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Books

Summertime is the perfect opportunity to dig into a good book

| Sunday, May 24, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Summer reading by Michael McParlane
Summer reading by Michael McParlane
book cover
book cover
book cover
book cover
The jacket for the new Harper Lee novel titled 'Go Set a Watchman' is seen in an undated handout image provided by HarperCollins Publishing. The cover of the book that will be published on July 14, half a century after Lee's masterpiece 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' features a tree in the foreground and a railroad track with a train in the distance.  REUTERS/HarperCollins Publishing/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE.
Reuters
The jacket for the new Harper Lee novel titled 'Go Set a Watchman' is seen in an undated handout image provided by HarperCollins Publishing. The cover of the book that will be published on July 14, half a century after Lee's masterpiece 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' features a tree in the foreground and a railroad track with a train in the distance. REUTERS/HarperCollins Publishing/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE.

Books are boon companions any time of the year, but there's something special about summer reading. The days are longer. Leisure time is more plentiful. It's possible to sit for hours on end with a book on a beach, at a park or even at home and be transported to another world.

This year's list of authors for summer reading includes perennial and cult favorites, a Pittsburgh icon, new voices and biographies by stars. Many of the books are already available; publication dates of the others are listed below.

Fiction

“Mislaid” by Nell Zink (Ecco, $26.99). A student and college professor marry and have a child in the 1960s, only to find they are not at all suited for each other. “Mislaid” explores issues of identity, race, gender and family.

“Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow, $35). Stephenson's works inhabit a unique niche: they're not purely science fiction or fantasy, but have elements of both genres that appeal to a rabid fan base. “Seveneves” is a post-apocalyptic tale that questions whether the human race deserves to be saved.

“Orient” by Christopher Bollen (Harper, $26.99). After a teenage drifter arrives in a small town on Long Island, bodies — human and otherwise — start piling up. Paranoia ensues in a novel that's being praised as a literary thriller.

“Our Souls at Night” by Kent Haruf (Knopf, $24). The last book by the author of “Plainsong,” who died in November 2014 at the age of 71. Set in a small Colorado town, “Our Souls at Night” is about two widowers desperate to ease their loneliness.

“Hyacinth Girls” by Lauren Frankel (Crown, $25). A novel partly based on true events, Frankel's debut is a character study and a thriller. The lives of a 13-year-old girl and her guardian are irrevocably changed when the girl is accused of bullying.

“In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume (Knopf, $27.95 ). Blume's first adult novel since 1998 recounts a woman's recollections 30 years after a series of airplane accidents in the 1950s. The setting is Elizabeth, N.J., where Blume grew up. June 2

“The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale” by Leona Francombe (Norton, $22.95). William, a rabbit from Belgium, retells the history of the Battle of Waterloo in what is being touted as one of the best literary novels of the summer. Francombe, who resides in Brussels, is a classical pianist who was born in England and raised in the United States. June 1

“The Jezebel Remedy” by Martin Clark (Knopf, $26.95). Clark, a circuit-court judge from rural Virginia, writes legal novels with fabulous twists. “The Jezebel Remedy” features married partners in a small law firm and an eccentric middle-age client who may have been dealing meth before her untimely death. June 9

“The Cartel” by Don Winslow (Knopf, $27.95). Ten years after his seminal novel, “The Power of the Dog,” Winslow revisits the drug wars in Mexico and the United States in “The Cartel.” This is not a book for the faint of heart, but the power of Winslow's storytelling is mesmerizing. June 23

“The New World” by Andrew Motion (Crown, $25). The author of the “Treasure Island” sequel, “Silver,” revisits the characters Jim Hawkins and Natty Silver in his new book that takes place in the American South of the early 1800s. July 14

“Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee (Harper, $27.99). One of the most anticipated books in recent years is already controversial. Is this a rejected first draft of Lee's classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” or a novel of substance that features the beloved Scout as an adult? July 14

“Crooked” by Austin Grossman (Mulholland Books, $26). The new book by the author of “Soon I Will Be Invincible” is narrated by Richard Nixon 20 years after the former president's death. July 28

“The Girl From the Garden” by Parnaz Foroutan (Ecco, $26.99 ). A debut set in early 20th-century Iran about a Persian Jewish family. When the head of the family is angered because his wife does not bear him a son, choices are made that tear the family apart. Aug. 18

Mystery/thriller

“And Sometimes I Wonder About You” by Walter Mosley (Doubleday, $26.95). Mosley's character Leonid McGill is every bit as interesting as his Easy Rawlins. In this new mystery, McGill investigates a contested inheritance while trying to keep his life in order.

