Summer Reading Guide

What are your summer plans? Plenty of people prefer some quiet, idle time in a hammock somewhere or lounging beside the body of water of their choice, but don't include readers in that group. For book lovers, the summer is always a busy, exciting season, and this year is no exception.

Summer Reading Guide

Summer Reading Guide

What are your summer plans? Plenty of people prefer some quiet, idle time in a hammock somewhere or lounging beside the body of water of their choice, but don't include readers in that group. For book lovers, the summer is always a busy, exciting season, and this year is no exception.

Eager for some high-octane thrillers to fill the hours, or do you have more challenging reading plans? What about the kids? How are you going to keep them busy?

The Los Angeles Times book staff presents a summer reading guide to answer all of those questions. This selection of books, published mostly over the next three months, includes more than the familiar, usual categories — beach reads, for instance, and big nonfiction titles. Here you'll find selections appealing to the armchair travelers out there, fitness and outdoors lovers and those with a taste for the quirky and unconventional too.

Beach Reads | History and Biography | Young Adult & Children | Lifestyle | Quirky | Audio



Beach Reads

The After Wife

Gigi Levangie Grazer

Ballantine, $25

A charming tale of a grieving 40-ish widow and the wacky friends who love her as she attempts to regain control of her life in the sometimes-surreal L.A. landscape. (July)

The Age of Doubt

Andrea Camilleri

Viking, $15

In the latest in the author's series, take another journey to Sicily with Inspector Montalbano, who seeks to penetrate the mystery surrounding two yachts and the discovery of a mutilated corpse. (May)

Beach Season

Lisa Jackson, Cathy Lamb, Holly Chamberlin

Kensington, $15

Can't a good girl ever get a break in life and love? The tales of forlorn heroines gathered here are like a chocolate sampler — romantic, brief, sweet. (May)

The Book of Summers

Emylia Hall

Harlequin Mira, $14.95

The shuddering separation of her parents results in young Beth shuttling between two worlds — the U.S. and Hungary — and coping with family secrets as she reaches adulthood. (May)

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Imperative

Eric Van Lustbader

Grand Central, $27.99

Jason Bourne's rescue of a drowning man not only reminds him of himself (the man's an amnesiac too), it raises plenty of questions. Why is he being stalked by the Mossad? Could he really be a legendary terrorist assassin, or is this a case of mistaken identity? (June)

Broken Harbor

Tana French

Viking, $27.95

Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy returns, in French's latest, to investigate what appears to be a straightforward attack on a family in an Irish housing development — but nothing, Kennedy knows, is ever so simple. (July)

Capital: A Novel

John Lanchester

W.W. Norton, $26.95

In the shadow of terrorism and the 2008 global financial implosion, a cast of English characters are brought together via a strange message delivered on postcards in this latest by the author of "The Debt to Pleasure." (June)

A Conspiracy of Friends

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, $24

The author returns to Corduroy Mansions, the London neighborhood where neighbors wage comic battles with each other and Freddie the terrier has gone missing. (June)

Creole Belle

James Lee Burke

Simon & Schuster, $27.99

Dave Robicheaux can't get the song "Creole Belle" out of his mind or the New Orleans girl who disappeared after giving the song to him on an iPod. This leads to a new search against the backdrop of an oil rig disaster in the Gulf — and the threat posed to life along the coast. (July)

Dead Stars

Bruce Wagner

Blue Rider Press, $35, ages 14 and older

The latest by the author of "The Chrysanthemum Palace" takes another biting, funny look at our obsessions with celebrity, this time in the young adult world. (August)

The Demands

Mark Billingham

Mulholland Books, $24.99

A London convenience store is the site of a hostage drama when a grieving father takes customers as his prisoners. Does he want money in return? No, just an answer to the question of what really happened to his son, who died in prison. (June)

Elsewhere, California

Dana Johnson

Counterpoint Press, $15.95

When young Avery escapes to the suburbs of L.A. to build a new life with her family, her troubled cousin follows and threatens to ruin everything. (June)

The Family Corleone

Ed Falco

Grand Central, $27.99

Mario Puzo's saga of a crime family continues with a look back to the early 1930s and Sonny Corleone's desire to join his father Vito in the family business. (May)

Growing Up Dead in Texas

Stephen Graham Jones

MP Publishing, $14.95

A novel of small-town lives in Texas and a young man's return to find answers to unanswered questions about a disaster that affected the community many years ago. (June)

