Planning to hit the books this summer? Check out these new gripping reads

A Hollywood baddie recounts his life of redemption and a comedian tracks five decades of the funny business in new releases coming next month

No matter what your plans are for the next few months, you might be looking for a book to help you while away the summer.

Several promising titles are scheduled to come out this July, including a biography from one of Hollywood’s most menacing baddies, an analysis of how comedy evolved over the past 50 years and the letters of legendary US horror writer Shirley Jackson.

Here are six books we think are worth checking out.

‘Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption and Hollywood’, Danny Trejo

Machete star Danny Trejo has a reputation for being the most killed actor in Hollywood. He has played knife-hurling assassins, bodyguards, gang members and generals, most of whom have met a deadly fate.

Off-screen today, Trejo leads a very different life, but in his earlier years, he struggled with heroin addiction and endured a five-year sentence in one of the US's most notorious prisons.

Trejo's biography details how he went from a life of crime to Hollywood in a journey described by The New York Times as "enough to make you believe in the possibility of a Hollywood ending".

Release date: Tuesday, July 6

'The Paper Palace', Miranda Cowley Heller

This novel begins with infidelity. Elle, 50, a happily married woman, sneaks out of her family's summer house to be with her childhood love, Jonas.

The future forks in front of Elle who, in 24 hours, must decide whether she wants to go on living with her husband, Peter, who she genuinely loves, or go for the life she always imagined she would have with Jonas, until a tragic event pulled them apart.

The Paper Palace unravels legacies of abuse and crimes within families with lilting taut prose. The novel is the first by Heller, who worked for almost a decade as senior vice president and head of drama series at HBO, developing and overseeing shows such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire.

Release date: Tuesday, July 6

'The Letters of Shirley Jackson', Shirley Jackson

Author of literary classics such as The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson has been one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. Never mind the epistolary nature of the book, the compilation of her personal correspondence has all the qualities you would expect from the horror master, written with the humour and eye for the uncanny in the domestic.

Release date: Tuesday, July 13

'Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades', David Steinberg

An insight into the past 50 years of the US comedy business from a man who was at its cutting edge. David Steinberg, renowned for his work as a director on shows such as Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as his stand-up performances, offers readers personal stories, testimonies, conversations, interviews, opinions, random thoughts and titbits that encompass a first-person account of how the comedy world developed in half a century.

Release date: Tuesday, July 13

‘The Final Girl Support Group’, Grady Hendrix

From the bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires comes a scary, funny, high-octane thriller, with a title that is a nod to the final girl horror film trope. Predominately seen in slasher films, the final girl refers to the last girl or woman left alive after facing the killer and the one telling the story. The trope was used in several classics between the 1970s and 1990s including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream and Halloween.

However, Grady Hendrix's novel subverts the slasher trope as much as it pays tribute to it. The protagonist of Hendrix's thriller is Lynette Tarkington, a real-life final girl who survived a massacre. She's been meeting with a therapist and five other final girls with shared experiences for more than a decade. Just as Tarkington feels like she's piecing her life together, one woman misses a meeting. The group soon realises a force is determined to rip their lives apart again.

Release date: Tuesday, July 13

‘Appleseed’, Matt Bell

The breakout novel from US author Matt Bell, Appleseed is a time-bending environmental allegory that starts off in 18th-century Ohio.

“Two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come,” the book's blurb reads.

“As they remake the wilderness in their own image, planning for a future of settlement and civilisation, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured and broken – and possibly healed.”

The plot of the book then advances to the second half of the 21st century. Climate change has devastated the Earth. One company owns all the world’s resources, but a growing resistance aims to topple that monopoly. But it doesn’t stop there.

A thousand years into the future, North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier and goes on a daring journey to "follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilisation".

A sci-fi epic that has the makings of a contemporary fairy tale, Bell’s debut novel manages to stay fresh while imparting an important message.

Release date: Tuesday, July 13

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