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.
Journals Marketing Manager, Jocelyn Dawson: Last year’s vacation reads recommendation from Elizabeth Ault, Assistant Editor, turned me on to the work of Tana French. She’s published six books to date—highly suspenseful psychological thrillers that are impossible to put down. But I can only recommend the first three (In the Woods, The Likeness, and Faithful Place)—I’m trying to spread the others out. The books are connected but not exactly sequential; still, I’d recommend starting from the beginning. Elizabeth’s recommendation has led to many enthralled reading hours for me and for at least three other people I’ve shared the books with.
Senior Managing Editor, Charles Brower: IQ, by Joe Ide. It’s a thriller about Isaiah Quintabe, a very appealing “underground” detective who’s equal parts Sherlock Holmes and Easy Rawlins; he’s trying to atone for some past mistakes by helping out his Long Beach neighbors, for whatever they can afford to pay him, even if it’s just a home-cooked meal. When he agrees to investigate a murder attempt on a paranoid rap star, he has to match wits with a hit man whose weapon of choice is a monstrous killer dog. It’s hair-raising and also very funny. Ide has another IQ novel coming out this fall, and I can’t wait to devour it!
Books Publicity and Advertising Manager, Laura Sell: I’m a little late to the “Outlander” game, but if you like romance, history, time travel, and men in kilts, I can thoroughly recommend the series. The books are huge, over 700 pages, and totally immersive, which makes a perfect vacation book for me. I’ve been watching the TV series, too, but the books are much better. I’m taking Book 4, Drums of Autumn, which is set partly in colonial North Carolina, on my vacation to Maine this year and am looking forward to many pleasant hours on the porch with it.
Managing Editor of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Michael Cornett: George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, vol. 1 of the series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” otherwise known as the “Game of Thrones” series. While many have enjoyed the popular television series, the novels are far far better. As an academic medievalist and a devout lover of Tolkien’s writing, I had serious doubts about reading this, figuring it would be pulpy fantasy fiction imitative of Tolkien (have you noticed the R. R. middle initials?). I gave it a try and I have become utterly absorbed. Martin’s beautifully written narrative is not at all like Tolkien’s mythological tale of good and evil. It is rather an imaginative blend of historical-psychological realism and medievalistic fantasy. The chapters are told from various characters’ points of view—half of them female characters, many of them children. Everyone is in peril as the world convulses from factional struggles for power, and the reader—who can too easily imagine every scene—turns the pages madly hoping for order to be established. An apocalyptic winter is coming, the characters brood, but summer is the perfect time to start into this rewarding series of novels.
Journals Marketing Intern, Camille Wright: I recommend Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. Through this novel, the readers are able to experience the world from fresh perspective. Maddy was diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) as an infant and has been unable to leave her home since. After a mysterious boy named Oli and his family move across the street, the eighteen-year-old risks everything to find herself, the meaning of love and the difference between being alive and living. The novel brings a new excitement to the activities people take for granted because they are experienced in normal, daily life.
Journals Publicist and Exhibits Coordinator, Katie Smart: Grace Bonney’s edited collection In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs isn’t a traditional vacation read (its hardcover form weighs three pounds!), but the content and images are so beautiful you’ll want to lug this book around with you all summer. This collection features interviews with creative and diverse women—furniture makers, graphic designers, comedians, tattoo artists, fashion designers, the list goes on—that include questions like “What did you want to be when you were a child?;” “What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?;” and “In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?” Alongside the Q&As, the book features exquisite photography that highlights the work spaces where these women chose to be most creative. I challenge you not to be motivated to tap into your own creative genius after finishing this book!
Digital Access and Books Specialist, Rebecca Hambleton: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh. This is a YA book with similar themes as Pride and Prejudice. What makes this book interesting and unique is that it’s set in prehistoric times and follows a boy and his family who are desperate to make alliances with other clans through marriage.
What vacation reads would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!