It’s time again for our annual summer reading list! 42 book recommendations to keep you busy on the road this summer whether you spend your free time by the pool, at the beach, camping, or hiking. Lori Satterlee and Larry Carlson are well known as frequent callers and contributors to the Bennington Show on SiriusXM, friends of ours, and they’re also avid readers and impassioned booksellers. It’s their third year putting together our annual Summer Reading List. All of their picks can be purchased at BN.com and at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore or via most booksellers. If you’re in the Westchester County area of NY, you can pick the books up at their respective stores in White Plains and Yonkers and follow and support their stores on Twitter @BNCityCenter and @BNYonkers. Lori and Larry have spent their entire adult lives, and part of Larry’s childhood, working at several Barnes & Noble bookstores. They can be reached via Twitter @LSatterlee & @LarryMCarlson.
For more Summer Reading ideas, check out our 2017 list, or our 2016 recommendations, plus a mega reading list combining recommendations from the IBang from 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder. Two years ago we chose Sweetbitter, now a series on Starz, for The Interrobang’s Summer Reading List. If you happened to have picked it up and enjoyed it we think this might be 2018’s summer read for you. A mix of obsession and heartbreak bring Lucy to a love that could only be mythical. From Tinder dates and group therapy for love addicts to a world only known through the tales of ancient lyric poets, The Pisces will bring you along on Lucy’s hilarious and erotic adventure. Order it now on bn.com.
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley. Ten years ago I picked up the book I Was Told There Would Be Cake based solely on it’s title,. I don’t think any other book made me literally laugh out loud as much. Sloane Crosley tells a story the way we all think we can, with only the most interesting details, and lines you’ll repeat as your own until you don’t remember that they aren’t. From live volcanoes to a trip to a fertility doctor, she’ll make you wish she were your best friend. Order it now on bn.com.
Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk. This is the first novel in four years from the writer I’ve heard more people refer to as their “favorite author” than any other. Adjustment Day takes place in a dark world that doesn’t seem terribly far off. With his usual comic insight on our absurd society Palahniuk fans will be quite satisfied with this fantastic addition to his already great work. Order it now on bn.com.
Noir by Christopher Moore. When someone comes into the bookstore looking for a funny novel I often point them in the direction of Christopher Moore. With his classics like Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, and Fluke: Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings, I can usually find a perfect fit for their taste. His latest, Noir, has all the makings of a Raymond Chandler novel before it goes completely awry. Like a cross between a 1940s detective story and a 1950s sci-fi movie, Noir isn’t what you’d expect from Christopher Moore until it’s exactly what you’d expect. Order it now on bn.com.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction is aimed at stories that deal with American life, yet it is rare for a comic novel to win, this year one has. Arthur Less is single, a failed novelist, and about to turn 50. Attending his ex-boyfriend’s wedding is the last thing he wants to do but without a valid reason, not attending is tantamount to an admission of defeat. So he accepts invitations to every literary even that comes to him, no matter how far. Arthur embarks on a journey that will bring him all over the world, but will it bring him what he’s really searching for, love. This is a beautifully writer satire on the American abroad, the struggle of self-discovery and the search for love. Order it now on bn.com.
Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. After 8 years as Vice President, Joe Biden has some time on his hands. When his favorite train conductor is killed in a suspicious accident “Amtrak Joe” sets out to find the truth. He enlists his friend Barry from work and they dive into the dark underworld that’s fueling America’s opioid epidemic. This may be the first published work of Obama/Biden fiction, well, we think it is fiction. Order it now on bn.com.
F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson. Talking about sex and relationships in a way that is helpful and informative while being hilarious is hard to pull off. These two stand-up comedians manage to do just that in their popular podcast Guys We Fucked and now in this book. They answer questions you’ve pondered and give you details about experiences you may have been contemplating but at least one of them has probably already had, possibly quite a few times. This is not just a book for women who want more fulfilling relationships but also for men who want to be better partners. Order it now on bn.com.
The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick. This light hearted and humorous look into the world of modern pregnancy is exactly what you’re looking for in a beach read. From scene stealing sisters to the awfulness of gender reveal parties and live streaming sonograms, The Baby Plan will make you laugh while thinking “oh, I’d be so much better at this whole parenting thing” and you probably would. Order it now on bn.com.
