Hot days, cool books: Plenty of good choices for summer reads
This year, it's not just going to be the new hardback bestsellers and dog-eared paperbacks at the beach. With Kindles, Nooks, e-readers and tablets becoming more ubiquitous, it's easier than ever to read at the shore, or any other vacation destination of choice.
As the summer season approaches, publishers are rolling out big guns in hopes of padding sales. By far the most anticipated book of the summer is Dan Brown's latest Robert Langdon adventure, “Inferno.”
But there is enough variety to please the most discerning reader, or anyone seeking lighter, escapist fare.
“Inferno” by Dan Brown (Doubleday, $29.95). Brown's new thriller incorporates Dante's “The Divine Comedy.” Expect the reviews to be mixed and the sales to be enormous.
“And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $28.95). Early reviews indicate this might be the most-talked-about novel of the summer. Hosseini, the author of “The Kite Runner,” explores issues of family by way of an Afghani father, his children, and a series of connected stories from across the globe.
“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson (Regan Arthur, $27.99). Atkinson can't be pegged to any genre. Her latest is part historical novel, part fantasy, about a woman who is reborn every time she dies, with a large portion of the story taking place in wartime London.
“A Delicate Truth” by John Le Carre (Viking, $28.95). A British counterterrorism plot resurfaces three years later in an entirely different form. This is the master British writer's 23rd novel.
“The Redeemer” by Jo Nesbo (Knopf, $25.95). Nesbo's Harry Hole, described as the Oslo police department's “best investigator and worst civil servant,” has to solve a Christmas-time murder that has no murder weapon, suspect or motive.
“The Son” by Phillip Meyer (Ecco, $27.99), May 28. Meyer's debut, the highly praised “American Rust,” took place in the Mon Valley. His second novel, set in the American Southwest, is a multi-generational tale that is being compared to the works of Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry.
“Joyland” by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, $12.95), June 4. King's novels, from “Salem's Lot” and “The Shining” through “Duma Key” and “1 1⁄22/63,” have always been beach staples. “Joyland” is a detective novel from an imprint that specializes in hard-boiled crime.
“Transatlantic: A Novel” by Colum McCann (Random House, $27), June 4. Three crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, spaced over 80 years, provide the backbone of this multi-dimensional novel. McCann won a National Book Award for his previous effort, “Let the Great World Spin.”
“If You Were Here” by Alafair Burke (Harper, $25.99), June 4. Manhattan journalist McKenna Jordan thinks she has a scoop when she obtains a video showing a woman pulling a boy from harm on subway tracks. But when the mystery woman appears to be Jordan's close friend who disappeared 10 years ago, the story becomes increasingly complex. Burke, who teaches criminal law at Hofstra University, is one of the more-talented crime writers working today.
“The Kill Room” by Jeffrey Deaver (Grand Central Publishing, $28), June 4. Investigator and forensics expert Lincoln Rhymes is called upon to solve the assassination of a U.S. citizen in the Bahamas. The twist: the man was assassinated by a “million-dollar bullet” from more than a mile away. From the noted author of “The Bone Collector” and “The Devil's Teardrop.”
“Out of Range” by Hank Steinberg (William Morrow), June 4. A promising thriller by Steinberg, the creator of the television show “Without a Trace.” A young woman vanishes in California, leaving her two young children locked in a car. Her husband, a political journalist, thinks her disappearance may be linked to a trip they took to Uzbekistan a few years ago.
“A Serpent's Tooth: A Walt Longmire Mystery” by Craig Johnson (Penguin, $26.95), June 4. Johnson is a sneaky-good writer whose mysteries, set in Wyoming, are as good as series fiction gets. The ninth installment features a lost Mormon boy whose appearance in Absaroka County sets off a series of unanticipated events for Sheriff Longmire and his unorthodox cast.
“The Shining Girls” by Lauren Beukes, (Mulholland, $26), June 4. Touted as this summer's version of Gillian Flynn's “Gone Girl,” the story is about a Depression-era serial killer who also has the ability to time travel. His mission: to kill the girls with “shining” potential. His nemesis: a victim who survives an attack in 1989 and starts to hunt him.
“Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, $26.95), June 11. A book that starts with a human arm in a freezer that's the result of a boating accident/shark luncheon sounds preposterous. But in the hands of Hiaasen, one of America's premier humorist, it's plausible and entertaining.
“The Engagements” by J. Courtney Sullivan (Knopf, $26.95), June 11. By the best-selling author of “Maine,” Sullivan's new book is almost a treatise about the many aspects of marriage. Although sometimes classified as chick lit, Sullivan's writing transcends that category.
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow, $25.99), June 18. Gaiman's first adult novel in eight years is being described as a hybrid of fantasy and fable. When a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home, he's overwhelmed by graphic and horrible memories that don't seem possible.
“Sisterland” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $27), June 25. Identical twins — Kate, a housewife, and Vi, a psychic — come together after a minor earthquake hits St. Louis. When Vi says on television that a major earthquake may follow, Kate is aghast, but also fearful her sister is right. From the author of “Prep” and “American Wife.”
“Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc.” by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $27). Among the topics Sedaris opines about with his off-kilter approach are his first colonoscopy, his father's wardrobe, train travel and the cuisine in China. The title is supposedly borrowed from a vintage volume of the same name.
“The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945” by Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt, $40). The final volume of Atkinson's much-praised Liberation Trilogy explores the resolution of World War II's denouement in great detail.
“Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” by Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf, $35). There are thousands of books about the Civil War, but Guelzo is as close to “on the ground” as a contemporary writer can get: He's the Henry Luce professor of the Civil War Era and director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. This work concentrates on the events taking place from July 1 to 3, 1863, through the stories of the generals, infantryman and civilians.
“Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution” by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking, $32.95). Pittsburgh native Philbrick has written a stirring, in-depth story about the foundations of the American Revolution. Notable is the portrayal of Dr. Joseph Warren, one of the country's forgotten founding fathers.
“VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave,” by Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter and Martha Quinn (Atria, $25). They seemed so cute and innocent when MTV debuted. But, of course, the first video jocks indulged in their fair share of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with the likes of David Lee Roth, Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp.
“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” by Daniel James Brown (Viking, $28.95), June 4. The story of the University of Washington's rowing team that not only defeated the finest American crews from elite Eastern universities to make the Olympic Games, but triumphed over the world's most accomplished crews. Set against the backdrop of Nazism, Hitler and Jessie Owen's magnificent achievements.
“Revolutionary Summer: The Birthplace of American Independence” by Joseph J. Ellis (Knopf, $26.95), June 4. Ellis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Founding Brothers,” this time focuses on the summer of 1776. The author juxtaposes the precarious union of the 13 colonies with Great Britain's determination to crush the new alliance with, at that time, the largest fleet of ships ever to cross the Atlantic.
Rege Behe is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.