Summer’s Must-Read Books

Our list of the best must-read books of the hot, hazy season.


If scientists were looking to isolate a gene for writing talent, they may want to look at this family of literary royalty. Stephen King (married to author Tabitha King) publishes Joyland this summer – a satisfying whodunit set at a summer carnival – to hold readers over until the fall release of Dr. Sleep, his much anticipated follow-up to The Shining. His youngest son, Owen King, presents Double Feature, the comic tragedy of a young independent filmmaker coming to terms with his life in the process and aftermath of making his first film; while son Joe Hill (shortened from Joseph Hillstrom King) delivers the stuff of nightmares in his third novel, NOS4A2, the story of a villain who steals the souls of children and the heroine who tries to stop him.


Hot on the (high) heels of having the film rights snatched up for her first novel, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, Zoomer’s own deputy editor Kim Izzo publishes her second, My Life in Black and White. This time-travelling, dark romantic comedy is steeped in the atmosphere of film noir as its woman scorned (a would-be screenwriter) looks to iconic femmes fatales for the inspiration for her revenge against the other woman.


A social bomb is detonated in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians when heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his American-born Chinese girlfriend. The devil’s back in Lauren Wiesberger’s Revenge Wears Prada, when Andy Sachs, former assistant to the editor from hell, discovers her present fabulous life isn’t what it seems. Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty follows the consequences of a car crash on its survivor and the family of the victim. A family gathers for a wedding on Nantucket in Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand, but secrets threaten to ruin the happy occasion.


Before there was the Real Housewives of Orange County, etc., there were the real housewives of Cape Canaveral.The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel looks at the enduring friendship between the spouses of the Mercury Seven astronauts through celebrity, divorce and tragic death.



The Village by Nikita Lalwan explores the havoc a team of journalists wreaks on the moral code of the inmates at an open prison in India. Suzanne Rindell brings jazz-age New York to life in The Other Typist, the story of a woman working within the NYC police department recording confessions. In Alexander Maksik’s haunting novel A Marker to Measure Drift, a woman escapes the horrors of Charles Taylor’s Liberia to find herself in abject poverty and self-exile on a Greek island. Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman was inspired by the true-life affair between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law. Janice Clark’s The Rathbones tells the story of a whaling family and a young woman whose father is lost at sea. Part scandalous love story, part family drama, The Yonalossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani is set at an equestrienne boarding school in the 1930s.



Conrad Black covers a large swath of our southern neighbour’s history in Flight of the Eagle. Spanning from the New World through the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, Black examines the rise of the world’s supreme power, its recent decline and its ultimate strengths and future promise.


Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach is a frightening look at borrowed identity and the risks of life online. Jeffrey Deaver’s brilliant criminologist Lincoln Rhyme is back to wield his impressive intellect in The Kill Room. A Tap on the Window delivers Linwood Barclay’s trademark page-turning thrills. Canadian writer Carsten Stroud, returns to Niceville in The Homecoming, where two plane crashes set off a chain reaction of murder, kidnapping and financial double-dealing. O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark’s Killer Ambition is her third crime novel featuring Los Angeles Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight. Ingrid Thoft’s Loyalty presents a tough new heroine in Fina Ludlow, a law-school dropout who handles private investigation for her family’s high-powered (and morally flexible) company.


C.C. Humphreys’ Shakespeare’s Rebel follows a swordsman, who is coerced into the politics and rebellion of Elizabethan England. Wayne Grady’s Emancipation Day follows a Second World War musician and his wife. The late David Rakoff’s final book (and first novel) Love, Dishonour, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish is written in verse and moves between cities and decades as Rakoff riffs on the history of America. Once We Had a Country by Robert McGill reimagines the impact of the Vietnam War by way of the women and children who fled with the draft dodgers. Lauren B. Davis draws from her personal experience of alcoholism in her novel The Empty Room. The effects of war on a veteran and his family through the generations is explored by William Kowalski in The Hundred Hearts. Lynn Coady once again demonstrates her talent for dynamic prose in Hellgoing, a collection of short stories. The Miracles of Ordinary Men by Amanda Leduc blends fantasy and grim reality in this story of two people easing the pain of their human existence. A man escapes prison and embarks on an ambitious pot-smuggling plan in Caught by Canada Read’s 2013 winner Lisa Moore.