Murder, Socialites and Fainting Fish: The Best Summer Reading

Hit the hammock with mysterious new novels, rethink your summer wardrobe, and look at your pet differently in summer’s hottest new reads.

What Dies in Summer, by Tom Wright (Norton)
Welcome to 1970s Texas, where young Jim, who has “a touch of the sight,” keeps seeing the specter of a mysterious girl appearing at the foot of his bed.  But when he and his cousin L.A. find the real girl raped and murdered in a field, both their lives are put in danger. Wildly original and so addictive that you may find yourself missing meals.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., by Nichole Bernier (Crown)
When her best friend Elizabeth dies, Kate begins to read the journals she left behind, discovering an unnervingly different person than the one she thought she knew. Beneath the veneer of happy wife and mother was a troubled artist with a connection to a enigmatic man, and the more Kate reads, the more her own life choices come into question. Thoughtful and beautifully written, Bernier’s book asks: how well do we know the ones we love?

Heartbroken, by Lisa Unger (Crown)
Three very different women converge on Heart Island in Unger’s white-knuckle psychological thriller. Kate is writing a novel based on a tragic love affair her grandmother and aunt both wrote about; Emily is running from a terrifying relationship; while Birdie, the owner of the island, has dark secrets of her own.

Semi-Charmed Life, by Nora Zelevansky (St. Martin’s Griffin)
A debut as fizzy and delightful as sparkling water on a hot day. When naïve New Yorker Beatrice Bernstein gets involved with socialite Veruca, her whole life transforms. But is who she becomes really who she wants to be? Charming, sly, and downright magical.

Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing, by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D. and Kathryn Bowers, (Knopf)
Wild Koalas can get Chlamydia. Dinosaurs had cancer. Fish faint. Cardiology professor Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Bowers show what animals and humans have in common when it comes to getting sick and keeping well, and argue for medical doctors and veterinarians to join forces for a healthier future. Insightful and fascinating, the authors ideal of a  “species-spanning approach” could change the way we deal with our well-being.

And don’t miss:

The Master’s Muse, by Varley O’Connor (Scribner)
The tempestuous tale of famed ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, who became George Ballanchine’s fifth wife.

Caroline Leavitt has invested in sunblock SPF 100. Her new novel, Is It Tomorrow, will be published by Algonquin Books in spring, 2013 and she can be reached at


Hi there and thanks for reading. Here at DAME, our goal is to cover the uncovered, to speak truth to power and ensure that the media reflects ALL of us. But we need your help. If you like fearless independent journalism, become a member.  You’ll receive members-only content and some swell swag.  Become a supporter today.


Your financial support helps us continue to cover the critical policies, politics and social changes impacting woman and their allies.