Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can give up all your intellectual pursuits. Off to the library with you. We solicited recommendations for summer reads from our local, independent booksellers. From their suggestions, we culled a list of recent and upcoming books that are smart, fun, and thoughtful—so you won’t feel like your brain is melting in the sun.
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
(August 4, The Penguin Press)
Even if you haven’t picked up a Pynchon novel since you were assigned Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974, you might enjoy the acclaimed author’s dip into the (less allusive) noir genre. His protagonist is private-eye Doc Sportello, a man uncovering the plot to kidnap a billionaire in the waning years of the 1960s. His investigation crosses paths with a varied array of such bizarre characters, they’d seem more at home with Elmore Leonard than Thomas Pynchon.
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
(May 5, The Penguin Press)
When was the last time you gave any thought to amateur cartography? Reif Larsen’s debut novel follows 12-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet, and the margins of the book are filled with Spivet’s sketches, figures, and charts. The life experience Spivet earns on a trip from Montana to Washington, D.C., however, proves much harder to map. Really, though, we see this as an excuse to read a book with pictures again.
The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
(May 14, Riverhead Hardcover)
With the economy the way it is today, we’ve heard more than our fair share of comparisons to the Great Depression. But forget about finances—how does our current culinary world compare to the one of the 1930s? Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod and Salt, uncovers and explains a Depression-era writing project, titled “America Eats,” wherein authors including Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, and Nelson Algren document the eating habits of locals across the country. Possum, anyone?
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(June 16, Doubleday)
This intrigue-filled tome, from the author of The Shadow of the Wind, is already a million-seller in its Spanish-language edition. If you don’t speak the Romance language but are interested in a young novelist pining over a forbidden love while writing a spooky manuscript for a shadowy publisher, the English-language version will be released mid-June. The novelist in question realizes the book he’s been secretly commissioned to write resembles an old religious manuscript, which leads him to unlock a series of gothic mysteries—we’ll let you fill in your own Angels & Demons comparison here.
The American Future: A History by Simon Schama
(May 19, Ecco)
The 2008 presidential election still may seem fresh in our minds, but historians are already hard at work weaving that event into the larger context of our national history. Who better to take on the task than the brilliant, award-winning—and, of course, Westchester-dwelling—Simon Schama? Finished with hosting the BBC’s A History of Britain, Schama has turned his academic eye stateside and uses the election to examine America’s past and future.
Walkable Westchester by Jane and Walt Daniels
(May 9, The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference)
It’s summer—go outside! County residents Jane and Walt Daniels decode more than 600 miles of Westchester trails for you to get out and explore. The guide contains handy maps and trail suggestions for walkers of every skill. Just, please, leave the iPhone in the car. If you can’t find this one locally, you can order it at westchester.nynjtc.org.
For Young Readers:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
(July 14, Wendy Lamb Books)
Don’t let the kids waste their summers in front of the Wii. Get them out of their Twilight hazes with this novel from First Light author Rebecca Stead. The book focuses on sixth-grader Miranda, whose life suddenly turns strange: her best friend cuts her out of his life, her spare apartment key goes missing—and then she starts receiving notes from a mystery sender. Your younger ones will be enthralled, even without the presence of wizards and vampires.
Looking for more recommendations? Our panel of literary experts came from:
Anderson’s Book Shop
96 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont
Bruised Apple Books
923 Central Ave, Peekskill
22 Main St, Hastings-on-Hudson
The Village Bookstore
10 Washington Ave, Pleasantville
The Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
Additional reporting by Ashley Studley.