Whether you’re staying put or hitting the road this summer, the WABE Summer Reading List can help you beat the heat and transport you to another literary world. Below is our list of some of the best new reads this summer. And be sure to check out the WABE Staff Picks to see even more summer reading recommendations.

We’ve chosen to link out to bookshop.org for purchases, but explore the Shop Local tab and visit one of Atlanta’s many incredible booksellers!


The Vaster Wilds

By Lauren Groff

Penguin Random House

“I love any book where the weather is a main character. In this one, it’s an antagonist to a young servant escaping the Jamestown colony in 1609. This short story about her escape will have a grip on you, I promise! Its themes of colonialism, class struggle, and 17th century-era Christianity come together to tell a truly American story.”

Jasmine Robinson, WABE digital editor
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The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

By James McBride

Penguin Random House

“A lovely reminder of what community means and the power and strength found in our common bonds. It’s an easy read that delivers so much in terms of history, humanity and humor.”

Sherri Daye Scott, WABE EVP of audience development and engagement

“Both a mystery and a vibrant portrait of a community of Jewish immigrants and African Americans struggling to eke out a place in 20th century America, this novel kept me turning pages from start to finish. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store resonates at a moment when our country is still struggling to more fully live up to its promise of equality and justice for all.”

Sam Gringlas, WABE politics reporter
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By Taylor Brown


“Taylor Brown’s Rednecks is a superb historical drama full of violence and larger-than-life characters that chronicles the events of 1920 and 1921 as it explores the people and reasons behind the largest labor uprising in American history.”

Gabino Iglesias, NPR
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Good Material

By Dolly Alderton

Penguin Random House

“’Good Material,’ [Alderton’s] second novel and the first she’s written from the perspective of a man, delivers the most delightful aspects of classic romantic comedy — snappy dialogue, realistic relationship dynamics, humorous meet-cutes and misunderstandings — and leaves behind the clichéd gender roles and traditional marriage plot.”

Katie J. M. Baker, New York Times
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Good Women

By Halle Hill

Hub City Press

“’Good Women dips into the lives of complex Appalachian women who endure tough situations—from sex work to religious oppression to maternal strife—while struggling to forge ahead. Edgy and intimate, Hill’s stories form an unexpectedly cohesive series of vignettes that deliver a stunning proclamation on the modern female experience.”

Leah Tyler, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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By Nathan Hill

Penguin Random House

“An excellent satire of modern relationships, internet fads, and pseudoscientific remedies. Hilariously funny.”

Christopher Alston, WABE producer of “All Things Considered”

“Wellness is a perfect novel for our age, filled with a deep awareness of the Internet-poisoned, marketing-driven engineered emptiness of modern times, but also a compassionate optimism about our ability to find and maintain love nonetheless. It’s a monumental achievement: a masterpiece by an author who has, in the space of two novels, become indispensable.”

Michael Schaub, NPR
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By Marie-Helene Bertino


“As a child, Adina learns she herself is an alien, and her mission is to send her observations about humanity to her supervisors via fax machine (it is the ‘80s, after all). With that conceit, Bertino paints a gorgeous tapestry of what it means to be human, filled with poetic descriptions of the utterly mundane. This book is full of love, longing, and curiosity.”

Greta Johnsen & Anna Bauman, WBEZ
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The Peach Seed

By Anita Gail Jones


“Imagine you loved someone 50 years ago. This someone turned down your marriage proposal and left town seemingly forever. Life went on. You started a family, became a grandparent. And then, when you’re almost 70 years old, that person suddenly returns. That’s what happens to Fletcher Dukes in Anita Gail Jones’ debut novel. Among the things that connect this couple is a monkey carved from a peach seed.”

Peter Biello, GPB host of “All Things Considered”
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Anita de Monte Laughs Last

By Xochitl Gonzalez


“Elegantly written and constructed, Gonzalez’s second novel brilliantly surpasses the promise of her popular debut Olga Dies Dreaming. Where that novel sometimes strained under the weight of its ambitions, Anita de Monte Laughs Last is complex and cohesive, social criticism flowing organically from character and story. The novel is the best, most elusive combination: a thought-provoking and a brilliantly entertaining triumph.”

Carole V. Bell, NPR
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Unusually Grand Ideas

By James Davis May

LSU Press

“Perhaps that is the best way to think of James Davis May’s Unusually Grand Ideas: each poem is a tiny dab of the healing glue sealing together the pieces of life that violence, death, and illness so heartlessly break and shatter. A brave collection, its poems dare to traverse emotional territories other collections do not explore. A vulnerable collection, its speaker guides readers on a Theseus-like journey and comforts them along the way, saying It’s okay if you’re not the same after this. None of us truly are.”

Nicole Yurcaba, Southern Review of Books
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Daughters of Muscadine

By Monic Ductan

University Press of Kentucky
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There’s Always This Year

On Basketball and Ascension

By Hanif Abdurraqib

Penguin Random House

“Hanif Abdurraqib, who earned raves for his books Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest and A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance, puts a new spin on the saying in his latest, There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension. As in his previous books, Abdurraqib uses one subject as a lens through which he views the culture at large — it’s about hoops, sure, but it’s also about so much more. It’s another remarkable book from one of the country’s smartest cultural critics.”

