Paperback Picks

Some good Pride Month selections, a buzzy first novel and more — six new paperbacks, with which to while away (almost) summer afternoons.

Good Boy: My Life In Seven Dogs” by Jennifer Finney Boylan (Celadon, $16.99). Boylan, whose 2003 bestseller “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders” explored her experiences as a transgender woman, returns with another memoir — this one devoted to her beloved canine pets. “Filled with insight and remarkable candor, this is a sterling tribute to the love of dogs,” wrote Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “She touches on, among other subjects, self-doubt, confusion about her sexuality, emotional distance, and infidelity. Boylan also shares encouragement and guidance for those facing their own emotional struggles, noting that while hers weren’t easy to overcome, self-acceptance awaited her at her journey’s end.”

The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America” by Eric Cervini (Picador, $20). And more good Pride Month reading: This bestseller from historian Cervini has at its center the story of Frank Kameny, who lost his government job in the 1950s because he was gay — and who fought back. “Besides being the first full-length biography of the intellectual father of the gay liberation movement, Cervini’s work provides a wealth of fascinating new details about the movement before the Stonewall riots of 1969,” wrote Washington Post reviewer Charles Kaiser, describing the book as “brilliant.” Kameny, he wrote, changed the world in two ways: “first by convincing gay people that they weren’t sick and then by getting millions of straight allies to embrace that point of view. His single greatest contribution was the pivotal role he played in persuading the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973 — the singular accomplishment that made all future LGBTQ progress possible.”

Luster” by Raven Leilani (Picador, $17). A bestseller and winner of multiple awards, including the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, this one had everyone talking last year. “‘Luster’ is an exotic hybrid — a depressing intergenerational love story with a heart of noir wrapped in gallows humor, some sexy scenes, and a look at race in this country that takes into account differences of age and class,” wrote Gabino Iglesias for NPR. The book “smashes together capitalism, sex, loss, and trauma and constructs something new with the pieces, using pitch-black humor as glue. That this Frankenstein’s monster of genres and topics works so well is a testament to Leilani’s talent. That it all happens in a debut novel makes it even more impressive.”

One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston (St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.99). I was utterly charmed by McQuiston’s adorable gay rom-com “Red, White and Royal Blue” last year; now she’s back with another one that seems ready for a big-screen adaptation immediately. “One Last Stop” features August, a bisexual New Yorker who one day meets her dream girl, Jane, on the subway. Only problem? Jane’s a time traveler from the 1970s. Kirkus Reviews called the book “a sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist”; sounds like perfect summer reading.

The Glass Kingdom” by Lawrence Osborne (Random House, $17). The latest from the author of “Beautiful Animals” is described as both literary novel and taut thriller. In it, the former assistant to a famous novelist flees the U.S. for Bangkok, taking with her a suitcase of stolen money and a vague plan to lie low. “It’s a masterfully drawn, mesmerizing novel in which the ghosts of the past — like the bats, lizards, and geckos who gain free access to the Kingdom — refuse to vacate the premises,” wrote a Kirkus reviewer in a starred review, calling it “a seductive, darkly atmospheric thriller with a spine-tingling climax.”

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Trethewey (Ecco, $16.99). Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, here writes the story of her life and its central event: the murder of her mother at the hands of her stepfather, 35 years ago. “Trethewey’s memoir is not the hardest book I have ever read,” wrote New York Times reviewer Kiese Makeba Laymon. “The poetry holding the prose together, the innovativeness of the composition, make such a claim impossible. ‘Memorial Drive’ is, however, the hardest book I could imagine writing.” The book, a 2020 bestseller, was named one of the best books of the year by, among others, the Washington Post, NPR and Barack Obama.