Summer reading list

This summer’s FICTION soars over time and space, zipping from Syria to New York to Cape Cod to Uruguay, and hopscotching over decades to consider everything from the outset of World War II to today’s war on terror. – Marjorie Kehe, Monitor book editor

by Colum McCann (Random House, 368 pp., $25)
In the summer of 1974 – as the Nixon administration imploded – French high-wire artist Philippe Petit cavorted on a cable stretched 110 stories high between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Irish novelist McCann (“Zoli”) uses this audacious act to weave together the stories of 10 disparate characters.

The Dark Side of love
by Rafik Schami (Interlink Pub Group, 900 pp., $24)
“Romeo and Juliet” set in 1950s Damascus – that’s the essence of this debut novel by a Syrian author. The story starts with a murder and moves through a tangled web of stories of love and revenge, set against a backdrop of Syrian history and politics.

The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas (Harper, 304 pp., $13.99)
Protagonist Henry Bay writes for special-interest magazines about everything from spelunking to tea cozies. Now it’s time for him to find a passion of his own.

Border Songs
by Jim Lynch (Knopf, 304 pp., $25.95)
Set on the US/Canadian border, this novel imagines the lives of characters who live on the crossing between two great nations and find their individual concerns interwoven with everything from the war on drugs to terrorism to birdwatching.

Shanghai Girls
by Lisa See (Random House, 336 pp., $25)
Two beautiful Chinese sisters survive the Japanese invasion of their country in the 1930s, marry brothers, and eventually make their way to California of the 1950s.

South of Broad
by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, 528 pp., $29.95)
It’s been a long time since Pat Conroy’s last novel (“Beach Music,” 1995), and readers will be eager for the latest from the author of “The Great Santini” and “Prince of Tides.” “South of Broad” tells the story of friendships formed by a group of teens in Charleston, S.C., in the 1960s.

That Old Cape Magic
by Richard Russo (Knopf, 272 pp., $25.95)
Two weddings, both set in New England, bookend this story of a marriage by Pulitzer Prize-winning author (“Empire Falls”) Tony Russo.

The Invisible Mountain
by Carolina De Robertis (Knopf, 384 pp., $24.95)
The lives of three women are intertwined with a portrait of the nation of Uruguay. This is the first novel by the author, who was raised in England, Switzerland, and California by Uruguayan parents.

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment (Pantheon, 208 pp., $23)
How far would you go to save a beloved dog? That is the question retirees Alex and Ruth face when their elderly dachshund, Dorothy, needs help. This deft story brings together concerns about real estate, the media, urban living, and – of course – love.

True stories amaze in this summer’s NONFICTION titles.
The books jump from art theft to artillery, from Kashmir to Montana.

Horse Soldiers

by Doug Stanton (Scribner, 416 pp., $28)
Shortly after 9/11, a small band of US Special Forces entered Afghanistan on horseback and, outnumbered 40 to 1, rode to war against the Taliban. Their story reads like a thriller.

Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook
by Ben Mezrich (Doubleday, 272 pp., $25)
How did two geeky undergraduates envision a company that would revolutionize human relationships? This is the remarkable story of how Facebook was created in a Harvard dorm room.

by Laney Sailsbury and Aly Sujo (Penguin Press, 352 pp., $26.95)
Travel from London to Paris to New York in this account of a con man and struggling artist who orchestrated one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history.

Strength in What Remains
by Tracy Kidder (Random House, 304 pp., $26)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder delivers the gripping story of Deo, a young medical student who fled the massacre in Burundi in 1994 fearing for his life. Against the odds, Deo made it to the US and overcame great obstacles to become a doctor. Kidder accompanies Deo as he finally makes the difficult journey back home.

The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana
by Rick Bass (Free Press, 224 pp., $26)
Rick Bass and his family are four of the 150 or so inhabitants of the half-million-acre region of Montana’s glorious, rugged Yaak Valley wilderness range. Bass, who is a noted nature writer, is lyrical as he writes of the spectacle that surrounds him daily.

Free: The Future of a Radical price
by Chris Anderson (Hyperion, 288 pp., $26.99)
Worried about the future of the written word? Try picking up this thought-provoking work by digital futurist Chris Anderson (“author of “The Long Tail.”) Anderson’s intriguing proposal to embattled publishers: Start giving your product away free.

