11 best books for summer by the staff at Jezebel


All summer long, guests stop by to recommend books to Jezebel readers; this week, however, we are closer to home, with selections from Jezebel staff. We have murders, we have memories, we have pools, gay bars, romance and the dark side of supermarkets. We have it all, in other words.

The House of Gucci: a sensational story of murder, madness, glamor and greed, Sara Gay Forden

You’ve probably seen the pictures of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver make their best Italian glamazon cosplay on the set of the film based on this book, and perhaps you were also inspired to buy a copy to prepare yourself for what will certainly be a camp bacchanal. Otherwise, let this little blurb encourage you: The Gucci house is my favorite paperback for this season. It’s an exhilarating guide through a salacious murder interwoven with the brand’s history. Great for people who love Gucci, and even better for those who want context before sitting in a movie theater and watching Lady Gaga swinging for the fences while dressed as a young Strega Nonna. Ciao bella! Bellissime! Live italy. –Megan Reynolds

The yellow house, Sarah M. Broom

Sarah M. Broom’s book about the New Orleans house she grew up in is technically a memoir, although it can be more accurately described as a particularly moving geographic story. Through archival research and interviews with family members, Broom pieces together a sprawling tale of the crossed forces that left large swathes of the city precarious and decaying long before Hurricane Katrina attracted the national attention to the city’s infrastructural racism. Undoubtedly researched and beautifully written, Broom’s book is a tender, multigenerational story that portrays systematized neglect as a character as real as any other. It’s a good book to read slowly, on those long hot days when you can give it the attention it deserves. – Molly Osberg

Murderbot’s Diaries, Martha Wells

“I could have become a mass murderer after hacking into my governor module, but then I realized that I could access the combined stream of entertainment channels broadcast on the company’s satellites. It’s the memorable opening of this wonderful, funny, thoughtful sci-fi series about a deeply cranky cyborg calling himself Murderbot, as a sort of tongue-in-cheek joke. You see, Murderbot is a literal killing machine made of both organic and tech pieces, who just wants to kill as little as possible and the bare minimum in their job (which is basically outer space hire a cop), then watch human tv shows, especially a soap opera called Rise and fall of the moon of the sanctuary. Butthe description of the hat makes Murderbot look a bit static as a character, which is furthest from the truth. Murderbot meets a group of humans he reluctantly loves, in large part because they treat Murderbot as a sensitive and self-sufficient being with the feelings he is. I’m really a little alarmed at how much I identify with this cyborg, as someone who wants everyone to leave her alone to read their stories and also wants the little human she is responsible for to stay out dangerous situations. —Kelly Faircloth

Golden Famous Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins

Depending on your build and your appetite for fate, this is either the worst or the best time to read Claire Vaye Watkins’ account of a believable California apocalypse. Personally, I revisit it (as well as its excellent collection of stories, Warrior-born) waiting the second novel of the writers, this autumn. Watkins, whose same attention to violence and splendor in the West has been described as “Gothic Nevada”, Turns his attention to a fossilized Los Angeles in the aftermath of the state’s climate-induced desertification. The characters who populate his novel are just as selfish and ill-prepared as one would expect of an average person in the midst of a preventable disaster, and his descriptions of the social impact of such an event – Journalists parachuted into the dry zone at libertarians digging into their ruined cities – are frightening as only credible science fiction is. – Molly Osberg

A certain hunger, Chelsea Summers

I read this as 2020 turned into ’21, and haven’t enjoyed a more delicious novel since. It’s funny, since the dishes that Summers’ serial killer protagonist Dorothy Daniels cooks are made of human flesh (“Kill a man and you’re a weirdo. Kill a few and you’re a legend.” , notes the cannibal). Summers pulls it off ingeniously with a noble novel voice by making Dorothy a food writer inclined to brilliantly flowery prose (manslaughter is “insufficiently ambitious homicide”), I learned that beauty is armor. From my teenage friends, I learned that femininity is junk. They were both right. “) Here is yet another line that I loved:” … We fucked so much, so long, and so often we passed a yeast infection like a joint. Six months later, I still think about this book all the time and laugh. – Rich Juzwiak

