In the sweltering heat of the summer months, I like to read books that take me to another time or place, or at the very least, distract me enough to forget how hot it is outside. I just finished Doc from my summer reading list (below), and it is in direct competition with Ann Patchett’s fabulous new book, State of Wonder, for being named the Best Book I’ve Read All Year. I can’t wait to read the rest!
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Initially intrigued by the starred review in Booklist, that describes British writer Rosamund Lupton’s novel as a remarkable debut that “. . . is a masterful, superlative-inspiring success that will hook readers (and keep them guessing) from page one,” I was further enamored when I heard Lupton on the Diane Rehm show. (You can listen to this broadcast and read a free excerpt from Sister here). The novel unfolds in the form of a long letter from Beatrice to her adored, and recently murdered, younger sister—juicy mystery meets sisterly love and loyalty.
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
I’ve read everything published by Mary Doria Russell—my favorites include The Sparrow and A Thread of Grace—and I am always amazed by the broad range of subjects and genres Russell covers in her books. Russell surprises us again with her newest novel, Doc, “. . . this terrific bio-epic set in a revisionist version of the Old West . . .” (Kirkus, starred review), where she retells the story of the O.K. Corral and Doc Holliday. The Washington Post is “. . . in awe of how confidently Russell rides through this familiar territory and remakes all its rich heroism and tragedy.” Read an excerpt from Doc at Mary Doria Russell’s website.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
Translated from the Swedish, The Snowman follows Detective Inspector Harry Hole as he tries to capture a serial killer who is leaving snowmen in his victim’s front lawns. Jo Nesbø is repeatedly described by reviewers as the next Stieg Larsson. I’m anxious to find out if the shoe fits— although the awards the novel has won helps convince me. The Snowman was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2007 for Best Novel of the Year and received the Norwegian Book Club Prize (Den norske leserprisen) 2007 for Best Novel of the Year.
Zeroville by Steve Erikson
The kind man at the Europa booth at BEA this year gave me a copy of Zeroville by Steve Erickson, after we discussed some of my favorite past Europa reads. He promised I wouldn’t be disappointed. The cover copy describes Zeroville best: “On the same August day in 1969 that a crazed hippie ‘family’ led by Charles Manson commits five savage murders in the canyons above Los Angeles, a young ex-communicated seminarian arrives with the images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift — ‘the two most beautiful people in the history of the movies’—tattooed on his head. At once childlike and violent, Vikar is not a cinéaste but ‘cineautistic,’ sleeping at night in the Roosevelt Hotel where he’s haunted by the ghost of D. W. Griffith. Vikar has stepped into the vortex of a culture in upheaval: strange drugs that frighten him, a strange sexuality that consumes him, a strange music he doesn’t understand. Over the course of the Seventies and into the Eighties, he pursues his obsession with film from one screening to the next and through a series of cinema-besotted conversations and encounters with starlets, burglars, guerrillas, escorts, teenage punks and veteran film editors, only to discover a secret whose clues lie in every film ever made, and only to find that we don’t dream the Movies but rather they dream us.”