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Hot Summer Reads For 2011

We’re talking about summer reads 2011. What’s hot. What’s great. What’s good for the back porch, the beach.

What's made your reading list for the summer? We'll take a look at some top picks. (Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr)

What's made your reading list this summer? We'll take a look at some top picks. (Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr)

Ah, summer. First official day, right here, right now.

Time to savor, to relax if you can do it, and to read. In the hammock. On the porch swing. Under a tree. At the beach.

And what shall we read? Today, we’ll ask three book mavens what they’re recommending, and get your picks.

Are you laughing through Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”? Traveling with Paul Thoreaux? Sailing with “Pym”? In a “State of Wonder” with Ann Patchett? Out in “The Bee-Loud Glade”?

This hour On Point: great summer reads, 2011.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Charlotte Abbott, contributing editor for Publishers Weekly.

Maggie Galehouse, book editor for the Houston Chronicle, where she also blogs at “Bookish: A Book Blog with Maggie Galehouse.”

Michael Kindness, blogs and podcasts at “Books on the Nightstand.”

Jamil Zaidi, manager at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Here you can find audience book picks collected during the show and from online comments.

Maggie’s List

Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle

Incognito by David Eagleman

Pym by Mat Johnson

Bossypants by Tina Fey

50 Dangerous Things by Gever Tulley

The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux

The Gap Year by Sarah Bird

The Best of It by Kay Ryan

Jamil’s List

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Other People We Married by Emma Straub

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

The Passage by Justin Croninn

The Natural Mystics by Colin Grant

BossyPants by Tina Fey

Life by Kieth Richards

Priceless by Robert Wittman

Divegent by Vernoica Roth

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Michael’s List

Man With A Pan edited by John Donohue.

Townie by Andre Dubus

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer

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  • wauch

    I am finishing “The “S” Word” by The Nation’s John Nichols and it is a great book about the history of socialism in the US from Idaho and The Dakotas to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. Really interesting discussion about Horace Greeley and the robust presence in Milwaukee. Also Justin Fox’s “The Myth of Rational Markets” pokes every hole in the U of Chicago’s efficient market hypothesis dogma. Must read!

  • at

    I am reading The Unwritten Book: Xellex by Carlos Dwa.  I can’t think of any book that is comparable to it.  It’s like a book that has fallen to earth form somewhere else.  And I quote the Amazon blip on it

    “Xellex is a vastly rabid bit of xenophoric indulgence, in which we find
    out exactly how a Salock warrior is like a hot fudge sundae, that
    strawberries have nothing in common, and why we will never know anything
    about the universe, no matter how much we learn about it.”
     –
    Constance Duke: author of The Users Guide to Infra Quantum Reality

    Praise for Xellex from beyond the Greater Connectivity – “. . . sex,
    drugs, ultra-violence, and enlightenment – what’s not to like?” –
    Kid Death

    “. . . I have prowled the anthergopolic streets of the
    Trenches. I have partied with ConZombs on slack time. I have left my
    mind among the pebbles, at the bottom of a pool, in a cave called
    Dragon’s Mouth. . . .

     – Tuvan Poet Laureate Bo Cažytbiree

     “The
    few, the proud, the other ten to the minus four percent. I count myself
    in their number.” – Jonathan (Johnny B. Bad) Zellen: Quadrant Primus,
    Azural Quadrant

     The night air held an invigorating hint of
    autumn briskness. Here, within the galaxy’s central disc, seething
    energies undulated in the heavens, adorning the night with a shimmering
    glamour. The sky was filled to the brim with stars, like crystals that
    had condensed from the supersaturated void, and the pale blue light of
    Xellex’s triple moons shone down upon the genius and depravity that mark
    the passage of man.
    Somewhere between the glittering corporate
    towers of the Ozone, and the concessionary apocalypse of the free zone
    Trenches, lies the transplanted heart of an ancient mystery. In all the
    nine quadrants only one lost and desperate soul has the wile that is
    necessary to save its dying light. But he is to find that this
    irreplaceable human treasure can only be redeemed by the homicidal grace
    of an insane god.

     “The death in the Trenches runs deep.
    Come have a taste.” — ZuZu maBlackna

     Warning: This novel contains
    graphic descriptions of SEX, DRUG USE, VIOLENCE, and potentially
    unstable* SNACKS FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION, that have been adapted to
    entice the metabolic substrate of consciousness with neurolinguistic and
    neuroimagic caresses, and has been designed to evoke the emotive force
    of latent archetypes to penetrate and temporarily dispel the overgrazed
    feedback loops of habitual mental forms.

