It's hard to top Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" for most anticipated book of the summer, but the upcoming months are packed with auspicious debuts and triumphant returns.
From The Thread: What we can't wait to read
A dose of nostalgia tinged with disaster:
"In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume
The beloved author returns with her first book for adults in more than 15 years. The story is inspired by strange but true events from 1952, when three planes fell from the sky in three months over Elizabeth, N.J.
A new piece from an old master:
"The Festival of Insignificance" by Milan Kundera
Fans of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" can rejoice: Kundera also makes a return, 15 years after his last book. His latest title is a short tale of friends in Paris, who talk about the usual topics: "sex, history, art, politics and the meaning of life."
A story so strange it's true:
"Stalin's Daughter" by Rosemary Sullivan
How did Joseph Stalin's only daughter wind up living in a senior center in Spring Green, Wis.? Sullivan's book unpacks the strange life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, from Moscow to the Midwest. (For a taste of Alliluyeva's life, read Nicholas Thompson's fascinating account in The New Yorker.)
A cultural take with a sly sense of humor:
"Arms" by A.J. Somerset
A sport shooter and former Army reservist, Somerset knows guns. In "Arms," he tackles the history of gun culture and how it developed across North America.
A hilarious mix of lonely hearts and smartphones:
"Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Technology has crashed straight into romance and left us all with a lot of questions, like: "Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?" Comedian Ansari and co-writer Klinenberg take on this question, and many others, while exploring the pleasures and perils of modern romance.
A brilliant new voice and a meditation on home:
"The Star Side of Bird Hill" by Naomi Jackson
Jackson was born in Brooklyn to West Indian parents, and she draws on her past for this beautiful debut. Two young sisters are sent from New York to Barbados to live with grandmother, finding themselves torn between two homes.
A time-twisting romp through history:
"The Watchmaker of Filigree Street" by Natasha Pulley
A watch with the power to transport its owner through time is at the center of this magic-steeped mystery. The story darts across Victorian England and Japan at the height of its civil war.
A flight of fancy that will stick in your mind:
"Armada" by Ernest Cline
Readers everywhere fell hard for Cline's "Ready Player One." (USA Today called it "Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.") His newest starts with high school student Zach Lightman staring out the window during class — that's when he sees the flying saucer. We'll let Cline take it from there.
A dark mystery you won't be able to put down:
"Pretty Is" by Maggie Mitchell
In this debut novel, a literature professor and a washed-up starlet share a traumatic history: The two women were both abducted by a stranger at age 12 and held together in the mountains. Now grown, they find they can't escape the past when a movie script appears that's remarkably similar to their story.
A delicious twist on fiction:
"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal
Calling all foodies. When Lars Thorvald is left to raise his baby daughter on his own, he's determined to pass on his love of food. Each chapter in this fiction debut tells the story of a single dish and character, from Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros.
A summer read steeped in history and magic:
"Land of Love and Drowning" by Tiphanie Yanique
Last summer's epic read is now in paperback — perfect for the beach. Yanique's novel follows three generations on the island of St. Thomas, who encounter everything from shipwrecks to magical gifts.
A haunting dose of international intrigue:
"All That Followed" by Gabriel Urza
Urza's debut novel opens in Muriga, Spain — a town "with more secrets than inhabitants." The psychologically twisting novel swirls around a politically charged act of violence that still has the town in its grip.
An unpublished glimpse into a brilliant mind:
"Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings" by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is known for her deliciously eerie short stories and her sly humor. (Does "The Haunting of Hill House" or "The Lottery" ring a bill?) "Let Me Tell You" gathers 56 stories and essays, most of which have never been published before.
A trilogy to get lost in:
"Flood of Fire" by Amitav Ghosh
Ghosh's highly praised trilogy about the international opium trade in 19th century India and China is historical fiction for people who don't yet know they like historical fiction. "Flood of Fire" is the final book in the series.