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Books

Real and fictional people and places help readers travel without leaving home

| Friday, May 27, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
'Paul McCartney: The Life' by Philip Norman; Little, Brown. 853 pages, $32.
'Paul McCartney: The Life' by Philip Norman; Little, Brown. 853 pages, $32.

Why read?

The inimitable Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, described the advantages of reading simply: “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Summer is the season when those elements mesh. For avid readers, summer vacations provide opportunities to read without interruption, to go places, fictional and otherwise, without any restrictions. Whether it's a beach or a park, via boat, train or plane, a good book is a worthy travel companion.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions from local independent booksellers about summer reads, along with a roundup of other new titles for summer.

Arlan Hess, City Books, North Side

“What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours” (Riverhead, $27), Helen Oyeyemi. Short stories that lead readers on secret journeys without ever leaving home.

“Margaret the First” (Catapult, $15.95), Danielle Dutton. The dishy but fictionalized biography of a 17th-century duchess who lived in the court of Louis XIV, wrote the first science-fiction novel, and was an early opponent of animal testing.

“The Queen of the Night” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) Alexander Chee. An operatic novel — complicated, dreamy, seductive — about a fictional soprano in mid-19th century Paris. Good for long, hot summer nights.

“Bright Dead Things” (Milkweed Editions, $16) Ada Limón. Approachable and embracing poetry that captures the passions and seasons of life.

“So You've Been Publicly Shamed” (Riverhead,$16), Jon Ronson. We're all only a heartbeat away. An intriguing and funny look at the merciless demonization of others' flaws.

Nathalie Sacco, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont

“The Weekenders” (St. Martin's Press, $27.99), Mary Kay Andrews. Andrews returns to her mystery roots with this new book set during a summer on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, N.C.

“The Muse” (Harper Collins, $27.99), Jessie Burton. “The Miniaturist” was a big hit and best-seller at our shop last year, so we are eagerly anticipating Burton's new book featuring four heroines connected by a long-lost painting in London.

“Redemption Road” (Macmillian/Thomas Dunne, $27.99), John Hart. The only author to win back-to-back Edgars for best novel, Hart's first book in four years is set in a small North Carolina town beset by racial tensions.

“The Mirror Thief” (Melville House, $27.95), Martin Seay. An Indie Next pick for May, “The Mirror Thief” is set in Venice, Italy, in the 16th century; Venice, Calif., in 1958; and the Venetian casino in current-day Las Vegas.

“The Loney” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25), Andrew Michael Hurle. A debut with a huge following in the United Kingdom about a man forced to confront terrifying events from his past, set on the dreary coast of Lancashire.

Mary Ferris, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley

“Dodgers” (Crown, $26) Bill Beverly. Being hailed as a stunning literary achievement, “Dodgers” is the story of East, a 15-year-old hitman who drives across America on a deadly mission with a few members of his gang. It has already been optioned for film by the Gotham Group.

“The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir” (Harper Wave, $25.99), Betsy Lerner. A memoir that explores the intensely emotional mother-daughter relationship, by the author of “Food and Loathing.”

“Rare Objects” (Harper, $25.99), Kathleen Tessaro. A young woman sets out to reinvent herself at the end of the Prohibition era and the beginning of the Great Depression in Boston; written by Pittsburgh native and resident Tessaro, the author of “The Debutante” and “The Perfume Collector.”

“Lady Midnight” (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $24.99), by Cassandra Clare. The first book in a new series, “The Dark Artifices,” by the author of the “Mortal Instruments” series of urban fantasy novels about the demon-fighting Shadowhunters.

“I'm Trying to Love Spiders” (Penguin, $16.99), Bethany Barton. A picture book for kids (and adults) who fear spiders.

Dan Iddings, Classic Lines, Squirrel Hill

“Fall of Man in Wilmslow” (Knopf, $26.95), David Lagercrantz. A young English detective investigates the death of the famed mathematician and code breaker Alan Turing. By the author who took up the Stieg Larsson legacy in “The Girl in the Spider's Web.”

“Two for the Show” (Thomas & Mercer, $15.95), Jonathan Stone. The computer genius behind a Las Vegas showman's mind-reading act gets enmeshed in a web of deceit and blackmail.

“The Gods of Tango” (Vintage, $16), Carolina De Robertis. A young Italian woman arrives in Argentina to find her husband dead, changes her identity to a man and joins a troupe of tango dancers.

