This summer, Jezebel is having authors stop by and recommend books for your beach bag/road trip tour of national parks/first airplane ride in 18 months/lazy afternoon in a hammock—whatever your personal energy. Today’s guest is Tia Williams, an editorial director at Estée Lauder Companies and the author of the recently released Seven Days in June, about an erotica writer and a literary novelist who were once together as teenagers, who reunite years later, now grown and (somewhat) ready to try again. The book quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list, got picked for Reese’s Book Club, and got optioned for television.
The book opens memorably, with our heroine, Eva, nearly choking to death on a piece of gum in a freak masturbation accident: “As she slowly blacked out, she kept imagining her daughter, Audre, finding her flailing about in Christmas jammies while clutching a tube of strawberry lube and a dildo called the Quarterback (which vibrated at a much higher frequency than advertised—gum-choking frequency).” Fortunately, she coughs up the gum, avoids becoming a Daily Mail headline, and reunites with the “intimidatingly handsome” blast-from-the-past Shane Hall. For Jezebel readers, Williams has recommended a blend of romance and literary fiction, plus a comfort read, in the form of... Stephen King’s Cujo.
Truly some of the best writing I’ve ever encountered. Caustic, honest, and not a word wasted. The debut novel is about a young Black woman in publishing who has an affair with an older white man in an open marriage—and she moves in with them.
The View Was Exhausting, Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta
I recently finished this galley and was crazy for it! The story combines two of my favorite things: the “fake lovers” romance trope, and glitzy Hollywood couples. It’s like an Us Weekly headline sprung to life.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown, Talia Hibbert
Hibbert’s voice is so brilliantly clever and witty, and her romances offer dreamy wish fulfillment and breath-of-fresh-air representation. Her newest is my favorite. It follows an adorable free-spirit’s extremely unlikely romance with a stiff-upper-lip B&B owner, and it’s the perfect beach read.
Girlhood, Melissa Febos
As the mother of a daughter entering her teen years, I devoured this book. It’s an intellectually airtight exploration of the (extremely) winding road from girlhood to womanhood. It should be required reading, for all genders.
Royal Holiday, Jasmine Guillory
Honestly, she’s the queen of romcoms. This one holds a special place in my heart, as I grew up in a Diana house and am a bit of a royal-phile (justice for Harry and Meghan!). Royal Holiday follows a lusty Christmas rendezvous between an American on vacation and a royal private secretary.
Florida, Lauren Groff
I discovered Lauren Groff through Fates and Furies, but this might be my favorite. This collection of wickedly dark, unsettling-in-a-David-Lynch-way short stories is thrilling, surreal, and wild.
The Idea of You, Robinne Lee
It’s chic. It’s explosively sexy. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t rave enough about this love story about a forty-year-old art gallerist in secret love with the lead singer of a boy band (ie, her tween daughter’s crush).
Cujo, Stephen King
Stephen King’s my comfort author. I’ve had daily chronic migraines since I was a kid, and the passages written from Cujo’s point of view—a Saint Bernard slowly losing his mind to rabies, as noises, smells and, like, being civilized become violently unbearable—it could easily describe how migraineurs feel!