As you read this, a long summer holiday weekend lies ahead, which will give you time not only to get some reading done but maybe even visit a library or a bookstore and find something completely new to tickle your reading taste buds. (Does that make sense or is it the heat-induced delirium talking?) Because half this list releases coincidentally (but conveniently!) on July 2, you will be able to start reading fast, too.
“American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century,” by Maureen Callahan (July 2)
He buried “kill kits” filled with cash, weapons and body-disposal tools in different locations so that he could murder in broad daylight, then return to his life as a single dad and construction worker in Alaska. If you’ve never heard of Israel Keyes, his name will fill you with dread after reading Callahan’s superb investigation of how such a monster managed to thrive in our modern world.
“What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal,” by E. Jean Carroll (July 2)
If you don’t already know E. Jean Carroll’s name, you must have been taking a very long nap. An excerpt from this book, published in New York magazine, not only details the author’s alleged rape by our current president but ends with a line so vulnerable you will be surprised you’re weeping again through your rage.
“Very Nice,” by Marcy Dermansky (July 2)
Every character in this comedy of bad manners is on thin ice. Creative-writing professor Zahid realizes that he can push a one-time encounter with his student Rachel into a summerlong stay at Rachel’s cushy Connecticut home. But before you know it, Rachel’s mother, Becca, is heating up the pool house with Zahid — and co-opting his apricot-colored poodle, to boot.
“The Gifted School,” by Bruce Holsinger (July 2)
Holsinger spent time in Boulder, Colo., which clearly informed his novel about how a competitive new charter school’s admissions process unravels the lives and psyches of four families in “Crystal, Colorado.” Two couples are married, two are divorced and most of the children are tweens, but all of them are under pressure and, like even the biggest rocks, eventually crack.
“Maggie Brown & Others: Stories,” by Peter Orner (July 2)
Excuse me as I get lost in “Walt Kaplan Is Broke: A Novella,” the longest piece in Orner’s new collection, because I’ve been waiting a while for another portrayal of working-class New England life — since Stewart O’Nan’s “Last Night at the Lobster,” in fact. There are 44 other stories in this collection, and they are all marvels of concision and compassion. Pick it up. Trust me.
“Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem,” by Daniel R. Day (July 9)
If you haven’t visited Manhattan’s 125th Street already, you missed your chance to see the place that allowed Dapper Dan to flourish. Yes, the Apollo is still there, but Harlem is a far cry from what it was in the 1980s when Day invented a logo-heavy aesthetic that redefined American style. In his memoir, the designer is honest about the drugs and crime, but also proud of his real impact.
“The Chain” by Adrian McKinty (July 9)
You’d do anything to protect your child. But what if, to protect them, you had to kidnap someone else’s? Single mother Rachel has to make that choice. To see her daughter again, she’s told she has to take another child — and also come up with a huge amount of cash. This is more than nail-biting; think cuticle-shredding.
“Costalegre,” by Courtney Maum (July 16)
Inspired by millionaire art collector Peggy Guggenheim’s relationship with her daughter Pegeen, “Costalegre” sets Leonora and Lara Callaway in 1937 Mexico, where Leonora has provided a refuge for “important” European surrealists fleeing Hitler. Fifteen-year-old Lara finds one sculptor, Jack Klinger, irresistible — perhaps because, unlike her mother, he pays attention to her. If anything can be taut and lush at once, Maum’s novel fits the bill.
“The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead (July 16)
In his Pulitzer-winning “The Underground Railroad,” Whitehead infused a sad era of our nation’s history with science fiction and magical realism to remind us that the shadow of slavery still hovers over us. His new novel proves the same point without a glimmer of fantasy; it’s even based on the tragically true story of an early 1960s Florida reform school that abused and tortured thousands of young African American men.
“Speaking of Summer,” by Kalisha Buckhanon (July 30)
This powerful debut begins in winter, as a narrator named Autumn sees her sister Summer’s footprints in the snow, leading to the roof’s edge of their Harlem apartment building. So begins a mystery about what happened to her sibling, and how it relates to the disappearance of other local women.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”