Kingdom of Strangers

Zoë Ferraris

Little, Brown, $25.99

An inspector in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah pursues a serial killer after the discovery of a secret grave containing the bodies of 19 women. (June)

The Kingmaker's Daughter

Philippa Gregory

Simon & Schuster, $26.99

Conspiracy and a fight to the death for love and power at the court of King Edward IV of England. (August)

The Kings of Cool

A Prequel to Savages

Don Winslow

Simon & Schuster, $25

The back story of Ben, Chon and O stretches from 1960s Southern California to the recent past. (June)

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

Suzanne Joinson

Bloomsbury, $26

A tale of two journeys — two sisters embark on a bicycle trip on the Silk Road in 1923; a present-day Londoner befriends a homeless Yemeni man. (June)

Little Night

Luanne Rice

Viking, $26.95

Clare and her niece struggle to build a relationship that requires overcoming old family scars inflicted by Clare's sister years ago. (June)

Last Summer

Holly Chamberlin

Kensington, $15

Chamberlin's latest revolves around bullying and friendship in the lives of mothers and their adolescent daughters. (July)

Mission to Paris

Alan Furst

Random House, $27

In 1938 Europe, Hollywood star Frederic Stahl's not only interesting to his French film crew — a Paris network of spies considers him a potentially valuable ally. (June)

Monarch Beach

Anita Hughes

St. Martin's Griffin, $14.99

Can a woman create a new life after her husband's infidelity? The answer is yes for Amanda, who ditches that fellow (a French chef) and belongs to a fabulously wealthy San Francisco family. (June)

The Nightmare

Lars Kepler

Sarah Crichton Books, $27

Detective Inspector Joona Linna is good at making connections, and if anyone can figure out the ties between two corpses in Stockholm, Linna can. (July)

The Orphanmaster

Jean Zimmerman

Viking, $27.95

Why are orphan children vanishing in 17th century New Amsterdam? A young lady and a dashing spy team up to find the answer. (June)

The Sandcastle Girls

Chris Bohjalian

Doubleday, $25.95

A young nurse's arrival in 1915 Aleppo to help refugees of the Armenian genocide forms the background of a modern-day woman's quest for truth about her family's past. (July)

Serpent's Kiss

Melissa de la Cruz

Hyperion, $23.99

Just because they have magical powers doesn't mean that witches have it easier than mortals — ask Freya, whose fiancé has caused mythological trouble for her and her clan. (June)

Shadow of Night

Deborah Harkness

Viking, $28.95

The story of witch Diana Bishop and her vampire love Matthew Clairmont in "A Discovery of Witches" continues as the pair move through the world of Elizabethan England. (July)

Shadow Show

All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Sam Weller and Mort Castle

William Morrow, $15.99

A collection of 26 stories — including Neil Gaiman's "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" — in honor of the maker of such classics as "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Martian Chronicles." (July)

The Sins of the Father

Jeffrey Archer

St. Martins Press, $27.99

The second installment in Archer's Clifton Chronicles, which started with "Only Time Will Tell," revolves around a fake identity and follows Harry Clifton in the early days of World War II. (May)


A Novel

Bethenny Frankel

Simon & Schuster, $25

The reality TV star offers a tale of — what else? — a frank-talking woman whose mouth gets her in trouble on a popular reality TV show. (May)

The Storm

Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

G.P. Putnam, $27.95

A spreading black substance in the Indian Ocean — is it oil or something far more deadly? — must be investigated by the NUMA Special Assignments Team … if it doesn't kill them. (June)

The St. Zita Society

Ruth Rendell

Scribner, $26

Tranquillity reigns on the upscale London street called Hexam Place, but secrets lurk behind the elegance, including a disturbed gardener who thinks he hears the voice of God. (August)


Elin Hilderbrand

Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown, $26.99

A summer bonfire for the students of Nantucket High ends with a deadly accident and with painful mysteries that their parents will struggle to understand in the months that follow. (June)

Swimming to Elba

Silvia Allone

Viking, $25.95

On the verge of adulthood, two friends in an Italian coastal town dream of lives full of romantic adventure — like the town of Elba, which is just a ferry ride away. (June)