Water stain, Roger Deakin

When it’s the temperature of Satan’s sauna outside and I’m glued to my couch in front of the air conditioning, I want to be in the water. When I can’t, however, I turn to books that reproduce this feeling of ease, lightness, loneliness. Roger Deakin’s Wonderful Nature Swimming Meditation was just released in the US, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted in a summer book. Deakin takes the reader on a journey through the waterways of the British countryside, swimming in weed-smothered ponds, moats in front of his house, tidal pools, open water – really any shot in the sky. water is a fair game. “Wild swimming,” as it’s called, is actually just swimming as it existed before pools, chlorine, and the ritualized nature of a day at the beach. He writes with sensitivity and a great appreciation for the world around him, and all I want to do is get on a plane and plunge my tired flesh into the streams he portrays, a gentle breaststroke. that time. –Megan Reynolds

Love lettering, Kate clayborn

Calligrapher Meg meets Reid when she’s tasked with handwriting her wedding invitations, notices that he and his fiancée aren’t at all suitable, and (somewhat compulsively) encodes a warning into her drawing. Months later, Reid returns, wanting to know what she knew he didn’t know. It’s oil and water, at least that’s what it seems at first glance. I read this one at the start of the pandemic, and Reid’s faint smell of chlorine on his swimming lap almost made me cry with nostalgia. Plus, there’s a nice twist at the end! –Kelly faircloth

Gay bar: why we went out, Jeremy Atherton Lin

With a subtitle like Why we went out, Gay barThe February release couldn’t have been better. In the midst of a lockdown, it seemed more crucial than ever to examine what we were missing and why it was important. Having said that, I only discovered Lin’s memories about a month ago and it still hit me in the ass. If you plan to write memoirs without having some sort of heroic / celebrity / political storybook / life story book under your belt, here’s how to do it: Lin talks about his own experiences coming and going in a way that contextualizes. his gay experience in the larger gay history. His own life is a common thread from which originate subjects such as commerce, the camp, the history of homosexuality, and of course the nightlife branch. Dirty and deep, this is an extremely convincing argument for the importance of personal narrative in capturing larger cultural phenomena. Gay bar is as much a story as it is a manual. Unmissable. – Rich Juzwiak

Second first impressions, Sally Thorne

The last romance of the author of The hate game takes a sweet himbo tattoo artist and an anxious preacher’s daughter and brings them together in an elderly care facility that’s absolutely overrun with endangered turtles. Honestly, if that isn’t enough of an approval, I don’t know what to tell you. –Kelly faircloth

The Secret Life of the Grocery Store: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket, Benjamin Lorr

At the heart of the pandemic, shopping has become an exciting ritual for me. Like many others, I cooked a lot more than usual while being sequestered at home, and my social life was reduced to Zoom locks and TV binge watches. But the grocery store was a necessity, and it was clearer than ever that the people who run these stores are front-line workers. I have wondered a lot about where my food comes from, who handles it and how the heck it comes out of the ground and ends up on the foggy shelves of my local supermarket. Enter this book by journalist Benjamin Lorr, published last year, on the history of the grocery store. The book is structured into thematic sections, much like long non-fiction essays, which cover a wide range of topics: the history of Trader Joe’s in-store product line, the schedules of the truck drivers who haul Food, the Everyday Reality of Whole Food Store Employees. The book can be smelly to read, as in passages about seafood workers in Thailand (you may never want to eat shrimp again!), But overall fascinating, as when Lorr describes the seafood system. fishy payment in which the brand participates to obtain their artisanal food. great placement products in stores. If the grocery store hypnotizes you but also terrifies you in some way with its endless assortment of choices, this book is for you. – Hazelnut Cills

The kiss bug, Daisy Hernandez

It can be difficult to write about science and medicine in a way that seems vital, but Daisy Hernandez’s new book manages to skilfully move between research facilities and grieving families. Over 300,000 people living in America have been infected with chagas, a parasite carried by an insect commonly known as the “kiss bug”. If left untreated, it can cause a host of debilitating organ failures and lead to death. The question of why this disease, which disproportionately affects immigrants to Latin American countries, is so neglected by doctors in the United States is the subject of Daisy Hernandez’s investigation, a question she took up. after a beloved aunt suffered a long illness and painful death. The book starts out small and personal and expands to trace some of the most pressing questions about race and the institutions that claim to save lives in the United States, all held together by Hernandez’s complicated love for his once vibrant aunt. – Molly Osberg


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