NYC’s Best Independent Booksellers Share Their Picks For Summer Reading


With its legendary eighteen miles of books, the Strand is a good first stop to find the summer’s ideal beach read. Leigh Altschuler, the Strand’s director of communications, recommends French wunderkind Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy, a portrait of the poor, violent northern manufacturing town in which the author grew up. She also loves Scaachi Koul’s One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, a book of essays about being raised the daughter of Indian immigrants in the U.S.; Janet Mock’s upcoming Surpassing Certainty; and Jaroslav Kalfar’s Spaceman of Bohemia. She likes these books because they offer a look at someone else’s reality: “These books are all stories of different experiences, perspectives, challenges, and successes,” she says.

Frank Seaman-Baldaro, a book buyer at bookbook in the West Village who focuses specifically on cookbooks, says he’d “100 percent recommend” Julia Sherman’s Salad for President. “Some of the recipes are really easy,” he says. “Watermelon wedges with fennel, olive oil, and sea salt. Things you can get at the market quickly.” His colleague Jennette Cheung is a big fan of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, a multigenerational saga of a Korean family in exile in Japan; Lewis Mason, who also works there, will be reading David Sedaris’s diaries.

Courtesy Books Are Magic

Over at Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, co-owner Michael Fusco-Straub can’t wait to read Mrs. Fletcher, the new Tom Perrotta novel. “It’s a classic Perrotta, about relationships and family,” he says. “It incorporates a story about a woman addicted to porn,” he adds. He also has his eye on Weird in a World That’s Not by Jennifer Romolini. “It’s all about succeeding in the world while still remaining weird and awesome.”

Kisky Holwerda, the event coordinator at the Astoria Bookshop, recommends Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero — a “dark, twisted, grown-up take on Scooby Doo and the Gang.” If sci-fi isn’t your thing, she says to try The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. “This endearing father-daughter coming-of-age epic will pull at your heart without being overly sentimental,” she says. She’s also into Marlena by Julie Buntin, about two teens “hurtling through one hell of a destructive summer.”

JC Hopkins curates the monthly poetry series at Spoonbill & Sugartown on Bedford Avenue. He’s looking forward to the fifth installment of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, as well as Lucia Berlin’s unpublished short stories. “They’re just tight, compact stories of personal struggle,” he says. “She’s been compared to Bukowski, but I don’t buy that — there’s so much humanity in what she’s writing about, whether it’s somebody struggling with cancer or having romance later in life.”

At McNally Jackson, in Nolita, Nora Kipnis recommends Swing Time, Zadie Smith’s latest. “This story is about two childhood friends who grow up and follow very different paths,” Kipnis says. “I see it as a sh. ift in focus from the usual suspects, multigenerational epics like White Teeth, to a tighter angle on just two people, still examining how their separate stories intertwine.” And it’s not out until August, but Kipnis also recommends Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan. “Ajo Kawir is a modern-day Javanese superhero and his kryptonite is that he can’t get hard. The only way he can fully love his wife is to avenge a rape he witnessed years ago,” says Kipnis, describing the book. “It’s funny, enraging, and touching. Also the cover makes it one of those books that is a statement in and of itself and started at least one conversation on the subway.”

Finally, at Brooklyn’s Greenlight, on Fulton Street, Jayson Smith is in the middle of Salt Houses by Hala Alyan. “It’s about a Palestinian family torn apart by the Six Day War and the prose is gorgeous,” he says. Andrew Mangan loves Ottessa Moshfegh’s short-story collection, Homesick for Another World. “She’s a very strange author. She writes a lot about body-image issues and society in a very frank way that can be divisive.” He’s also looking forward to Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy, an autobiographical effort about growing up “in all the worst places.”

The Greenlight staff also note that a lot of excellent books about math and physics have come out recently; Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which demystifies space for ordinary readers, stands out as particularly approachable. And, finally, there’s Shattered, Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen’s book about Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for the presidency.