Memorial Day is past and now Summer Reading Season is upon us. This month’s column is filled with suggestions for books for everyone to read at the beach or on your front porch.
For the person who enjoys a good family story, J. Ryan Stradal’s new novel, Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club tells the story of four generations of women involved with the running of their family supper club in a small town in Minnesota. Some of them take to the family business, others feel confined by it. You’ll feel dropped right into this community. Stradal never misses, his books are must-reads for me.
Susie Luo’s debut novel, Paper Names tells of the immigrant experience seeking the American dream. Tony leaves his job as an engineer in China to give his family a better life in New York City where he now works as a doorman. The lives of Tony, his young daughter Tammy, and Oliver, a lawyer who lives in the building where Tony works, collide after a violent incident.
If Historical Fiction is your favorite genre, Luis Alberto Urrea’s Good Night, Irene, a story about women who worked for the Red Cross in Europe during WWII, is inspired by his own’s mother experiences.
Kristin Harmel’s The Paris Daughter is set in 1939 Paris where a young mother forced to flee the Nazis entrusts her daughter to her best friend. Her return after the war leads to complications.
Lisa See’s Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is also inspired by a true story, this one about a female physician in 15th century China who undertook medical care for women when no one cared about them.
Mysteries and thrillers are always great beach reads. William Landay’s All That Is Mine I Carry With Me begins when a mother disappears and her husband, a defense attorney, is suspected but never charged in her disappearance. Her raises their three children alone and when her remains are found 20 years later, their children must decide if is he is guilty or not.
Dennis Lehane’s new novel Small Mercies is set in Boston during the summer of the busing protests of the 1970s. When a teen girl goes missing the same time that a young Black man is killed in the subway, her tough Irish mother will stop at nothing to find her, including running up against the most dangerous mobsters in town. (This one has raw and offensive language, as well as violence, appropriate for the time and subject.)
Liv Constantine’s The Senator’s Wife tells the story of a DC power couple. Sloane is a philanthropist married to a Senator, and when complications from her lupus become challenging they hire an assistant. As Sloane’s health deteriorates, she begins suspect her assistant is up to something nefarious. This one has twists galore.
Romance novels and sunshine go together and this season the queen of summer beach reads Elin Hilderbrand is back with The Five-Star Weekend. This one celebrates friendship as Hollis, a popular food blogger, invites her best friend from each stage of her life to join her on a five-star weekend. It doesn’t go as smoothly as she hoped.
Susan Wigg’s Welcome to Beach Town begins when the town’s elite high school valedictorian, a scholarship student, reveals a town secret during her speech that tears the town apart. When she returns to the town years later, will everyone welcome her back and forget why she left or is she still a pariah?
For people who prefer Nonfiction, Helen Ellis’ collection of humorous essays, Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge, celebrates life with her loving husband as they navigate the Covid lockdown in New York City. The hilarious essay 'An Email To Our Cat Sitter’ is worth the price of the book alone. Give this one to your favorite couple celebrating an anniversary in June.
Bethanne Patrick’s memoir Life B- Overcoming Double Depression recounts the book critic’s lifelong struggle to deal with depression. When she hits her fifties, Patrick finally receives a diagnosis and the help she needs to become healthy for herself and her two daughters.
Summer always brings a big biography, and this year it’s Jonathan Eig’s King-A Life a 688-page comprehensive look at the life of Martin Luther King Jr. This one has garnered much critical praise.
I hope there is something here for you to read this summer, email me with your summer picks.