5 author-approved books to wrap up your summer reading

New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor shares his must-read list with TODAY.
By Stephanie Larratt

Our editors independently selected these items because we think you will enjoy them and might like them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.

The end of summer is quickly approaching, but there's still time to squeeze in one last beach read before the fall.

New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor shares five books he recommends picking up before temperatures drop. From a sci-fi thriller to a coming-of-age adventure, there is a book for everyone on this comprehensive list.

Last taste of summer

"Luster" by Raven Leilani

An instant New York Times bestseller, "Luster" is the story of Edie, a young Black woman in Brooklyn, New York, who finds herself in a relationship with a man in an open marriage in New Jersey.

As she tries to navigate her relationship, racial politics and everything else in her life, Edie finds herself unemployed and is invited to move into her lover's home. In this tale of growth and maturation, Edie works to make sense of her life and believe in her own talents.

"This sizzling debut novel has been getting rave reviews and for good reason," said Thor. "Turn up the heat with this brilliantly written, insightful and darkly comic read."

Thrilling page-turner

"A Private Cathedral" by James Lee Burke

In the New Iberia criminal underworld, Detective Dave Robicheaux finds himself entangled in an old Louisiana family rivalry between the Shondell and Balangie families after the youngest heirs, Johnny Shondell and Isolde Balangie, fall in love and run away.

When Robicheaux gets a little too close to Isolde's mother, he suddenly finds himself facing down a time-traveling superhuman assassin sent by Isolde's jealous father to destroy him. To face the terrifying hitman and rescue Johnny and Isolde, Robicheaux must also face the demons within himself.

"It has everything: crime, mythology, sci-fi and horror! Clear your calendar because once you start 'A Private Cathedral,' you will not be able to put it down," said Thor.

Pop culture fix

"Black Leopard, Red Wolf" by Marlon James

The first book in a trilogy series, "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" is about a hunter named Tracker. Known far and wide for his skills, he embarks on a mission with a hodgepodge of characters to find a mysterious boy who went missing three years earlier.

As their search continues and Tracker finds himself fighting for his life, he questions who this boy really is and why he has been missing for so long.

"Its characters are richly drawn, its pacing is sublime and its plot is out of this world," said Thor. "Part myth, part fantasy, it is all wall-to-wall exciting and a story you absolutely must read before seeing it in theaters."

For history buffs

"Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse" by Andrea di Robilant

"Filled with passion, adventure, heartache and warmth, it tells the real-life story of Ernest Hemingway as he approaches his 50th birthday," said Thor. "He hasn't written in over a decade, but on a trip to Venice, he falls in love with a beautiful 18-year-old woman and picks back up his pen, inspired to write what critics will hail as the greatest novel of his career. Their relationship, though, will be fraught with consequences both good and bad."

Author Andrea di Robilant re-creates Hemingway's surprising yearslong relationship with a young Venetian girl named Adriana that inspired his great final work, "The Old Man and the Sea." The book explores the cost to the young girl and gives an intimate portrait of Hemingway's final years.

To read with kids

"A Little Spot Learns Online" by Diane Alber

This book is a fun story that will help prepare young kids for online learning as the coronavirus pandemic carries on.

"Beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told, this is part of author-illustrator Diane Alber's 'Spot' series for children," said Thor. "This charming, newly released story helps prepare little ones for learning online. Great for your own children and a fabulous gift for parents you know whose little ones are experiencing remote learning for the first time."

For more book recommendations, check out:

To discover more deals, shopping tips and budget-friendly product recommendations, download the TODAY app and subscribe to the Stuff We Love newsletter!