In the Valley of the Mist
by Justine Hardy (Free Press, 224 pp., $25)
Journalist Justine Hardy puts a personal face on this troubled but beautiful region with a vivid, true account of a Kashmiri family and the way they have coped with 20 years of strife.

Book of William

by Paul Collins (Bloomsbury, 288 pp., $25)
Bibliophile Paul Collins narrates the history of Shakespeare’s First Folio, among the world’s most obsessively pursued books, across the centuries.

Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown
by Edmund L. Andrews (W.W. Norton, 220 pp., $25.95)
He was supposed to be an expert, yet economics reporter Edmund L. Andrews almost ruined himself with a subprime mortgage. Here he explains why he and others were so easily deceived.

It’s summer – bring on the THRILLERS. The good news: This year’s offerings look both intelligent and gripping.

The Tourist
by Olen Steinhauer (Minotaur, 416 pp., $24.95)
Charles Alexander has traded his unhappy life as a “tourist” (a CIA field agent with neither home nor name) for a desk job and a loving family. Then his past resurfaces and he’s forced to run for his life – and it’s not clear that he’ll ever be able to return. The book’s rave reviews have earned Steinhauer the ultimate compliment of favorable comparisons to John le Carré.

Wife of the Gods

by Kwei Quartey (Random House, 336 pp., $24)
Meet Darko Dawson, detective inspector at work in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. Darko may not have the sweetness of Precious Ramotswe, star of the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” books, but like the popular Alexander McCall Smith series, this novel offers Western readers a window onto a fascinating and less familiar corner of the world. Here, Darko must travel to a remote village to investigate the mysterious death of a medical worker.

The Shanghai Moon
by S.J. Rozan (Minotaur, 384 pp., $24.95)
If you still rank the Nancy Drew mystery “The Clue in the Jewel Box” as one of the best detective novels you’ve ever read – and you’ve never given up hoping for the adult equivalent – this could be your book. Lydia Chin is a young Chinese-American detective with plenty of charm, an intriguing male sidekick, and lots of interesting crimes to solve. Here she is hired to investigate the mystery of a box of jewelry hidden in Shanghai since World War II.

The Cavalier of the Apocalypse
by Susanne Alleyn, (Minotaur, 304 pp., $24.95)
A series of detective stories tied to the French Revolution? It may sound odd, but Susanne Alleyn makes it work. She’s already written two earlier books (“Game of Patience” and “A Treasury of Regrets”) starring Aristide Ravel as her star sleuth. This latest book serves as a prequel, telling the story of the 1786 murder in Paris that first turned Ravel from a writer to a crime solver. The plot brings together everyone from the Masons to the duc d’Orléans, and Francophiles will appreciate the historic detail and rich atmospheric elements that abound.

Dog On It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery
by Spencer Quinn (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $25)
Who can resist this one? Chet is a K-9 dropout with mismatched ears (one black, one white). Bernie’s his human sidekick – a San Diego detective just a little bit down on his luck. Together they must solve the disappearance of a teen named Madison. You don’t have to be a dog lover to get a kick out of Chet’s hard-boiled narrative style along with his running commentary on human shortcomings. And the mystery will keep you guessing as well.
Don’t forget the CHILDREN’S books. There are twisty
mysteries and touching tales sure to tempt young readers this summer as well.

by Ed Young (Roaring Brook/Porter, 32 pp., $17.95)
For the youngest of readers (ages 2-6), this lovely illusrated book tells the story of a young native American boy and his hen who raise an orphaned bald eagle. Hook, as the “strange chick” becomes known, must one day learn to fly. Adults and children alike will savor the process.

Highway Robbery
by Kate Thompson, illustrated by Johnny Duddle and Robert Dress (Greenwillow, 128 pp., $15.99)
A young beggar boy accepts the offer of a gold coin from a mysterious stranger who asks him to watch his glorious black horse. Little does the boy know that the man is infamous highwayman Dick Turpin – or is he really? When the man is arrested and the boy must decide what to do with the horse, this story becomes a moral quandary as a well as a mystery intended for readers ages 10 and up.

Mare’s War
by Tanita S. Davis (Knopf, 352 pp., $16.99)
Teens Octavia and Tali don’t think they want to spend their summer vacation on the road with their grandmother Mare, even if she does drive a red sports car. But what they learn about Mare’s past – and her experiences as a soldier during World War II – come as both a surprise and a revelation.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.