Summer Vacation Reading Recommendations from Our Staff

Our staff are voracious readers, including while they’re on vacation. There they can take a break from manuscripts and delve into something a little bit more fun. If you’re off to the beach or the mountains or somewhere in between on this coming long weekend, take time to stop off at a bookstore on your way and stock up on some of these recommended titles.

ClaireDeWittDirector of Marketing and Sales Cason Lynley:  Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran. This was a well done mystery with the atmosphere of a noir detective story. For once, the gritty main detective is a woman, Claire DeWitt, rather than a man. Set in New Orleans, the story follows Claire’s return to place where her mentor was murdered, her investigation to solve a new murder, and reveals bits of Claire’s own past. The author does a great job invoking the feeling of New Orleans throughout the book.

Assistant Editor Elizabeth Ault: I love Tana French mysteries! likenessSet in Ireland, they’re a nice dark mix of complex characterization, twisty plotting, and a little bit of social commentary so your brain stays plenty active. The Likeness, the second book in the sequence, is my fave so far (a real Secret History vibe), but they’re all gripping. Also it always seems to be raining and chilly in these books, which makes me grateful for summer sunshine.

veniceBooks Marketing Intern Sarah Kinniburgh: This year, I plan to bring Venice: A Contested Bohemia in Los Angeles, an ethnography of urban diversity, identity, and cultural transformation in Venice Beach, California. Deener shares individual experiences as part of the city’s broader history, and writes with an accessible voice, good sense of pacing, and investigative streak that reminded me of my favorite pieces of long-form journalism. Highly recommended to anyone who likes urban studies or coordinating their reading list with their itinerary!

Journals Marketing Publicist and Exhibits Coordinator the_monsters_of_templeton_coverKatie Smart: I recommend Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, author of last year’s lauded Fates and Furies.  This work is part historical fiction, part magical realism, and part contemporary novel that spans 200 years of the fictional version of Cooperstown, NY, modeled after James Fenimore Cooper’s Templeton in The Pioneers. Groff weaves together dead monsters, love affairs, and family mysteries to make this one of the most refreshingly unique novels I’ve ever consumed.

ready player oneWeb Presence Manager Daniel Griffin: My recommendation is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which will soon be adapted into a motion picture by Steven Spielberg. The novel is set in a dystopian future where the planet is falling apart–so people plug into a virtual universe to escape. Although the novel is at the young adult level, it is clearly written for the children of the 80’s. The plot revolves around a hunt for 80’s pop culture Easter eggs; as the characters plumb the depths of obscure 80’s media references, readers also get the chance to nostalgically test their own knowledge of the decade. It’s a fun, light read, perfect with a beer on the beach.

krakenCopywriter Chris Robinson: Any issue of Freehub I can find. When I moved from my native Idaho years ago I sold my mountain bike and haven’t mountain biked since, so I always take Freehub on vacation with me – great photos and stories about mountain biking all over the world. I also recommend Kraken by China Mieville. I’m only about a 1/4 of the way through, but it’s wacky and completely captivating: a giant preserved squid in the London Natural History Museum is stolen by an end of times cult. I’m not sure where it will end up, but it’s crazy. Truly tentacular!

infatuationsJournals Marketing Manager Jocelyn Dawson: While trolling the book stalls at MLA a few years ago, a friendly Alfred A. Knopf staffer convinced me to buy the sort of books I usually wouldn’t: Infatuations, a psychological thriller by Spanish novelist Javier Marías. The premise of an outsider’s perspective on a murder isn’t unlike that of Girl on a Train, but with a heavy dose of Crime and Punishment or something equally literary thrown in. An absorbing read that will make you want to check out all of Marías’s books.

PilkeyFrontCoverEditor Gisela Fosado: I would recommend The Last Beach by Orrin Pilkey and Andrew Cooper.  It might seem antithetical to read a book about beach destruction during vacation, but it’s a must-read for anyone who loves beaches.  You’ll never look at a raked beach the same again!

grace keepersJournals Digital Collections Sales Manager Anita Joice: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. I found the world described in the novel very compelling.  The sea features very strongly but in quite a magical way and I would wake up every morning after reading the book with the distinct feeling of having floated on that sea every night.  I loved the unique characters, the floating circus and the escapism into another world, even if it could be very close to this one or its imagined future.

beckhamBooks Editorial Intern Jesús Hidalgo Campos: As I love soccer, I would recommend The Beckham Experiment, by Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl. This summer we had Copa América in the U.S., the Europe Cup in France but MLS is also happening and people are not paying as much attention as they should. Grant Wahl’s book describes how the MLS has grown in the last 20 years and attempts to explain why one of the best paid athletes of the 21st century (British soccer player David Beckham) did not have a successful career when he moved to California to play for L.A. Galaxy. If you love soccer but haven’t read this book yet, now is the time.

charcoal joeProduction Coordinator Erica Woods TuckerCharcoal Joe by Walter Mosley.  This came out June 14th. You can read the Easy Rawlins’ books out of order, but I would also suggest picking up the start of the series, Devil in a Blue Dress. Mosley is one of my favorite authors. I love hard boiled mysteries and detectives that are reminiscent of Sam Spade and the Thin Man. And Easy Rawlins holds his own against both detectives. Mosley is also a great commentator on the social condition of America so you’ll also read a lot of social philosophy that you wouldn’t expect a detective to give. But it’s not preachy! And Easy’s best friend Mouse is definitely one of the best characters in fiction. It’s a great series and I’m always psyched when it shows up at my door.


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