20 Summer Books: 'Sex and the City' Revisit, 'Queer Eye' Memoir and More

8:00 AM 6/8/2019

by Lexy Perez, Katie Kilkenny, and Trilby Beresford

Other titles include 'Normal People,' 'City of Girls' and 'Whisper Network.'

It's that special time of the year when suddenly, reading fiction and fantasy takes priority on the agenda. And as summer approaches, everyone is searching for the perfect beachy read, literary vacation getaway or simply a fun story to have on hand while lounging by the swimming pool. 

This summer, Margaret Atwood returns to Gilead 15 years after The Handmaid's Tale was released, a popular podcast releases a dual memoir with a title so memorable — Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered — that it may become a classic all on its own; Mark Haddon entertains mythology and romance and Candace Bushnell's follow-up to Sex and the City hits bookshelves 20 years after the original was published. 

Not all of these selections come out this summer — some are already out, some release in the early fall — but, with strong ties to entertainment and offering escapist pleasures, they are the perfect companions for the warmer months.

Below, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled a list of books that readers must keep on their radar this summer. 


  • 'The Bride Test'

    Author: Helen Hoang (May 7)


    With her first book, The Kiss Quotient, being optioned for film, Helen Hoang’s new book The Bride Test (Penguin Random House) arrives just in time for the summer season. In her new book, Hoang pens a story about a character named Khai Diep who processes emotions differently due to his autism diagnosis. With this in mind, his mother travels to Vietnam and brings Khai back a potential wife she hopes can teach him the art of love. Meanwhile, Esme Tran is a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, who is given the opportunity to come to America and meet a potential husband. Though hoping for a happy ending, Tran learns that she’s falling for a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. With Netflix delivering viral rom-coms and a renewed interest in romantic comedies from market buyers overall, Hoang's story about a complicated romance can be appealing to readers hoping for a fun read this summer. 

  • 'The Testaments'

    Margaret Atwood (Sept. 10)


    Amid the Handmaid’s Tale's June season three premiere, Margaret Atwood's follow-up picks up with Offred as she's taken away to her harrowing future. Told from the perspective of three females from Gilead 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, The Testaments (Penguin Random House) uncovers new information about the dystopian society and what happened to everyone’s beloved handmaid. Of the anticipated novel, Atwood said: "Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." 

  • 'Honestly, We Meant Well'

    Author: Grant Ginder (June 11)

    Flatiron Books

    With Grant Ginder's last novel, The People We Hate at the Wedding being optioned for film, the author chronicles the trials and tribulations of a family in his new book, Honestly, We Meant Well (Macmillan). The story follows matriarch Sue Ellen Wright as she aspired to rectify her family from falling apart after her husband cheats on her and her son makes a myriad of mistakes that ultimately begin to ruin his life. Hoping to become the united family they once were, Sue takes her husband and son to a Greek island for a month that could ultimately lead to her family's salvation. "Fans of clever, wistful stories will find much to love, and also appreciate the bonus classics tidbits," says Publisher's Weekly. 

  • 'City of Girls'

    Author: Elizabeth Gilbert (June 4)

    Riverhead Books

    In Elizabeth Gilbert's 2016 novel Eat, Pray, Love — with a hit movie of the same name starring Julia Roberts — the author told a story about a woman's pursuit of purpose and salvation through travel. This time, the author returns with a new novel, The City of Girls (Penguin Random House), that conceives another coming-of-age story. Set in the1940s New York City theatre community during World War II, 19-year-old Vivian Morris finds a new home in the worn-down theatre her Aunt Peg owns after being sent to live with her. But she soon finds herself at the center of a scandal that turns her life upside down. Vivian learns that after one mistake her new life will endure chaos, but not without teaching her vital lessons about growing up. "At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time," the character muses in the book. "Disjuncture is where Gilbert’s books—and her theories about how to live—truly thrive," Vanity Fair writes of the novel. "For 13 years Gilbert has personified an idea of modern womanhood that is instinctively appealing." 






  • 'Recursion'

    Author: Blake Crouch (June 11)

    The Crown Publishing Group

    Blake Crouch returns with a thrilling science fiction novel that's already being created into a Netflix series. In Recursion, which will be published by Crown on June 11, a brilliant scientist invents a powerful technology that allows people not just to reactivate their most visceral memories but to completely reinvent them. Should the technology end up in the wrong hands, it will upend the world as it's known. This leaves New York City cop Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith to work together to stop the spread of this illness and to keep the history of the world from being completely erased. Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves are developing a feature film and television universe based on Crouch's sci-fi novel. "Blake's mind-bending novel presents an incredible opportunity to explore its expansive narrative simultaneously through both film and television," said Reeves. "Netflix is uniquely suited for this ambitious undertaking, and I can't imagine a more exciting partner than the astonishingly talented Shonda Rhimes, whose work I have admired for years."


