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Lesser-Known Lit: Seeking Summer's Hidden Gems

Illustration: A lighthouse casts its beam on a book in the water.

I know, I know. You've already started tearing through Bring Up the Bodies, pre-ordered Canada and — since you pretend to have read the first few massive volumes of his LBJ bio — uploaded Robert Caro's latest history lesson to your Kindle. Spoiler: The pres dies in the end.

There, now you can have some fun with gems that haven't headlined The New York Review of Books. While it's certainly gratifying to lock eyes with a fellow reader enjoying one of the season's biggies, I love to pass along books that no one has heard of — it's like telling a secret. Good for the book, better for your reader's ego.

Of course, it's hard to say what gets a book to the top of everyone's reading list and what keeps another hidden on a back table in your bookstore (though I've been known to annoy the folks at Barnes & Noble by rearranging things). Halfway through making this list of hidden gems, I realized that Jess Walter's fantastic Beautiful Ruins is a gem that no longer qualifies as hidden. Nothing would gratify me more than for this entire list to be outdated by August — so get reading.

Among the treasures here are an Edwardian mystery-drama, an acidly funny evisceration of the newspaper biz, a hot Southern thriller and a slightly ridiculous though entirely gratifying romance to get you through your long, hot commute. Oh, and one extra gem hiding in plain sight.

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