A hit man with a heart of gold. An honorable Iraq war vet-turned-assassin about to retire after one last job. An unlikely pair thrown together on a quest for revenge and redemption. You may think you’ve heard this one before, but Stephen King masterfully turns all the hard-boiled crime tropes on their head in this thrilling noir page-turner. Do yourself a favor: Make this summer a Billy Summers.
The highly anticipated short story collection from Anthony Veasna So, who died unexpectedly in 2020 on the verge of breaking through as a literary star. Irreverent, funny, and raw, Afterparties paints a vibrant portrait of growing up queer in a Cambodian American community, with an older, refugee generation that survived the Khmer Rouge genocide and a younger generation that wants to do more than survive. Roxane Gay selected Afterparties as the December pick for her Audacious Book Club.
Been missing live theater? This sharp, darkly funny novel from Bunny author Mona Awad pulls back the curtain on a wild college production of Shakespeare. Miranda, a professor addicted to painkillers after a tragic theater accident, wants to stage All’s Well That Ends Well but her students dig in their heels for Macbeth. Enter three mysterious benefactors Miranda meets at a bar.
Debut author Courtney Gould’s agent described The Dead and the Dark as “like Riverdale but good;” we say it’s for anyone who likes Courtney Summers’ novels. Welcome to Snakebite, Oregon, where teens are disappearing and the primary suspects are two gay, famous ghost hunters. A sharp paranormal investigation into everyday human hate and phobias.
Literary icon Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) celebrates the restorative power of friendship in this semi-autobiographical story of two old buddies in Provence, France. The bond between John, a fiery Irishman prone to rants and “Mad Men”-esque boasts, and François, a warm, pun-loving Frenchman with a tragic past, is a timely reminder of how human connections get us through rough times.
The SNL star’s pandemic memoir wraps a supportive hug around anyone dealing with loss. Cecily Strong lost her cousin to brain cancer just before Covid-19 struck. While some of us were baking bread, she spent quarantine writing through her grief. The result is a moving meditation on what losing a loved one can teach us about embracing life and finding resilience in the grieving process.
Stamped from the Beginning meets The New Jim Crow in Harris’ timely exposé of the pervasive impact of discrimination on Black students’ opportunities in American colleges. The Atlantic journalist chronicles a “century of racial caste in higher education,” details how inequities remain widespread on campuses across the country, and importantly offers a way forward.
Moon Fuentez is sure she’s bound to live in her twin sister’s far prettier shadow, and she knows this summer on a tour bus full of influencers just like her sibling will be hell. But with the help of hottie Santiago, Moon soon sees this narrative is far from written in the stars. Her story is a satisfying journey of self-discovery where she unlearns the harmful narratives perpetuated by social media.
Gordo by Jaime Cortez
Gordo, a nine-year-old luchador fan, takes readers into the lives of migrant workers on California’s central coast in the 1970s. Insightful and funny, with heart, these connected short stories sparkle with complex Latinx, queer, and farmworker characters. “Hands down, top debut of 2021,” according to Lit Hub.
From Pittacus Lore, the author of I Am Number Four, comes a new standalone novel about humanity’s tendency toward violence and the chaos of life. Syd Chambers is half human, half alien, whose parentage basically guarantees that he’s caught up in a battle between species to restore balance to the universe.
In this continuation of Lobizona, Manu, the world’s first female werewolf, is on the run with her found family to avoid persecution for breaking the gender binary. Manu and company are on a journey to create somewhere they belong with the help of other magical misfits. Author Romina Garber dives deeper into this lush world with breathtaking descriptions.
Jones (The Only Good Indians) is a national treasure, and his latest horror novel doesn’t disappoint. A young Native American woman who stans gory slasher movies must put her encyclopedic knowledge of the genre into action when something sinister starts stalking people in her gentrifying small town. Scary and thought-provoking in the best kind of way, Jones shines a light on how we cope with the unthinkable.
About the Author: Katie Winters
Katie is the Senior Editorial Associate at Scribd who digs bikes, beers, baseball, and — surprise, surprise — books! She loves putting her librarian training to work connecting readers with fantastic books.