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July 24, 2008

Reads for Summer...and Other Times of the Year

Posted by carol
Bookseller and contributor Debra Linn offers some reading suggestions for the summer and beyond...

Some books are perfect no matter when you read them. And some books are perfect for summer. Just like watermelon --- tasty all year 'round but sweeter and juicier in those months without R's. So, here are my summer recommendations in two categories --- Great Books Out This Summer and Great Summer Books Out This Summer --- and no, we won't snitch if you read one of these out of season.

Great Books Out This Summer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows(Dial Press, $22, on sale date: July 29)
A wonderful read told through letters from several people. This should/could/will be the beloved new book of summer that will have a long shelf life (shelf life --- oh, beware a bookshop pun). Each character is clearly drawn with a distinct voice --- including several male characters --- and untold stories of history are slipped in throughout: Who knew Britain had Channel Islands and that they were occupied by the Nazis for five years? You'll fall in love with a minimum of four characters.

Requiem, Mass. by John Dufresne (W.W. Norton, $24.95)
This is not just home cooking on my part, even though John Dufresne is one of South Florida's literary lights. He earns that status with the brilliant way he once again combines the tragic and the absurd into the hilariously insightful. In this one, Johnny and his little sister Audrey are dealing with a mom who thinks her kids have been replaced by aliens and a dad living a secret life (or lives) somewhere down south.

Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan (Berkley Publishing Group, $14, on sale date: August 5)
Kristy Kiernan's first book, Catching Genius, was one of those word-of-mouth little debut novels that took on a life of its own. And you'll understand instantly why book clubbers gravitate to Kristy when you read her Reading Group Guides blog entry, Kristy Kiernan: From Guest to Book Club Member. Now, Kristy brings us the story of Marshall and his family. After growing up with no religion and then adopting Judaism as a pre-teen, Marshall finds a profound devotion to a new religion in college when he meets his first girlfriend, who trusts in prayer over medicine. And this leads to a troubling situation with Marshall’s younger sister and her extreme food allergies.

America America by Ethan Canin (Random House, $27)
Ethan Canin applies his fluid, beautiful and beautifully accessible writing to this story of Corey Sitter in 1970s. From a working class family, Corey works his way up the social and political ladder through the generosity of a local, connected family. This is the America of loyalty, politics and greatness. And this is the America of sex, vanity and redemption. All the big stuff. And so prescient right on the eve of such a crucial election. You'll see parallels --- mostly unintentional by Ethan Canin --- throughout, giving the book those "ah-ha" moments along with the "ahh" moments.

The God of War by Marisa Silver (Simon & Schuster)
Twelve-year-old Ares Ramirez lives with his mom and his mentally handicapped younger brother. His mom chooses to do nothing about his brother's illness, unintentionally leaving Ares to struggle with the responsibility. The writing will draw you in immediately.

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Holt Rinehart and Winston, $14)
In the 1980s, young Kate Meaney fashions herself a junior detective with her toy monkey at a shopping mall. (Yes, a toy monkey is a character.) Kate disappears, but then 20 years later a little girl appears at the mall who could have a connection to the mall's unsettling history.

Great Summer Books Out This Summer

Legally Dead by Edna Buchanan (Simon & Schuster, $25, on sale date: August 12)
Miami's grand dame of crime writing --- and there are more than a few crime writers in Miami --- launches a news series, this one featuring former U.S. Marshal Michael Venturi, who quits the Witness Protection Program to become a one-man freelance identity wizard. It's page-turning suspense with plenty to talk about. Sounds like summer.

How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo (Atria Books, $24.95)
Written by the executive story editor for Sex and the City, this novel is what Carrie Bradshaw would write if she were writing Eat, Pray, Love. It's chick lit, but good chick lit.

The Heartbreak Pill by Anjanette Delgado (Atria Books, $14)
A smart and sassy summer read from a smart and sassy debut author --- with a little science thrown in. For those who say there's a pill to cure everything, we bring you Erika Luna, a thirty-something scientist whose husband has left her but her formulas have not. She decides to cure heartbreak by whipping up a pill and testing it on herself. Consider this your summer science fair project.

---Debra Linn