Summer Breeze

Nancy Thayer

Ballantine, $26

Summer offers a chance to deepen one's bonds, which three women discover during a holiday at Dragonfly Lake in New England. (June)


Jeffrey Deaver

Simon & Schuster, $26.99

Country-pop artist Kayleigh Towne finds herself stalked by an obsessed fan who thinks one of her hit songs was written just for him — and then people around Kayleigh start to die. (June)

History and Biography Reads

American Tapestry

The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama

Rachel L. Swarns

Amistad, $27.99

An intimate look at the first lady's colorful family tree going back five generations, traversing through the revolutionary and civil wars, the great migration and on to the White House. (June)

As Texas Goes

How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda

Gail Collins

Norton/Liveright, $25.95

How the conservative political agenda growing deep in the heart of Texas is creating social and economic consequences for the rest of the country. (June)

Barack Obama

The Story

David Maraniss

Simon & Schuster, $32.50

This new biography of President Obama explores his early beginnings and his struggles with self-identity. Based on hundreds of documents, letters, journals and interviews, including with the President. (June)

Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel

Henry Holt: $28

Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell's vicious maneuverings continue in this sequel to "Wolf Hall." (May)

The Chinatown War

Chinese Los Angeles and the Massacre of 1871

Scott Zesch

Oxford University Press, $29.95

A little known small-scale turf war that erupted between immigrant Chinese gangs and mobs of white Angelenos reveals the workings of the early Chinese-American community in Los Angeles. (June)


Douglas Brinkley

Harper, $34.99

This biography of the journalist known to many as "the most trusted man in America" digs deep into his personal life through private papers and interviews with family and friends. (May)

Our Divided Political Heart

The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent

E.J. Dionne Jr.

Bloomsbury, $27

Dionne offers the notion that as people we can't agree on our future because we can't agree on our common history or what it is that makes us Americans. (May)

The Dozens

A History of Rap's Mama

Elijah Wald

Oxford University Press, $24.95

So where did rap come from? Wald suggests that its roots came from an outrageously inventive game played in urban neighborhoods called "The Dozens." (June)

A Good Man

Rediscovering My Father, Sarge Shriver

Mark K. Shriver

Henry Holt and Co., $24

An intimate father-son portrait by the son of Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, architect of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and social advocate. (June)

Lionel Asbo

State of England

Martin Amis

Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95

Modern society and celebrity culture take a beating in this satire on an oddly principled thug raising his bookish nephew. (Aug.)

The Obamians

The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power

James Mann

Viking, $26.95

The story of the President's inner-circle of young advisers and their efforts to forge a new direction in U.S. foreign policy. (June)

The Twilight War

The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

David Crist

Penguin Press, $36

Iran and the U.S. have been each other's largest national security nightmare for the last 30 years. This book attempts to explain why. (June)

The Rise of Rome

The Making of the World's Greatest Empire

Anthony Everitt

Random House, $30

This history of a city's remarkable ascent from an agrarian backwater includes portraits of its key citizens who became history's leading lights. (August)

George Orwell: Diaries

Edited by Peter Davison

Liveright, $39.95

The 11 extant diaries cover everything from his youthful travels behind "Down & Out in Paris and London" to his bouts with tuberculosis in the midst of completing "1984." (August)

James Joyce

A New Biography

Gordon Bowker

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35

This first biography of the literary master in more than 50 years explores his complex attitudes toward England, Ireland and Judaism and the correlation between the iconic fictional characters Joyce created and their real-life models and inspirations. (June)

American Empire

The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home, 1945-2000

Joshua B. Freeman

Viking, $36

A study of the post-WWII transformation of America to a global force and the domestic elements and events that threaten its future influence and role in world affairs. (August)

Embers of War

The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam

Fredrik Logevall

Random House, $40 (tentative price)

Historian Logevall draws on material gleaned from previously untapped sources to trace three decades of political decisions and battles leading up to the Vietnam war beginning with the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. (August)

Too High to Fail

Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution

Doug Fine

Gotham, $27

Can this burgeoning cash crop revitalize our nation's economy? (August)

San Francisco Chinatown

A Guide to Its History and Architecture

Philip P. Choy

City Lights, $15.95

Native Choy writes an insider's guide to America's oldest Chinese community, tracing its storied history from post-quake reconstruction to popular tourist destination. Features photographs and walking tours. (June)

Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'N' Roll

Marc Dolan

Norton, $29.95

The cultural, political and personal forces that shaped the music and decades-long career of the working-class "Boss" from New Jersey. (June)

Van Halen

Exuberant California, Zen Rock 'N' Roll

John Scanlan

Reaktion, $25

A look at the influences and events that shaped the band and its relationship to Southern California's sense of cultural exuberance. (June)/p>

Young Adult & Children


Lisa Daily

Razorbill, $9.99, ages 12 and older

A girl wishes for popularity during a fair in the aptly named town of Miracle, Ohio and then must cope with the consequences of her new, not always wonderful situation. (May)

Between the Lines

Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

Emily Bestler Books/Atria/Simon Pulse, $19.99, ages 12 and older

What goes on inside a book when it's closed? A teen girl finds out from a fictional hero in a book she loves in this YA romance by bestselling author Picoult and her daughter. (June)

Burn Mark

Laura Powell

Bloomsbury, $17.99, ages 14 and older

The author takes us to a modern, alternate version of England, where witches are licensed to practice magic and can be burned at the stake if they abuse their powers. (June)

Catty Jane Who Hated the Rain

Valeri Gorbachev

Boyds Mills, 32 pp., $16.95, ages 3-8

Even though Catty Jane thinks rainy days are gray and miserable, her friends (a frog, goose and pig) stop by to teach her a lesson about having fun in spite of the weather. (June)

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops

Jill Biden, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Simon & Schuster/Wiseman, 40 pp., $16.99, ages 5 and older

A young girl misses her soldier father in this picture book inspired by the family experiences of the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. (June)

Fall From Grace

Charles Benoit

HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 13 and older

A chance encounter with a mysterious girl forces a high school senior to challenge his seemingly perfect family and social life. (May)

Flirting in Italian

Lauren Henderson

Delacorte, $17.99, ages 12 and older

A British teen spends her summer in Italy, searching for a girl in a painting who looks like her, as well as having plenty of drama with the cute boys and jealous girls she meets. (June)

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Diana Peterfreund

HarperCollin/Balzer + Bray, $17.99, ages 13 and older

In a story that's part Jane Austen, part H.G. Wells, a young man reaches maturity in a world where genetic engineering has nearly destroyed humanity, and the survivors are divided into two groups, the Luddites and the Reduced. (June)

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

A Muslim Book of Colors

Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Chronicle: 32 pp., $17.99, ages 3-7

Customs and beliefs specific to Islam and universal to all people are the subject of this lushly illustrated look at the Muslim view of life. (June)


Anna Waggener

Scholastic Press, $17.99, ages 13 and older

While three children mourn the car-accident death of their mother, she is trapped in a limbo state and yearns to be reunited with them. (June)

The Hunt

Andrew Fukuda

St. Martin's Griffin, $17.99, ages 12 and older

In a world of vampires in which humans are nearly extinct, a teen hides his human identity to survive, even if it means taking part in a gruesome hunt. (May)

Just Flirt

Laura Bowers

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.99, ages 12 and older

Dee and Natalie are best friends looking for a little summer fun flirting with boys at a campground even though adult complications and teen developments threaten to ruin their plans. (June)

Keeping the Castle

Patrice Kindl

Viking, $16.99, ages 12 and older

An Austenesque comedy featuring 17-year-old Althea Crawley, who's determined to marry rich Lord Boring so that she can restore her family's ramshackle castle. (June)

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Candlewick, $17.99, ages 14 and older

A dark retelling of classic fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin in free verse with a dash of gore and horror that updates the stories for a YA crowd. (July)

Living With Mom and Living With Dad

Melanie Walsh

Candlewick, 40 pp., $15.99, ages 3 and older

A picture book, with flaps and bright colors, that gently explores the experiences of a little girl whose parents are divorced. (June)

A Midsummer's Nightmare

Kody Keplinger

Little, Brown/Poppy, $17.99, ages 15 and older

All Whitley wants is to hang out at the beach with her divorced father and then she meets Dad's new fiancée and her soon-to-be stepbrother whom she already knows (intimately). A midsummer's nightmare indeed. (June)

Monument 14

Emmy Laybourne

Feiwel and Friends, $16.99, ages 13 and older

An environmental disaster in the near future causes a group of students to seek safety in a superstore and cope with their differences as they build a new social order together. (June)

