Want some insider intel on the best books to read this summer? Read on for recommendations from the Penguin Random House New Zealand team!
"We all Want Impossible Things was everything I expected and so much more! When a woman is diagnosed with cancer she relocates to a hospice local to her best friend, making the heart-breaking decision to leave her husband and son behind. Her time in hospice extends much longer than expected and the reader almost becomes one of their inner circle, travelling the journey alongside friends and family and they reminisce the past, and navigate the present. It’s a beautiful story of connection, friendship and mortality, written with warmth and humour. We all Want Impossible Things is a quick read with a massive punch! It will prompt you to pause and reflect on your own experiences and connections with others and it will leave you wanting more!" - Rachel
"A monument to female friendship, reading this felt like a study of my own relationship with my best friend, full of decades of wit and remonstration…remember when? Besties know your worst secrets, vulnerabilities & flaws, and love you fiercely regardless. I steamed through this book, loving the celebration of friendship. It made me laugh (snort) and cry, reminisce, want to hug my girlfriend & start panicking about life without her." - Trish
"To be honest, I was reluctant to read this book as it’s about a character that I didn’t like so much from one of my favourite novels Malibu Rising; however, I trusted Taylor Jenkins Reid as I love all her books. Well I’m glad I did, because even though I’m not much of a tennis fan and I wasn’t a fan of Carrie Soto to begin with; I warmed to her by the end of the book and it was a very enjoyable read. The relationship with Carrie and her father was so heart-warming. As Carrie lost her mother in her early life her father was a force to be reckoned with, he pushed Carrie to strive to only be the best. Throughout her career in tennis, he helped her to beat every tennis competitor there was, however in the process Carrie sacrificed her relationships and friendships to her detriment. The battle axe couldn’t help herself to compete again propelling her out of retirement; how could she let her world record be beaten? This novel is women’s power at the very best and I was rallying for her all the way through." - Shanee
"Loved this – clever and intriguing. Set in the Cloisters near the Met Gallery in New York. It was atmospheric and beautiful. Interesting cast of characters/academics/power hungry colleagues. A must read." - Louise
"I absolutely loved this book and can hand on heart say it was my favourite book of the year.
Set in the US in the 60’s, the story of Elizabeth Zott’s tough start in life and attempt to have a career as a scientist in a very much man’s world will have you both raging and cheering and you will fall in love with many of the characters between the pages whilst hating others in equal measure.
Part Julia Child meets Madmen with a dash of Bombshell, this is by no means a frivolous tale and is filled with the warmth that only true human relationships can bring while at the same time dealing with heavy and important issues. Lessons in Chemistry reminds us how terribly woman were once treated in the home and the work place (and how sadly we haven’t come far in some respects) and how hard many have to work to make a place for themselves in the world.
It’s such a long time since I fell in love with a book and its characters in the way I have with Lessons in Chemistry , I felt almost bereft on finishing it . It’s no wonder screen rights were snapped up before it even published and we’ll see a series from Apple TV in the new year."
"Possibly my favourite book of the year! Loved Elizabeth’s sassy girl power attitude in an era of misogyny and the way she can science the shite out of cooking! Hoping for a sequel. I’ve raved hard and sold hard on this one." - Louise
"This has Hollywood blockbuster written all over it and you can just visualise this as a new Netflix series. It tells the story of Elizabeth Zott – pioneer and science maverick for her time. This is a delightful feel-good escapist summer read. Perfect to indulge in by the side of the pool while you drink cocktails." - Juliet
"Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987, immediately establishing a unique connection and a shared love of video games that will inform the rest of their lives. As a reader, I was immediately hooked by these kids; the spiky but loveable Sam and the fierce but vulnerable Sadie. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow effortlessly carries the reader along with Sadie and Sam, through their early childhood, their 90’s college campus days, into young adulthood and beyond. We watch their friendship blossom into a creative collaboration which brings huge success but also results in betrayal, loneliness and tragedy.
Video games are not a topic close to my heart, however I found myself itching to play the games Sadie and Sam create and was totally invested in their ideas, passion and the process of the game development! Also, whilst the story is very much embedded in the world of gaming, that is not the heart and soul of this novel. The characters (all totally three dimensional, flawed and compelling) are what keep you glued to every page. Following their friendship over thirty years as they learn more about each other, themselves and the power of collaboration, becomes a dazzling journey for the reader. A beautifully written and perceptively observed portrait of a rare kind of friendship, this book is absolutely my NUMBER 1 summer reading recommendation!" - Naomi
"Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a novel of seductive surfaces, moral quandaries, dark mysteries and unintended consequences — and a favourite of many, for very good reason.
Richard is an ordinary young man who yearns to experience the extraordinary. When he moves from dull, suburban California to attend a fancy New England university, he is entranced by an insular circle of Classics students and their charismatic teacher — and elated when the glamorous group, all cashmere, cigarette smoke and preppy perfection, accept him. However, Richard becomes frustrated, then horrified and at last, deeply implicated as he discovers layers of secrecy which, when finally peeled back, expose horror and hollowness.
Vivid, romantic, strange and wild; clever, crafted and cunning: if you haven’t read The Secret History yet, I can’t recommend it enough — and if you have, it warrants a re-read this summer." - Louisa
"After watching The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, I was surprised that I didn’t know the original story. After reading this sequel I was stunned and couldn’t get it out of my head. It was FANTASTIC!!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so engaged in a book. There is so much plot & undercurrent & overall magnificence, you can’t discuss it with anyone who hasn’t read it! I think the world should stop until every single person has read it." - Trish
"John Boyne’s books are so diverse and different, but this sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a masterpiece. Boyne tells the story of Gretel (Bruno’s sister) who seeks to confront her past. She’s both a villain and victim and you feel sympathy and disgust at what’s happened during her life. The book takes the reader through different timeframes and stages of Gretel’s past, and explores her current life now. It’s a completely riveting and absorbing read. My book of the year so far." - Juliet
"Goosebumps! Just got better and better as I read. I’ve had so many in-depth conversations with our booksellers as they read. I’ve been texted late at night with questions from a couple who were so moved by it, as was I. This is standout novel." - Louise
"Some days the lockdowns seem like a distant memory but this book takes the reader back in a wonderfully realistic yet charming way. If you lived through a lockdown you can relate to pretty much everything the main character experiences. Plus the story line in this book just keeps getting better the further you read on." - Juliet
"I read this book in a couple of hours from cover to cover because it’s so fresh and exciting, and I simply couldn’t put it down. Everything about this book is uber cool – from the three main characters and their views on Aotearoa, to the way language and words are used. Love, love, love this book." - Juliet
"Oh the joys of being back the the TMC gang! It was gentle, humorous, clever and fun. Thank You Richard Osman for delivering once again. I can’t wait for Book 4 next year." - Louise
Dive into our summer reading picks to decide which Penguin (or Penguins) you want to escape with this summer!
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Learn about Donna Tartt's beloved book, The Secret History. Currently trending on TikTok and with over 5 million copies sold, it's the modern classic that you don't want to miss.
Learn about Elizabeth Strout's Lucy Barton books in honour of her Booker prize longlist nomination for Oh William! Learn more about the series and the order in which we recommend reading the four books.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is packed full of wisdom. Check out five of the many inspirational quotes from the book.
Get ready for more antics and adventures from the third book in the Thursday Murder Club series. Refresh your memory on the characters from The Thursday Murder Club before The Bullet That Missed comes out this September.
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A New York Times bestseller, Grazia summer reading pick, and word-of-mouth sensation to read with your book club.
A fast-paced modern classic perfect for book clubs.