Best summer books 2016: Stephen King's 'End of Watch,' Annie Proulx's 'Barkskins,' more

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What are you reading this summer? Wherever you find yourself — at the beach, by a pool or simply on your couch with the air-conditioning cranked up — you’ll want a good book. Preferably several. Here are 12 options, all novels, out now or in the coming weeks.

INVINCIBLE SUMMER, by Alice Adams

INVINCIBLE SUMMER, by Alice Adams. Four English university
(Credit: Little, Brown)

"Invincible Summer," by Alice Adams. Four English university friends — Eva, Lucien, Sylvia and Benedict — come together and fall apart across two decades in this novel with an epigraph (and a title) courtesy of Camus: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible summer.” (Little, Brown; $26, June 21)

THE MIRACLE ON MONHEGAN ISLAND, by Elizabeth Kelly

THE MIRACLE ON MONHEGAN ISLAND, by Elizabeth Kelly.
(Credit: Liveright)

"The Miracle on Monhegan Island," by Elizabeth Kelly. Set on a Maine island that practically screams “summer vacation,” this novel by the author of “The Last Summer of the Camperdowns” features a dysfunctional family reuniting with its prodigal son. There’s plenty of Down East local color and characters, and it’s narrated — really — by a witty shih-tzu named Ned. (Liveright, $25.95, out now)

 

BARKSKINS, by Annie Proulx

BARKSKINS, by Annie Proulx. A big summer book
(Credit: Scribner)

"Barkskins," by Annie Proulx. A big summer book in every respect, this new novel by the author of “The Shipping News” and “Brokeback Mountain” tells the epic story of two striving Frenchmen who come to the New World in the late 17th century and make a living as “barkskins,” or woodcutters. Proulx follows their descendants across the centuries, never losing sight of the bounteous forests that are being destroyed. (Scribner, $32, June 14)

 

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SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY, by Ramona Ausubel

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY, by
(Credit: Riverhead)

"Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty," by Ramona Ausubel. We travel now to another popular summer destination, Martha’s Vineyard. Here we meet Fern, Edgar and their three children, gathered in the family cottage on Labor Day weekend, 1976. But the holiday brings dire news: The family estate has been depleted, and this comfortable couple may, finally, have to earn its own money. The vacation is over. (Riverhead, $27, June 14)

THE SUMMER GUEST, by Alison Anderson

THE SUMMER GUEST, by Alison Anderson. Anton Chekhov,
(Credit: Harper)

"The Summer Guest," by Alison Anderson. Anton Chekhov, the great 19th-century Russian writer of stories and plays, spent two summers at a dacha in rural eastern Ukraine and befriended the daughter of the family, recently blinded by an illness. “The Summer Guest” tells their story through Zinaida’s diary entries, along with the modern narrative of a publisher who may have found an unpublished Chekhov novel. (Harper, $27.99, out now)

END OF WATCH, by Stephen King

END OF WATCH, by Stephen King. Retired cop
(Credit: Scribner)

"End of Watch," by Stephen King. Retired cop Bill Hodges and partner Holly Gibney are back for the final installment of the trilogy begun in “Mr. Mercedes” and “Finders Keepers.” They’re up against the brain-damaged psychopath who plowed down crowds with his car in the first book. He’s now in a hospital and catatonic — or is he? King brings his special talent for horror to the proceedings. (Scribner, $30, June 7)

THE GIRLS, by Emma Cline

THE GIRLS, by Emma Cline. The young writer
(Credit: Random House)

"The Girls," by Emma Cline. The young writer turned heads when this debut novel was acquired by Random House for a reported $2 million when she was just 25. But this powerhouse story — about 14-year-old Evie Boyd, who falls in with a Manson Family-like cult in late-’60s California — has advance readers, including Lena Dunham and Jennifer Egan, all abuzz. (Random House, June 14, $27)

RICH AND PRETTY, by Rumaan Alam

RICH AND PRETTY, by Rumaan Alam. This novel
(Credit: Ecco)

"Rich and Pretty," by Rumaan Alam. This novel about female friendship over the decades is written, surprisingly, by a man. Alam trains his lens on Lauren and Sarah, who have known each other since private school, during college and all through the various boyfriends, apartments and jobs of adult life in New York. (Ecco, $25.99, June 7)

 

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I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, by Iain Reid

I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, by Iain Reid.
(Credit: Scout Press)

"I'm Thinking of Ending Things," by Iain Reid. This dark, dreamlike suspense novel — another debut — centers on a young couple driving home after a dinner where she meets his parents. When a blizzard forces them to pull over at an abandoned high school, Jake gets out and disappears — forcing his girlfriend to come looking for him. Read it on a dark summer night — if you dare. (Scout Press, $22.95, June 7)

HOMEGOING, by Yaa Gyasi

HOMEGOING, by Yaa Gyasi. A multigenerational saga chronicling
(Credit: Knopf)

"Homegoing," by Yaa Gyasi. A multigenerational saga chronicling the slave trade and its aftermath — in both Africa and America — might not seem like beach-blanket fare. But this highly anticipated debut, which comes with a blurb from Ta-Nehisi Coates on the jacket, promises to be a page turner with echoes of Alex Haley’s “Roots” and Ayana Mathis’ “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.” (Knopf, $26.95, June 7)

A HERO OF FRANCE, by Alan Furst

A HERO OF FRANCE, by Alan Furst. The
(Credit: Random House)

"A Hero of France," by Alan Furst. The Sag Harbor novelist has an unmatched ability to capture the mood of mid-20th-century Europe in his acclaimed historical spy fiction. His latest, set in Nazi-occupied Paris, 1941, follows a French Resistance cell led by a man known only to his compatriots as Mathieu. Furst calls it an homage to the “black-and-white Paris” of old photographs. (Random House, $27, out May 31)

MODERN LOVERS, by Emma Straub

MODERN LOVERS, by Emma Straub. Straub lay claim
(Credit: Riverhead)

"Modern Lovers," by Emma Straub. Straub lay claim to the summer of 2014 with “The Vacationers,” about a family and its friends on the island of Mallorca. In “Modern Lovers,” Straub’s new intertwined families are stuck in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, for the summer, but there are plenty of fireworks — including a teen romance and a potential movie about the friends’ punk-rock past. (Riverhead, $26, May 31)

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