My Life in Black and White

Natasha Friend

Viking, $16.99, ages 12 and older

A teen's devastating car accident and reconstructive surgery turn into a journey of self-discovery that gives her new ideas of the meaning of family, friends and beauty. (June)


China Mieville

Del Rey, $18, ages 12 and older

What if Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" was the story of a giant white mole pursued by trains across an endless prairie? That's the inventive conceit behind Mieville's latest for young readers (his last YA-aimed novel was "Un Lun Dun"). (May)

Running With Trains

A Novel in Poetry and Two Voices

Michael J. Rosen

Boyds Mills/Wordsong, $15.95, ages 10 and older

The lives of two lonely boys, ages 13 and 9, briefly intersect in this gentle, quiet novel composed of poems alternating between their perspectives. (June)

Shadow and Bone

Leigh Bardugo

Holt, $17.99, ages 12 and older

The "Grisha" trilogy begins with young Alina, a girl whose magical control of light could save her nation and destroy an ominous place known as the Shadow Fold. (June)

Small Damages

Beth Kephart

Philomel, $17.99, ages 14 and older

When they discover their teen daughter is pregnant, Kenzie's parents send her to Spain to give birth and give up the baby for adoption until the lovely, disorienting atmosphere of a strange world forces her to open her eyes. (July)

This Is Not a Test

Courtney Summers

St. Martin's Griffin, $9.99 paper, ages 12 and older

Six teens are forced to sympathize with each other and cooperate as they hide in their high school while zombie mobs are lurking outside. (June)

The Year of the Beasts

Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Nate Powell

Roaring Brook, $16.95

A girl's romantic rivalry with her younger sister is told with interludes that frame this story of teen jealousy in terms of ancient myths and monsters. (May)

Violins of Autumn

Amy McAuley

Bloomsbury, $16.99, ages 12 and older

The year is 1944. Meet Betty, a 17-year-old spy who has parachuted into Nazi-occupied France to help the Resistance and avoid the sinister, watchful eyes of the Gestapo. (June)



The Restless Shaper of the World

William Bryant Logan

W.W. Norton, $24.95

Step outside and feel the wind on your cheeks. Want to know more about the elusive element that musses hair and becomes a tornado? Logan's book is all you'll need. (August)

Attention All Passengers

The Airlines' Dangerous Descent and How to Reclaim Our Skies

William J. McGee

Harper, $26.99

The author and consumer advocate's extensive firsthand research reveals how the airline industry's cost-cutting measures are creating unsafe and not-so-friendly skies. Ok, you probably should wait and read this after your trip. (June)

The Ball

Discovering the Object of the Game

John Fox

Harper Perennial, $14.99

Why do so many people like to play a game of catch at the beach or the park? "How long has this love affair been going on?" asks John Fox, whose book examines how "chasing a ball around [evolved] into a $100 billion global industry" (June)

The Beach Book

Science of the Shore

Carl H. Hobbs

Columbia University Press, $19.50

OK, so surfers only care if the waves are tasty enough, but for the serious-minded beachgoer the author offers a scientific explanation of the dynamic environment of the beach. (June)

Bring It!

Tony Horton

Rodale, $18.99

Even if it's already bathing-suit time, it's never too late to sweat out the calories. P90X creator Tony Horton takes readers through a guide covering fat-burning, muscle-building and creating a better diet plan. (May)

Call of the Mild

Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner

Lily Raff McCaulou

Grand Central Publishing, $24.99

How does a gun-fearing animal lover turn into a hunter? The author describes what happened to her when she left New York City to become a reporter in central Oregon. (June)

A Calm Brain

Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System

Gayatri Devi

Dutton, $25.95

Summer's supposed to be the time when you shift into vacation mode and slow down, but if you can't, this neurologist author offers insights into managing stress and much more. (June)

Devotions for the Beach

Miriam Drennan

Thomas Nelson, $16.99

A series of religion-inspired meditations that pushes readers to find a deeper meaning in sand castles, tide pools and other aspects of life on the shore. (June)

Eat & Run

My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26

If you love running in all kinds of places urban and otherwise consider the daily life and career of this author, a champion ultrarunner whose typical races stretch to 100 miles. (June)

The Gift of Pets

Bruce R. Coston

Thomas Dunne, $25.99

If backyard plans include spending time with Spot the wonder dog, take along a copy of this memoir by a Virginia veterinarian, who relates tales of pets and the caring owners he encounters every day. (August)


East to West, Indirectly Along a Turkish River

Jeremy Seal

Bloomsbury, $28

A must for armchair travelers this season, the author chronicles his journeys down a river that winds so much that its name now defines aimlessness and digression. (June)

The New York Times Book of Wine

The Best Stories on Wine

Edited by Howard G. Goldberg

Sterling Epicure, $24.95

What's summer without a little vino? One hundred twenty-five articles from the New York Times' archives from respected wine experts, covering corkscrews, winespeak, food pairing and restaurant experiences. (Aug.)