     *Approximately .00004% of
    the target demographic will experience a state of spontaneous
    generalized epiphany due to subliminal neuropeptide entrainment by a
    cascading series of nonspecific effectors contained in the elemental
    symmetry of this novel. This is normal, and a desired effect of the
    artifact.

    A Genuine Article Posttemporal Artifact

     I like Neil Stephenson and Tom Robbins too.

    • Dipsum

      “at” You don’t know how happy I am to find out Carlos Dwa has done something public again.  It must be twenty years ago that I saw two plays he wrote preformed in Atlanta (about two years apart)  Rosa’s Hyperauthentic Cantina, and Sex.Blood.and.the.Phenomenology.of.Pretense.  I liked them both, but Sex,Blood was over the top.  I went to opening night and about fifteen minutes into the play a whole row of people near the front got up and left.  I personally thought it was so unusual and creative that I insisted that a few friends go with me the following evening. I noticed that almost all the people that had gotten up and left the night before were there again in the same seats.  Being the busy body I am, during intermission I asked one of them what was up.  Evidently two of their friends who were visiting were so upset by the play that they insisted on leaving.  So they came back and payed to see it again.

      I have already ordered a copy of the novel you mentioned.  If it’s anything like his plays it will be a rare intellectual delicacy. thanks

  • MTcase

    Two new books this summer by Jesse Ball: his novel THE CURFEW and
    THE VILLAGE ON HORSEBACK: Prose and Verse, 2003-2008

  • Newton Whale

    For a summer read, I recommend George R.R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. There are 4 books in print, with the long awaited fifth coming on July 12. The just concluded Showtime series covered the first book well and faithfully and has been renewed for next season.

    The books are real page turners, very well written, and have been compared favorably to the other “RR”, Tolkien, albeit with substantially more sex. 

    Before you turn up your nose at fantasy, remember what C.S. Lewis said when his good friend Tolkien would read his manuscripts aloud: “Oh, God, not more elves!”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SOC3WPMZVTT6K4I3WK4RHGGI24 Marion

    What a joy it is to find my new book on this wonderful list. Thank you! I am in great company here, and am deeply grateful. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dylan-Giambatista/1560630046 Dylan Giambatista

    Thank god for corrupt politicians! Scandals, financial graft, and assassinations have compelled historians of all stripes to reexamine America’s Guilded Age. Everything from Grover Cleveland’s affairs to the tragic end of James Garfield are coming to the table in 2011. Pass the forks and dig in!

  • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

    For my upcoming vacation I bought “Panic Virus” and “Poisoner’s Handbook”. Oh, and also “Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole”.

    The awesome thing about the kindle versions is that it won’t freak out the in-laws with those titles….

  • Okra683

    Can you ask the guest why e-books cost the same as hardcover books with out the overhead of printing and binding?

  • Kim Siebert

    Glad to see “Townie” on one of the lists. For memoirs I also liked “Blood, Bones and Butter” by Geraldine Hamilton.

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  • Sue Resnick

    I read big classics in the summer. I don’t have time to get into such tomes during the year, but I can sit on the beach and read 50 pages at a time. Over the past couple of summers I’ve read War and Peace and Anna Karenina. This summer I might read Moby Dick.  

  • Alden Mauck

    During the summer I try to find a balance from English teacher novels and beach reading.  Some worthy compromises – The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon, Palace Council by Stephen Carter, N.C. Wyeth by David Michaelis, Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, and my kids’ favorite – Edgar Sawtelle.

  • http://twitter.com/msanguinetti Marc Sanguinetti

    “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” by David Mitchell follows a Dutch clerk in late 18th century Japan who falls for a Japanese midwife. A little slow at the beginning, but the second part is one of the most enthralling, exciting adventures I’ve read in a long time.

  • Jemimah

    That reading from the Sisters Brothers sounded like Jonathan Safron Foer.

  • Anonymous

    Just finished reading a fabulous new theater biography “Glenn Ford: A Life” (May 2011) by Peter Ford, son of Glenn Ford and dancer Eleanor Powell. Much of the material has been gathered from Glenn Ford’s personal diaries, audio tapes and unpublished interviews. A fascinating look at a career that spanned seven decade with insights into Ford’s turbulent career, four marriages and troubled family life. An honest and well-written portrait by Ford’s only son. Highly recommended!

