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The Best New Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Looking for an escape? The newly-released novels, memoirs and story collections on our summer reading list will do the trick!

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Rodham by Curtis SittenfeldCourtesy Penguin Random House

Rodham

By Curtis Sittenfeld

(Penguin Random House, $37)

Sittenfeld’s 2008 novel, American Wife, was a barely veiled take on the life of Laura Bush. Her newest, in sparkly prose, concerns a young, ambitious, ferociously brilliant Hillary Clinton. The book explores an alternate history in which Hillary never marries Bill—and asks whether either would reach the White House.

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Stay Where I Can See You by Katrina OnstadCourtesy HarperCollins

Stay Where I Can See You

By Katrina Onstad

(HarperCollins, $25)

In Onstad’s latest novel, the middle-class Kaplans discover the downsides of a $10-million jackpot. The book is part satire (the dad dives into a kooky startup; the teen daughter is a private school misfit) and part domestic drama, as Gwen, the matriarch, fears their new wealth will dredge up her past and destroy her family.

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How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham ThammavongsaCourtesy McClelland & Stewart

How to Pronounce Knife

By Souvankham Thammavongsa

(McClelland & Stewart, $25)

In this short story collection, Thammavongsa, who was born in a Thai refugee camp and raised in Toronto, crafts tender, sad and occasionally hilarious short fiction about Laotian immigrants, including a woman who discovers country music (and the charms of Randy Travis) and a father who takes his kids to the rich side of town for Halloween.

Have you read these other must-read Canadian books?

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Indians on Vacation by Thomas KingCourtesy HarperCollins

Indians on Vacation

By Thomas King

(HarperCollins, $33, August 25)

Odds are that none of us will be travelling this summer—all the more reason to take a vicarious literary vacation. The latest novel from King, author of the Canadian classic Green Grass, Running Water, is a swift, madcap European picaresque about an Indigenous couple hunting for family heirlooms lost a century ago.

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Still Here by Amy StuartCourtesy Simon and Schuster

Still Here

By Amy Stuart

(Simon and Schuster, $25, July 7)

The reigning queen of Canadian thrillerdom is Amy Stuart, whose latest stay-up-past-your-bedtime page-turner follows a troubled loner PI with her own set of vices. As Clare O’Dey uncovers the truth behind the disappearance of her colleague and his wife, she realizes he may not be the trusted mentor she’d believed.

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Dead Mom Walking by Rachel MatlowCourtesy Penguin Random House

Dead Mom Walking: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters

By Rachel Matlow

(Penguin Random House, $25)

Matlow has written an oddly hilarious, often maddening account of their mother’s decision to forgo chemotherapy and radiation for colorectal cancer in favour of natural tinctures and other homeopathic remedies. The book wrestles brilliantly with death, grief and the surreal role reversal that takes place when a child becomes their parent’s caretaker.

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Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O'ConnellCourtesy Penguin Random House

Notes From an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back

By Mark O’Connell

(Penguin Random House, $37)

For this timely new book, Irish essayist O’Connell travelled the globe collecting stories about survivalists and doomsday preppers: he visited Chernobyl, interviewed aspiring Mars terraformers and even popped by Peter Thiel’s billionaire bunker in New Zealand. Despite its uneasy prescience, it offers a surprising flicker of hope for the future.

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The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettCourtesy Penguin Random House

The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

(Penguin Random House, $36)

Bennett’s latest novel describes the lives of two identical twins in Mallard, a southern town populated almost exclusively by light-skinned African-Americans. As the girls grow up, one continues to live as Black while the other passes for white, marrying a rich man and keeping her true identity secret. Her deception works—until the twins’ daughters cross paths years later.

Want more book recommendations? Check out the Reader’s Digest Book Club pick for June 2020!

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada