It's a little sad to acknowledge the summer of 2015 is approaching its swan song, but it's best to steel yourself. Summer does not go quietly; August is its most savage, sweaty trimester. We've rounded up the books—new, old, weird, and wonderful—that are perfect for these blistering dog days, whether you're perched on a rickety fire escape or shivering under the air conditioner at a dimly lit bar. In other words, a summer reading list that really matters.
1. Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness, Rebecca Walker (Ed.)
Essays, Pages: 160, Published: February 2012
Black Cool cuts through decades of black contributions to the global cultural landscape. What do Rihanna, Miles Davis, and Angela Davis have in common? They were cool as shit. Get it here.
2. The Sellout: A Novel, Paul Beatty
Fiction, Pages: 304, Published: March 2015
The Sellout imagines a warped future in which the creeping return of segregation brings racial justice to a tiny California town. Hilarious and utterly batshit. Get it here.
3. The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante
Fiction, Pages: 471, Published: September 2013
Yes, you need to have read the first of Ferrante's acclaimed Neopolitan Trilogy to truly appreciate the second, but it's so, so worth it. As love and sex infiltrate Elena and Lila's shared universe, their childhood bond splinters, frays, and warps, all against the backdrop of Naples' steamy summers. Get it here.
4. The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, John Seabrook
Nonfiction, Pages: 352, Published: October 2015
Over and over, descriptions of The Song Machine refer back to a single word: revelatory. This thorough dissection of the anatomy of a hit belongs on any listener's bookshelf. Get it here.
5. Bluets, Maggie Nelson
Memoir/Poetry, Pages: 112, Published: October 2009
Nelson's new book, The Argonauts, is the the It Book of the summer. But don't forget about this earlier one, a one-of-a-kind love letter to its titular color that finds the middle-ground between soul-stirring poetry, heartbreaking memoir, and thought-provoking history. Get it here.
6. Tim and Eric's Zone Theory: 7 Easy Steps to Achieve a Perfect Life, Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim
Self-help, Pages: 336, Published: July 2015
Get it here.
7. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Nonfiction, Pages: 176, Published: July 2015
Everyone in America should read Between The World And Me. It's a stark, and often bleak, portrayl of what it means to be a black man in America, facing a Sisyphean struggle in the hope of finding solace. Get it here.
8. Delta of Venus, Anaïs Nin
Fiction, Pages: 320, Published: 1977
Anyone lucky enough to discover a yellowed copy of this slim volume tucked slyly in a library knows that Delta of Venus—a collection of erotica for which Nin was paid by the page—can directly impact and enrich your own sexual explorations. Get it here.
9. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro
Nonfiction, Pages: 1344, Published: July 1975
There's something about the heat rising off the city's sidewalks that feels timeless, a visceral thread that ties us back to Robert Moses, the man responsible for shaping a city that always feels like it's falling. Get it here.
10. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan
Nonfiction, Pages: 464, Published: July 2015
One of those books on the tables near the front that actually deserves it, Barbarian Days is a New Yorker author's paean to the sprawling, surprising adventures that surfing has led him to over the course of a lifetime. Get it here.
11. Balance, Angie Grace
Coloring Book, Pages: 104, Published: February 2014
Yes, coloring in intricate circular patterns might sound a little new age/neurotic, but this "adult coloring book" really does help you de-stress. It taps into the kind of unselfconscious creativity you remember from elementary school art classes. Get it here.
12. How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy, Stephen Witt
Nonfiction, Pages: 304, Published: June 2015
It's the story of the music industry's epic struggle with the technological developments that swiftly and irrevocably changed it forever. It's recounted by Witt with the clarity and momentum of any fictional page-turner. Get it here.
13. Megahex, Simon Hanselmann
Graphic novel, Pages: 200, Published: September 2014
A witch named Megg, her cat-boyfriend Mogg, and their nerd friend Owl live together. Often depressed and lazy AF, the trio are very frequently visited by their wasteoid buddy Werewolf Jones, who always brings booze, special K, or ecstasy. What's a summer without drugs and comics? Get it here.
14. Dime Stories, Tony Fitzpatrick
Memoir, Pages: 175, Published: August 2015
A mesmerizing deep dive into the twisted archives of Tony Fitzpatrick, culled from a decade's worth of columns in Chicago's Newcity magazine. Get it here.
15. After Claude, Iris Owens
Fiction, Pages: 232, Published: November 2010
Harriet Daimler's post-breakup rampage through 1970s New York is snarky, intense, and white-hot brilliant. Get it here.