Gotham Diaries, Tonya Lewis Lee, Crystal McCrary Anthony (Hyperion; July 7)
A send-up of Manhattan’s African-American royalty, by the wives of Spike Lee and former Knick Greg Anthony. Eh prose, but A+ gossip.
Top-Shelf Chick Lit
The Big Love, Sarah Dunn (Little, Brown; July 2)
Neon-pink cover, check. Newly dumped singleton newspaper columnist, check. But this Philadelphia tale of girlie woe transcends its genre with 3-D characters and empathy.
The Last Run, by Todd Lewan (HarperCollins; July 1)
Call it The Perfect Ice Storm. Journalist Lewan turned his reported series on Alaskan long-line fishing into a blizzard rescue story with a criminal undertow. Movie adaptation awaits.
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (Random House; August 17)
“His generation’s Pynchon,” according to critics—and therefore, maybe, your beach bag’s Gravity’s Rainbow. A loopy, experimental story cycle, but in a good way.
Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies, Tom Perrotta (Berkley Publishing Group)
If you loved Little Children (or the movie adaptation of Election), grab this 1997 short-story collection. Sharp, funny rites of passage from a New Jersey seventies adolescence.
Erudite But Quick
Four Souls, Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins; June 24)
Just over 200 pages, this drama about an Ojibwe woman who entraps the lumber baron who stole her tribal lands is dense but chewy. And set in a cool climate.
• How to Be Really Bookish on the Beach: Serious Reading for the Sand