  • SheilaB

    I feel like the last person to read “The Help” and since its coming out as a movie soon, I just finished that and loved it.  I am in the first part of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and am enthralled with the writing.  For light reading, I highly recommend “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness.  I picked that one up after reading a review that described it as “Twilight” for adults – I am eagerly awaiting the sequel in 2012.  A number of my friends have read it on my recommendation and loved it as much as I did.  It’s a long book, which is my favorite kind of read, so I can inhabit the writer’s world for awhile.

  • Carlyeatkinson

    Now is a great time to support our local booksellers ! I buy used books like candy, and some of my favorites have been recommended by the folks at my local booksmiths.

    • Conner

      When you buy a used book the author gets nothing.  This is the physical equivalent of downloading a ripped dvd.

      • Jbbrown

        I agree 100% Conner.  People are ready to see the torrent indexing sites tared and feathered because they are making money by giving away peoples intellectual property (rips of movies and such) yet just because it has physical dimensions they think it is just fine to make money by giving away an authors intellectual property as a second hand book. Maybe Kindle will put an end to much of this, however it creates other problems in that once a book is digitized it is only a matter of time before it too shows up on the bittorrent sites as a free ebook.  Think about it people, when you buy a novel you are not really buying the wood pulp and ink you are buying the intellectual property.  You think you are supporting your local book seller but you are really stealing the small royalty that should be going to the person who did the work, not some darn merchant.

  • Dteve3

    For a book you can’t put down read Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West.

    • carr2

      Yes i read it and liked it. It drags a little in the middle.

  • http://www.stevehimmer.com Steve Himmer

    Thanks so very much for including my novel on this list, and on the show. It’s a real honor.

    • http://lizybee.wordpress.com EF Sweetman

      Mr. Himmer, you are on my summer reading list!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martin-Voelker/1488381122 Martin Voelker

    I’ll be re-reading the historic fiction trilogy by Neal Stephenson again – for the third time, 3500 pages. May your summer be long!
    A wonderful ride through the advent of modern science and modern commerce.I found the audio book of the first volume “Quicksilver” at the library, fantastically read/performed by Simon Prebble and listened while walking the dog (she enjoyed much longer walks than usual).

    • at

      I liked it very much also.  I wish he would have continued in SciFi though.  Both he and RR were at their best in SciFi.  Sure everybody knows about the Game of Thrones but how many people have read Sand Kings, which I think is still his best work. The Baroque Cycle is a great and epic “pirate tale”.

  • Megan Sullivan

    I loved Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. It makes you feel like stepped back into 1938 New York. What an amazing debut novel.

  • Lenka

    I work in a children’s bookstore and my summer pick is “Kat, Incorrigible,” which is a spunky, Jane Austen-esque book for girls aged 8-12. The book opens with the line, “I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin. I made it almost to the end of my front garden.” It only gets better from there!

  • Shannonstoney

    I’m finally getting around to reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. It’s a new translation, the first that is the complete text. It’s very long, over 800 pages, and although it was written in 1949, it’s one of the best feminist books I’ve ever read. I somehow missed it when I was younger (I’m in my late fifties). Stephanie Coontz’s new book about Betty Friedan inspired me to read it (A STrange Stirring); it seems that Friedan was heavily influenced by de Beauvoir but she didn’t really acknowledge her debt to de Beauvoir’s thinking.

  • Traceywriter

    Just finished “In Zanesville,” by Jo Ann Beard. Loved it!! Beautifully written coming of age story of an American girl in blue collar Illinois in the 1970s…and so much more. Funny, sad, wry, tragic. Read it!

  • Pwe

    I’m reading the George R.R. Martin series Fire and Ice [?} Game of Thrones. I ordered the books and discovered it was far easier to read the e-books. The physical books are about 900 pages in paperback and difficult to turn the pages. All the four volumes fit easily on my Kindle and I can take them with me wherever I go.
    Phyllis Eliasberg

  • Dlagadec

    I am a Yoga teacher who does book reviews when I want people to stay in an asana a bit longer :)  Great reads…Let the Great World Spin by Colum MaCann….Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese…Guruji bu Guy Donahaye..

