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Nothing about 2017 looks familiar, not even its lineup of hot summer books. Who could have predicted that the season's most gossipy read would be about a presidential candidate, not a movie star? That the standard ideas of espionage that fuel most spy thrillers suddenly seem out of date? That one of the most dependable hitmakers back this summer has been dead since 2008?
It's a weird new world for readers, and below is a list for navigating it: books to look out for this summer, in no particular order.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This satisfyingly quirky novel by a Scottish author has something that's become surprisingly valuable for popular fiction: the endorsement of Reese Witherspoon, who has managed to out-Oprah Oprah. Witherspoon is on a winning streak with the books she has optioned for film and television, which include Wild, Gone Girl, Big Little Lies, The Dry (a terrific small-town Australian thriller she's developing) and now this charmer about the misadventures of its socially awkward title character. Eleanor is a loner for obvious reasons."If I'm ever unsure as to the correct course of action, I'll think, 'What would a ferret do?' or 'How would a salamander respond to this situation?'" Eleanor explains to the reader."Invariably, I find the right answer."

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
A totally unexpected flashback to the days when Crichton was central to the entertainment world. He still is, what with his 'Westworld' on television and a sequel to the 2015 spinoff Jurassic World due next year. Dragon Teeth combines those two Crichton ideas, dinosaurs and the Wild West, in a single book ” and it's a real one discovered by his widow in his archives, rather than a book written by someone using the Crichton name. He had first referred to it in a 1974 letter. When he died in 2008, he wasn't ready to publish it, but had been returning to it over the course of 15 years. If you like a good Crichton paleo-action story incorporating real historical figures, you'll like this one. And look closely at the cover: Atop the dino's giant head, a 19th-century horse and rider trot along.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie
This is the summer book most likely to be read inside the cover of something else. There's something guilt-inducing about even wanting to know exactly how the Clinton campaign imploded. Its readers are less likely to be vengeful Hillary-haters than baffled voters wondering how things could go so wrong. Shattered promises chapter and verse on that, and it ruefully delivers.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
The Singapore-born Kwan was relatively unknown when he came along with the uproarious satire Crazy Rich Asians four years ago. Who would read his outrageous stories of characters who reeled off the brand names of everything they wore or owned, and constantly tried to one-up one another? The answer turned out to be everybody. Kwan followed it up with China Rich Girlfriend in 2015, and now Rich People Problems ends the trilogy. Even if the problems of the wealthy draw fewer fun-seekers than they used to, Kwan deserves to attract another large audience.

The Changeling by Victor LaValle
This novel is afflicted with an unfortunate Anthony Doerr blurb calling LaValle a mix of Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison. That just proves how fiercely it defies categorisation. Written as a self-proclaimed"fairy tale" in a punchy, inviting style, LaValle's haunting tale weaves a mesmerising web around fatherhood, racism, horrific anxieties and even To Kill a Mockingbird. And the backdrop for this rich phantasmagoria? The boroughs of New York.
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05/06/2017
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