What to Read Next — July 2016

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date . . .
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”)

It doesn’t seem possible that the Fourth of July has passed and the days are getting shorter. The stacks of unread books in my house keep growing bigger. When I finish a book, I have a hard time deciding what to read next. Every book looks enticing . . . but  what if there’s a better one in the pile and I’m wasting my precious summer reading time on something so-so? It’s almost a relief when I’m obligated to review a book, because the decision is made for me.

Here’s a list of books that I’m very glad I decided to pluck from my piles, and that I recommend for summer reading:

26893819The Girls by Emma Cline
The New York Times calls this book — one of the most hyped novels I can recall — an historical novel, and I guess it is. Inspired by the Manson murders of 1969, The Girls is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who joins a California cult with a charismatic and violent leader. Random House beat out 11 publishers in an auction to acquire this novel, reportedly paying 25-year-old debut novelist Cline at least $2 million in a three-book deal. (For a fascinating look at the business side of publishing, check out Betting Big on Literary Newcomers in the Wall Street Journal.)  Cline’s writing is extraordinary, keeping me  enthralled from the first page to the last, but I kept finding myself comparing events in the novel to actual events — finally tracking down my old copy of Helter Skelter, written by Victor Bugliosi, who was the lead prosecutor in case against Charles Manson.

9780812998009Look at You Now: My Journey from Shame to Strength by Liz Pryor
This memoir about a young girl from a prominent family whose parents send her to a state-run “home” for unwed mothers that’s actually  a juvenile detention center, kept me up late at night — and broke my heart. I’m in awe of the author’s kind and forgiving spirit. Don’t miss this book, especially if you enjoyed The Glass Castle.

27209487Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel
If I were making a list of novels about WASPs behaving badly, this book would be this summer’s entry. While at their summer home in Martha’s Vineyard, Fern and Edgar learn that their fairy-tale existence will soon come to an end — there is no more money. They make a series of bad decisions that have disastrous results for their children, who turn out to be more resilient than anyone would have guessed. Perfect for fans of Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements.

27209486Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Emma Straub’s The Vacationers was one of my favorite beach books in 2014, and Modern Lovers is just as clever and entertaining. (It’s “too deftly and thoughtfully written to be relegated merely to the beach,” according to the New York Times Book Review.) The novel takes place during one summer in Brooklyn, and like The Vacationers, it focuses on two middle-aged couples with children who are facing crises in their relationships.

e154e143a09fb5375bdd73ba157c6882The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
Jane Hamilton is one of my very favorite authors, and it’s been seven years since her last novel. The Excellent Lombards is well worth the wait. It’s a jewel. The story, like so many others I’ve read recently, is about a young person growing up and finding her place in the world. Mary Frances Lombard (“Frankie”) enters a grade school geography bee, learning from her teacher that “‘everything about the place where you live determines Who You Are'”.  Fun fact: like the characters in her book, Hamilton lives on an apple orchard in Wisconsin.

9781101875940Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
If you liked Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, you’ll love Sweetbitter — a roman a clef that takes place behind the scenes in a trendy New York City restaurant. The author, who worked in restaurants for many years, told NPR that as she was waiting tables, she would often wonder “if the guests had any idea of the rich life that is going on behind the scene, and the drama and the sexual tension and the sadness and the joy and the friendship.”

9781466884656If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene
The author of The Headmaster’s Wife, one of my favorites of 2014, is back with a story of lost love. Henry Gold and Margot Fuller fall in love as students at a small college in upstate New York, only to be separated by forces beyond their control. Many years later, they meet again on a New York street and begin the painful process of reconnecting.

9781101994825Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Wolf Hollow is one of those rare children’s books that truly is a must-read for all ages — destined to become a classic. Lauren Wolk’s Annabelle, like Harper Lee’s Scout, is a young girl who learns the world is very complicated. But this book is much more than a junior To Kill a Mockingbird, as some reviews have implied. It stands on its own as a beautifully written coming-of-age story.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “What to Read Next — July 2016

  1. Your geography reference in “The Lombards” piece reminds me of the quote of Arnold Palmer of Latrobe PA: “Your hometown is not where you’re from, it’s who you are.”

    What got me up so early today was to re-read your review of “The Sumer Guest.” You nailed it, and I am still reeling from the twist. Why did I not see that coming?

    Managing Director Colonnade Advisors 125 S. Wacker Dr. Suite 3020 Chicago, IL 60606 Phone: 312-425-8161 wbunn@coladv.com

    From: Books on the Table <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Books on the Table <comment+7hupgpli6o4xalg3h3y14ouw1@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 5:01 AM To: Willard <wbunn@coladv.com> Subject: [New post] What to Read Next — July 2016

    Ann@BooksontheTable posted: “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date . . . William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) It doesn’t seem possible that the Fourth of July has passed and the days are getting shorter. The stacks of unread books in my ho”

  2. What a great list! I really enjoyed The Girls and it got me to add Helter Skelter to my TBR (and – did it seem like the rock star – I know can’t remember his name – was a cross b/w Roman Polanski and Brian Wilson?). I also LOVED Sweetbitter and enjoyed Sons & Daughters of Ease and Plenty – the writing and social commentary was just fantastic.

  3. Just added all of these to my TBR list! They sound wonderful and after I finish working my way through Hamilton, I am going to need something deliciously delightful and all of these sound like the perfect choice! Don’t get me wrong, Hamilton has been fascinating and I am learning a great deal about our country, but mostly I just want to ensure I know the biography that has inspired the musical 🙂

  4. I have added them all to my summer list! I have also read some great books so far this summer – The Versions of Us, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and I Let You Go. All excellent! Thank you!

  5. Pingback: July 2016 Monthly Round-Up - Sarah's Book Shelves

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