  • Dalyryg

    The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King offset by a collection of Franz Kafka shorts.

  • Seth

    Listeners and panelists alike have highlighted what is I look for in summer reading, on one hand something that can be read in short spurts but on the other has a message or tone that can absorb our minds and imaginations for all those times when we aren’t reading… That’s why so many choices are described with phrases like “a meditation on life and death” or “what it means to be alone with yourself” and so forth.

    For that reason, I really enjoy a series of books released by a publisher known as the “Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.” They are all series of teachings by a few incredible Tibetan Buddhist teachers, but they are short and aimed accessible to non-Buddhists, really pointing toward what it means to be happy, what our minds are capable of, how to find freedom in every day life. They are phenomenal books and best of all, they’re free! The printed books are free, just pay for s/h, (www.lamayeshe.com, I think) and the digital versions available online are inexpensive. They punctuate my summer with some contemplation and opportunities to take a break from my crazy world to learn a little more about myself. They are truly a joy, I cannot recommend them highly enough.

    • Ronald Johnson

      I know those books…yes, they are awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1320887009 Charli Henley

    I like a book to match the summer weather. I just finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It’s set in the Amazon – hot, humid, buggy and lush. I can sit in the sun and almost feel the jungle!

  • Maggie

    “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick

    The history behind the mythology.
    Detailed biographical details that you never heard before. A great read while on the beach on Cape Cod.

  • Jamie

    Book idea for 12 year old: Terry Pratchett

  • Paula Spizziri

    For humorous books for the 12-year old, what about Carl Hyacinth that he wrote for kids? Also, I think Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a wonderful read for any age, especially read aloud together.

    • Amy

      Is it Scat by Carl Hiassen?  And I LOVE the Phantom Tollbooth!  Wonderful book!

  • Kevin

    The show hasn’t mentioned audiobooks, which I enjoy listening to.

    Some books authors actually do the audio reading of their own books. Two of interest that come to mind are Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” where the author herself reads her own works — 5 hours of Tina Fey! And all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books like “Outliers” and “Blink”.

    Kevin

  • Steven Affeldt

    When searching for a humorous book for a 12 year old boy, don’t forget the classics.  What about Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court–or any of the other Twain books.  I loved them at that age.  Thanks.
    Steven

    • deborahshire

      I loved that one as a 12 y/o girl.

  • Lydandy

    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – great read!  NOT for written for the teen audience.

  • Amanda

    After reading a few books on my Nookcolor, I cannot go back to physical books.

  • Ronald Johnson
  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.yuna Robert Michael Vincent Yuna

    Hello from Buffalo, New York.  What is the book on the old Yugoslavia that relates recent events from the perspective of those who live in the region?  I know i should have written down the damned thing!

    Robert

    • http://www.lifeonfilm.com Pearl White

      Voices from the Faultline: A Balkan Anthology edited by Zakalin Nezic

       

  • Annie

    The Summer Book by Tove Jansson   Lovely book about a Finnish family spending its summer in a cottage on the coast the the gentle but lively relationship between the grandmother and the granddaughter. Charming and gentle!

    • Portia

      What a surprise to know of someone who loves this book too.  I wonder if it is still in print.  I would like to send it to a friend but can’t give away my favorite book!

  • Oakslesly

    Funniest memoir I have ever read is Paul Feig’s Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence (sic) Our Books N Booze Book Club all loved it. I have reread it several times and it still makes me laugh hysterically.
    As for fiction humor, check out Michael Malone’s Handling Sin. Hilarious.

  • anon

    Into the Wilderness

    http://deborahleeluskin.com/
    Great summer book to get away from city life. Wonderful love story!

  • Wcosta7

    One caller talked about these great mysteries from an author whose name I can’t recall.  Many of the mysteries took place in West Hollywood.  Does anyone recall the author’s name?   Thanks in advance!

    • MG

      I want that too, please

    • Wcosta7

      Norma wrote: The mystery writer with the Hollywood connection who was mentioned on air today is John Morgan Wilson who wrote a series on a journalist named Benjamin Justice.

