Well, it's almost August and we're definitely hitting the beach, the lakes and the pools. But what to put in the beach bag? Here are some suggestions- some recent, some older titles but all good juicy reads for when you want to relax.
Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre. This one is still out in hardcover, and it's an unusual and lively story about the quest for beauty and youth, set in the era of British king Charles 1.
Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm. Also from this year, Scherm's novel follows the escapades of a thief and forger from her home in the American South, to New York City, Paris and beyond.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is the Pulitzer-winning blockbuster also about the world of art and theft, but with a more morally redeeming hero. I think I like Scherm's character better but if you haven't read The Goldfinch you pretty much have to.
Climates, by Andre Maurois. Changing tacks to a frothy romance, Climates is an older book recently translated into English, about husbands and wives and lovers in early 20th century Paris, a gilded-age soap opera.
Skios, by Michael Frayn. The man who brought you "Noises Off" returns with a silly farce set in the Greek isles. You'll feel the sunshine through the page.
Round Ireland with a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. The British comedian takes a bet and sets off on a comic journey through the Emerald Isle. It's the next best thing to going to Ireland yourself.
Summertime All the Cats are Bored, by Philippe Georget. The first in a series of noirs follows a coffee-loving detective as he tries to solve a gruesome kidnapping and murder.
Happy Ending, by Francesca Duranti. A bittersweet love story set in the Italian hills, Duranti's novel will have you tearing up by the end and feeling the sun on your shoulders.
Random Violence, by Jassy Mackenzie. One of my favorite new-to-me crime writers startles with the first book in her dark series starring Detective Jade de Jong. If you read crime you've got to be reading her South African thrillers.
Agent Zigzag, by Ben Macintyre. Some nonfiction now, a fascinating tale of World War 2 espionage, love and loyalty.
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. A required-reading contemporary classic about two brothers and the paths they cut from India to Ethiopia to New York to Boston. Amazing book.
Beautiful Maria of My Soul, by Oscar Hijuelos. Before his posthumous novel comes out this fall, read this racy, fun novel about the travails and life of beautiful Maria.
So there you go. Hope you are having a great summer and reading lots of fun books! The fall is going to bring us some heavy things- new Atwood, new Mitchell, new Franzen, new Irving and more. But let's have some fun reading while the sun's still hot and save those serious books for the indoor time of year.