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Our Picks for the Best Summer Books of 2013

I’ve picked 12 of the best summer books of 2013 from a range of genres, so all you need to do now is organize your sunscreen and comfy beach chair, and then dive right in to one of these fabulous stories. There are lots of big names releasing new mysteries this summer, so if you are after the  ‘tried and tested’ you will relish the new books from John LeCarre, Jeffrey Deaver or Jo Nesbo to name just a few. However, if you are after something new I suggest these three great titles.

mysteries of summer 2013 US 

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach will send shivers down your spine, not only because it is so well written but also because the story is so incredibly plausible. Read more
The Curiosity by Stephen P Kiernan is another mystery with a lot of great buzz. Early readers — including the likes of Justin Cronin author of The Passageare already posting fantastic reviews.  Read more
Debut novel The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell is for those who enjoyed classics like The Talented Mr Ripley or who are in The Great Gatsby mood. Although not without some faults, The Other Typist will entertain you with its story set in the Prohibition era. Read more

There are also a lot of great books to choose from in the popular fiction category.

popular fiction summer 2013 us

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani is another promising debut, set in the USA in 1930s. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, it is an evocative debut novel of secrets and girls-school rituals with a passionate and strong-willed 15-year-old heroine at its heart. Watch the book trailer

Curtis Sittenfeld does not need much introduction: she is the acclaimed and bestselling author of Prep and American Wife. She is also one of those rare combinations of great storyteller and a fantastic writer, so I can’t wait to get my hands on her brand new novel, Sisterland. This is a story of identical twins, family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief. Read more

For fans of historical fiction I really recommend My Notorious Life by Kate Manning, which I loved. Even though this is a big book, by the time I got to the last page I was sorry it was the end. This fascinating novel based on a true story is set in gritty New York City in the last half of the nineteenth century. You will see New York like never before, but mostly you will be taken by Axie Muldoon, and her rags-to-riches story of a poor orphan who becomes one of the most successful—and controversial—midwives of her time. Read more

I had a really hard time picking just three books from the stacks of literary novels, but in the end I settled on these three titles.

lit fiction summer 2013 us

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is an utterly brilliant novel and my pick for the winner of The Women’s Prize Fiction this year (although I highly recommend every single novel on this year’s shortlist). At the heart of this novel lies a seemingly simple question: What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? Atkinson explores this and many other questions by killing and resurrecting her main heroine over and over again, celebrating the best and the worst in all of us. Read more

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra is a highly readable story of unspeakable horrors that will keep you spellbound. It takes place in Chechnya, moving back and forth in time over recent history. I find that it is often unfair to make comparisons when talking about novels such as this, but I guess one could say that if you were taken by The Tiger’s Wife you will appreciate it. I just started reading this novel, and two chapters into it I wish for a day off, it is confronting but also simply FANTASTIC!  Read more

I greatly enjoyed and would strongly recommend The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. It is part psychological thriller, part story of an unimaginable betrayal and the rant of a middle-aged woman at the point of realizing that her dreams will never come true. This novel has already generated an immense amount of ‘ranting’ and is asking some great questions about books written by and about women. Read more 

For the readers of Young Adult, there is a plethora of sequels to well-established series that will be released this summer – but there are also two new and promising looking debuts well worth  checking out.

ya summer 2013 US

One of the most talked-about books this year is the upcoming Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. This is book 1 in the new 7 book series; a sprawling, complex and futuristic novel that presents an alternative universe of seers, soothsayers and their enemies. Could Shannon’s plucky heroine–a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her stand shoulder to shoulder with Harry Potter? Watch Samantha talk about writing of her saga.

It looks like it will be a summer of feisty young heroines, as The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey has one too. Yancey is multi-award winning author of such bestsellers as Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. If you love adventure stories you will enjoy this book –  it has already been described as an alien apocalypse with a human heart. Read more and watch the book trailer

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

I mention The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman at the very end of my list simply because, once again, Gaiman has created a novel that defies classification and will cross many genres and many age groups. I count myself among the lucky few who received an advance reading copy and I read it all in one sitting, forgetting the whole world around me. It is a magical, fable-like tale, equally dark and sparkling with amazing imagery, awesome characters and the kind of images that only Gaiman seems to be able to conjure. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. All the titles are gathered under the tag Great Reads Summer 2013, so you can pick and choose or add all of them to your personal bookshelf. I would also love to hear back from you about the books that you think I should add to my reading stacks. After all, there is nothing better than a personal recommendation. Happy Reading! anna@thereadingroom.com