  • deborahshire

    My favorites of the last year: 

    Private Life by Jane Smiley
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
    Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
    The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachmann
    Serena by Ron Rash
    Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
    We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
    Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
    The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

  • Michele

    One of my favorite childhood memories is of going to the public library and wandering around the cool, musty, book stacks.  The possibilities seemed limitless. Whiling away the better part of an afternoon choosing books that would then occupy many of my lazy summer days still brings me a sense of peace.  I loved sitting in one of the large winged-back chairs in front of the two-centuries old unlit fireplace wondering about all of the other people who had sat there through the generations reading and thinking.  I can still see the light reflected into that room and smell the old paper and bindings that sat on those library shelves waiting for someone to take them home.  You don’t get that from an e-reader.  (Full disclosure I am the owner of an ipad 2).

    • C.J. McBride-Stern

      Going to the library with my father, is also one of my favorite childhood memories. He would take me every 3 weeks and instill me in the childrens room while he browsed the stacks.  I would look at the picture books and pretend I could read. Once I was able to read I got my first library card and have never been without a library card since.  No matter where I am living one of the first things I do when arriving in a new town is visit the library and become a member. These childhood visits to the library is what developed my insatiable enjoyment of reading.

  • Norma

    The mystery writer with the Hollywood connection who was mentioned on air today is John Morgan Wilson who wrote a series on a journalist named Benjamin Justice. 

    • Wcosta7

      Thank you Norma!  :)

  • Jazzmom56

    “Before I go to Sleep” by S. J. Watson.

    Drop everything!  read this book, it it REALLY unputdownable.

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  • Christine Lauzon

     Cleopatra: A Life – is biography that debunks the myth, but reads like a great novel   Would like recommendations on historical novels

    • Food Pantry1

      If you’re interested in English history, “The White Queen,” “The Boleyn Inheritance,” and The Other Boleyn Girl, all by Philllippa Gregory are great.  They’re somewhat soap opera-ish, but that’s what that era was full of.

    • Drey

      Oh that book’s on my list to read as well. I recommend The Lost Painting. I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s a true story about finding one of Caravaggio’s lost works. He was a painter from the Renaissance with a criminal/tempermental streak. The story is real, but it also is written like a novel, dialogue and all. Not quote the same size as Cleopatra: A Life, however.

  • Tom

    A fantasy adventure about a heroic storyteller and his amazing stories/life “A Wise Man’s Fears” by Patrick Rothfuss.  But that’s volume 2.   You’ll have to first read “The Name of the Wind”, and you’ll be glad you did.

  • Reader

    I liked Elvis is alive and well. Great beach sci-fi read.

  • Anonymous

    just finished “the Paris Wife”  Hemmingway really was a jerk.

    • food pantry1

      Loved the book and agree that Hemingway was arrogant, self-absorbed, insensitive and a whole lot of other negatives.  What’s really disturbing is that some of his most energetic writing came when he was being particularly hurtful to Hadley.

  • Lschub

    Annabel by Kathleen Winter.  

  • Max Kennedy

    The Pack by Jason Starr
    The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

  • Salzburg

    Just listened to this Podcast. 

    Too bad it’s so anti-Kindle, anti-Ebook.

    I, myself, was reluctant to use them but I have Kindle on my iPhone and love it. I always am walking around with 20 books at least in my bad. It is incredible to always use my time in a productive efficient way. Of course I still buy material books, but I love my Kindle. 

  • Franny

    Light reads for 12 year old boy:  The Education of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten; PG Wodehouse, Right Ho Jeeves; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain; An Essay on the Eating of Pork, Charles Lamb

  • Humlebo

    Some caller had a mystery writer as a good read – the hero was a Los Angeles former police. Anyone remember the writer? I got intrigued by his books! //Staffan

  • David Kales

    How about adding to the hot summer’s reads my book “The Phantom Pirate: Tales of the Irish Mafia and the Boston Harbor Islands.” It is a fictional account of the life and times of Whitey Bulger. I weave the histories of the islands of Boston harbor with tales of clandestine meetings between a modern-day pirate, James Freney (aka Whitey Bulger) and an FBI agent, Irish vs. Italian gang battles, mob burials, secret hiding places. Tales of secrets–secrets of gangland assassinations, Mafia induction ceremonies, and Bulger’s 16 year life on the run.
    David Kales

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  • Maksim Dostanko

    Very beautiful girl! Nice to look at the picture!
    http://kino-govno.tk/spisok-molodezhnih-filmov-2011-2010-2009/

  • http://twitter.com/kino_govno_tk kino-govno.tk

    yes!!!
    Very beautiful
    http://www.estix.ru/ 

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