Monday, June 5, 2017

Books for summer daze ...

By Ann Connery Frantz
Once upon a time, families hauled a box of books to beloved vacation spots, adding them to shelves stuffed with books from earlier years. Now, there's no hard lifting. If you want, devour Dostoyevsky on an e-reader or pick up an audio book—great while traveling and at the beach, since your eyes can focus on what's imperative, or just pretty, while you listen. Many prefer paperbacks, rather than ruin a hardcover with oil, water and wine.
This list includes books available in several genres, unless very new. No romance novels here; if you like them, you know how to find them. Other mysteries were discussed in a May 28 column.
Audio for the trip:
"You Don't Look Your Age and Other Fairytales"—an audio collection of funny insights read by wonderful readers: Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Alan Alda, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates, Edie Falco, RuPaul, and more. Count on funny and feeling.
"Into the Water," Paula Hawkins—Multiple readers (a hopeful sign of listening quality) narrate a mystery, involving victims of drowning, or murder. Hawkins wrote "The Girl on the Train."
Dennis Lehane's "Since We Fell"—It's 12 hours long, but intriguing, complex, character rich, the story of a young journalist whose breakdown changes her life. She becomes a recluse until a chance encounter with dangerous deception. Also in hardcover.

On arrival

First, fiction:

From Sweden—"A Man Called Ove," "Britt-Marie Was Here" and "My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She's Sorry." Fredrick Bachman's amusing and uniquely touching novels of grief and recovery, guilt and reaching out. Quick, rewarding reads.

"Ordinary Grace," William Kent Krueger—Beautifully written, although not his latest ("Sulphur Springs," hardback). Mystery: "All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota."
"Underground Airlines"—Ben H. Winters presents an alternate history, in which slavery did not end after the Civil War, but continued to the present day in four southern states.
"The Nest," Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney—A common inheritance plummets siblings into funny, dysfunctional dealings. The Plumbs are the best and worst of us, twisting family ties into disappointment, jealousy and loss.
"Everybody's Fool"—Richard Russo brings back the unique townspeople of North Bath, N.Y., in a sequel to "Nobody's Fool." Loved it.
"The Fifth Petal"—Brunonia Barry of Salem presents a taut mystery set in the north shore town. Loved her previous novels—"The Lace Reader,""The Map of True Places"—and expect the same mystery and enjoyment.
"Lilac Girls"—Martha Hall Kelly interweaves the lives of three women altered by World War II, the Nazis and resistance. Every book about that war reveals some new, often shocking detail, about cruelty and kindness. This one is readable, moving and memorable.
"The Widow's House," Carol Goodman—now in paperback, and a creepy read: a contemporary Gothic about a couple who leave Brooklyn for caretaker positions at Riven House, in a small Hudson Valley town.
"The Stars are Fire," by Anita Shreve—Based on actual 1947 forest fires that raged along Maine's coast, Shreve writes of a woman left with nothing but her tiny daughters after a night spent in the water. She faces an uncertain—and far more challenging—future, learning to recreate herself after tragedy.
"American Gods"—Neil Gaiman's novel has hit the TV screen. It is a unique story—for Gaiman fans. Suspend your sense of reality and gravitate into fantasy, a world in which Shadow, an ex-con, finds himself wedged in a conflict between the gods of antiquity and avatars of contemporary America's faith in industry, wealth, and celebrity.
"The Girl in the Spider's Web"—Lizbeth lives. David Lagercrantz picks up where the late Stieg Larsson left off in his Lizbeth Salander series. Lizbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo, and editor Mikael Blomkvist inhabit a plot rooted in the underworld of government bad-boys and cyberspies.
"Commonwealth"—Ann Patchett examines the dissolution of two families after a flirtation turns to a kiss at a christening party. The resulting upheaval becomes fodder for a writer who steals the family story and puts it into a book. Wit, mortality, faithfulness, ethics.
"American War," Omar El Akkad—Dystopian America during its second civil war, a novel written by an accomplished journalist.
"Everyone Brave is Forgiven"—Chris Cleave's "Little Bee" is memorable. This one is in paperback and audiobook. It's about three people during World War II, depicting the war's impact on soldiers and those who remain behind in a war.
For moms—"Confessions of a Domestic Failure." Bunmi Laditan brings it all up: the early mornings, the humor and the myriad ways to fail.
"Born a Crime," by Trevor Noah—Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" host describes a turbulent childhood in apartheid South Africa with wit and wistfulness.
"You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"—Sherman Alexie won me as a fan with "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian." Now, he confronts a harrowing reservation upbringing, thanks to a bipolar, emotionally screwed-up mother.
"X"— Journalist and cultural observer Chuck Klosterman talked with Tim Tebow, Kobe Bryant, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen, others. Inspired interviews and essays about living in the 21st century by a writer curious about the people and times. Don't miss "And What if We're Wrong?" for a view of today's cultural absurdity as it may be remembered tomorrow.
"The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck"—A self-help book for summer learners. Mark Manson guides the way to real happiness, despite the past year. His lead: "Charles Bukowski was an alcoholic, a womanizer, a chronic gambler, a lout, a cheapskate, a deadbeat, and on his worst days, a poet. He’s probably the last person on earth you would ever look to for life advice or expect to see in any sort of self-help book. Which is why he’s the perfect place to start."
"Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy"—A new biography of Ernest Hemingway. Nicholas Reynolds profiles the lesser-known life of one of America's most iconic writers. Try also Lesley L.L. Blume's "Everyone Behaves Badly," about Hemingway's 1925 visit to Spain before he wrote "The Sun Also Rises."
"Broke Millenial"—For young adults starting to realize saving for the future isn't happening without help. Get a funny overview of the reality in popular blogger ( Erin Lowry's book. She'll get you past reluctance and into an amusing but helpful road map.
"Astrophysics for People in a Hurry"—Neil DeGrasse Tyson brings "the greatest story ever told" to the table. It's clear and smart, even witty. Finally, you can understand the universe, just from reading this small, concise volume.
This summer will see the release of multiple favorite authors, including Tom Perrotta, Sue Grafton, Elin Hilderbrand and Adriana Triagiani.