A Summer for the Books: What New York’s Indie Literary Scene is Excited For This Summer

It’s a New York Summer, and authors, publishers & bookstores have much to look forward to…

NY Summer

Summer has finally arrived, bringing the chance to shed winter blues and bask in sun-soaked days and humid, breezy nights. New York City bookstores and publishers are ready to embrace the season with a bustling array of vibrant events, and the anticipation of exciting new releases is palpable. A wave of eager readers throughout the five boroughs are ready to dive into fresh works. These literary havens are set to transform into cultural hubs where literature and community come together. Outdoor book fairs will line the streets, inviting passersby to discover hidden gems across various genres, while author signings will provide fans with the chance to meet their literary idols and find inspiration. Engaging readings and book clubs will foster lively discussions, ranging from profound insights to playful debates, creating a strong sense of camaraderie among attendees. Catering to children, young adults, and seasoned readers alike, New York City is ensuring that the love for books thrives under the summer sun. This season, they’re infusing the summer experience with humor and delight, offering a perfect blend of wit and wisdom for every reader. Conversations with several bookstore owners and publishers reveal their excitement about fostering increased community engagement and showcasing diverse voices and fresh perspectives.

Left Bank Books 2
Left Bank Books 1
Images courtesy of Left Bank Books / Jess Kuronen
Left Bank Books 3

Left Bank Books, in the heart of the West Village, is excited as warmer weather approaches, bringing on a new series of events and projects. On July 18th, the shop will host a launch party and reading for Éditions Lutanie’s reissue of renegade poet and art critic Rene Ricard’s Love Poems, illustrated by Robert Hawkins, which was initially published in 1999 by Richard Hell’s CUZ Editions. In addition, July will see the highly anticipated drop of LBB (Left Bank Books) rhinestone baby tees. As the city quiets down, the team looks forward to catching up on projects, delving into a treasure trove of Kate Bush fanzines from the 80s and 90s, and exploring the early days of nightlife mecca Limelight, with a fascinating detour into the club kids scene. On a personal note, owner Jess Kuronen is thrilled to wear her new rhinestone baby tee in Venice, Italy. At the same time, another team member eagerly anticipates a few days on Fire Island with their mom’s new dog.

Aeon Books 2
Aeon Books 3
Images courtesy of Aeon Bookstore

Downtown, Aeon Bookstore eagerly anticipates a vibrant summer filled with new developments and new titles. One of the highlights is adding a selection from a New York scholar’s collection, focusing on Qabalah and other religious studies. This remarkable library, though just a tiny part of the scholar’s extensive collection, will enrich Aeon’s offerings and provide valuable resources for those interested in these fields. Beyond this, Aeon is also excited about ongoing creative projects, including developing a third LP that promises to bring a fresh blend of musical and literary inspiration. The bookstore is organizing its first major book project to foster literary creativity and community engagement. Finally, plans are underway to return to Japan, undoubtedly bringing new ideas and influences to Aeon’s dynamic and diverse literary scene, ensuring that every reader finds something that resonates with them.

Nick Atkins 1
Image courtesy of Nick Atkins

Mixed media artist and author Nick Atkins, known for his preference for in-person book shopping and a penchant for local titles, has long been an insider in the New York art scene. As a dedicated collaborator with the nonprofit 8Ball, Atkins recently added Charlotte Graham’s Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars, Dipset’s More Than Music, and Pat McCarthy’s Born to Kill to his collection, eagerly anticipating reading them during his upcoming travels. He is also set to attend New York Comic Con, where he revels in the unique atmosphere that turns normality on its head, making it the perfect venue to explore an endless array of new works. Passionate about supporting his friends’ literary endeavors, Atkins is currently collaborating with Elise Wilken on an artist’s book featuring paintings, sculptures, and writings on Greek mythology inspired by D’Aulaires. His works can be found in publications like Sex Magazine, Living Proof Magazine, and Lilypad Magazine—magazines he considers essential year-round, especially in the summer.

Whitney Review 1
Image courtesy of The Whitney Review / Whitney Mallet

Whitney Mallet, founding editor of The Whitney Review, observes a sustained enthusiasm for readings and book launch conversations, many of which are hosted at bookstores happening this summer. The discussion with Jack Skelley on July 17 at Powerhouse is a highly anticipated event. Next week, Mallet looks forward to an event at Rizzoli organized by Acudus featuring Geoffrey Mak, Simon Wu, and Tony Tulathimutte. Although Tony’s new novel, Rejection, isn’t out until September, Mallet says there’s hope of getting an advanced copy for summer reading. Additionally, she’s looking forward to Cristine Brache’s poetry book  launch at Amant. Recently, The Whitney Review was acquired by Amant’s bookstore. This venue, curated by Aris, a friend of Mallet’s, is a charming café-bookshop hybrid—a surprisingly rare find in NYC and worth a visit this summer.

Images courtesy of Byline / Gutes Guterman

For publisher Gutes Guterman, summer in New York is all about a challenge. With writers and publications scrambling to produce noteworthy pieces amidst fewer events and more relaxation, the season demands creativity and grit. This summer, Guterman is excited to publish works in Byline that capture the season’s energy, hedonism, and chaos without being overly didactic. One standout piece is by Eva Risk about her experience dating her “reply guy,” which embodies the lawlessness of summer. The freedom of summer releases allows for content that feels less anchored to specific events, presenting a challenge for publishers to find compelling material. Initiatives like The Cut’s “Freak Week” exemplify this innovative spirit. Additionally, Guterman looks forward to reading Jill Salesman’s essay about a memorable childhood stay at the Chateau Marmont and exploring works about New York, capturing the city’s unique summer vibe.

Wherever a train, plane, or car takes you this summer, consider getting lost in the stacks at one of NYC’s 250+ independent bookstores. These literary havens offer a unique charm and a curated selection of books that can turn any afternoon into an adventure. If you’re not much of an in-person reader, load up on tabs of your favorite websites and enjoy a leisurely trip on the ferry or soak up the sun with your screen brightness turned up on the beach. Embrace the opportunity to dive into new worlds, whether physically browsing shelves or scrolling through digital pages. Summer is the perfect time to indulge in the freedom and joy of reading, no matter where you are. Let the joy of reading inspire and motivate you this summer.

Written by Jo Rosenthal