This summer we’re celebrating the peerless reading taste of YA fantasy queen Cassandra Clare by inviting her to curate a stack of her latest must-reads, to be featured in store endcaps nationwide!
Best known for her ever-expanding Shadowhunters world, a wondrous and deadly fictional universe filled with some of the funniest, snarkiest, most infuriating, and most delightful characters in books, Clare recommends across the spectrum, from dark faerie tales to sweeping fantasies to contemporary stories so realistic you’ll get lost in their pages. Here, she shares twenty-two of her picks, and why she chose them. Look out for her endcap in all B&N stores starting this July!
See Clare’s complete list of summer reading picks here.
The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
A pleasantly complicated romance between a headstrong general’s daughter and the handsome blacksmith she purchased in a fit of pique.
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
I’m a sucker for zombies and for historical fiction, so anything that combines the two is on my must-read list. Fortunately, this pacy thriller did not disappoint!
The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
This is a great book about terrible people doing terrible things to each other. You may not entirely sympathize with these characters, but Holly is skilled at getting you deeply invested in what they’re going to do next!
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
A dark, against-type high fantasy about three sisters who are tested to the utmost as they try to gain the throne of Fennbirn. These three sisters go to some really dark extremes.
A Line in the Dark, by Malinda Lo
A great book about female friendships, and how they are tested when both romance and a shocking murder get in the way.
Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson
I love this book because it is reminiscent of The Westing Game and other classic YA mysteries. A mysterious boarding school, a decades-old murder, and a bunch of great characters—what more do you need?
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
A big part of the fun of this space opera thriller is its format. It’s all found documents, which let you piece together the solution yourself!
The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
A beautifully written story about stories. Our heroine Alice’s grandmother was famous for writing a book set in the Hinterland, but what is the Hinterland? Is it more than myth? That’s what we (and Alice) seek to find out.
Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones
I love a goblin, and so does the main character of this story! This book is what I always wanted Labyrinth to be.
Warcross, by Marie Lu
This is a fast-paced, frenetic, futuristic adventure, with a fabulous heroine and an interesting twist on the billionaire hero!
Hardcover $15.19 | $18.99
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
I love a really sweeping fantasy, and this has it all: a world of lost magic, princes and princesses, evil kings, and fierce female characters. I also love the West African–inspired mythology.
The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman
I’ve been addicted to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials since the first book came out, and Malcolm is another great narrator in the tradition of Lyra. Pullman continues to enrich his world.
Hardcover $13.99 | $19.99
The Ship of the Dead, by Rick Riordan
It may just be that I have an affinity for the name Magnus, but with his Norse series, Riordan continues to prove that he can bring ancient myth to life in a way no one else can.
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Emergency Contact, by Mary H. K. Choi
A love story told over text messages that feels believable and relatable. These are texts that real people would send.
The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan
A beautiful exploration of love and grief. After Leigh’s mother commits suicide, she travels to Taiwan to meet her mother’s parents. Her journey is internal as well as external, as she strives to make sense of what she lost and who she still has with her.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
This story benefits from Han’s great sense of humor and its adorable heroine. Lara Jean’s little sister mails all the love letters Lara Jean has written but never intended to send, with hilarious results.
They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera
In this inventive alternate world setting, people receive notifications on their death-day and have to make the most of what little is left of their lives. The connection that forms between the main characters in a short period of time feels real and intense.
Beautifully Realized Worldbuilding
Want, by Cindy Pon
This near future Taipei setting feels so real that you could reach out and touch it. It has a great romance, too!
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
A scurrilous, scandalous, and rousingly fun grand tour of Europe, featuring roguishly charming characters.
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton
This story of commodified beauty in a French-inflected fantasy setting has just the right amount of delicious intrigue.
Hardcover $15.52 | $18.99
Tempests and Slaughter, by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce is a queen of fantasy! She excels at writing strong female characters in richly detailed settings, and she just gets better and better.
Paperback $10.39 | $12.99
Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor
Laini’s writing is beautiful, and her dreamlike story of Weep and the love between Lazlo and Sarai is a wonderful addition to her body of work.