Many of us suffer from a peculiar condition: every time we cross one book off of our “to-read” list, four more magically take its place. A common side effect among the afflicted is a constant belief that come summer — with its longer days, endless journeys, and lazy afternoons — we’ll finally get caught up on all of those titles. Of course, with the near-constant release of page-turning books, this rarely happens, and we’re left to simply accept the fact that we’re never going to reach the end of our lists.
With that in mind, here’s a selection of new titles to add to yours. Make the most of the second half of the summer and power through as many of these as you can!
Still not sure where you want to go on that late-summer adventure? These titles will transport you to faraway lands, spark your deep-seated wanderlust, and have you booking tickets in no time.
Tip of the Iceberg
You might recognize author Mark Adams’s name from his hit travelogues “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” and “Meet Me in Atlantis,” but this time around, the humorous explorer sets his sights on America’s last frontier. In “Tip of the Iceberg,” Adams retraces the 3,000-mile journey of the George W. Elder, a ship that carried an eclectic group of scientists and writers (including John Muir) on a voyage around Alaska in 1899. While exploring the gorgeous wilderness of America’s largest state, he examines how the lessons learned on that famed expedition could shed a light on issues of climate change in the modern day.
Anyone who’s traversed the desert landscapes of southern New Mexico knows there’s something just a little peculiar about the region. Maybe it’s that the area is well-known for military weapons testing, or perhaps it’s the high number of UFO sightings in the region. Whatever it is, in towns like Alamogordo, the bizarre and the exciting are constantly intertwining. That’s the territory Joshua Wheeler mines in his debut collection of essays, which opens with his great-grandfather witnessing the white flash of the first atomic bomb test and deals with the funky fallout from there. For anyone intrigued by the magic of the American Southwest, “Acid West” is a must-read.
End of the Rope
The world of mountaineering literature, like the subject it covers, suffers from a masculinity problem. While there are plenty of great books covering the perils and triumphs of those who climb at high altitude, the tales of women who inhabit that same world, a world that still places a premium on machismo in the face of adversity, are often left untold. Enter Jan Redford, a young, nomadic rock climber who trades in the pitons for Pampers after having a baby with her second husband (her first was killed in an avalanche in Alaska). After tackling the traditional roles of wife and mother, she decides to reenter the mountains, a pursuit that ultimately pits her against her husband. Subtitled “Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood,” Redford’s debut memoir has already carved a place for itself among the classics of mountaineering tales.
Bonus: A Cook’s Tour
Though it’s by no means a new book, given the famed travel writer’s recent passing, there’s never been a better time to pick up Anthony Bourdain’s travel memoir that depicts his journey around the globe in search of the world’s best meals. Fans of Bourdain know that he valued travel just as much as he did cooking, and he knew that no matter where we come from, we can always sit across the table from one another, share a meal, and learn a thing or two. A brilliant, humorous, and empathetic writer, Bourdain uses his search for the ultimate meal to turn the notion of “perfection” on its head, all while providing beautiful insight into countries and cultures all over the world.
Travel is about experiencing and appreciating the wonder of the moment — but when you’re stuck in Terminal C for five hours, that can be a little difficult. These engrossing and informative books will help you pass the time during those long layovers.
The Feather Thief
Kirk Wallace Johnson’s new true-crime thriller is the deep dive into the world of Victorian salmon fly-tying you didn’t know you needed. It opens with a narrative of Edwin Rist, a young musician who, in 2009, enters the British Museum of Natural History and escapes, taking hundreds of dead bird skins with him. From there, Johnson wonders what would compel someone to steal dead birds, a line of questioning that leads him to the bizarre world of modern hobbyists who recreate the elaborate salmon fly-ties of the Victorian era. In order to properly do so, they must use the feathers of rare and endangered birds, and depending on the level of their obsession, they could go to great lengths to obtain them…
How To Change Your Mind
Part-science-journalism, part-travelogue, part-memoir, and part-historical-narrative, Michael Pollan’s new book is a sweeping and exciting exploration into a subject that was considered taboo for decades — psychedelic drugs. In “How To Change Your Mind,” Pollan sets out to learn about the research being conducted on how hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”) can be used to treat people with anxiety, depression, and addiction. But when he discovers the remarkable ways in which these substances are changing people’s lives and how we think about consciousness, he makes the journalistic decision to submit himself to their effects as well. What follows is a first-person exploration of the author’s own mind, a thrilling journey that promises to change the way you think about life, death, and the nature of being.
The Promise of the Grand Canyon
Many know John Wesley Powell as the first man to navigate the length of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. What’s less well-known is Powell’s subsequent career as a scientist and land-management pioneer, where he began a conversation about sustainable development in the American West when most still viewed the region as a sprawling, inexhaustible landscape. In this new biography, author John F. Ross provides a timely account of a man whose vision for the West remains ever-relevant in the present climate.
Is there a more blissful state than that of the beachgoer, lying on their towel, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and opening up a good book? These new works of fiction are the perfect beach reads to get lost in on a sunny day.
The Gone World
Tom Sweterlitsch’s new genre-bending novel centers on Shannon Moss, an NCIS detective assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family and locate his missing teenage daughter. After learning that the SEAL was an astronaut aboard the U.S.S. Libra, a ship thought to be lost in Deep Time, Moss travels forward in time to explore possible versions of the future and shed a light on the present. Although its big-picture ideas are massive and dazzling, the book’s true shine comes from Sweterlitsch’s brilliant prose and character development. Described as a cross between “Inception,” “True Detective,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Interstellar,” this new time-travel thriller is a must-read for fans of mind-bending science fiction and dark, psychological thrillers.
Something in the Water
When Erin and Mark fall passionately in love, it’s not long before they get married and jet off to Bora Bora on their dream honeymoon. While there, they decide to go scuba diving, where — while immersed in the aquamarine depths of the tropical waters — they happen upon something that will change their lives forever. With unforgettable characters, masterful pacing, and an exquisite mix of wit and suspense, Catherine Steadman’s new book might just give you paper cuts from trying to turn the pages too fast.
The stories in this recent collection, though separate in their characters, plots, times, and towns, are all connected by their Florida-based setting. In the hands of Lauren Groff, however, whose 2015 novel “Fates and Furies” was a finalist for the National Book Award, Florida is more than just a state in America — it’s a state of mind. All of these tales share a similar energy, a certain je ne sais quoi that is accentuated by Groff’s deft wit and eye-opening insight. Whether you’re headed to the Sunshine State this summer or simply looking for a set of stories that shine just as bright, look no further.
Which books are on your summer reading list? Let us know in the comments below!