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Books We Love: Recommended reading for romance

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

There is still plenty of time for summer loving and reading about it, too. If you're in the mood but at a loss for what to pick up first, NPR's Books We Love has these suggestions for new romance novels that are well worth your time.

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SUMMER THOMAD, BYLINE: Hi there. I'm Summer Thomad, and I'm a producer at Code Switch. The book I'm recommending is "An Arrow To The Moon" by Emily X.R. Pan. It's about two teens living in a small town. Their paths don't quite cross because their parents historically hate each other. And when they finally do meet, of course, they feel an instant pull that they can't quite explain. Well, if that sounds familiar, it's because this book is a modern retelling of "Romeo And Juliet" that also incorporates Chinese mythology. But this story really comes alive through Emily X.R. Pan's prose. Every sentence feels imbued with an ethereal magic. The two protagonists bond as they discover their family's secrets, navigate their futures and seek to understand the mysterious forces that surround them.

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ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: I'm Ari Shapiro. I'm one of the hosts of All Things Considered. And "Young Mungo" is the second novel by the author Douglas Stuart.

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SHAPIRO: His first novel, "Shuggie Bain," won a ton of awards, including the 2020 Booker Prize, and I actually liked "Young Mungo" even more. The two books are similar. They are both set in Glasgow in the late 20th century. They have similar characters - there's an alcoholic mother and a gay son. But "Young Mungo" centers on a forbidden romance between two young men - one is Catholic. One is Protestant. It is full of pain and beauty. Douglas Stuart weaves in all of this beautiful Scottish slang that you just have to kind of learn the meaning from the context. And ultimately, while the book has a lot of violence and sadness, it is suffused with the beauty and a specificity that just leaves you longing to spend more time with these characters.

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CANDICE LIM, BYLINE: Hi. My name is Candice Lim. I'm a producer for Pop Culture Happy Hour. And the book I'm recommending is "Ramon and Julieta" by Alana Quintana Albertson.

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LIM: Julieta is this well-known, talented chef from San Diego. And Ramon runs this Taco Bell type of empire under the watchful eye of his wealth-obsessed father. On Dia de los Muertos, Julieta and Ramon are masked strangers who share a kiss, and they assume they'll never see each other again until Julieta finds out that Ramon is not only her new landlord. He's also planning to shut down her restaurant for good.

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LIM: This novel does a really great job of placing you right in the middle of this beautiful, tight-knit community that loves each other deeply, wants to protect its people. There's a lot of tacos. It's kind of that perfect summer read to put you right on the shores of San Diego. And if you love a steamy haters to lovers arc, this is the book for you.

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RASCOE: You heard NPR staff recommendations for "An Arrow To The Moon," Young Mungo" and "Ramon And Julieta." For more ideas on what to read - cookbooks, nonfiction, historical fiction, whatever you're interested in - hop over to our Books We Love list at npr.org/bestbooks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Candice Lim
Candice Lim is a production assistant at Pop Culture Happy Hour. Prior to joining NPR in 2019, she interned at several publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, WBUR and the Orange County Register. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and is proudly from Fullerton, California.
Summer Thomad
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.