Soul Centered

Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks With Meditation

Sarah McLean

Hay House, $15.95

What's your preference deep breathing, sitting meditations, heart-centered breathing? The author offers a variety of methods for attaining stillness and calm. (May)

Swimming Studies

Leanne Shapton

Blue Rider Press, $30

The loneliness of the solitary swimmer an illustrator describes her pool-time experiences as an Olympic trials teen and as a recreational swimmer. (June)

The Unstoppable Golfer

Trusting Your Mind and Your Short Game to Achieve Greatness

Dr. Bob Rotella and Bob Cullen

Free Press, $24.99

Are you the kind of golfer who loves teeing off but fears chips, putts and sand traps? Here's a guide that promises to help you fight your anxiety and improve your short game. (May)

What a Plant Knows

A Field Guide to the Senses

Daniel Chamovitz

Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23

There's plenty of intelligence in all that lush greenery around us and the author explains everything that affects plants, including the sounds of music, the seasons and the weather, and more. (June)

Wild Delicate Seconds

29 Wildlife Encounters

Charles Finn

Oregon State University Press, $16.95

In a lyrical collection of micro-essays, the author chronicles his encounters with a variety of creatures among them, mountain goats, red-tailed hawks and cougars while living in rural and semi-rural locations. (June)

Wild Hope

On the Front Lines of Conservation Success

Andrew Balmford

University of Chicago Press, $20

Be thankful for that leafy shade from the hot sun, and be thankful for Andrew Balmford's book a collection of encouraging stories about efforts to protect the natural world. (June)


What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz

Knopf, $27.95

Dinosaurs with brain cancer? Depressed gorillas? Reindeer using narcotics? The author describes a variety of medical parallels between the human and animal worlds. (June)


Art of War

A Graphic Novel

Kelly Roman & Michael DeWeese

Harper Perennial, $22.99

For 2,000 years, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" has dispensed battlefield strategy and tactics. And in Kelly Roman and Michael DeWeese's graphic novel, Sun Tzu is alive and well, living as a powerful kingpin in a world in whichChina'sdomination is supreme. A soldier named Kelly, released from prison (where he was sent for a friendly fire incident), wants to know who murdered his brother. The answer, he knows, rests deep within Sun Tzu's organization. How can he infiltrate it? How else? By using the ancient treatise's tactics (of course!). (July)

Bob's Booger

Scott Black, illustrated by Margaret TerBush

Broccoli Press, $17.99

Thanks to "Go the F--- to Sleep," there are plenty of so-called children's books out there that are really aimed at adults. "Bob's Booger," however, is one of those for parents and children alike. Scott Black uses a gross, embarrassing situation poor Bob is sick and forgets to wipe his nose to teach an important lesson to young readers about friendship. Everyone laughs at Bob, but no one tells him the reason until his pal Joe comes along. Way to go, Joe! (August)

The Book for Dangerous Women

A Guide to Modern Life

Clare Conville, Liz Hoggard and Sarah-Jane Lovett

The authors strive to give female readers everything they need, from A to Z, for enjoying a rewarding life. Bits of wisdom are tucked alongside entries on sex and beauty, househusbands and green living. What you have here are more than 300 pages of girl talk and advice, wise and funny. It definitely isn't a definitive guide, however; if it were, you'd find an obvious entry under "Fifty Shades of Grey." Maybe that will be included in an updated edition. (May)

The McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals

Edited by Chris Monks

Vintage Books, $14.95

Got your tickets for "Palin! The Musical" yet? Have you read a new version of "Atlas Shrugged" updated for the 2008 implosion of world financial markets? No? The only place you'll find these and plenty of others is in this collection of monologues, diatribes, mock musicals and more written by Ben Greenman. Only McSweeney's could combine politics and theater in such a strange, amusing way. (June)


