#Summerreading #beachreads

Summer Reading Recommendations from our Staff

Heading on vacation soon? Or just retreating inside to read on these hot days? Our staff love to read and we’re happy to offer some of their suggestions for your summer reading list.

WordsonBathroomWallsCustomer Relations Representative Camille Wright recommends Julia Walton’s Words on Bathroom Walls. “This is a young adult novel bringing awareness to mental illnesses and warming hearts with an interracial love story. Adam’s journey sheds light on what it might be like to deal with the diagnosis and symptoms of schizophrenia as a teenager in high school. As he begins his junior year at a new school, St. Agatha’s Catholic School, he attempts to keep his schizophrenia a secret from his classmates and friends. A clinical trial medication helps him determine if people, objects, and voices are real or hallucinations but the secret becomes harder to keep once the medication begins to fail. Adam’s story is told through his coping mechanism – extremely honest, sarcastic, and funny journal entries to psychiatrist.”

TrulyMadlyGuiltyJournals Marketing Manager Jocelyn Dawson says, “If you enjoyed the television series Big Little Lies, check out Truly Madly Guilty, also written by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty is an Australian author with a gift for compelling plots (crucial for summer reading) and realistic characters. I found myself still thinking about the people in the book days after I finished it.”

WhatItMeansEditor Elizabeth Ault’s summer reading is Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. She says, “I’d slept on the collection, which came out last spring and is now out in paperback, because I’m not normally a fan of short stories, but hearing a couple of the pieces from this book on LeVar Burton’s podcast intrigued me. I’m finding a lot of literary fiction novels too heavy right now and Arimah’s stories, blending Nigeria, Minneapolis, family, work, romance, and an occasional dose of magical realism, all framed with a wry sense of humor are hitting the spot. The stories are deep and wise, but also super YouThinkItIllSayItfunny and just the right length (which means they sometimes feel too short).”

Journals Publicist and Exhibits Coordinator Katie Smart also recommends a story collection: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. “Much like everything else that Sittenfeld has written—I couldn’t put it down. Each short story in this book is linked to a game that two characters play in ​a  story in the collection. The “You Think It, I’ll Say It” game is all about passing judgement on people from observation only, not from actual interactions. Time and again we see the main characters of each short story building false narratives and limiting beliefs in their mind (and in many cases becoming consumed by them) before discovering that all along things weren’t as they had initially seemed. Sittenfeld is an excellent storyteller, and each set of characters and situations is unique and refreshing. I appreciated her attempts at humanizing her characters while also unapologetically displaying their flaws.​ This collection was so good that I found myself quickly starting the next story, even when I intended to set the book down for the day.”

FlashSenior Project Editor Charles Brower is looking forward to reading: Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous, by Christopher Bonanos, the first full-length biography of the great noir photographer (“If I can hold off a month before digging into it, he says.) “Probably my most eagerly anticipated novel of the year, Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room, in which the main character is serving two consecutive life sentences in a California women’s prison for killing a man that was stalking her. Perfect for the beach!”

Publicity and Advertising Manager Laura Sell HighSeasonsuggests a beach read that actually takes place at the beach: The High Season by Judy Blundell. She says, “This is a gossipy book poking fun at the super-rich who head for the Hamptons every summer and a fun skewering of the art world and its rich board members whom many nonprofit toilers will recognize. Suspenseful and well-written, I breezed through it in two days.”

FireontheMountainEditorial Associate Sandra Korn says, “I’ve been listening to Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown’s podcast about apocalypse called How to Survive the End of the World (my summer listening recommendation!) and thinking a lot about the role of science fiction in imagining different futures. So I’m reading Terry Bisson’s 1988 utopian novel Fire on the MountainPM Press published a new edition in 2009 with a powerful introduction from Mumia Abu-JamalThe story is set in 1959 in Nova Africa, the independent socialist country that was founded after John Brown and Harriet Tubman led a successful raid on Harper’s Ferry. Nova Africa is about to make its second Mars landing and one of the main characters, a teenager named Harriet Odinga, has incredible space-age ‘living shoes’ from Africa that conform to her feet as she wears Venusiathem.”

Copywriter Chris Robinson also suggests some speculative fiction, but leans toward the dystopian: “Venusia by Mark von Schlegell is one of the most absolutely bonkers books I’ve read. Imagine China Mieville and Jean Baudrillard getting really stoned and co-writing a postmodern dystopian sci-fi pulp novel: set in a 23rd century totalitarian colony on Venus where the residents only eat hallucinogenic flowers, sentient plants are telepathic, and a junk dealer, psychiatrist, and secret agent explore the meanings of reality, perception, and consciousness. At least that’s what I think is going on.”

PalisadesParkProject Editor Sara Leone says she read Palisades Park by Alan Brennert a few years ago and loved it so much she recently re-read it. “The author evokes Dickens in his detailed descriptions of daily life and dreams from the 1920s through the 1970s. The novel has a broad range of characters, including wanderers willing to take on any job to survive the Depression, women dreaming of daring careers like high diving, courageous citizens battling to end segregation in swimming pools, and of course the workers in the park whose lives connect and change with each new summer season. Salt water, New York/New Jersey culture, and the evolving perception of amusements in America are the backdrop. Plus it’s a fun read if, like me, you were a kid hearing the Palisades Park jingle on the radio every summer on the NY stations!”

Stay cool and happy reading!



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.