There are few things more relaxing than getting lost in a good book. Sadly, time for reading can be scarce with work schedules, driving kids around and weekend commitments. But when you find yourself curled up on the couch, or laying out by the pool, take this moment of free time to put on those reading glasses and get some reading in.
We compiled a list of books that are staff favorites:
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
By Amy Hempel, Scribner, 405 pages
Amy Hempel is Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk’ s ultimate muse. If that is not enough, here is why her stories are a must-read: “ Every sentence isn’t just crafted, it’s tortured over. Every quote and joke, what Hempel tosses out with comedian-style, is something funny or profound enough you’ll remember it for years.” Chuck also says “ you’re ruined” after you read her story The Harvest. “ I’m not kidding,” he says. “ You go there, and almost every other book you ever read will suck. All those thick, third-person, plot-driven books torn from the pages of today’s news – after Amy Hempel, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money.”
By Jean Stein and George Plimpton, Grove Press, 564 pages
Although Edie is a biography, this novel does much more than cover socialite Edie Sedgwick’s life. Its commentary, which is a compilation of memories from those who knew Edie, shows great insight into1960s America and Andy Warhol’s counterculture. Readers are quickly pulled into the details of Edie’s tragic, short life, which includes an aristocratic background, fashion, fame, music — and everything else that goes along with the 1960s. A truly beautiful and cleverly put-together narrative.
By Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan, 368 pages
Even Now by Christian fiction author, Karen Kingsbury, is the first book of her Love Lost #2 Series, followed byEver After. The book begins with college-aged Emily Anderson, who lives with her grandparents, wondering what her parents are like. A backstory shows her parents, Shane and Lauren, were an inseparable, young couple who fell in love and got pregnant at 17 years old, only to get separated by religious parents. Their child, Emily, is raised by her grandparents while Lauren is a war correspondent and Shane questions an impending marriage. The book follows these three individuals who are on separate paths, but connected in a significant way, as they reunite. The Story continues in the sequel Ever After.
Everything is Illuminated
By Jonathan Safran Foer, Harper Perennial, 400 pages
Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel, Everything is Illuminated, is a fantastic story about a Jewish American, named Jonathan Safran Foer, who is traveling through the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Jonathan is accompanied by a Ukrainian translator named Alex Perchov, Alex’s grandfather and Sammy Davis Jr. Jr., Alex’s dog. The story is told through a series of broken-English letters from Alex to Jonathan, the novel Jonathan is writing on shtetl life before Nazi destruction and Alex’s notes on the novel — each of these three commentaries are patched together to tell a devastating, yet hilarious story on love and loss.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
By Jonathan Safran Foer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 368 pages
Foer’s Extremely Loud Incredibly Close is a heartbreaking fictional tail about Oskar Schell, a boy who lost his father in the World Trade Center during 9/11. A very intelligent, curious and sensitive boy, Oskar finds a key in a vase that belonged to his father, and the story follows him on a journey around Manhattan in search for more information about the key. Weaved within Oskar’s narration is the love story of his paternal grandparents, told through a series of letters addressed to Oskar or his father. This book’s aesthetic appeal is as brilliant as its prose, where Foer provides pictures, vibrantly-colored notes, and other intriguing mediums to the page. Extremely Loud Incredibly Close gives an exhilarating spin on the September 11th tragedy through the fresh, imaginative eyes of a young boy.
Long Way Down
By Nick Hornby, Riverhead, 333 pages
Look at Me
By Jennifer Egan, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 415 pages
Jennifer Egan’s third novel chronicles the life of Charlotte Swenson, a former fashion model whose life changes dramatically after a career-crippling car accident and complete facial reconstructive surgery. In this new life, Charlotte is forced to define herself in a society that no longer recognizes her. Egan masterfully shifts across the narrative perspectives of her characters as she tells a story about image, self-presentation, truth, and American life in the 2000s and beyond. Look at Me is a National Book Award Finalist.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
By Khaled Hosseini, Riverhead, 372 pages
As Khaled Hosseini’ s follow-up to best-selling novel The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns unravels the details of Taliban tyrrany, anti-soviet Jihad and civil war through the stories of two women. Arresting in its depiction of the complexities of being a woman in a patriarchal society broken by turmoil, hearts will bleed for Mariam and Laila as they struggle to find freedom and peace. By looking through their eyes Khaled illustrates Afghanistan in a way that contradicts its categorization as an enemy country and gives a face to the souls who inhabit it.
The Ticking is the Time Bomb: A Memoir
By Nick Flynn, W.W. Norton & Company, 283 pages
A complement to his new book of poetry, Nick Flynn’ s second memoir The Ticking Is The Bomb focuses on both individual and global struggle, as well as the dark impulses that dwell in each of us. Through Nick’ s dreams and musings, readers will witness reflections on personal accounts from survivors of Abu Ghraib, the memory of Nick’ s mother, continued bewilderment with his wandering father, and finally, his relationship with his wife Lili Taylor and the birth of their daughter Maeve. Lucid, poignant and relevant, this read asks readers to examine their lives, acknowledge their demons, and pursue hope in this layered world.
Water for Elephants
By Sara Gruen, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 335 pages
Water for Elephants is a summer must read! Gruen tells the story of Jacob Jankowski, a young man who drops out of college and joins the circus after his parents die in a car accident. Jacob quickly becomes the circus vet and self-appointed protector of the small. He struggles to deal with August, the temperamental animal trainer, and begins to fall for August’s wife, Marlena. Gruen describes the strange world that Jacob enters in graphic, well-researched detail. Readers will be surprised to find that behind the beautiful big-top performances, the circus of the Depression-era was not as magical as one would surmise. Water for Elephants is a true coming-of-age story that will entertain and entrance bookies of all ages.