“The Mask” by Taylor Stevens (Crown, $24). In a genre filled with testosterone, Taylor Stevens' character Vanessa “Michael” Munroe, stands out. In “The Mask,” Munroe, a problem solver-mercenary, is in Japan with a new partner when problems ensue. June 30

“SignWave” by Andrew Vachss (Pantheon, $26.95). The third book in Vachss' “Aftershock” series features Dell and Dolly, an ex-mercenary and a former military nurse trying to live peaceful lives. Because of circumstances and proximity, they don't get their wish. June 9

Beach reads

“The Mapmaker's Children” by Sarah McCoy (Random House, $26.95). Two intertwining stories about Sarah Brown, daughter of the abolitionist John Brown, and Eden Anderson, a contemporary woman trying to conceive a child. McCoy, the author of “The Baker's Daughter,” spent three years researching the Brown family history for this book.

“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King (Scribner, $30). It's not truly summer until there's a Stephen King book to devour on vacation. The sequel to King's “Mr. Mercedes” is about a fan who kills an author for failing to a publish another book in a series. June 2

“All the Single Ladies” by Dorothea Benton Frank (William Morrow, $26.99). A fabulous setting — summer on the Isle of Palms — finds three single women exploring the nuances of their friendship in this breezy beach read. June 9

“Wicked Charms: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam). Spin-off characters from the Stephanie Plum series take center stage in this story about a mummified pirate's treasure. Written with Phoef Sutton. June 23

“Silver Linings: A Rose Harbor Novel” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $26). Innkeeper Jo Marie is smitten by her handyman Mark Taylor when he decides to leave town. Set in the Pacific Northwest, it's the fifth book in a series by the bestselling author. Aug. 11

History

“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, $30). Our greatest historian and a superb writer, McCullough examines the lives of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. One of the gems the Pittsburgh native unearths: The brothers' total expenses for materials and travel from Dayton, Ohio, to Kitty Hawk, N.C., were less than a $1,000 from 1900-1903.

“Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation” by Dean Jobb (Algonquin, $27.95). Long before Bernie Madoff there was Leo Koretz, a Chicago con man who enticed hundreds of people to invest in nonexistent oil wells and timberland in Panama during the 1920s.

“One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon” by Tim Weiner (Henry Holt, $30). Based on recently declassified documents, this new look at Nixon draws parallels between the Vietnam War and Watergate to shed new light on his troubled presidency.

Memoir

“Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life” by Cindy Williams (Taylor Trade, $22.95). Before she was Shirley on “Laverne & Shirley,” Cindy Williams was a waitress at the Whisky A Go Go. Her customers included fans and rockers, including Jim Morrison of The Doors who subjected her to an infamous prank.

“Everything You Ever Wanted” by Jillian Lauren (Plume, $16). Think you've lived an interesting life? Lauren's first memoir “Some Girls” was about working in Brunei harem. The follow-up is about her marriage to Weezer bassist Scott Shriner and adopting an Ethiopian child with sensory processing disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Blood, Sweat and My Rock-n-Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?” by Steve Katz (Lyons Press, $26.95). Katz, a founding member of Blood, Sweat and Tears, frequently irked his bandmates with his penchant for honesty. His memoir reflects this, including stories about partying with Groucho Marx and Elizabeth Taylor and meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and Tennessee Williams.

“The Pawnbroker's Daughter'' by Maxine Kumin (Norton, $25.95). Kumin, a former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner who died in 2014, left behind this memoir of her journey from Depression-era Philadelphia to becoming one of the country's most distinct voices. July 13

“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan (Penguin Press, $27.95). A beach read that actually takes place on beaches, “Barbarian Days” chronicles a surfing life. Finnegan, a staff writer at the New Yorker who grew up in Southern California, has traveled the world in search of perfect waves. July 21

Rege Behe is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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