One of my regular stops for useful book news is RA for All. Becky at Berwyn Library in Illinois puts together one of the finest one-person reading blogs I’ve seen, with regular updates, diverse content, and a nose for information that’s both timely and practical.
Today she pointed to another site–Entertainment Weekly‘ s list of “18 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer.” I’m excited to dig into Mockingjay, the final chapter in Suzanne Collins YA trilogy and The Passage, a post-apocalyptic epic from Justin Cronin, but those are for me personally. Which books from the list should go on the radar of book groups?
Roopa Farooki’s Half Life is about Aruna, an Indian doctor who leaves her new husband during breakfast in London to jump a flight to Singapore and try to come to grips with her previous lover, Jazz. Family secrets emerge, as do a past touched by mental illness and civil war. Farooki is a talent on the rise and this is prime book group material.
Nathaniel Philbrick grabbed me as a reader with In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, a nonfiction story that helped inspire Moby Dick. Since then he’s turned out two other historical page-turners Sea of Glory and Mayflower. For the first time this summer he’s coming off the water, with The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. This would make a great read on its own or as part of a theme night with other great accounts of these events and people.
Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) may be the best known author yet to write a book about being embedded with U.S. troops. He spent 14 months in the thick of the war in Afghanistan. Expect a lot of attention for his book, called simply War.
Aimee Bender is a very talented writer, but because she usually writes stories that feature strange, fantastic content, she isn’t widely read yet. Consider her collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt or Willful Creatures, but if you prefer novels, the upcoming and nicely titled The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake features a girl who can taste the emotions of the cook in the food she eats. You could get a whole meeting out of discussing whether such a talent would be a blessing or a curse.
Ayelet Waldman’s Red Hook Road tells about the aftermath of a tragic accident in which a new bride and groom are killed on the way to the reception. Described as challenging but rewarding, with nice subthemes about the value of music and literature, this one is getting great advance word.
Other titles on EW’s list worth book group consideration are Jean Kwok’s immigrant tale Girl in Translation, Julie Orringer’s tale of WWII Hungarian brothers The Invisible Bridge, Allegra Goodman’s story of sisters, The Cookbook Collector, and Per Petterson’s latest, I Curse the River of Time.