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Sneak Preview: 5 Books To Look Forward To This Summer

Illustration: Books on a stage framed by red curtains.
Andrew Bannecker

My summer reading preferences are so particular they have, at times, stopped me from reading at all. I need a romance for a train trip — for obvious reasons. When it's hot, I prefer something with no climate congruence at all; I've never enjoyed Anna Karenina so much as I did on the beach (that romance is a train exception — er ... for obvious reasons). When I'm on a plane trip, I like a passel of good young-adult novels, filled with cliffhangers, reversals and quick emotion. It's a mood makeover in flight. At home in D.C., with its climate that goes beyond mere heat and closer to inferno (Sure! you can read that, too!), I've discovered that the only way to take me out of one sense is to focus on another, so here in the nation's capital, there's a lot of food in my summer reading — cookbooks! food memoirs! Little House on the Prairie re-reads! Michael Pollan! And in the dog days, when there's no vacation in sight, I need a great piece of historical fiction, just for perspective. (You think you got it bad 'cause the air conditioning's broken? At least the Luftwaffe isn't coming to get you.)

Here's a preview of a few upcoming books. It's wide enough to satisfy almost any nitpicky summer requirement I might have: There's a YA novel set in World War II; a rousing historical ode to abolitionist John Brown with a great twist; two wonderful food memoirs — one about an infamous piece of cheese (not kidding!), and one small, devastating piece of fiction for nights when you can sleep with the windows open.

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Barrie Hardymon
Barrie Hardymon is the senior editor for NPR's Investigations team. In 2020 she was the editorial lead for election coverage and ran NPR's pop-up talk show during the early days of the coronavirus called The National Conversation from All Things Considered. Before that she was senior editor at NPR's Weekend Edition, and the lead editor for books. You can hear Hardymon on the radio talking about everything from Middlemarch to middle-grade novels, and she's also a frequent panelist on NPR's podcasts It's Been A Minute and Pop Culture Happy Hour. She went to Juilliard to study viola, ended up a cashier at the Strand and finally got a degree from Johns Hopkins' Writing Seminars, which qualified her solely for work in public radio. She lives and reads in Washington, D.C.