The warmest season of the year is a siren song for readers who look forward to the long uninterrupted hours of turning pages the old-fashioned way, or tapping the toolbar on an e-book. Whether your toes are in the sand or your feet are curled up on a porch swing, books and summertime go together. (Scroll down for the full list of recommendations!)

The Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck once mused, “I guess there are never enough books.”

Nobody knows that better than librarians, our top reading ambassadors.

For Under the Radar’s annual summer reading special, three of our local librarians return with their curated lists for summer, including thrillers, histories, young adult stories, romance and mysteries.

“I always like to highlight a book that was released earlier in the year, but I thought didn’t receive as much recognition as it should have,” said Susannah Borysthen-Tkacz, senior librarian at the Cambridge Public Library. Her first pick was “Dixon, Descending,” author Karen Outen’s debut novel that hit the shelves in February.

The story follows the main character, Dixon, a former track athlete who missed the Olympics by two-tenths of a second decades earlier.

“He’s become a school psychologist where he’s formed really strong relationships with some of his students, including Marcus, who gets bullied a lot,” said Borysthen-Tkacz. “But they’re sort of thrown into this very extreme subculture of climbing. And it’s not a spoiler to tell you that the hike does not go as planned and they encounter some really tragic turns of events. ... The book goes to some really unexpected places. “

Robin Brenner, teen librarian at the Public Library of Brookline, chose “Looking for Smoke“ by K. A. Cobell. Set on the Blackfeet reservation, it’s about four Indigenous teens who find themselves suddenly the suspects in a murder of a classmate.

”This is a very classic setup ... but this is a different location and a different kind of detail of the world that you’re in,“ Brenner said. She said the novel also highlights the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The next recommendation ventures into the world of ”romantasy,“ or romance plus fantasy. Veronica Koven-Matasy, reader services librarian at the Boston Public Library, chose “The Warm Hands of Ghosts” by Katherine Arden, set in World War I.

“It had a quite interesting setup, to me,” she said. “It opens with the Halifax harbor explosion, which — you know — Boston has a close relationship with. The story itself, it’s actually a historical fantasy, but very grounded in the real world. The main character is a retired nurse named Laura who has come back to Canada from the front.

“There’s so many threads in this — it was like a fairytale, but also such a fabulous heroine. The brother-sister relationship was amazing,” Koven-Matasy added.“ I stayed up all night reading this book.”

Listen to the full hour of summer book talk on Under the Radar with Callie Crossley above.


Susannah Borysthen-Tkacz, senior librarian at the Cambridge Public Library

Robin Brenner, teen librarian at the Public Library of Brookline

Veronica Koven-Matasy, reader services librarian at the Boston Public Library

Summer 2024 recommended reading lists

From the librarians

Robin Brenner’s list:

Teen (and one adult) fiction

“Four Eids and a Funeral” by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Adiba Jaigirdar

“The Black Girl Survives in This One: Horror Stories” edited by Desiree S Evans and Saraciea J Fennell

“Blood at the Root” by LaDarrion Williams

“Flawless Girls” by Anna-Marie McLemore

“Looking for Smoke” by K. A. Cobell

“Twelfth Knight” by Alexene Farol Follmuth

“My Salty Mary” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

“Pretty Furious” by E.K. Johnston

“Sheine Lende” by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai

“Trouble” by Lex Croucher (adult title!)

Graphic Novels

“Plain Jane and the Mermaid” by Vera Brosgol

“Pearl” by Sherri L. Smith and Christine Norrie

“Youth Group” by Jordan Morris and Bowen McCurdy

“Escape from St. Hell: A Graphic Novel” by Lewis Hancox

“Lunar New Year Love Story” by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham

“Ghostkeeper” by Johanna Taylor

Hotly anticipated sequels and authors

“Such Charming Liars” by Karen McManus

“The Grandest Game” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

“The Girl in Question” by Tess Sharpe (early September)

“Celestial Monsters” by Aiden Thomas (early September)


“Let’s Make Bread!” by Ken Forkish and Sarah Becan (cookbook)

“Noodles, Rice, and Everything Spice: A Thai Comic Book Cookbook” by Christina de Witte and Mallika Kauppinen

“Kawaii Café Bubble Tea: Classic, Fun, and Refreshing Boba Drinks to Make at Home” by Stacey Kwong and Beyah del Mundo

“Lies My Teacher Told Me: A Graphic Adaptation” by James W. Loewen and Nate Powell

“Barbie(TM): The World Tour” by Margot Robbie, Andrew Mukamal, and Craig McDean

“Cute Kawaii Cross Stitch: Over 400 Super Adorable Patterns” by Sosae Caetano and Dennis Caetano

Susannah Borysthen-Tkacz’s list:

“Dixon, Descending” by Karen Outen

“Some Strange Music Draws Me In” by Griffin Hansbury

“Homebody” by Theo Parish

“Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

“The Truth According to Ember” by Danica Nava (August 6)

“Bear” by Julia Phillips (June 25)

“Housemates” by Emma Copley Eisenberg

“My Favorite Thing Is Monsters: Book Two” Emil Ferris

“Catalina” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (July 23)

Veronica Koven-Matasy’s summer reading list:

“The Warm Hands of Ghosts” by Katherine Arden

“Long Live Evil” by Sarah Rees Brennan

“The Friend Zone Experiment” by Zen Cho

“Lady Eve’s Last Con” by Rebecca Fraimow

“A Gentleman and a Thief: The Daring Jewel Heists of a Jazz Age Rogue” by Dean Jobb

“I Was a Teenage Slasher”by Stephen Graham Jones

“Looking for Love in All the Haunted Places” by Claire Kann

“The Night of Baba Yaga” by Akira Otani

“A Magical Girl Retires” by Park Seolyeon

“Running Close to the Wind” by Alexandra Rowland

“You Should Be So Lucky” by Cat Sebastian

“Witch Hat Atelier” by Kamome Shirahama

Callie Crossley’s summer reading list


“James” by Percival Everett

“Neighbors and Other Stories” by Diane Oliver

“A Love Song for Ricki Wilde” by Tia Williams

“Lies and Weddings” by Kevin Kwan

“Allow Me to Introduce Myself” by Onyi Nwabineli

“Colored Television” by Danzy Senna

“Lula Dean’s Little Library of Banned Books” by Kirsten Miller

“Dream Count” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


“Why We Read” by Shannon Read

“That Librarian: The Fight Against Book Banning in America” by Amanda Jones

“The Survivors of the Clotilda” by Hannah Durkin

“Whiskey Tender” by Deborah Jackson Taffa

“The House Of Hidden Meanings” by RuPaul

“Shakespeare The Man Who Pays the Rent” by Judi Dench

“The Secret Lives Of Booksellers And Librarians: Their Stories Are Better Than The Bestsellers” by James Patterson and Matt Eversmann

“The Swans Of Harlem” by Karen Valby

“Every Valley” by Charles King

“Night Flyer” by Tiya Miles

Children’s and young adult books

“Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All” by Chanel Miller

“Someone Just Like You” by Helen Docherty

“Big” by Vashti Harrison

“Running In Flip Flops From The End Of The World” by Justin A. Reynolds

“Ultraviolet” by Aida Salazar

“A Little Bit Super” stories by several authors, co-edited by Leah Henderson and Gary D. Schmidt

“Blood At The Root” by LaDarrion Williams

“Chinese Menu: The History Of Myths, And Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods” by Grace Lin