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The Ultimate Summer Playlist to Inspire Your Summer Booklist

by  | August 1

One of the best parts about summer is the music—whether you are looking for that new up-tempo song to blast when you roll down the car windows or you want to find that slow melody that you put on repeat while you gaze up at the summer stars. We seek out these gems year after year and know that they will stay on our playlists even when the winds begin to blow cold. But what’s better even than finding your summer jam? Finding the perfect summer read to go with your jam! So, here are a few contenders for song of the summer and the book that will enhance your experience of it. 

Queenie

Queenie

by Candice Carty-Williams

If you love “Juice” by Lizzo, then you will love Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams.

Lizzo is one of those artists that says what she means and means what she says. She encourages self-care and body positivity, and everyone to love themselves. Queenie may not be as ready to take on those challenges as Lizzo when we first meet her in this novel. But over time she will discover the power of mental health and self-love. Queenie is down on her luck and down on love. She is in an entry-level job where her talents are being suppressed, she is chasing after all the wrong men, and she is struggling to be self-reliant with a family that still thinks she should live at home. But as we all do, Queenie has to learn how to stand on her own and stand proud.

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Tell Me Lies

Tell Me Lies

by Carola Lovering

If you love “Never Really Over” by Katy Perry, then you should check out Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering.

The song with the best rapid talk bridge that has graced us this summer is clearly from Katy (“Just because it’s over doesn’t mean it’s really over and if I think it over, maybe you’ll be comin’ over again”). It’s a fun beat with slightly stalker-like lyrics and a young, fresh vibe. Lovering’s novel is also about that one person who still haunts you. The one you can’t seem to forget. Two young college students, Lucy and Stephen, meet. He is complicated and confident, sure of himself and enthralling. Both Stephen and Lucy are desperate to bury their pasts and start fresh at college. Alternating in Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, the action takes place through college and then post-college life in New York City and chronicles the dilemmas of young adulthood and navigating the art of letting go. One more time: “Just because it’s over doesn’t mean it’s really over and if I think it over, maybe you’ll be comin’ over again.” Just try and get those lyrics—or this book—out of your head now. Good luck.

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The Courage to Be Disliked

The Courage to Be Disliked

by Ichiro Kishimi

If you love “ME!” by Taylor Swift, then you should check out The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi.

Look—it’s going to happen at some point in your life. Someone, somewhere, somehow is not going to like you. But you’ve got to figure out how much weight you are going to put on that. Taylor encourages you to spell it out this way: “You can’t spell ‘awesome’ without ‘me.’” Kishimi encourages you to find out what you love about yourself and stick with it. Modeled in a conversation between a teacher and his student, The Courage to Be Disliked takes a long look at what real freedom is. It helps readers see that you can have the life that you choose. Unhappiness and worrying about what others think, it’s argued, is often a choice. So, take this book and shout out, “I’m the only one of me, and baby that’s the fun of me.”

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Passing

Passing

by Nella Larsen

If you love “Higher Love” by Kygo and Whitney Houston, then you should check out Passing by Nella Larsen, Restless Classics Edition.

First of all, if this is your summer jam, then you are a person after my own heart. It also means that you are probably someone, like me, who loves an updated nostalgic track. With vocals recorded before her death, Houston is back with a killer beat provided by Kygo. If you have a love for a new take on things, check out the Restless Classics edition of Passing by Nella Larsen. Restless Books takes on one of the best and most undersung stories of Harlem, first published ninety years ago. They then did a remix of their own by adding incredible illustrations by Maggie Lily. This is the book about which Maya Angelou once said: "Discovering Nella Larsen is like finding lost money with no name on it. One can enjoy it with delight and share it without guilt."

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Temper

Temper

by Layne Fargo

If you love “If I Can’t Have You” by Shawn Mendes, then you should check out Temper by Layne Fargo.

Shawn Mendes released a very personal account of obsession and all-consuming love with his summer bop “If I Can’t Have You.” In it he delves into how love can trickle into your art when its new and raw: “I can’t write one song that’s not about you, can’t drink without thinkin’ about you.” If you are all about this stalker life, then you should check out Layne Fargo. Temper takes on the world of a Chicago theater, told from the point of view of a slightly naïve young actress. As she takes on an incredible career opportunity, she begins to vie for her leading man’s attention. And he enjoys it—a little too much. As the plot thickens, we see two women in a struggle to keep this deceptive and deplorable man’s interest. The plot moves like a speeding train until it finally explodes in a red-hot fury.

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Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove

by Larry McMurtry

If you love “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X,then you should check out the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry. 

The most charting song of the summer certainly has us all wondering what it would be like to ride off into the slowly setting sun-drenched horizon. And if there’s one author who embodies the lyrics “Can’t nobody tell me nothin’,” it would be Larry McMurtry. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read, Lonesome Dove is what cowboy daydreaming is made of. It is an action-packed love story, adventure, and history lesson all in one. And though you may not find a cowboy hat from Gucci in these pages, you’ll still read “till [you] can’t no more.”

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Stu is a California native, raised on healthy doses of John Steinbeck and Jack London. When asked about his formative years, he is likely to respond “the only good things to ever come out of Sacramento were me and Joan Didion”. Now a proud resident of New York City, he can be found on warm days lounging in Central Park with his dog on his lap and a manuscript in his hand.