Vetted Summer Reading…
A MIX OF GENRES: A TRAIL FOR ALL TYPES OF READERS – BY DIANA HAMBLETON
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine Books, 2019)
Best described as “reality lit”, an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes take on a 70’s rock band on its whirlwind rise through the charts. Presented as oral history, the story spotlights a love triangle between the group’s leader, his wife, and a beautiful singer/songwriter/reckless user of pills and men. In spite of its X-rated potential, the aura is bittersweet vintage—but with enough “will-they” or “won’t-they” drama to entice Reese Witherspoon and Amazon to turn it into a TV series—time and place TBD.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Flat Iron, 2019)
In the relentless heat of the Australian outback—so dusty and isolated that you can drive twelve hours without passing a car—a body is found curled into the shadow of a solitary gravestone. Was it suicide? An accident? Or worse? The dead man’s family, the Brights, slowly reveal their innermost secrets—financial difficulties, love affairs, abuse—in an effort to understand the truth. Highly credible, the author drops clues as she goes, although, reader beware! She never draws you to the correct conclusion…until the final pages.
Sing to It by Amy Hempel (Scribner, 2019)
In Amy Hempel’s short stories, survivors struggle to let go and move on after loss. Friends have died, marriages have been destroyed, and institutions (maternity homes, animal shelters) have betrayed their trust. Along with her wit and minimalist style, what carries Hempel’s writing to genius is the way she couches her message inside the mundane—a fastened seat belt, an adjusted leash. When these details hit, unexpected and dead on, they highlight the grit of the emotionally scarred and their poignant longing to heal.
The Catalogue of Ship-Wrecked Books: Young Columbus and the Quest for A Universal Library by Edward Wilson-Lee (William Collins, 2018)
Who knew that Christopher Columbus had an illegitimate son? Hernando Colon (1488-1539) carried on his father’s exploration of the world by building a universal library: 15,370 books, sheets of music, playing cards, popular pamphlets, maps, paintings, and plants (Europe’s first botanical garden). Wrestling with how to effectively catalogue knowledge so that the Renaissance could re-think it fresh, Hernando’s pioneer efforts remained stalled until Google and digitization moved them forward. A moving father-son story, plus unexpected insights into the world that shaped them.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday, 2019)
A mesmerizing history of the Troubles in 20th century Northern Ireland that reads like crime fiction. The widowed mother, abducted by masked militants, while her children look on. The terrorist sisters who go to the brink during hunger strikes in prison. The IRA mastermind who sells out his comrades to advance his political career. By tracking individuals from different sides of the conflict–the Protestant majority, the Catholic minority and the British army–the author/staff writer for the New Yorker blows open a disfigured society, where everyone has a share in the blame as well as a stake in the peace.