by Ruby Lang, author of Playing House
My brain isn’t at its best in summertime. I don’t think well in the humid heat of New York City, where I live in a small apartment with my husband and child. As a result, I have stupid, repetitive conversations with friends, I don’t do a lot of higher math (okay, I never do higher math, but if someone were asking, I’d definitely tell them to come around again in fall), I guzzle too much seltzer (Polar Ruby Red Grapefruit is my preferred poison, thank you very much), and I don’t get a lot of writing done.
The one pursuit that I can embrace with enthusiasm during the hottest months in the Northern Hemisphere is reading. I don’t break a sweat while turning a page or swiping my Kindle. And while a lot of people talk about books they’d lug to the beach to study under a scorching sun, I personally prefer the pleasures of parking myself under the shade of a tree or, on very sultry days, hiding in a dim, air-conditioned room and reading intently until it’s time to summon the family to a light supper of ice cream (with berries for roughage).
In anticipation of my summer stupidity, I stockpile recommendations and greedily set up library holds. So, in anticipation of the season, here are 5 (actually 6. See math comment above) of the books I’ve decided to hotly (lol) peruse over June, July and August:
School’s almost out, which means it will soon be the perfect time to dive into this tale of rival history teachers who learn to love over the course of a year. Newcomer Martin is a single father and a gentle, damaged soul who snags the world history classes that are close to veteran educator Rose’s heart. Rose masks her compassion and love of her subject under a flinty exterior, but faced with Martin’s unending kindness she begins to let down her guard. This is my favorite type of pairing. I adore a prickly heroine and a tender hero, and Dade’s trademark humor and her compassionate eye make her a must-read.
This YA K-drama twist on Roman Holiday takes retiring K-pop star Lucky and wannabe tabloid reporter Jack on a whirlwind romantic (and culinary) romp through Hong Kong. Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel was one of my favorite books from last year. (And it’s about a summer spent working in a food truck!) She captures the voices of her teen protagonists so well, and I can’t wait to read more of her funny, worldly, tough-yet-vulnerable young characters.
Nothing says summer to me like part-time jobs, ice cream, and a certain aimlessness of spirit. Sarah Van Name’s debut YA novel promises all of this in her story of a teen girl, Caroline, whose half-formed plan of running away with her boyfriend is derailed when she meets Georgia, a young camp counselor who shows her the world can be so much more.
A billionaire story with heart as well as heat? With her debut, American Dreamer, Herrera explored beautifully the ambitions of a food-truck owner trying to get his business off the ground and a relationship-shy librarian. Now, Herrera is back with a Cinderella story about social worker Milo whose chance encounter with magnate Tom at a black-tie gala results in a powerful connection. What I especially love about Herrera’s writing is her gift for exploring her characters in a way that is emotionally insightful and satisfying.
The three de la Rosa sisters take over their parents’ wedding-planning business only to discover that those picture-perfect moments are tough to achieve. I really enjoy stories that look at the sometimes complicated and comic relationships between siblings, and I adored Marcelo’s previous romance novels about family, food and love. Marcelo’s first Women’s Fiction title promises more of that winning combination.
Agatha Christie but queer. That is all we need to know.
What are your favorite kinds of books to read during summer, and where do you like to read them?
About Playing House:
The last thing Oliver Huang expects to see on the historic Mount Morris home tour is longtime acquaintance Fay Liu bustling up and kissing him hello. He’s happy to playact being a couple to save her from a pushy admirer. Fay’s beautiful, successful and smart, and if he’s being honest, Oliver has always had a bit of a thing for her.
Maybe more than a bit.
Geeking out over architectural details is Oliver and Fay’s shared love language, and soon they’re touring pricey real estate across Upper Manhattan as the terribly faux but terribly charming couple Darling and Olly.
For the first time since being laid off from the job he loved, Oliver has something to look forward to. And for the first time since her divorce, Fay’s having fun.
Somewhere between the light-filled living rooms and spacious closets they’ve explored, this faux relationship just may have sparked some very real feelings. For Oliver and Fay, home truly is where their hearts are.