Summer Reads: Contemporary Fiction

Haven't found what to read this summer? We have some amazing book recommendations for you!


Last week we made a list of romantic novels to read for summer, and today we bring you contemporary fiction novels!


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That Summer by Jennifer Weiner


Daisy Shoemaker can't sleep. With a thriving cooking business, a full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she's got it good. So why is she up all night?


While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she's also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy's driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy's making dinner, Diana's making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana's glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy's simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?


This book is perfect for those who love books with some mystery.


Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta


Eve Fletcher is floundering. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved, clueless only child has just left for college, Eve is slowly learning to contend with life on her own when, late one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U r my MILF!” It's nothing--just an annoying prank--but she can't get it out of her head. As Eve makes new friends, takes a community college course in Gender Studies, and reaches out to a younger co-worker, the message continues to haunt her, leading her into an online fixation that threatens to upend her quiet suburban existence.


Meanwhile, Eve’s son Brendan, is discovering that the oafish frat-boy charm that impressed high school girls may not be so enticing to college women. Increasingly isolated, with mediocre grades and a confusing crush on a softball-playing social justice champion, Brendan struggles to adjust to a campus ill disposed to his brand of white-dude bravado. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in ethically fraught situations that come to a head one fateful November night.


We recommend this book to those who enjoy reading coming-of-age adult fiction.


Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin


Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.


In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.


We recommend this book to those who love stories with depth and some humor.


My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee


From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.


Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself.


In the breathtaking, "precise, elliptical prose" that Chang-rae Lee is known for (TheNew York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller's outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion--on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.


This book is perfect for those who love surprising and exciting books.