The Book Lover’s Guide to Summer

It’s finally here. The end of the school year, the time for road trips and bonfires, the season when the days grow long. No matter your summer plans, they’ll be better with a book — and we’ve got plenty of titles to keep you happy, hydrated and cool.

What’s on your list? Stay in touch by writing to us at [email protected], and keep with all the latest book news by subscribing to our newsletter.

Happy reading!

— Joumana Khatib, editor, Books desk

The big kahuna

Don’t miss our collection of 75 of the latest and greatest cookbooks, thrillers, true-crime stories and more. There’s a book for everyone in here.

… but that’s not all

Also in our annual Summer Reading issue:

Alan Cumming reviews John Waters’s new book, “Mr. Know-It-All,” a funny, tender and occasionally sensationalist collection of life lessons. As Cumming puts it: “John Waters — the brand as well as the man — has aged well. He and his work are seasoned; they are the gifts that keep on giving, to him as well as us.”

To all the aspiring outlaws out there, have we got a book for you. Molly Young reviews Mike Chase’s “How to Become a Federal Criminal,” an illustrated, and very funny, guide to all things extrajudicial. Among the book's most surprising tidbits: It’s illegal to wear a postal uniform if you’re not a postal worker. And sprayable cheese must carry a warning label instructing users not to spray it in their eyes.

Admirers of Dr. Seuss will swoon for Brian Jay Jones’s new biography, “Becoming Doctor Seuss,” tracing how the author’s work shaped the American imagination for generations — and also how it was itself shaped by the American imagination, as Adam Gopnik notes in his review.

Charles Finch evaluates the work of the pre-eminent art critic Peter Schjeldahl. “Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light” brings together 100 of Schjeldahl’s reviews from the past 30 years, touching on artists including Picasso, Jeff Koons and more.

Baseball fans, rejoice: The Times reporter Tyler Kepner has written a “delightfully nerdy” new book, called “K,” about the history of the sport told through 10 pitches. And poetry lovers, don’t miss Maya Philips’s review of “The Tradition,” a new collection by Jericho Brown.

If you’re in the mood for a literary debut novel, consider Julia Phillips’s new book, “Disappearing Earth” (one of our most anticipated titles of May). The story unfolds on the far fringes of Russia, and follows one community’s reaction to the sudden disappearance of two sisters.

Finally, a new biography of Mel Brooks, Patrick McGilligan’s “Funny Man,” offers a comprehensive look at the comedian’s life, and is also a portrait of a recent era in American show business.

[Want to keep up with the latest book news, reviews and features? Subscribe to our Books Briefing newsletter.]

Ask the professionals

Curious how voracious, professional readers spend their summers? We asked our book critics to tell us what other cultural offerings they’re looking forward to this season, when they set their books aside. And we’ve saved the “what you’re planning to read” question for The Times’s esteemed critics in other disciplines — all of them bookworms in their own way.

Beach reading, 101

It’s the perennial question: What makes something a beach read, anyway? We spoke to booksellers in popular vacation spots across the country to get their predictions for this season’s top titles.

Novelists to watch

There’s a crop of writers with crackling novels coming out this season. We spoke to four — Kristen Arnett, Tope Folarin, Jean Kwok and De’Shawn Charles Winslow — about their books. Whether you’re interested in a wacky Florida story heavy on taxidermy or a heartbreaking family story inspired by true events, you’ll find something to love.

Don’t miss our full list of 75 books to keep you company through the long, lazy days of summer.

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