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The ReadDown

What We’re Reading This Summer

We asked Penguin Random House employees to recommend their summer reads.  These books include fantasy, mystery, literary fiction, and more. Wherever and however you’re spending your summer, start reading!
  1. The Bettencourt Affair Book Cover Picture

    The Bettencourt Affair

    “Parisian royalty, an alleged affair between the world’s richest woman and a younger man, betrayal, extortion, World War II secrets, and the implication of the French president. You can’t make this stuff up. Truth really is stranger than fiction.”

    Elina, Dutton Marketing

  2. Give a Girl a Knife Book Cover Picture

    Give a Girl a Knife

    “Amy Thielen’s Give a Girl a Knife introduced me to the quirky (and sometimes questionable) food traditions particular to Thielen’s Midwestern family, while endearing me to a small town way of life I never thought I’d find so compelling. It was fascinating to experience the high-end NYC dining scene through the eyes of someone equally comfortable making home in the woods of Minnesota with no electricity or running water.”

    Ragan, Consumer Marketing Development

  3. In the Woods Book Cover Picture

    In the Woods

    “I know, I’m probably the last person in the world who hasn’t read the Dublin Murder Squad series, but even if you have they’re worth revisiting. This is the perfect beach read: evocative writing, characters so real they’ll break your heart, compelling mysteries, and more dark twists and turns than you could possibly handle. Read this outside and you’re bound to get a sunburn – it’s impossible to tear yourself away for even a second.”

    Jon, Crown Publishing Group Editorial

  4. A Cure for Suicide Book Cover Picture

    A Cure for Suicide

    “This is one of the more absorbing and heart-wrenching books I’ve read in recent memory. It handles grief and illness in a totally fresh way – you follow along, piecing bits together as you go, and are slowly rewarded with beautiful, emotional, human, moments in strange world where a fresh start means exactly that.”

    Amy, Consumer Marketing Development

  5. Chemistry Book Cover Picture


    “A novel that’s equal parts hilarious and sad, Wang’s writing will absolutely move you. Looking for your next existential-crisis read? Chemistry is it.”

    Natasha, Corporate Marketing

  6. Off the Cliff Book Cover Picture

    Off the Cliff

    “I’m by no means a movie buff, and yet I found myself completely immersed in this book. It has its fair share of extremely interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits, but at this book’s core is an awesome story of female empowerment, about women who achieved something incredible, despite all of the obstacles put in their way.”

    Grace, Penguin Press Marketing

  7. Michelle Obama Book Cover Picture

    Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama left me inspired and motivated. Slevin gives readers a detailed look at the circumstances and achievements that have propelled Michelle Obama to success. As we follow Ms. Obama from her childhood in Chicago, to her time in the Whitehouse I was awed by her strong sense of purpose and dedication.”

    Sarah, Design & Development

  8. The Wise Man's Fear Book Cover Picture

    The Wise Man’s Fear

    “Summer’s the perfect time to sink your teeth into some epic fantasy for two reasons – first, a lot of fantasy books tend to run long, so you don’t run as much of a risk of running out of things to read halfway through your beach trip, and second, they’re fun. Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle series will appeal to both die-hard fantasy fans and folks who haven’t read much fantasy – his writing is beautiful and accessible, and Kvothe’s story is gripping.”

    Emily, Consumer Marketing Development

  9. An Ember in the Ashes Book Cover Picture

    An Ember in the Ashes

    “It will leave you needing to get your hands on the next book. Inspired by ancient Rome, sprinkled with elements of fantasy/the supernatural, and filled with flawed, but amazingly crafted characters, An Ember in the Ashes will leave you with mixed feelings – equal parts angst (there are 2 more unreleased books!) and admiration for Tahir’s superb ability to spin a unique tale.” 

    Seoling, Penguin Young Readers Production

  10. Crazy Rich Asians Book Cover Picture

    Crazy Rich Asians

    Looking for a light and entertaining summer read that satisfies your travel-bug? Crazy Rich Asians follows an American on her adventures in Singapore when she meets her financé’s wealthy family. This book combines humor, romance, and outlandish luxury.”
    Kathryn, Consumer Marketing Development

  11. The Nakano Thrift Shop Book Cover Picture

    The Nakano Thrift Shop

    I loved this book for the same reason I love Zadie Smith and John Steinbeck: it’s a big-hearted and generous look into the lives of people who are in turns kind and exasperating, quirky and mundane. It’s also perfect summer escapism—if the Nakano thrift shop was a real place, you’d want to peek through the windows whenever you pass by just to see what Hitomi and the gang are up to.”

    Ryan, Penguin Books Marketing

  12. Out of the Easy Book Cover Picture

    Out of the Easy

    “Whenever I get a chance to recommend books I go with Ruta Sepetys. Not only does her lyrical writing shine, but she brings a host of interesting backdrops and characters alive in her historical fiction novels. Out of the Easy grabbed me by the hand and pulled me straight into the 1950s New Orleans landscape. I could picture the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter and feel the humid air mixed with the salty sea breeze. Josie is a spunky narrator who’s caught up in a convoluted murder investigation and Sepetys weaves a story full of suspense, humor, and tenacity.”

    Laura, DK Marketing & Publicity

  13. Burning Bright Book Cover Picture

    Burning Bright

    “For any crime fiction fan, Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash is a great character – he’s tough, smart and struggles to fight the bad guys while dealing with a PTSD-induced claustrophobia.  Start with the The Drifter if you want to be with Peter from the beginning!”

    John, Consumer Marketing Development


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