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Staff picks: the best books to read this summer

By Kobo • July 18, 2019The Bookish Life

Whether you're headed to the beach, the cottage, or the park, we have the perfect books for you to read this summer. We asked our expert booksellers to share their top picks, and there's something for every type of reader. From psychological thrillers to coming-of-age stories, we're adding them to our TBR list in 3...2...1.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

Best for readers interested in: books and literature, choose your own adventure, literary fiction.

Staff Pick: "One of the greatest Italian novels - just read the first few lines and you won’t be able to stop. This remarkable novel leads you through many different stories including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotica, a diary and a quest. But the real hero is you, the reader."

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The Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena

Best for readers interested in: horticulture, climate change, non-fiction.

Staff Pick: "Magdalena, a botanical horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is popularly known as the “plant messiah.” He’s gone to countries like Australia, Peru, and Mauritius to find the world’s endangered species and learn how to cultivate them before they go extinct."

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Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

Best for readers interested in: literary fiction, biographies and memoir, coming-of-age stories.

Staff Pick: "Ways of Going Home mixes fiction and reality with the novel’s main character and Zambra’s real story. It switches between author and character, past and present, his relationship with his parents, and what happened while he was growing up in Santiago, Chile during the Pinochet regime."

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The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

Best for readers interested in: mysteries and thrillers, Stephen King, being scared.

Staff Pick: “C. J. Tudor is accurately described as ‘the British Stephen King’. The Taking of Annie Thorne is creepy, a great mystery and a master of just-one-more-chapter! Difficult to describe without spoiling the surprises but it's full of dark humour, plenty of twists and a dash of the paranormal."

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't Hooge Nest by Roxane van Iperen [Dutch novel]

Best for readers interested in: WWII history, Jewish stories, military stories.

Staff Pick: "A touching true story about two sisters who tried to hide Jewish people from the Germans, risking their lives over and over again. The English translation will be available in November this year.”

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Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

Best for readers interested in: LGBTQ issues, literary fiction, coming-of-age stories.

Staff Pick: "Philippe Besson exposes himself in Lie With Me. He delivers, with emotion and delicacy, his love story with Thomas Andrieu whom he met at 17 years old. An almost impossible love story set in France in the 80s, it is delicate, sensitive, sincere, modest, and a masterpiece."

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Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

Best for readers interested in: literary fiction, historical fiction & saga, award winners.

Staff Pick: "Négar Djavadi's Disoriental was nominated for the PEN Translation Prize and the National Book Award for Translated Literature. It tells the story of a woman who, while waiting for an embryo transfer, starts to think about her own family. It perfectly translates the heroine’s state of mind as she struggles to be faithful to her origins while following her own path."

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Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Best for readers interested in: female protagonists, psychological fiction, mystery and suspense.

Staff Pick: "As a woman reading it, everything is scarily familiar, but I hope a lot of men pick it up too, because she really highlights all the little ways women deal with different behaviours from men, particularly in the workplace. There’s a bit of a mystery to it, and fun characters all struggling with their own morals and histories."

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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Best for readers interested in: interview-style narratives, rockstar stories, female protagonists.

Staff Pick: "Written as an oral history of what feels like a very real band, Daisy Jones & The Six will pull you in from the first page with its Almost Famous vibes. And, of course, you’ll be hooked on Daisy, an impossible cool-girl with a voice and something to say."

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Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Best for readers interested in: romantic comedies, lite lit, fans of Sophie Kinsella and Sally Thorne.

Staff Pick: "The perfect romantic comedy. The heroine, Georgina, is such a relatable character as a 30 year old still trying to find her place in work, romance, and life. Don't You Forget About Me is hilarious, heartwarming, and has one of the best romantic declaration speeches ever."

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Orange World by Karen Russell

Best for readers interested in: short stories, literary fiction, science fiction.

Staff Pick: “Totally bonkers but in the best way, Orange World is a collection of perfectly crafted short stories for lovers of weird and wacky speculative and science fiction.”

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Recursion by Black Crouch

Best for readers interested in: page turners, mystery and thriller, science fiction and technology.

Staff Pick: "The way Blake Crouch is able to balance the science fiction and thriller genres amazes me, and his stories are instantly ones I want to see developed for the screen. Recursion is original, heartfelt and harrowing, and the two main characters really leave an impact.”

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The Need by Helen Phillips

Best for readers interested in: female protagonists, thriller and suspense, science fiction.

Staff Pick: "What starts out as a seemingly straightforward home invasion story quickly turns into a subversive and speculative thriller with plenty of twists and turns that you won't see coming. It touches on the dualities of motherhood – joy and dread, mundanity and transcendence, wanting to be everywhere at once – with blazing, arresting prose."

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Normal People by Sally Rooney

Best for readers interested in: coming-of-age stories, literary fiction, love stories.

Staff Pick: "One of my favourite books that I’ve read this year. Sally Rooney’s writing is simple but very impactful. I loved both the main characters and her representation of anxiety; I couldn’t put it down.”

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Best for readers interested in: LGTBQ issues, romantic comedies, liberal politics, Prince Harry.

Staff Pick: "An early favourite for book of the year!!! Alex and Henry’s relationship was one I never knew I needed, but now I don’t know how I lived without it? Also, I did not think that a rom-com would have me so invested in a fictional election for a country that I’m not even allowed to vote in."

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High School by Tegan Quin & Sara Quin [Audiobook Pick]

Best for readers interested in: biographies and memoirs, celebrity narrators, rock star stories.

Staff Pick: "Ever heard the song Everything is Awesome? Then you've heard of Tegan & Sara. This fall, hear them tell their own story in their autobiography, High School. Being twins, coming out, and their rising musical careers are all on the table in this self-narrated audiobook."

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The Making of The Godfather by Mario Puzo [Audiobook Pick]

Best for readers interested in: non-fiction, celebrity stories, Hollywood.

Staff Pick: "Exactly what you need when you’re going for a long, summer drive. If you’re into Hollywood history and celebrity scandal, then The Making of The Godfather is for you - from Sinatra to Brando, actor Max Casella narrates the drama behind one of the best movies of all time."

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For similar staff picks, read The best romance novels for fall 2018.

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A dreamy reading space courtesy of @getawayhouse 😌  Spot the Kobo!  #thekobolife (📷 @chelseyburnside) "A must-read", "a thought-provoking story", "held my attention from start to finish" - LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE has 4.2 stars out of 5 on the Kobo store. Have you read it? #thekobolife (📷 @ohmybooksandplants)⁠ Reader review: "This is a heart-wrenching story of two youth navigating the difficult waters of modern day love, while grappling with their own demons. Beautifully written. Highly recommend!" Start reading NORMAL PEOPLE 📚 Link in bio #thekobolife (📷 @ticktocktrish)⁠

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