Six 2016 Summer Fiction Reading Recommendations
Whether it's on the back porch, the beach, or on the couch in the morning with a cup of coffee, I love reading. If you're looking to stock up on some new books for the summer, here are a few of my old and new favorites.
Amazon says: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
I say: Wow. I had to read and re-read this book - firstly because the plot is so good and keeps you craving the ending, and second, because I love the way that he turned phrases so very much. He has this way of saying something ordinary, but saying it in a way that makes you hang on a second longer, without over complicating or lengthening anything. Beautiful.
TWO: The History of Love
A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness. Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book…Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of "extraordinary depth and beauty" (Newsday).
I say: This books reads like poetry with a plot.
THREE: The Cuckcoo's Calling
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
I say: WOW!!! What?? The author of by beloved Harry Potter has come out with murder mysteries?? My first thought was that there was no way that she would pull it of... I mean, I love Hogwarts and I love detective novels but how can you be great at writing both - and now I've read all three Comoran Strike books that she's written and am waiting waiting waiting for the next to be released. Super dooper page turners! Murder, mystery, a smart plot and a little bit of romance to tie it all together. I'm hooked.
FOUR: New York
Winner of the David J. Langum, Sr., Prize in American Historical Fiction Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and “Required Reading” by theNew York Post
Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America’s greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga, weaving together tales of families rich and poor, native-born and immigrant—a cast of fictional and true characters whose fates rise and fall and rise again with the city’s fortunes. From this intimate perspective we see New York’s humble beginnings as a tiny Indian fishing village, the arrival of Dutch and British merchants, the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the convulsions of the Civil War, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the 1990s, and the attack on the World Trade Center. A stirring mix of battle, romance, family struggles, and personal triumphs, New York: The Novel gloriously captures the search for freedom and opportunity at the heart of our nation’s history.
I say: I don't know how this guy squeezed so much into one book - it starts a little slowly, and gathers speed as he introduces more and more characters and changes the storyteller from chapter to chapter. It jumps from first to third person and covers so much interesting history - like for example - the original Vanderbuilt mansion on Fifth was torn down to make way for Bergdorfs. I will never be able to shop there again without wondering what the inside of that original mansion looked like!
FIVE: The Girl on the Train
Amazon says: EVERY DAY THE SAME Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
I say: Most likely you will take this book to the beach and finish it in a day. Couldn't. Put. It. Down.
SIX: The Magicians
Amazon says: Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . . The prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land, The Magicians is one of the most daring and inventive works of literary fantasy in years. No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.
I say: This whole series was like grown up Harry Potter fan crack. Very very imaginative and twisty turny plot-y. I was sad when I finished the last book and there were no more. Maybe he'll take a tip from J.K. Rowling and write me a detective series next!
I'm on the lookout to restock my book piles again! NPR Books is a great resource for finding new reads. What are your recommendations? What's on your nightstand or beach bag?
Photos by Ariana Clare