  • 'Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered'

    Authors: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (May 28)


    Whether you’re among the 20  million (and counting) monthly listeners who know them from My Favorite  Murder podcast or simply are looking for a new read this summer, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark's Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered is perfect for readers looking for a story that blends true crime, comedy and deeply personal confession. In Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered (Forge), Karen and Georgia pen a book that is part "shared memoir" and part life manual. Karen and Georgia detail their lives and how they joined forces by sharing a mutual obsession for true crime. The women narrate the audiobook version of their book, naturally, but revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that Billions star Paul Giamatti — who Karen and Georgia say is part of their podcast fanbase — makes a cameo. "Paul Giamatti went to North Hollywood to record a voiceover for us,” Hardstark told THR. "If that’s not fuckin’ something, what is?" 


  • 'The Last Time I Saw You'

    Author: Liv Constantine (May 7)

    Harper Collins

    Liv Constantine — whose 2017 book The Last Mrs. Parrish (a former book club pick of Reese Witherspoon) is currently being made into an Amazon series — returns with a new mystery in The Last Time I Saw You (Harper Collins). In the new thriller, Dr. Kate English's life is turned upside down when her mother is murdered. Soon, Kate's life is in danger after she receives a threatening anonymous text. Desperate for help, Kate must join forces with estranged friend Blaire to not only solve the mystery but save her own life as well. When Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all may not be what it seems in their Baltimore high society. Soon the identity of the murderer could be applied to anyone — even a friend, neighbor or loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Katie is next on their list, with the reason unknown. For fans of Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, Liv Constantine "raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives — and one woman’s sanity — hang in the balance," according to the publisher. 




  • 'Normal People'

    Author: Sally Rooney (April. 16)

    Penguin Random House

    After making her debut with acclaimed 2017 book Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney returns with Normal People (Penguin Random House) which chronicles the complicated relationship between two young people, Marianne and Connell, from their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergrad years at Dublin's Trinity College. Hulu has given a straight-to-series pickup of the novel in a half-hour drama adaptation of the same name. Produced by Element Pictures and commissioned by Hulu and BBC Three in the U.K., Daisy Edgar-Jones (Gentleman Jack) and newcomer Paul Mescal will play the leading roles. Rooney will adapt the novel for the series along with Alice Birch and Mark O'Rowe. Lenny Abrahamson (Room) will executive produce Hulu's adaptation, as well as direct six of the 12 episodes. Hettie Macdonald (Doctor Who) will helm the other six.




  • 'Park Avenue Summer'

    Author: Renée Rosen (April 30)

    Penguin Random House

    Tracing the origins of the popular Cosmopolitan women's magazine and the feminist movement of the 1960s, Park Avenue Summer (Penguin Random House) follows Alice Weiss, who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her city dreams of becoming a photographer in New York. It is there that Alice unexpectedly lands a job as the secretary for the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown. Despite seeming like a dream job, Alice soon learns that everything may not be so glamorous when the magazine's editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller Sex and the Single GirlMeanwhile, confidential memos, article ideas and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands. When someone tries to convince Alice to join them in sabotaging her boss, she becomes more determined than ever to help Helen succeed. Described as Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada, Rosen's book makes for a fun summer read while celebrating female empowerment and ambition. 


  • 'The Lost Night'

    Author: Andrea Bartz (Feb. 26)

    The Crown Publishing Group

    Journalist and author Andrea Bartz's upcoming thriller may be her first, but The Lost Night (Crown Publishing Group) has already been optioned for a limited series with Mila Kunis' production company Orchard Farm set to produce. The thriller is centered on the mystery surrounding a recent college grad's death. Though Edie was found with a suicide note, the circumstances around her death become confusing 10 years later when her friend comes across a video that leads her to believe that Edie may have been murdered, and that she may have played a role in it. Described as a "riveting debut" by the publisher, Bartz' The Lost Night is available to purchase now with the series adaptation to be announced. 


  • 'The Nickel Boys'

    Author: Colson Whitehead (June 3)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    Three years after he won the Pulitzer Prize for his imaginative alternative history The Underground Railroad, now being turned into an Amazon series by Moonlight helmer Barry Jenkins, author Colson Whitehead is back with another novel inspired by real events. With The Nickel Boys (Doubleday), Whitehead portrays a harsh reform school based on the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, which was closed in 2011 after investigations that uncovered students were subjected to beatings, rapes and torture. In his latest, Whitehead chronicles the diverging experiences of upstanding student Elwood Curtis and his cynical friend Turner at the sinister Nickel Academy, thereby examining unique approaches to dealing with injustice.

  • 'Fleishman Is In Trouble'

    Author: Taffy Brodesser-Akner (June 18)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    Taffy Brodesser-Akner, known for humorous profiles of public figures (often Hollywood stars) in the pages of The New York Times Magazine and GQ, turns to fictional portraits in her debut novel Fleishman Is In Trouble (Random House). Her eponymous character, Toby Fleishman, is enjoying a return to bachelorhood after a divorce when his wife drops his two children off at his place and disappears. Navigating single fatherhood, his work and online dating, Fleishman tries to make sense of how his ex-wife went missing as he comes to terms with his own shortcomings as a father and husband.

