10 New Books On Romper’s Summer Reading List

From feminist histories to boardwalk murder mysteries, we’ve got just the summer read for you.

by Jilleen Barrett and Meaghan O'Connell
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Moms contain multitudes and so does this list of our favorite new books of the summer. We’ve got gossipy beach town murder, histories of childfree women and activist girls, a big oil bildungsroman, a time travel novel about motherhood, juicy looks at both real and fictional beauty influencers, plus preschoolers with a taste for blood. Whether you get to read them for hours by the pool or for 10 minutes in the bathroom on your phone, we’ve got a book rec for your every mood.

This millennial bildungsroman from Lydia Kiesling could have been called Complicity, but that's just not as catchy. In Kiesling’s hilarious and devastating second novel, we follow Bunny Glenn’s telling journey from listless teen in Azerbaijan to Microsoft Office virtuoso in Beaumont, Texas. For Bunny, the personal is geopolitical, even when she’s drying her armpits with her Oldsmobile’s AC vents or plucking her bikini line. (August 2023, Zando)

There’s still plenty of weeks of beach weather left, and this murder mystery by Bustle Digital Group Chief Content Officer Emma Rosenblum is the perfect book to bring along. When tragedy strikes an insular summer community on Fire Island, populated by Manhattan financiers, lawyers, and their significant others, everyone in town is a suspect. And while not everyone is a murderer, no one is innocent — of adultery, embezzlement, or cheating at tennis. (May 2023, Flatiron Books)

Who amongst us hasn’t dreamed of catapulting to Goop-like status? Well, OK, maybe not that many of us — but still, a satirical look into the influencer and “wellness” industry is a rollicking premise for a debut novel by the sharp and hilarious Jessie Gaynor. To ponder on the beach this summer (as you rub Vacation oil onto your legs while downing a glass of Summer Water): “Once you become a girlboss, can you ever go back?” (June 2023, Penguin Random House)

If inspiring nonfiction is more your speed, try this account of young women — from Rosa Parks to Greta Thunberg — who have shaped this country’s most heated debates. “Kahn’s tone is breezy but never flippant, and she draws vivid, well-informed sketches of her profile subjects, many of whom are lesser known,” says Publishers Weekly. (June 2023, Penguin)

Most parents have experienced the longing to time travel, whether it’s to sniff their grown kid’s newborn head or just to feel 23 years old again. When generations of women in Time’s Mouth figure out they can do just that, things get complicated quickly (also: deeply profound). Set between a nostalgic 1980s Los Angeles and a gauzy cult outside in northern California, this novel will transport you, dizzy and alive, through the realms of Lepucki’s wild imagination. (August 2023, Counterpoint Press)

Darby, Mary Beth, and Rhea are moms with a shared goal: to reclaim their careers, sex lives, and mom bods. But when a strange disease sweeps preschool, these moms — along with their 4-year-olds — become murder suspects. Fun fact: The premise of the novel was inspired by Baker’s son, who had his own, less vampiric, preschool biting phase. (July 2023, Flatiron)

As poet Niina Pollari put it in her essay for Romper, “Zambreno finds a bridge between art and the requirements of her own domesticity by looking at the work of artists who worked from the tiny details of their daily lives.” It captures an ordinary life of a mom with small kids, whose isolation leads her to places where she can feel joy. The New York Times calls it “elegant” and a “lightbox for the future.” (July 2023, Riverhead)

Nothing like escaping your own family vacation drama by reading about someone else’s. Alice and her family flee to their vacation home in Maine as the pandemic takes hold of New York City. Hoping to find sanctuary, not just from Covid, but from the problems she’s facing in her marriage, Alice finds that the unfriendly locals might just keep her from relaxing. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called Alice “relatable and entertaining.” (July 2023, HarperCollins.)

People love to lay a falling birth rate at the feet of millennials, but women have been deliberately choosing not to become mothers since the beginning. Peggy O’Donnell’s honest book digs into the delightful and poignant stories of hundreds of thousands of such women, from the Roman Empire to today. This forthright book shows that, historically, the expansive and meaningful lives of women without children play a critical, and treasured, role in our society. (April 2023, Seal Press)

Pre-order this one for Labor Day weekend: Influencer marketing and beauty branding changed forever when Glossier came on the scene. This gossipy (we hope) exposé looks at Weiss’ ambition to create a company with an original approach to brand building, one that will shape our ideas about beauty and entrepreneurship (and boy brows) for years to come. (September 2023, Simon & Schuster)