At long last, it’s time for the annual summer book reading list. As always, these recommendations are culled from a query of friends, family, distinguished and not-so-distinguished colleagues and with no restrictions on genre, pub date or inclination, which means there is something here for everyone.
Not surprisingly the two most highly recommended are the Gone Girl-esque page turner, “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins (Penguin Group, 2015) and the Pulitzer Prize winning “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, 2014) need no introduction. The rest are sure to delight.
“Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories” by Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books, 2011). This is the most searing, OMG writer I have encountered in years.
“The Dinner” by Herman Koch (Random House, 2013). Set in Amsterdam, two couples meet for a dinner and their secrets and shticks are bared. Most notably, the illusions about their teenage, self-obsessed sons.
“The Baker’s Men” by Donald Levin. (Poison Toe Press, 2014). Marygrove professor’s determined detective investigates the Ferndale shooting of an Iraqi War vet. A complicated crime, well-developed characters.
“Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret” by Steve Luxenberg (Hachette Books, 2010). Terrific memoir examines mental health care, family secrets and a reporter’s determination to connect to a long-lost relative.
“Lost Girls” by Robert Kolker (Random House, 2014). Investigative journalists’ account of the lives of several internet prostitutes found murdered on Long Island and the failed search for their killer. Fascinating details.
“The Rosie Project” by Graeme C. Simsion (Simon and Schuster, 2014). An irritating quirky bachelor seeks a wife. Mindless fun.
“Mightier Than the Sword” by Jeffrey Archer. (St. Martin’s Press, 2015). Fifth in a thriller series of the Clifton Chronicles set in early 20th Century England from one of the world ‘s best-selling authors.
“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” by Hilary Mantel (MacMillan, 2015) A collection of short stories. Mantel is brilliant and I don’t even like short stories.
“Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson (Random House, 2004) The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II. Gripping.
“Stories of Art and Artists” by Diana Secker Tesdell (Knopf, 2014). Famous writers and artists express how they see, experience and express their individual vision. Very cool, charming and satisfying.
“Losing the Garden: The Story of a Marriage” by Laura Waterman (2005, Shoemaker Hoard). A true and tragic story so affecting my book club is still talking about it. A couple gives up city life to live off the land.
“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage, 2015). Distopian novel set in the near future. A pandemic wipes out most of the human race and few humans remaining vie to find community. Pen/Faulkner finalist.
“Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me” Edited by Ben Karlin (Hachette Books 2008). A fantastic collection. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read straight men’s reflections on getting dumped.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo (Ten Speed Press, 2014) Even the most ADHD of us can find peace through purging all our unnecessary stuff.
“Real Man Adventures” by T. Cooper (McSweeney’s Books, 2013). Memoir of a transgender person. Finally, there is someone who knows what it is to be both a man and a woman who can finally explain my husband to me.
“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why” by Amanda Ripley (Crown, 2009). Should be required reading for any American adult who is not a trained first responder
“Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice” by Bill Browder (Simon and Schuster, 2015). Read this book in two days. Could not put it down.
“Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs” by Sally Mann (Little Brown & Co. 2015). Beautifully written by one of the most important contemporary photographers of our time.
“I’ll Drink to That: A Memoir” by Betty Halbreich/Rebecca Paley (Penguin Press, 2014). Perfect summer read, especially if you’re a lover of shopping and fashion.
“So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson (Picador, 2015). A study in condemnation and shame.
“H is for Hawk” by Helen Mcdonald (Random House, 2014). To come to terms with the loss of her father, she gets a young goshawk and trains it. Wow, can she write.
“The Road to Character” by David Brooks (Random House, 2015). Case histories of leaders who excelled in building character, and challenges the reader to rethink our own values.
“The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine Books, 2012). A Jane Eyre-ish account of mothers and daughters, love and the secret significance of flowers.
“Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide” by Eric Bogosian (Little Brown & Co. 2015). Little-known assassination plot that Bogosian spent 8 years writing. Amazing.
“My Favorite Things” by Maira Kalman (Penguin Press, 2014). Like ice cream on a hot day. A meditation on her personal artifacts, recollections and unusual objects.
“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (Crown, 2012). A young adult novel good for all ages. A fast-paced adventure and commentary on our electronic universe.
“Maus” by Art Spiegelman (Penguin Books, 2003). A far cry from a light summer read, but it’s one of the most compelling books I’ve read in quite a long time. A beautiful, graphic story of a Holocaust survivor.
“Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” by Anne Lamott (Penguin, 2012). Anne takes all her experiences and knowledge and shapes them into prayers. Awesome.