Maeve In America: Essays by a Girl From Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins (Available August 7th) You may know Maeve from her podcast, also called Maeve In America, which was named by The Village Voice as one of the six podcasts to help you survive the Trump era. You may have heard her on an episode of Gail Meets Girls with fellow author Phoebe Robinson, whose book You Can’t Touch My Hair appeared on last year’s summer reading list. Either way you’ve heard her hilarious and thoughtful take on being an immigrant living in America. Look for more of her unique voice in this new book, coming in August. Order it now on bn.com.
Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin. Jen Beagin’s debut novel introduces us to Mona, a young woman who’s cleaning houses to get by. She hands out clean needles to drug addicts, one of whom breaks her heart. This sends her on a journey of self discovery as she tries to leave her past behind while seeking the new American dream of being part of the working middle class. Beagin is a fresh and funny new voice in American fiction. Order it now on bn.com.
The Electric Woman by Tessa Fontaine. This is a tale of two worlds, juxtaposed against each other, both frightening but also familiar and full of love. Tessa runs away with the circus, or, to be more precise, the last traveling sideshow in America, all the while her mother, Teresa, is recovering from a devastating stroke. Tessa overcomes her fears and learns to handle snakes, escape handcuffs, swallow fire, and most impressively of all, she becomes the Electric Lady, sitting in an electric chair and lighting bulbs with her tongue. The stories of the carnies she meets along the way are fascinating and wonderful. The tale that Tessa tells is one of unconditional love and the greatest fear of all. Order it now on bn.com.
How Not to Get Shot and Other Advice from White People by D.L. Hughley (Available June 26th) Hughley uses humor to draw attention to injustice, sardonically offering advice on a number of lessons, from “How to make cops feel more comfortable while they’re handcuffing you” and “The right way to wear a hoodie” to “How to make white food, like lobster rolls” and “Ten types of white people you meet in the suburbs.”
Filled with illustrations and pictures that illuminate these “lessons,” How Not to Get Shot is a much-needed antidote in these distressing times. – From the Publisher Order it now on bn.com.
Superiority Burger Cookbook: The Vegetarian Burger is Now Delicious by Brooks Headley. Brooks Headley is a multi-talented man. You may know his work as the drummer in Universal Order of Armageddon or maybe you know him as the James Beard outstanding pastry chef award winner for his work at New York City’s Del Posto. Chef Brooks’ true genius is on display at his lower east side vegetarian spot where getting a seat can sometimes seem impossible (there are only 6 of them). If you’ve followed the restaurant’s brilliant Instagram you know this cookbook is going to be full of delicious recipes and hilarious, irreverent commentary. Order it now on bn.com.
Calypso by David Sedaris. ‘David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.
With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny–it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future. This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.’ – From the Publisher Order it now on bn.com.
Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words by Kimberly Harrington. Kimberly Harrington manages to express the joy and frustration that is motherhood with compassion, humor and love. Stuck somewhere between the person you were and the idea of the mother you’re going to be, is the truth. You’re tired, you’re falling behind, and you’re forgetting all those promises you made yourself about how you will be different. The truth is, we all fail at being the perfect parent but what Kimberly Points out is that the moments in between are what matter most. Order it now on bn.com.
Afterglow (a dog memoir) by Eileen Myles. Does the dog die? That’s the first thing I ask, and if the answer is yes I don’t bother going forward. But this is Eileen Myles and this isn’t just any dog memoir. This is a study in love and loss and what becomes of the self when you’ve devoted that self to a dog. Myles first meets Rosie, the pit bull who you’ll fall in love with, in NYC is 1990 as a puppy. Over the next 16 years Rosie will be by Eileen’s side and when she is no longer there Eileen will be forced to deal with grief that comes with the most unconditional kind of love. Order it now on bn.com.
An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy On My Solo Path to Motherhood by Emma Brockes (Available June 26th) You may have noticed a trend here. The books you pick up, the movies you watch, are often tied into the things that are going on in your life. As the parents of a beautiful 16 month-old daughter we find ourselves perusing books about the joys and frustrations of parenthood. Maybe it’s a trend in literature? More women are getting book deals? Writers tend to write what they know? Women tend to spend more time with children? It will only help to ease the pressure to be the mythical perfect mother. Whatever the reason for the seeming abundance of books about motherhood, I’m certainly happy to read them. So when I saw that Emma Brockes had a book about her journey and choice to be a single mother I was thrilled. This won’t be available right away but if you’ve read her previous memoir, She Left Me the Gun, you’re as excited for this one as I am. Order it now on bn.com.
Hits and Misses by Simon Rich (Available July 24th). Simon Rich was the youngest writer ever hired for SNL where he spent four years on the staff followed by a stint as a staff writer at Pixar. All along he’s written some of funniest books of the last 10 years including What in God’s Name: A Novel which drew comparisons to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Hits and Misses will be one of biggest humor books of the summer. Order it now on bn.com.
