Hello again, fellow lit nerds. Is it summer yet? It feels like it. There are some heavy-hitters on the playing field this week (sports analogy!) But you’ll hear about those books from other Internet tipsters, so I’m here to fill you in three books you may not have heard about…yet. Let’s begin!

Before I read the jacket copy of the following book, I expected a feel-good mystery, maybe featuring a cat-lady-turned-bookseller who experiences a series of break-ins, only to discover it’s the neighborhood ne’er-do-well looking for a snack and dreaming of pursuing his doctorate. Boy, was I wrong. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is a mystery, sure, but it’s more psychological thriller than cozy fireside chat. Our protagonist is one Lydia Smith, a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, who is caught up in the life—and death—of one of her customers, Joey, when he kills himself inside the store. Joey left all of his wordly possessions to Lydia, and she discovers his books have been defaced in disconcerting ways. What did Joey encode in his ruined books, and what does he want Lydia to find? (Simon & Schuster, $26)

I posit that summer is the perfect time to read a 768-page time-traveling fantasy novel. If we’re on the same page (book pun!), then you, too, are ready to dive into The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. Fate brings languages expert Melisande Stokes and shadowy military operative Tristan Lyons together. Tristan needs Mel’s linguistic prowess to translate several ancient documents that may confirm the existence of magic. Tristan needs to figure out why, if magic does exist, it no longer functions in industrialized society. The Department of Diachronic Operations (the eponymous D.O.D.O., far from extinct!) wants to send its foot soldiers back in time to revitalize magic, and maybe alter history, if they have the time. Chaos, inevitably, ensues. (HarperCollins, $35)

Other than their shared heritage, Nikki doesn’t think she’ll have anything in common with the Sikh widows she’s agreed to teach at the community center. Soon, though, Nikki realizes her students’ proper attitudes belie their curiosity and creativity. Spurred by an English erotica collection one of the women shares with the rest of the class, Nikki encourages her students to write their dreams. More and more women join the class, despite the threat of an unofficial morality police called the Brotherhood. Can their tight-knit crew survive, up against scandal and fear? Find out in Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. (HarperCollins, $26.99)

Other new releases (alphabetized by author’s last name):

  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif (memoir)
  • So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister by Anna Akana (self-help/humor/memoir)
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (memoir)
  • Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art by Julian Barnes (art criticism)
  • The Accomplished Guest: Stories by Ann Beattie (short stories)
  • Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins (science)
  • The Little French Bistro by Nina George (fiction)
  • The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison (historical fiction)
  • Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses (fiction)
  • Frederick Douglass by Wi
  • lliam S. McFeely (biography)
  • Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean (political science)
  • I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet (memoir/journalism)
  • Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock (memoir)