Celebrate Women in Translation month by digging into this short, beautiful, queer book translated from its original French.

Content warnings for rape, rape culture, trauma, homophobia, femicide, murder, domestic violence and abuse, profiling, suicidal ideation.

Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey book cover

Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey

Our capitalist society puts a hefty price on productivity. It’s grind culture: we are asked to be productive above all else, asked to commit ourselves, body and mind, to grueling work weeks and countless side hustles. Especially in the United States, it seems like we are valued more than anything for hustling, for getting less sleep in order to produce the results, and too often all that results in weary bodies and exhausted hearts. So what if instead, we let ourselves rest? Hersey’s book is a call to action for us to allow ourselves to truly, genuinely rest, both for our own good and as an act of resistance against the systems of capitalist greed and white supremacy that demand our labor. It’s a manifesto that’s inspiring, informative, and hopeful. Let Hersey inspire you to get some rest!

Content warnings for grief, racism, misogyny, violence, ableism, police brutality.

The Thick and the Lean book cover

The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter

Beatrice Bolano has grown up in a society where thinness is valued over everything else. Eating in public is disdainful and appetite is considered embarrassing. But Beatrice wants no part of this life. She cooks in secret, hoping to find a life where she can enjoy the flavors she craves. Meanwhile, student Reiko Rimando is trying to find her place at university, far from the struggling but somehow healthier neighborhood where she grew up. How will these two women make it in a world that insists on food austerity? This vivid, queer, richly written dystopia about capitalist greed and disordered eating is a fast read and worth the investment. It has tons of layers of meaning but is an engaging, compelling read about finding your place in a difficult world.

Content warnings for eating disorder, fatphobia, body shaming, substance abuse, classism, ableism, racism, gun violence.

We Deserve Monuments book cover

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Avery’s family is moving south, into the small town where her grandmother is dying of cancer. They’ve been estranged for some time, and Avery is skeptical of the move as a queer Black girl who doesn’t know what she’ll find. Her mother and grandmother clash and fight but won’t tell her any of the drama, and family secrets and rivalries seem to lurk behind every corner, but no one will tell her a thing. As she struggles to get through, she makes fast friends with two girls in town. But as a romance begins to simmer, and secrets begin to escape a wall of silence, will Avery be able to face the truths she uncovers? This is a superb young adult contemporary novel about friendship, queerness, generational trauma, and family, wrapped up with both romance and mystery.

Content warnings for racism, police brutality, violence, terminal illness, sexual harassment, emotional abuse, homophobia, outing.

A Sister's Story by Di Pietrantonio book cover

A Sister’s Story by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, translated by Ann Goldstein

What better way to celebrate Women in Translation month than by digging into this contemporary novel by an Italian author that’s perfect for Elena Ferrante fans? A woman lies in a hotel room reminiscing about her difficult relationship with her sister, Adriana. While it’s partially the story of her marriage, the main narrative is all about her and Adriana, who showed up at her apartment one night seeking shelter for herself and a son no one knew existed. Their relationship is fraught and argumentative, reminding me often of Lenu and Lila in the Neapolitan novels, but they’re bonded by growing up with their difficult parents.

Content warnings for use of the g-slur, terminal illness, death/grief, ableism, homophobia, medical trauma

Liliana's Invincible Summer: A Sister's Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza book cover

Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza

This book is part true crime and part biographical tribute. Rivera Garza’s sister was murdered in 1990 by her abusive ex, but despite there being plenty of evidence, the police abandoned the case. In unpacking the story of her sister, drawing from her diaries, the case file, and much more, Garza tells the tragic story of her sister’s life, paying it tribute. She writes of the painful grief of her and her family after the case was abandoned, and also writes an emotions-driven condemnation of the way that gendered violence has become normalized and ignored in Mexico for way too long.

Content warnings for misogyny, murder, sexism, rape, domestic abuse, abortion.

To Shape a Dragon's Breath cover

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

The Nampeshiweiset series begins when teenager Anequs finds a dragon’s egg. Her remote island has been able to see relative peace, for a while, even in the midst of Anglish colonization and rule, but now they’ve caught their attention. The Anglish don’t agree with Anequs’s people on how a dragon should be raised and bonded with its partner, and they have strict laws. If Anequs can’t succeed at their dragon school on the mainland, her dragon will have to die. This new book is in a classic Western fantasy style — an unexpected outsider is chosen and pulled into a magical school — but written from an Indigenous perspective. Anequs will work hard to succeed for the sake of her dragon, but on her own terms, while maintaining her Indigenous identity and beliefs. Lovers of classic fantasy will eat this one up!

Content warnings for racism, ableism, homophobia, violence, anti-indigenous prejudice and violence, animal death.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo book cover

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

In the highly anticipated first novel for adults from the author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High, protagonist Flor Marte can predict the day someone dies. Which makes it upsetting when she tells her family she wants a living wake, a party for everyone to celebrate her long life. Her sisters wonder if she’s hinting at her own death. Or is it someone else’s? All four sisters have secrets, from their personal motivations and grudges to the states of their marriages, and cousins Ona and Yadi are also facing their own issues. Acevedo traces the lives of all these women leading up to the wake, telling a Dominican American family epic through the intertwined stories of these sisters and cousins.

Content warnings for child abuse, grief, miscarriage, sexual violence, violence.

Chang-Gang All-Stars book cover

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

In a disturbingly feasible near-future dystopia, incarcerated people are given an option: they can join a sport where they’ll regularly battle to the death, and if they make it three years without dying, they’ll be freed. The catch, of course, is that the nature of the sport, and the manipulation of the producers, generally guarantee that no one makes it that long. In this cycle of brutal violence, as cameras stream their every move and conversation to the public, Loretta Thurwar and Hurricane Staxxx want their gang to be different. They want to be able to trust one another. To create a gang whose very existence is protest against the system. This is an action-packed drama, a queer love story, and a rebellious thought-provoking challenge to incarceration and the way the public consumes stories of “justice.”

Strong content warnings for violence, sexual assault, torture, suicide, police brutality. Also warnings for homophobia, suicidal ideation, emotional abuse, racism, grief, ableism.