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell. I first learned of Meaghan when her Jet Blue tweet went viral before I even knew what that meant. I’ve been following her career, and on twitter, ever since. Being a relatively new parent myself, I was so excited when I heard about this book. Meaghan manages to express the ups and downs and self doubt that we all feel when we realize that we’re about to have a life that is entirely dependent on us. This story of motherhood is hilarious and honest and it will leave you feeling less alone, less afraid and far more hopeful for the future. Order it now on bn.com.
Educated by Tara Westover. Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family in Idaho with no connection to the outside world, no doctors, and no formal education. Her thirst for knowledge led her to educate herself enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University where she learns how much she didn’t know. Eventually her education brings her to Harvard and Cambridge and to a place that may be too far to return home. Educated is the book that every book club will be reading over the summer and readers will be talking about for a long time to come. Order it now on bn.com.
Failure Is An Option by H Jon Benjamin. Before his success as a voice actor on Bob’s Burgers and Archer, stand-up comic H Jon Benjamin had plenty of failures to his name. In this memoir he chronicles those failures and reminds us that we’ve all tried something that didn’t quite work out. Order it now on bn.com.
All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter. Geraldine DeRuiter is one of my favorite twitter follows (@everywhereist). This isn’t your usual travel memoir. Geraldine takes us along her journey that starts when she gets laid off from a job she loves. Her husband has a job that takes him all over the world, so with her newfound free time Geraldine tags along for the ride, often getting lost along the way but finding herself in the most wonderful places. Ditch the overdone self-discovery travel memoirs and read the work of a writer that you’d actually want to travel with, as long as you know how to read a map. Order it now on bn.com.
The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Available June 4th). This collaboration between the 42nd president of the United States and America’s best selling author is the literary equivalent of the summer blockbuster. Grab your popcorn, this is sure to be one of the most entertaining adventures of the summer. Look for the authors to be touring together starting in June. Order it now on bn.com.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara. While the authorities have not credited Michelle McNamara, it is hard to imagine that the recent arrest of Joseph DeAngelo was not, at least in part, helped along by the work that went into this book. The crimes that are credited to the Golden State Killer stopped over 30 years ago but no suspect was ever convicted. Before her untimely death, Michelle McNamara spent years researching the crimes in preparation for this well written and compelling look into a dark and violent man who haunted California in the late 70s and early 80s. Perfect for all you Murderinos out there. Order it now on bn.com.
Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh. The backstory to one of the greatest and most influential albums in rock history and the city that helped create it, Boston. With great story telling and well researched rock journalism this is the music book of the summer. Perfect for anyone who knows everything about Woodstock and the Summer of 69 and can move onto the previous year. Order it now on bn.com.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. Rachel Kushner’s first two novels were both National Book Award finalists. She masterfully interweaves stories that are compelling, evocative, and darkly comic. Romy Hall is a stripper at a place called The Mars Room and she has landed herself in prison for two life sentences plus 6 years. This is a prison novel full of the great characters you meet inside and it ends the way every prison novel should end, with an escape, but what does it really mean to escape. Order it now on bn.com.
Stone’s Rules: How to Win at Politics, Business, and Style by Roger Stone. However you may feel about Roger Stone and his politics it is hard to deny that he has an excellent sense of style. From his appearances on SiriusXM’s The Jim and Sam Show, with Jim Norton and Sam Roberts, it’s also hard to deny that he has a sense of humor as well. Right or wrong, Stone has a lot of lessons to teach and we all have a lot to learn. Order it now on bn.com.
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham. In all of my years of selling books I’ve never known an author to be claimed as one of their own by the right and left as much as Jon Meacham. In The Soul of America he delves into a century that changed America, from the abolition of slavery to the civil rights victories of the 1960s, and some of the Presidents who helped replace fear with hope for the future. Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize winner and America’s greatest presidential historian and this will undoubtedly be the most popular and essential history book of 2018. Order it now on bn.com.
Florida by Lauren Groff (available June 5th). Yesterday I received an advanced copy of this book and I opened it immediately. Lauren Groff’s previous book, Fates and Furies, was a beautifully written National Book Award finalist in 2015 and I expected something similar out of Florida. What I got was so much different and more than I could have asked for. This is a collection of stories with one character in common, less a geographic location than a way of life, Florida is the unforgiving landscape that moves these stories along and ties them together. Though often derided, this book displays a complicated, almost defensive love for Florida that I’ve only heard from people who grew up there. Groff takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and allows you an insight into her characters that few authors are able to create. Order it now on bn.com.