Michael Schaub, NPR
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Thank You Please Come Again

How Gas Stations Feed & Fuel the American South

By Kate Medley

Courtesy of Kate Medley

“Photojournalist Kate Medley took a road trip across 11 states in the South, documenting the culture of convenience stores and gas stations that serve hot, delicious food. Her new book, Thank You Please Come Again, captures how these establishments serve as important community meeting points across class, ethnic and racial divides.”

Debbie Elliot, NPR
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The Mango Tree

A Memoir of Fruit, Florida, and Felony

By Annabelle Tometich

Little, Brown and Company

“This family memoir begins with a courtroom scene like no other. After a night in jail, Annabelle Tometich’s mom is charged with firing at a man who, she says, was stealing mangoes from the tree in her front yard. Tometich then hits rewind, taking readers back through her Fort Myers, Fla., childhood — with her Filipino American mom and white dad, a couple whose personality differences do not make them stronger together. The writing is both jewel-like and effortless, and Tometich’s memories — some mundane, some extraordinary — are mesmerizing. 

Shannon Rhoades, NPR senior editor of “Weekend Edition”
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Atlanta Record Stores

An Oral History

By Chad Radford

Arcadia Publishing

“Atlanta-based music journalist Chad Radford has spent decades collecting vinyl from the city’s independent record stores. During this time, he’s gotten to know the people behind the counters and the stories behind the stores. His new book is a collection of first-person accounts exploring how vinyl has survived new technology from 8 tracks to CDs to streaming and why the industry continues to thrive.”

Kim Drobes, WABE senior producer for “City Lights with Lois Reitzes”
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Keeping the Chattahoochee:

Reviving and Defending a Great Southern River

By Sally Sierer Bethea

UGA Press

“Sally Bethea was the first Chattahoochee Riverkeeper when the organization was founded in 1994. Each chapter opens with a walk in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area — Bethea made a habit of visiting the same spot in the East Palisades unit of the park near where a creek flows into the Chattahoochee.”

Molly Samuel, WABE deputy managing editor
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The Exvangelicals

Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church

By Sarah McCammon


“McCammon, an NPR reporter (formerly on the Georgia airwaves!) explores the folks who have left the white Evangelical movement in the U.S. Discussing her own personal history as well as the conflicts and communities that have arisen from departure, she characterizes a major shift underway in U.S. religion.”

Marisa Mecke, WABE environment reporter
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Hello, Friends!

Stories of Dating, Destiny, and Day Jobs

By Dulcé Sloan

Penguin Random House

“‘Comedian Dulcé Sloan, one of Atlanta’s proudest exports, has been called ‘the New Queen of Comedy,’ a title well-earned after her correspondence on the ‘Daily Show’ since 2017, as well as her hit stand-up sets on ‘Comedy Central Presents’ and ‘Verified Stand-Up.’ In peak form, Sloan took the time to write [this] memoir. Daily Show host Trevor Noah called it a ‘heartfelt story of joy, sorrow and unbelievable resilience.’”

Lois Reitzes, WABE host of “City Lights”
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Master Slave Husband Wife

An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

By Ilyon Woo

Simon & Schuster

“This non-fiction work won the Pulitzer prize for biography in 2024, telling the incredible and daring story of an enslaved couple who escaped from Georgia and fled North to freedom. They hid in plain sight, taking advantage of established racial and social stereotypes to evade bounty hunters and become famous abolitionists. It’s a personal story – up to now, virtually unheard of- that also offers us great insight about the CIvil war and the Reconstruction era. ”

Alison Hashimoto, WABE SVP of video
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A Celebration of Palestinian Food

By Fadi Kattan

Hardie Grant

“Chef Fadi Kattan is well aware that it might not be the right time to release a cookbook about Palestinian food – not when people in Gaza are starving.

‘But you know my publisher is of Jewish faith,’ he told ‘Morning Edition’ host Leila Fadel. ‘She said, now the book even has more significance.’

That’s because his book is dedicated to preserving part of a culture that’s been torn apart by decades of displacement and war. It’s a love letter through food to his childhood home in the West Bank.”

Leila Fadel, NPR host of “Morning Edition”
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By Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

Penguin Random House

“A collaboration by San Francisco-based chef and restaurateur Deuki Hong and journalist Matt Rodbard, the book explores Korean cuisine both traditional, modern and fusion, from the kitchens of Koreans and Korean immigrants worldwide. ”

Lois Reitzes, WABE host of “City Lights”
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Kugels and Collards

Stories of Food, Family, and Tradition in Jewish South Carolina

By Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey

University of South Carolina Press

“Explore the rich culinary heritage of the Jewish South that dates back to the 17th century in South Carolina. Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey, founding members of the Historic Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative and the ‘Kugels & Collards’ blog, collected stories, recipes, and original and archival photos from Jewish families who have made the Palmetto State their home. Authors and contributors also acknowledge the significant labor and creativity of the people of West African descent on Southern Jewish food. This edible history includes recipes for Jewish staples like latkes and challah, interspersed with modified Southern classics like pork-free collard greens, Shabbat dinner fried chicken, and modern fusions like grits and lox casserole.”

Alison Law, The Bitter Southerner
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More is More

Get Loose In the Kitchen

By Molly Baz

“’More Is More’ is the follow-up to Baz’s best-selling 2021 debut, ‘Cook This Book.’ It coalesces the brash, herbaceous, acidic, salt-loving ethos that she’s been building over the past decade into a collection of recipes that, she believes, fully embraces the grandiosity of the book’s title.”

Amy McCarthy, Eater
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