Which New Book Should You Read This Weekend?

Memorial Day plans coming right up.

Posted on May 22, 2020, at 5:29 p.m. ET

  1. Choose a job.

  2. Pick a vacation destination.

  3. Choose a TV show.

  4. Choose a decade.

  5. Choose a book.

  6. Choose a hobby.

  7. What would your *ideal* plans for Memorial Day be?

  8. Choose a book theme.

Want to check out all the books we included and decide for yourself? Here are the 14 possible results.

Telephone by Percival Everett

Geologist Zach Wells returns from a field trip to find his beloved daughter’s health mysteriously deteriorating, and the family man is at a loss for what to do. So when he finds an anonymous call for help in the pocket of a secondhand coat, he grasps the opportunity to act, funneling his frustration into a trip to New Mexico to save a stranger. Despite Wells’ proclaimed impassiveness, Everett’s writing reverberates with feeling — love, grief, desperation, hope, the desire for human connection — in a story that is both heartbreaking and life-affirming.

We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning

We Had No Rules is a small but powerful short story collection about queer relationships and exploration. The title story is about a young lesbian who runs away to live with her sister in 1980s New York, and is welcomed into a gritty, intimidating, but thrilling world. It's funny, sexy, and endearing.

Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita

Karen Tei Yamashita contends with the Western canon in this astute, pitch-perfect, and wryly funny short story collection. Yamashita recasts Jane Austen characters as Japanese Americans navigating themes familiar to anyone who has read Austen and her contemporaries — social tension, familial obligation, clumsy personal growth, all of the mundanities that add up to meaning — through the lens of Japanese immigrant and Japanese American experiences. It’s a genuine pleasure to read.

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos

Lumi is a Dominican chef with a special kind of synesthesia — with just one taste of someone's cooking, she can perceive their emotions. She takes a job with Julien Dax, a famous chef known for his incredible dishes and his awful temper. Immediately it's clear the two won't get along, and Lumi swears she will never eat his cooking. Of course she eventually gives in, and realizes there's more to him than she'd originally thought. But when a tragedy occurs, her professional and personal life is left in flux.

Quotients by Tracy O'Neill

This smart and suspenseful novel follows a former British intelligence officer and an image consultant trying to make their relationship work despite the secrets they carry. It's about trust and deceit, surveillance and privacy.

Sea Change by Nancy Kress

It's the year 2032, and GMOs have been banned since a biopharmaceutical caused the Catastrophe ten years ago. Renata Black is an operative for the Org — a group of underground scientists and farmers working on illegal food research in hopes of replenishing the world's dwindling food supply — with a tragedy in her past. And when it turns out there's a mole in the Org, she's the only one who can come to the rescue.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

No one writes family drama like Straub, and in her new novel All Adults Here, she brings the Strick family to life with her unique wit and wisdom. When matriarch Astrid witnesses a school bus accident, the trauma uncovers a long-repressed memory that forces her to question the kind of parent she was to her now-adult children, who are floundering in their own ways. It’s a heartfelt, grounded story about family dynamics, forgiveness, and the unavoidable effects we have on those we love.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Kerry has had a crush on her frenemy Jesse ever since they were kids. For the past several years, Kerry has been working at Jesse's mother's knitting shop — and when Jesse's mom suddenly passes away, the two team up to keep the shop open. As they grow closer, Jesse starts to reciprocate Kerry's feelings, but Kerry is hesitant to act on it because of Jesse's playboy tendencies. It's full of fun and heart.

Nori by Rumi Hara

Nori (short for Noriko) is the 4-year-old at the center of this graphic short story collection, and she's a fearless, sprightly girl whose curiosity leads her from one adventure to the next in 1980s suburban Osaka. Working tirelessly to catch up is her grandmother — her main caregiver and closest companion. Nori's world is dreamy and intoxicating, and Hara's illustrations are the perfect media for translating a child's perspective and imagination. Nori races through her neighborhood — chasing rabbits, befriending bats, tussling with classmates, keeping the grown-ups on their toes — and the scenery is vibrant and immersive, so detailed it's easy to get lost in them yourself.

Beauty by Christina Chiu

Amy Wong is an up-and-coming fashion designer in New York and seems to have it all. But underneath the facade she's struggling against sexism, prejudice, and unhealthy relationships. It's about how fashion and style can offer both comfort and protection.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read follows Gus, a literary fiction writer known for killing off his characters, and January, a bestselling romance novelist. The two writers also happen to be neighbors at their respective beach houses, where they're both suffering from severe cases of writer's block. To mix things up, they decide January will write the next great literary fiction novel, and Gus will write romance. As the two spend more time together, sparks start to fly between them.

The Index of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher Beha

Sam Waxworth is a data journalist and staunch believer in the idea that everything in life is knowable and quantifiable. After successfully predicting the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, he’s offered a job as a columnist for a cushy magazine, and he’s quickly assigned a profile of Frank Doyle — a disgraced opinion columnist who covered both politics and baseball. But Sam likes Frank more than he expects to, and his previously very neat life philosophy gets muckier as he comes to know Frank’s family — his wife, Kit, whose family-run investment bank is failing; his son, Eddie, who’s just returned from a tour in Iraq; and his daughter, Margo, an academic who’d rather be a poet. Beha’s third novel is a masterful interplay of big, fraught themes of privilege, race, wealth, and ethics.

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar

This riveting psychological thriller about Kate, who takes a job as an archivist putting together the collection of a famous photographer, Miranda Brand, who died 20 years earlier by apparent suicide. But as Kate begins to uncover Miranda's letters, photographs, and even her personal diary, she starts to suspect something more sinister around her death. It's about motherhood, mental illness, and deceit.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

This dark, speculative thriller is about a prestigious school that offers free tuition plus room and board to students who, in return, essentially cut themselves off from the outside world for the three years they are enrolled. Ines, our narrator, is more than happy to leave a past trauma behind her, and isn’t eager to get out into the real world — but the further she gets in her Catherine House education, the more apparent it becomes there’s something sinister underneath it. It’s an electrifying update on gothic horror, evoking haunting institutional imagery and weaving in “psychosexual” experimentation and power imbalances.