2023 summer books list: Our critics' most anticipated titles We asked some of our regular book critics what soon-to-be-published titles they are most looking forward to reading this summer. Here's what they said.

Here are 19 books our critics are excited for this summer

Islenia Mil for NPR
Critics share their picks for summer reads to enjoy poolside.
Islenia Mil for NPR

Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start to summer. Many kids are entering the last weeks of school, pools start to open, and vacations from work are on the horizon. It's a time of the year that many associate with a somewhat slower pace affording, maybe, a little more free time to read. We asked some of our regular book critics what soon-to-be-published titles they are most looking forward to reading this summer. Here's what they said.


  • Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

    Ink Blood Sister Scribe cover
    William Morrow

    As a book person, is there anything more alluring than a book about people who are obsessed with books? I was immediately intrigued by the premise of Ink Blood Sister Scribe: Estranged sisters are reunited when mysterious forces threaten their family's library of magic books. It took only a few pages for this stellar debut to put me completely under its spell. Genres entwine to form the cleverly paced narrative as we travel from thriller to murder mystery to romance, while always keeping a foot in the deliciously fantastical. (May 30) — Caitlyn Paxson

  • A Quitter's Paradise by Elysha Chang

    A Quitter's Paradise Cover
    SJP Lit

    When Sarah Jessica Parker launched her literary imprint SJP Lit, she promised it would publish "big-hearted literary and commercial works ... inclusive of ... underrepresented voices." The first book on the actor's imprint is Elysha Chang's debut novel A Quitter's Paradise, a drolly comedic tale about a young Taiwanese American scientist doing all the wrong things at work and in her personal life, while trying to avoid what her parents' immigrant story and her mother's death might mean to her. Reminiscent of Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin and Weike Wang's Chemistry, Chang's debut seems to check all of Sarah Jessica Parker the Publisher's boxes. (June 6) — Leland Cheuk

  • The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende

    The Wind Knows My Name cover
    Ballantine Books

    When I learned Isabel Allende's new book, The Wind Knows My Name, is set in my hometown of Nogales, Ariz., among other places real and mystical, I put it on the top of my reading list. Allende's artistry shapes a lyrical romanticism around social political history and global turmoil. I'm eager to find what she discovers in our borderlands. (June 6) — Marcela Davison Avilés

  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck

    Kairos cover
    New Directions

    As Erpenbeck fans go, I'm a latecomer. It took her "memoir in pieces" Not a Novel for me to see the novelist-historian. Her sentences are ascetic and plainspoken, easily mistaken as needle drops, when really they're short stories. They stretch far into the horizon. "I can still picture the hand of a friend of mine who died of cancer," she once ended a speech about time. Her newest, Kairos, translated by Michael Hofmann, marries her philosophy of time with her childhood in East Berlin. It's somehow both Sebaldian and anti-Sebaldian. In historical clarity, it brims. (June 6) — Kamil Ahsan

  • The Talk by Darrin Bell

    The Talk cover
    Henry Holt & Co.

    Darrin Bell is 6 years old, playing alone, when a police officer yells at him to freeze. He doesn't share the disturbing event for years. The Talk is Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist Bell's debut graphic memoir, a stunning account of a young Black man navigating his way through Los Angeles and Berkeley in the 1980s and '90s, into life as a successful professional and father. The illustrations, fluctuating from the whimsically cartoonish to the painterly, are as multi-tiered and engrossing as Bell's narrative voice. Like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, this epic portrait of an artist is destined for iconic status. (June 6) — Tahneer Oksman

  • All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

    All the Sinners Bleed cover
    Flatiron Books

    I can't wait to get my hands on S.A. Cosby's All the Sinners Bleed. The setting is a county in rural Virginia with Confederate sensibilities that aren't completely in the past, the new sheriff in town is Black, and a serial killer is afoot. Cosby's last novel, Razorblade Tears, rocketed right from President Barack Obama's 2022 "summer favorites" list onto my stack of most-admired fiction. Based on those unforgettable characters, I anticipate in Cosby's new book a highly propulsive story with issues of social justice at its heart. (June 6) — Barbara J. King

  • Loot by Tania James

    Loot cover

    The legendary Tipu Sultan, Tiger of Mysore, was killed by British armies in 1799. Among his many creations was a life-size wooden tiger automaton mauling a British soldier. Tania James' latest novel, Loot, gives us a spirited imagining of this tiger's origins and how the British besieged and looted Tipu's capital. With carefully engineered plotlines and epigrammatic flourishes, James molds the tiger's fascinating, fictional journey from India to London's Victoria & Albert Museum — and the singular lives of those who were connected with it. It's a historical novel I've been looking forward to because it subtly problematizes the very historicity of what has been enshrined in the grand halls of eternal record. (June 13) — Jenny Bhatt

  • The Fear of Too Much Justice by Stephen Bright and James Kwak

    The Fear of Too Much Justice cover
    The New Press

    Americans have begun to see the gross injustices in our criminal "justice" system, which favors wealthy white people over Black people, other people of color, and poor people. We have one of the largest prison systems in the world, and some of the longest sentences. Stephen Bright, co-author with James Kwak, has spent his life shining a bright light on these problems and addressing them through the courts. He's trained generations of lawyers, including Bryan Stevenson. I look forward to this book for what is sure to be a searing, no-holds-barred analysis about where we stand and how we can go forward. (June 20) — Martha Anne Toll

  • You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

    You-re Not Supposed to Die Tonight cover
    Bloomsbury YA

    Charity works at a horror simulation tourist trap based on a cheesy 1980s teen slasher movie, Camp Mirror Lake. It's all fun and games until the staff start going missing. Something monstrous is stalking Charity and her terrified friends, and it won't stop until they're all dead. Like any good horror movie, this one is full of twists and turns, with one heck of a kicker at the end. (June 20) — Alex Brown

