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Book Critics’ Most Anticipated Summer Reads

Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

NPR Critics Picks Their Most Anticipated Books of Summer

Oh, how I love a list of critics’ picks. It’s a nice little “one for us” moment in the middle of a season that’s heavy on recommendations intended to reach the broadest possible audience. And I get it! Reaching the broadest possible audience is how media companies stay alive in 2024, but it’s always interesting to see what critics are looking forward to for their own reading and how those lists overlap (or don’t) with the more general recs. The NPR book critics’ most anticipated new books of summer 2024 is a trove of under-the-radar selections and titles that were new to me. Maybe they’ll give you a new book or three for your TBR as well. 

The Sexiest Book of the Summer Isn’t a Rom-Com

And it’s not the new Miranda July novel, either. Glynnis MacNicol’s new memoir I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself is everywhere, and that’s a good thing. In the new book, MacNicol recounts a trip to Paris in 2021 after 16 months of solitary pandemic isolation, weeks she spent in “decadent, joyful, unexpected…pursuit of radical enjoyment.” It’s radical because MacNicol was 46, single, and childfree at the time (she is now 50, single, and childfree), living in gleeful defiance of society’s messages about middle-aged women’s desires and desirability. As she tells Vogue:

“I have found most of what we’re told about getting older to be a lie,” she says. “As you age, you are told you become less attractive or won’t enjoy sex, or so many women say, ‘Are you invisible yet?’ And I’m like, really? I feel like I’m a 14-year-old boy.”

Or as she put it in the opening line of a killer Times op-ed: “I was once told that the challenge of making successful feminist porn is that the thing women desire most is freedom.” I look forward to seeing her appear on many best-of lists come December. 

Take a Look, It’s in a Notebook

As a rule, articles about the writerly process are pretty boring. The exception to that rule is when the writer was a Nobel laureate who captured women’s lives and interiority with groundbreaking clarity. The Paris Review offers a look inside Alice Munro’s notebooks, and it’s an invitation worth taking them up on.

Reese Returns to YA Picks

When Reese Witherspoon launched her book club in 2020, each month’s adult selection was accompanied by a YA pick. The YA features dropped to quarterly in 2021 and had disappeared entirely by 2022. Now, Witherspoon is bringing the YA Book Club back for summer, with the help of her nieces, and they’re tapping into the trends of the day. The first pick is an enemies-to-lovers romance that remixes Shakespeare and Arthurian legends with ‘90s flavor. 


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