3-Volume Boxed Set

Haruki Murakami

Vintage Books, $29.95

E-readers might be the traveling book lover's friend, especially when it comes to Haruki Murakami's mammoth-sized novel "1Q84," but Vintage gives us an unexpected version that's much easier to manage. The novel has been broken down into three discrete volumes the same packaging when it was first published in Japan in a hip, transparent slip case. It's far easier to handle than other versions and a much better choice for the beach than any e-reader. Why? Dropping a book in the sand (usually) won't ruin it. (May)

Sleeping with the Beast

Dale Ryan

Breeze Hill Books, $34.95

Before you let your house go to the dogs, literally, let Dale Ryan show you why this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This is a practical guide accompanied by adorable photos of the author's pets and of their home in a lush corner of Connecticut to having a canine-friendly house. Solid, sturdy furniture and library steps for the bed (if your pooch sleeps with you) are just two of many helpful tips. If a house can be toddler-proofed for a small child, why can't the same be done for our pets? (June)

The Zombie Tarot

Stacy Graham and Paul Kepple of Headcase Design

Quirk Books, $16.95

This publisher's not called Quirk for nothing. It has given us the ghoul-meets-Jane-Austen novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Grahame Smith (screenwriter for Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" among other things), Ransom Rigg's "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" ... and now a deck of Tarot cards riffing on the popularity of zombies. The accompanying booklet gives a quick, breezy guide to the Major and Minor Arcana, as well as a how-to for conducting a successful reading. Just the sort of thing you'd expect to find on Ozzy Osbourne's nightstand. (June)


The Cove

A Novel

Ron Rash

HarperAudio: $16.95

In his other novels, such as "Serena," Ron Rash captures the gentle (or violent) interactions between humans set against the beauty of the natural world, especially the rugged Appalachians. In "The Cove," Merritt Hicks provides a thoughtful rendering of Rash's new novel about a doomed love affair once again set in Appalachia in the turbulent years of World War I. Superstition surrounds a shadowy cove where a young woman and her brother live until a stranger's arrival threatens their calm, idyllic world. (May)

The Hunt

Andrew Fukuda

MacMillan Audio, $39.99, ages 12 and up

The scenario of Andrew Fukuda's "The Hunt" is so wildly fantastic (in a good way) that narrator Sean Runnette delivers just what this story needs: a clear, steady voice. Runnette doesn't need to overdramatize this story of a world dominated by vampires and of a young boy, Gene, who attends school and struggles to hide the fact that he's human. When his father's bitten, starts to transform and races outside to commit suicide in the bright sunlight, Gene's sense of isolation is complete. He's not thinking of his society, however; he's just mourning the loss of his family: "My father was right," Runnette reads slowly, thoughtfully, "I became alone that day. We were once a family of four, but that was a long time ago."

As for the book's title, and Gene's involvement in an awful hunt, Fukuda's story has a very clear message: There are many societies that have their hunger games, not just Katniss'. (May)

Mud, Sweat, and Tears

The Autobiography

Bear Grylls

HarperAudio: $23.61

It's a good choice to pair a British actor with a British author in this case, actor Tom Patrick Stephens gives life to the story of outdoorsman Bear Grylls. "Mud, Sweat, and Tears" describes his family's history and what he did before striking it big with his "Man Vs. Wild" TV series. That includes his early love of mountaineering and sailing, reaching the summit of Mt. Everest and a stint as a commando with British Special Forces. The only drawback to Stephens' performance of this autobiography is that he makes Grylls sound, well, far too calm: Maybe if he were chewing on raw fish or sinking in a quicksand pool, he'd sound a bit more believable. (May)

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life

Sissy Spacek

Hyperion: $39.99

Usually the most successful audio memoirs are those read by the authors it feels more intimate and besides, whose voices could be more appropriate to tell these stories? Hyperion lets actress Sissy Spacek tell her own tale, tracing her journey from an East Texas childhood to New York City as an excited, optimistic teen with dreams of stardom. She takes listeners into her life as a successful actress on a broad variety of films: "Carrie," "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "The Help" not only demonstrate her versatility but also show how successful she has been at defying easy categorizing. Spacek also tells us how her life has been enriched by memories of her Texas clan and by being a mother too. (May)

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