  • The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon

    The Undying Archive cover

    When I first heard of The Archive Undying I was stoked — in our age of AI discourse and terrifying robot dogs, it's exciting to see a writer exploring these concepts in a way that's fresh and nuanced. That the book is also about bodies — how we use them, how they betray or disappoint us, and how we survive in them nonetheless — only made me more excited. I can't wait to dive in headfirst and explore Emma Mieko Candon's Downworld. (June 27) — Ilana Masad


  • Owner of a Lonely Heart by Beth Nguyen

    Owner of a Lonely Heart cover

    Owner of a Lonely Heart offers indelible insights on biological and surrogate motherhood, informed by the author's upbringing in a chaotic yet emotionally repressed family led by a Vietnamese refugee father and a second-generation Mexican stepmother in white-centric Grand Rapids, Mich. Referencing yet subverting the swaggering lyrics of a 1983 Yes song, Nguyen's memoir, a taut, contemplative sequel to Stealing Buddha's Dinner, reconciles the apparent gaps in her family history with the need for sufficient space and time to redefine the past. (July 4) — Thúy Đinh

  • Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery

    Nothing Special cover
    Bloomsbury Publishing

    In Nothing Special, Nicole Flattery — known for bringing young women's stories to life — chose to explore the fascinating moment in the '60s when Andy Warhol composed his unconventional book, a, A Novel, by recording the conversations and experiences of his many famous friends at The Factory. Here, 17-year-old high school dropout Mae is one of the girls tasked with transcribing these tapes. I'm eager to delve into this story. What happens to a young girl coming of age in New York City when innocent voyeurism and the famous space known for art, celebrity and debauchery clash? (July 11) — Keishel A. Williams

  • Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    Silver Nitrate cover
    Del Ray

    A curse, magic, an old movie director whose career vanished, an unfinished cursed film, Nazi occultism and a woman who discovers she has special powers may sound like a wild mix of elements. But Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most unique and exciting voices in contemporary fiction, so when it comes to Silver Nitrate, each of these things only makes me want to read the novel even more. Moreno-Garcia makes darkness shine, and this one promises to be very dark. (July 18) — Gabino Iglesias


  • Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

    Tom Lake cover

    Three sisters stuck in a cherry orchard, far from the excitements of society. Sound familiar? Can't wait to see how Ann Patchett channels Chekhov in her new novel, Tom Lake. Set during the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sisters seek shelter on their family's Michigan farm and, for entertainment while picking cherries, persuade their mother to tell them about a summer-stock romance decades earlier with a now-famous actor. Patchett, beloved bookseller and chronicler of people thrown together in patched families and hostage situations, turns her attention to love — youthful, marital, fleeting, enduring. (Aug. 1) — Heller McAlpin

  • Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

    Family Lore cover

    As one of the brightest stars in the literary firmament, YA superstar Elizabeth Acevedo has won a slew of the book world's most coveted prizes, including a National Book Award and Carnegie Medal for Poet X. Spanning the past and present and locations from Santo Domingo to New York City, Family Lore, her first novel for adults, is a lush and lyrical Dominican American drama about four supernaturally gifted sisters on the occasion of a living wake for one of them. It's also one of the author's most personal creations — inspired in part by her eight inimitable aunts and fascination with how culture and traditions are made. (Aug. 1) — Carole Bell

  • Witness: Stories by Jamel Brinkley

    Witness cover
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    Jamel Brinkley's 2018 debut, A Lucky Man, was one of the best books of the year, filled with short stories that deftly looked at family, identity and desire. His follow-up collection, set in New York City, contains stories about people who choose to speak on behalf of others — or fail to do so. Brinkley is immensely talented, making this one of the year's most anticipated works of American fiction. (Aug. 1) — Michael Schaub

  • Mobility by Lydia Kiesling

    Mobility cover
    Crooked Media Reads

    Lydia Kiesling's debut novel, The Golden State, sucked me in with its tight portrait of a woman on edge in a town on edge — it unspools over 10 days as a young mother decamps to a town in the high desert of California with secessionist dreams. In Mobility, Kiesling applies her sharp pairing of politics and the personal to a wider scale, encompassing decades in the life of a hapless onetime foreign service brat named Bunny. As Bunny languishes in Azerbaijan as a 1990s teenager oblivious to the global scramble for oil, stumbles into an oil career in Texas in young adulthood, and grapples with our climate-wrecked future, Kiesling explores individual complicity with late capitalism. (Aug. 1) — Kristen Martin

  • Time's Mouth by Edan Lepucki

    Time's Mouth cover

    Edan Lepucki's third novel, Time's Mouth, is a time-travel story that feels shatteringly real. It bounces from goddess-praising feminism to Reichian therapy, from a cult in the woods to the suburban side of Hollywood, exploring parenthood — often, but not always, motherhood — from a new angle in every chapter. Like all of Lepucki's work, it's both gripping and moving, and promises at least one burst of cathartic tears. (Aug. 1) — Lily Meyer

  • Fever House by Keith Rosson

    Fever House cover
    Random House

    Keith Rosson has been quietly, humbly releasing a string of exceptional novels via small indie presses over the past few years. But with his upcoming book Fever House, he's making the leap to Random House. Accordingly, he's bringing the heat. Fever House skimps not one bit on weirdness, darkness or suspense: It's a whirlwind mystery that involves rock stars, mob enforcers, cursed body parts and conspiracies. Rosson's books have always wielded a punk-rock edge — he's also a graphic designer who's worked with Green Day and Against Me! — and Fever House is no different. What sets it above and beyond his past offerings is a global scope that hurls his genre-slashing ambition into the stratosphere. (Aug. 15) — Jason Heller