Searching For Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman. A meditation on the meaning of life and the search for truth that bring together the seemingly contrasting worlds of science and religion. After years of studying the absolutes of science Lightman is overcome by a larger sense of meaning and an intangible power while he’s staring at the stars from a small boat on the sea. Alan Lightman is the author of Einstein’s Dreams, a fictionalized account of young Albert Einstein that is one of the great English language novels of the past 25 years. Order it now on bn.com.
The Joke Man: Bow to Stern by Jackie Martling. Honest and open, Jackie brings you behind the scenes of his life and career as a stand up comic and writer on The Howard Stern Show. Order it now on bn.com.
Your Dad Stole My Rake by Tom Papa (Available June 5th). Tom Papa’s view on family will, of course, make you laugh, after all, he’s one of the funniest stand up comedians working today. But it will also make you think about your own family and how much they mean to you, no matter how bizarre their behavior. Consider yourself lucky if you happen to get to meet him and get your book signed when he’s interviewed by Ron Bennington for Unmasked on June 5th at The Village Underground, the sight of many episodes of Tom’s podcast, Come to Papa. Order it now on bn.com.
This Is Not Fame: A “From What I Re-Memoir” By Doug Stanhope. The 2017 readers choice for The Interrobang’s best book by a comedian, this follow up to Digging Up Mother is full of stories from Doug’s life as a touring comedian. As candid and hilarious as his stand up material. Order it now on bn.com.
Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother but You Can Read Them Too by Louie Anderson. Louie lets us in on a beautiful relationship in this endearing and heartfelt tome to his mother. With his inclusive nature and his positive way of looking at the world it’s no wonder that he had such an amazing woman to call Mom. Order it now on bn.com.
Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed by Laurie Kilmartin. Laurie Kilmartin life tweeted her father’s death 4 years ago and realized that we, as a culture, are terrible at dealing with and talking about death. In this book she examines our relationship with the last thing we all have to do and the way we move on when we’re the ones who are left behind. Order it now on bn.com.
Wanna Bet? A Degenerate Gamblers Guide to Living on the Edge by Artie Lange (Available July 17th). Formally of The Howard Stern show and Compound Media’s Artie and Anthony, current scene stealer on HBO’s Crashing, Artie is one of the funniest and quickest minds in comedy today. Who knows about living on the edge better than Artie Lange? See his live at the all new Stress Factory in Bridgeport, CT, June 14th – 16th. Order it now on bn.com.
Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller. Unwifeable is a brutally honest memoir of what it’s like to realize that you’ve been searching for something that does not and cannot exist until you figure yourself out first. This candid account of failed relationships and painful self-acceptance ends the way every love story should, with Pat Dixon. Order it now on bn.com.
Just the Funny Parts: And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club by Nell Scovell. Nell Scovell’s career is more impressive than most would ever dream of but it didn’t come easy. This book serves as a glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the creative process for some of the most successful shows in television history as well as a how-to guide for making it into and surviving some of the most difficult boys club workplaces in Hollywood. Order it now on bn.com.
Go Ask Ali: Half Baked Advice (and free lemonade) by Ali Wentworth. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 25 years since Ali Wentworth started doing brilliantly hilarious impressions on In Living Color. Ali displays her comic style in these witty musings and bits of advice on life. Order it now on bn.com.
Unsuccessful Thug by Mike Epps. In this memoir Epps recounts his journey from his early days in Indianapolis and his miss-steps as a criminal to his rise to one of the most successful stand-up comics today. Somewhere along the way Mike sees the error of his ways and picks himself up, lucky to be alive, and moves on. First to New York and eventually to Hollywood to become the Comic he is today. Keep an eye out for signed copies at some Barnes and Noble locations. Order it now on bn.com.
I Can’t Date Jesus: Sex, Family, Race and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyonce by Michael Arceneaux (Available July 24th). In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can’t Touch My Hair and Bad Feminist, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity. It hasn’t been easy being Michael Arceneaux. Equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being Black in America is…well, have you watched the news? With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite. He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams. – From the Publisher. Order it now on bn.com.
Blame it on Bianca Del Rio: The Expert on Nothing With an Opinion on Everything by Bianca Del Rio. Season 6 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race brings her trademark wit and biting satire to this advice book that will leave you wondering how different your life would be if you’d been taking advice from a drag queen this whole time. Order it now on bn.com.