Book Bites: Perfect Summer Reads
We’re getting to that time of year when we pretty much want to do one thing: Settle in with a nice pile of books, directly underneath the strongest A/C vent we can find. (Maybe with an occasional trip to the poolside thrown in for variety’s sake.) Happily, there have been some great June releases hitting our shelves that will make building the perfect stack a breeze. Settle in for our latest recommendations, from middle grade to YA rom-com to summery novels to nonfiction. We’ve even thrown in a cookbook, in case you get peckish. Read on!
Mac Saves the World by Mac Barnett
Once again, the Queen of England calls upon Mac B. for help. He's sent behind the Iron Curtain to retrieve codes from a Soviet computer. Fans of the series will see familiar faces as well as a few new ones. Full of humor, this is another great entry in the series.
READ because this is another winning installment full of wacky Mac B. humor.
PASS if you need to catch up on Mac’s “memoirs”—this is the sixth volume!
Ages 13 & up
Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd
This book was so good! I really enjoyed the story and the characters within it. I especially loved how the author brought light to the #MeToo movement within the tech industry, as well as the gender discrimination that continues today. I loved how Emilia was such a strong female character in a male-dominated world, which I thought was very empowering. I am looking forward to more from this author.
—Olivia, Teen Advisory Board
READ because our Teen Advisory Board loved this one so much they made it their June subscription box pick.
PASS if you hate the things that other people like.
Attend our virtual event with the author on June 19!
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Malibu Rising is the story of the Riva Family: internationally renowned singer Mick Riva, his wife June, and their four children. The book begins in the 24 hours leading up to eldest daughter Nina's infamous end-of-summer party on August 27, 1983, and flashes back to the 1950s and 1960s. Each chapter unveils new family secrets as the party draws near. It is a perfect summer read. Fun fact for fans of the author: Mick Riva was one of Evelyn Hugo’s seven husbands (although that ended in annulment).
READ because Taylor Jenkins Reid is awesome and this one’s just as good as Daisy Jones.
PASS if you’re still hungover from Nina’s party.
Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins
Widower Josh tries to move on after his wife Lauren's passing. Each month, Lauren has her best friend deliver Josh a letter affirming her love for him and encouraging him to complete a task. From grocery shopping to buying new clothes to other, deeper tasks, Lauren clearly wants Josh to push through his grief and thrive after she's gone. The story is told in two timelines—the time leading up to Lauren's death, and Josh's life afterwards. Sparkling secondary characters and Higgins' deft touch prevent this from becoming mawkish—it's a perfect summer read!
READ because it’s another hit from an absolute master.
PASS if you were expecting a conspiracy thriller about whether or not the Apollo missions were a hoax. (They were not.)
The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts
With storytelling as solid as New England granite, Elizabeth Letts crafts a fascinating story about the seemingly ordinary life of Maine resident Annie Wilkins. After receiving a grim medical diagnosis, Annie decides to fulfill her dream of riding horseback from Maine to California to see the Pacific Ocean. With her dog, horses, and the support of many new friends, Annie's odyssey is a testament to human kindness and the power of perseverance in fulfilling a dream.
READ because “as solid as New England granite” is a pretty great recommendation.
PASS if you prefer tales of cruelty and unfulfilled dreams.
Why Peacocks? by Sean Flynn
If I didn’t live in a neighborhood often frequented by feral peacocks, I might not have reached for this book at all… but I do, so I did. On any given day, we can hear wild calls emanating from a few streets away (peacock calls are known as screams for a reason). The uninitiated will ask if a cat is in pain or perhaps someone has a pet monkey. For two years, a juvenile male India blue would regularly appear in our front yard and peer at us through the windows, tilting his head from side to side, reminding us of his dinnertime. He would come running for his bird seed like a crazy person, awkward peafowl body swaying. This is all to say I was well-positioned to enjoy the hilarious misadventures of an investigative reporter’s foray into unlikely peacock ownership and the in-depth research his curiosity about them had sparked. A good read for anyone who appreciates the insanity and beauty of neighborhood peacocks. It’s also a book about family and fatherhood as parenting collides with the harsh realities of keeping animals. A fun, atypical recommendation for Father’s Day.
READ for a good laugh and a fascinating history.
PASS if the screams of the neighborhood peacocks are keeping you from being able to concentrate.
Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie by Lisa Napoli
We have listened to their voices for years. This lively, anecdotal origin story will entertain anyone who is an NPR fan. They came from different walks of life. They all hired on with NPR in the early days when they had no office chairs and had meetings while sitting on the floor. Each of these women made a mark on the news in an era when they were supposed to be home tending kids and cooking. Which they did as well. Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie paved the way for many women. We should honor them appropriately.
READ because these four remarkable women quite literally changed journalism in this country.
PASS if you’ve never forgiven Susan for recommending that weird relish recipe.
Ripe Figs by Yasmin Khan
For those cooks who enjoy reading the stories behind the recipes they use and about the cooks who created and have used the recipes, Ripe Figs offers a luscious and down-to-earth compendium of food and food stories from contemporary eastern Mediterranean countries, concentrating on Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. The author, daughter of immigrant parents to the U.K. and author of the award-winning Zaitoun, traveled to the area to explore the culture and cuisine and came away with a greater understanding of how people and food move from culture to culture in this politically volatile part of the world. The recipes are divided by country and are simple to create. And the best part is that I have almost all the ingredients in the recipes already on my shelves, or can easily pick them up at Phoenicia.
READ because this is an engaging book full of recipes that are both accessible and delicious.
PASS by Phoenicia on your way home so you can stock up!