Whether it’s for a long plane ride or a lazy afternoon by the hotel pool, a new vacation read is considered an essential carry-on around the Virtuoso offices. (The physical book versus the e-reader version is still a hotly contested topic though – don’t get us started.) Here, 13 of our favorite recently released novels and memoirs for your summer reading consideration.

A Column of Fire by Ken FollettA Column of Fire by Ken Follett (Kingsbridge)
The third book in Follett’s Kingsbridge series is one of the author’s most ambitious works yet. It begins at the dawn of England’s Elizabethan era, one of the most turbulent periods in the country’s history. Catholics struggle against Protestants, commoners clash with royalty, and the bonds of loyalty are tested to the limit between lovers Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald. This installment of the deeply researched historical saga takes readers beyond the fictional town of Kingsbridge to global locales ranging from Antwerp and Geneva to Paris, Seville, and the Caribbean. amazon.com. – Susan HansonChances Are by Richard RussoChances Are… by Richard Russo (Knopf)
Already his generation’s bard of boys, don of dudes, and interpreter of all male maladies, Russo returns with a book about how the bonds of friendship begin, where they are tested, and when they might strain to the breaking point. Mickey, Lincoln, and Teddy met as scholarship dining-hall servers at one of their college’s sororities. As the Vietnam War draft threatens their solidarity, a last bash on Martha’s Vineyard results in a disappearance that will haunt them until a 2017 reunion on the island. Chances Are… is perhaps the author’s meatiest and darkest fiction since Bridge of Sighs, but it’s also full of humor and compassion. penguinrandhouse.com. – Bethanne Patrick

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Random House)
Entertaining, juicy, and possible to devour in one long lounge session, Daisy Jones & The Six is a fun deep-dive into the history of a fictional classic-rock band. (Let me know if you pick up on the Fleetwood Mac vibes like I did.) Taylor Jenkins Reid’s decision to write the entire novel like one long oral history may feel weird at first, but the minute you get lost in the story – which doesn’t take long – you’ll find the format quite enjoyable. penguinrandomhouse.com. – Amy Cassell Going Dutch by James GregorGoing Dutch by James Gregor (Simon & Schuster)
Going Dutch keeps it real in a lighthearted but bittersweet comedy of manners about a gay man and his classmate, a straight woman. When myriad anxieties affect his writing and threaten his academic funding, Richard, lonely and in grad school, accepts Anne’s offer to write his papers in exchange for his “company.” The arrangement works – until Richard goes on a one-swipe-stand with a lawyer and falls in love with him. The already complicated relationship with Anne becomes twisted, and Richard has to contend with the one person he never expected to face: himself. amazon.com.  – Bethanne PatrickGreen by Sam Graham-FelsenGreen by Sam Graham-Felsen (Random House)
I can’t stop thinking about Green, the brilliant first novel from Sam Graham-Felsen (chief blogger for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign). Racial relations – and lingering divides – in early-1990s Boston, adolescent ruminations, the joys of scoring a Bird-Magic rookie card, and the sorrows of not sporting the right Nikes – Green gets everything right, all while reinventing language via its sixth-grade narrator and delivering bittersweet nostalgia for New England transplants and lifelong Celtics fans like me. I will come back to this book again and again. penguinrandomhouse.com. – Joel CentanoInland by Tea Obreht Inland by Téa Obreht (Random House)
Obreht, author of 2011’s acclaimed The Tiger’s Wife, sets her sophomore effort in 1893 Arizona Territory. There, a woman named Nora holds fast at her family’s homestead, which is parched by drought. Her husband has left in search of water, and her youngest son is convinced that a beast circles their dwelling. Meanwhile, outlaw Lurie roams a bit farther away, seeing ghosts. When Nora and Lurie meet – well, that’s the surprise of this fascinating, truth-based novel, which weaves history and mythology into a compelling tale that illuminates both. penguinrandomhouse.com. – Bethanne PatrickLady in the Lake by Laura LippmanLady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins)
Lippman was writing incisive novels about Baltimore long before her spouse, journalist and screen writer David Simon, brought the city to the small screen with The Wire. With Lady in the Lake, Lippman proves that she’s getting better and better; this isn’t just a novel of suspense, but one of urban perspectives – including a ghost’s. In 1966, a housewife named Maddie Schwartz leaves her long marriage to pursue her dream of becoming an investigative reporter. As she dives into a murder case, we see that Maddie’s psychological waters are even murkier than the ones where the body was found. harpercollins.com. – Bethanne PatrickLanny by Max PorterLanny by Max Porter (Graywolf Press)
In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, Porter once more uses experimental structure and unusual characters to investigate the seemingly mundane, including playing with text and fonts, and incorporating Great Britain’s ancient and strange “green man” mythology. Lanny is a young boy whose parents have moved the family to a country village after some years in London. Between local artist Mad Pete and ancient spirit Dead Papa Toothwort, there’s no shortage of ideas about why and how Lanny disappears. Was he abducted? Did he run off to the woods? Was one of his parents involved? The suspenseful end is beyond nearly every reader’s guess. indiebound.org. – Bethanne Patrick

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (Tin House Books)
The Mortons are a family of Floridian taxidermists. When oldest sibling Jessa-Lynn walks into the shop one day to find her father dead, a suicide, she tries to keep the business going despite some familial high jinks, such as her mother’s lewd photos of dead animals, her brother’s anomie, and her sister-in-law’s disappearance – the last happens to be the only person Jessa-Lynn has ever loved. Anyone who has felt desire will find something of themselves in this weird paean to families, the ones we fit into and the ones we don’t. tinhouse.com. – Bethanne Patrick

Nima by Adam Popescu

Nima by Adam Popescu (Unnamed Press)
Raised in the Himalayas, Nima once believed her landscape’s vastness was the entire world. But after their brother dies and their alcoholic father betroths both Nima and her sister to the same man, she escapes. Hair chopped, breasts bound, she disguises herself as a male Sherpa and finds work for a group climbing to one of Mount Everest’s base camps. For his debut novel, Popescu draws on his journalism experience covering tourism’s impact on the region to present a portrait of a woman, a place, and a country constrained by traditions, politics, and extremes. unnamedpress.com. – Bethanne Patrick

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-PalmerRough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer (Catapult)
After discovering the Mongol Derby online, 19-year-old Prior-Palmer set out from her home in Hampshire, England, to wrap up a gap year by taking part in what is generally known as the world’s longest, toughest equestrian event. Designed to mimic Genghis Khan’s postal system, the derby covers more than 600 miles of steppe, which riders race across on 25 wild ponies, swapping for a fresh steed every 40 clicks. Many never finish. Not only did Prior-Palmer accomplish the feat, she won, becoming the youngest person and the first female to do so. Her warm, wild account of endurance and athleticism on horseback is unlike any tale you’ll find. books.catapult.co. – Bethanne Patrick

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl (Random House)
Beloved food writer and former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl serves up a delectable memoir about her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. During her decade-long stint, she hobnobbed with global elites, helped spearhead the rise of the farm-to-table movement, and forever changed food’s role in popular culture – all while learning to navigate the corporate world without losing her soul. penguinrandomhouse.com. – Susan Hanson

The Eighth Sister by Robert DugoniThe Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer)
This fast-paced espionage thriller successfully pulled me out of a reading rut. Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is lured out of retirement (for all the wrong reasons) and reactivated for an undercover mission in Russia that will put everything that’s important to him at risk. Don’t skip the epilogue: You’ll love reading about what inspired Dugoni to write this book, along with his picks for the character’s names. amazon.com. – Korena Bolding Sinnett

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