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Need a summer read? Here are 17 books from our experts

If you're lucky enough to have a quiet place to retreat from the heat this summer, we've got a symphony of suggestions for novels and nonfiction to keep you entertained.

WATCH: Amy Tan turns her literary gaze on the world of birds in 'The Backyard Bird Chronicles'

Ann Patchett, acclaimed writer and owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, and Gilbert Cruz, editor of The New York Times Book Review, recently joined PBS News Hour's Jeffrey Brown to share their picks for summer reading.


"Sandwich" by Katherine Newman

"If you want a book that has you from 'hello,' this is the one. Family goes to the Cape every summer for two weeks. They have kids in their 20s, they have elderly parents and they eat sandwiches, they are very near Sandwich and they are the sandwich generation."
– Ann Patchett

"Sipsworth" by Simon Van Booy

"This is an elderly woman who's very isolated. She meets a mouse, and the mouse brings all of these wonderful people into her life. It sounds hokey. It's not."
– Ann Patchett

"Bear" by Julia Phillips

"Two young sisters working so hard in a very tough existence on an island off the coast of Washington. It all changes when a bear comes to their neighborhood and it drives the sisters apart."
– Ann Patchett

WATCH: How Raina Telgemeier's graphic novels teach kids it's OK to have 'big feelings'

"Crook Manifesto" by Colson Whitehead

"If you want some mystery, some cops and robbers, some corruption, some great writing."
– Ann Patchett

"Swan Song" by Elin Hilderbrand

"I've only been to Nantucket for two hours on, like, the coldest day that I can recall, so I have no idea what it's like to be there in the summer. But I sort of do, because I've read a dozen Elin Hilderbrand books."
– Gilbert Cruz

"Horror Movie" by Paul Tremblay

"This is about, essentially, an independent horror movie that was made years and years ago. A bunch of tragedies happened. It's become a cult film. And the only person left from the production has started to encounter some weird things."
– Gilbert Cruz

"The Bright Sword" by Lev Grossman

"There have been many retellings of the King Arthur legend – books, movies, musicals. This one is sort of a sequel."
– Gilbert Cruz


"There's Always This Year" by Hanif Abdurraqib

"This is a collection of essays about family and love and grief and fathers. But most importantly, it's all woven together through the lens of basketball."
– Ann Patchett

"My Black Country" by Alice Randall

"Alice is a fiction writer and a scholar, but she is also the only Black woman to have written a No. 1 country song. This is a story of all the people who have been erased in country music's past, and she is restoring them into the landscape."
– Ann Patchett

WATCH: Beyoncé brings new audience to country music and highlights the genre's Black roots

"Consent" by Jill Ciment

"Jill Ciment was 16 years old when she first kissed her art teacher, who was 46. They got married and they stayed together until he died at 86. And it is her looking back on her life and thinking, 'It was a happy marriage, but knowing what I know now, maybe there was something a little wrong about that?'"

And a bonus…

"Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma" by Claire Dederer

"…a great book that just came out in paperback that could be read as a companion piece."
– Ann Patchett

"The Future Was Now" by Chris Nashawaty

"The summer of 1982 – if you care about science fiction, fantasy, stuff like that – was one of the biggest summers of all time. So it had "E.T.", "Poltergeist," "Blade Runner," "Tron," a "Mad Max" sequel, a "Star Trek" sequel. And this is essentially a history of that summer, a history of those movies."
– Gilbert Cruz

"Cue The Sun! The Invention of Reality TV" by Emily Nussbaum

"Emily Nussbaum does an amazing job of sort of sketching that whole history and what they're billing as sort of the first comprehensive history of this very important genre."
– Gilbert Cruz

And a few for the youngest readers…

  • "The Old Boat" by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey (board book)
  • "The Old Truck" by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey (board book)
  • "Ahoy" by Sophie Blackall
  • "Ferris" by Kate DiCamillo
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