“A Little Life” (Anchor $17), Hanya Yanagihara. A brilliant novel about four men who meet in college, and the hardships and heartbreaks they endure over several decades in Manhattan.

“The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories” (Hogarth Press, $16.00), Anthony Marra. A short-story collection by the best-selling author of “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.”

Other noted books for summer 2016

“Vinegar Girl” (Crown, $25), Anne Tyler. An updated version of Shakespeare's “Taming of the Shrew” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author from Baltimore.

“Paul McCartney: The Life” (Little Brown, $32), Philip Norman. The author, who wrote “Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation,” had McCartney's blessing for this exhaustive biography, interviewing friends and family members who had never spoken about the legendary ex-Beatle.

“The Nix” (Knopf, $27.95), Nathan Hill. A debut novel about an English professor who prefers online gaming to teaching, touching on contemporary education, politics, marketing and pop culture.

“Night of the Animals” (Ecco, $26.99), Bill Broun. A homeless man who believes he can communicate with animals sets out to free the residents of the London Zoo in 2052 in this retelling of the Noah's Ark story.

“Blood, Bone and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews” (University of Georgia Press, $32.95), Ted Geltner. Born into poverty in rural Georgia, Crews became a cult favorite via novels including the “The Gospel Singer,” “Body” and “The Knockout Artist.” Geltner, a journalist and journalism professor, spent a couple of years interviewing Crews before the novelist died.

“The Silver Ghost” (Braddock Avenue Books, $13), Chuck Kinder. Pittsburgh-based Braddock Avenue Books is re-issuing the legendary novel, first released in 1979, by Kinder, a former University of Pittsburgh creative-writing professor.

“I Almost Forgot About You” (Crown, $27), Terry McMillan. An optometrist quits her job, sells her house and goes on an adventure seeking the love of her life. By the author of “Waiting to Exhale.”

“Homegoing” (Knopf, $26.95), Yaa Gyasi. Two sisters in 18th-century Ghana have different lives, affecting their descendants over the next three centuries. The first novel for Gyasi, born in Ghana and raised in Alabama.

“Allegheny Front” (Sarabande, $15.95), Matthew Neil Null. A collection of stories set in rural West Virginia that deal with emotional, economic and ecological poverty.

“Everybody's Fool” (Knopf, $27.95), Richard Russo. A sequel to Russo's 1993 novel “Nobody's Fool,” again set in North Bath, N.Y., with many of the same characters sharing the joys and sadness of the working class in a small, forgotten town.

“Barkskins” (Simon & Schuster, $32), Annie Proulx. The tale of two destitute 17th-century French woodcutters — known as barkskins — who journey from France to New France (now Canada). Proulx follows their descendants over 400 years as they cross the continent to California, and travel on to China and New Zealand.

“Voyager: Travel Writings” (Ecco, $25.99), Russell Banks. Best known for novels such as “Cloudsplitter” and “The Darling,” Banks also is a gripping travel writer. This collection features essays about the Caribbean, Scotland, the Himalayas and other destinations.

“The Girl From Summer Hill,” (Ballantine, $27) Jude Deveraux. A love story that borrows thematically from Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice,” with a chef leaving the hectic pace of Washington, D.C., for a small town in Virginia.

“The Heavenly Table” (Doubleday, $27.95), Donald Ray Pollock. The author of “The Devil All the Time” sets his new novel in 1917, in a tale of a family of farmers on the border between Georgia and Alabama whose lives intersect with a farmer from Ohio.

“Heroes of the Frontier” (Knopf, $28.95), Dave Eggers. A divorced mother from Ohio takes her two children on a road trip to Alaska in a rented RV. By the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”

“Before the Fall” (Grand Central, $26), Noah Hawley. A private jet leaving Martha's Vineyard for New York crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, with two survivors: a painter and a young boy who is the only heir to a media mogul's fortune. Hawley is the creator and writer of the TV series “Fargo.”

“The Girls” (Random House, $27) Emma Cline. A debut set in California in 1969 about three girls who become members of Charles Manson's cult. Producer Scott Rudin has bought the film rights, and Cline is rumored to have received $2 million for a three-book deal.

“Bright, Precious Days” (Knopf, $27.95) Jay McInerney. A Tribeca couple who summer in the Hamptons find their privileged life starting to crumble with a downturn in the financial markets. From the author of “Bright Lights, Big City.”

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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