  • 'Olive, Again'

    Author: Elizabeth Strout (Oct. 15)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    Over a decade after the publication of Olive Kitteridge, and five years since Frances McDormand played her in the HBO series of the same name, writer Elizabeth Strout has penned a new adventure for the cantankerous character. In Olive, Again (Random House), Kitteridge again navigates her native town of Crosby, Maine and its iconoclastic inhabitants with characteristic wryness and wit. This time around, she is set to encounter "a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, [and] a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept," the publisher says.

  • 'Whisper Network'

    Author: Chandler Baker (July 2)

    Courtesy of Flatiron Books

    Chandler Baker, the author of YA books including Alive, Teen Frankenstein and This Is the End, takes clear inspiration from the #MeToo movement with her new novel. Whisper Network (Flatiron Books) follows four women as they grapple with the promotion of a male colleague who has a complicated history with female coworkers. When they learn he is abusing his power with another colleague, they decide to speak out about his past behavior, changing all of their lives forever in the process.

  • 'The Plaza: The Secret History of America's Most Famous Hotel'

    Author: Julie Satow (June 4)

    Courtesy of Twelve

    After Shawn Levy chronicled the iconoclastic, occasionally lurid history of Sunset Strip hotel Chateau Marmont earlier this year — a book John Krasinski is now adapting into an HBO series — journalist Julie Satow peers into the past of an iconic hotel on the opposite coast. The Plaza: The Secret History of America's Most Famous Hotel (Twelve) promises to trace the hotel from its origins as a passion project for some of America's richest men, to its disastrous ownership under Donald Trump, to its current iteration, operated by a Qatari state-owned company. Along the way, Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Beatles partied there, and the Eloise books and Home Alone 2 immortalized the building in pop culture. "With glamour on the surface and strife behind the scenes, it is the story of how one hotel became a mirror reflecting New York's place at the center of the country's cultural narrative for over a century," the publisher promises.

  • 'Trick Mirror'

    Author: Jia Tolentino (August 6)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    Using her experience as a staff writer at The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino presents a deeper look at contemporary culture in Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusion, a series of nine essays. According to the publisher, "Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives." Further defining the book, they go on to say that it's about "the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self." The publisher notes that Tolentino's sense of humor and profound honesty gives the book "instant classic" status in a rough decade of society.

  • 'Chances Are...'

    Author: Richard Russo (July 30)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    As well as writing eight novels, Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls in 1992. His new novel Chances Are... explores the friendship between three men who come from different backgrounds and professional positions. Writes the publisher, "But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vinyard in 1971: the disappearance of the woman each of them loved: Jacy Rockafellow." The novel will feature Russo's trademark humor and humanity while introducing the type of suspense people refer to as a "page-turner."

  • 'The Porpoise'

    Author: Mark Haddon (June 18)

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    Mark Haddon is well known for many titles, among them The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which was long-listed for the Man Booker prize in 2003 and earned numerous other awards. His new title, The Porpoise, plays with the idea of meaning and myth in a contemporary story mirroring the ancient legend of Antiochus. Haddon takes inspiration from the old tale, which features sudden tragedy and a man's love for the daughter of his dead wife, updating the characters and weaving them into a modern world. Described as an ambitious and fantastical novel by the publisher, The Porpoise feels like a departure from Haddon's previous works and a step into unfamiliar territory — one that still bares resemblance to the world as we know it. 

  • 'Naturally Tan: A Memoir'

    Author: Tan France (June 4)

    Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

    Best known for giving expert fashion advice on Queer Eye, Tan France has now written a memoir that details his religious upbringing and path toward becoming the first openly gay South Asian man on television. "With his trademark wit, humor, and radical compassion, Tan shares his journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way about being a successful businessman, a devoted spouse, and self-acceptance," writes the publisher. "From navigating the gay community, to finding the love of his life, to creating popular ladies’ clothing lines for Kingdom & State and Rachel Parcell, Inc. to joining Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness on Queer Eye as positive, representative celebrity role models for LGBTQ people, Tan followed his own path to develop his signature style and embrace life on his own terms."


  • 'Is There Still Sex in the City?'

    Author: Candace Bushnell (Aug. 6)

    Courtesy of Grove Press

    Twenty years after Candace Bushnell brought us Sex and the City, which went on to become the wildly popular HBO series of the same name, the author has written a follow-up of sorts: Is There Still Sex in the City?. In a new setting, Bushnell provides another classic examination of female friendship, dating and navigating the single life. Only this time, the characters are over fifty. Bushnell's signature character observation and wit bounces off the pages as the book retains familiarity from the previous offering — while introducing new thoughts and ideas centered around our love lives and everything that may encompass.