Summe reading

Young woman on grass reading book. (Tim Robberts / May 27, 2012)

As life seems to slow to a snail’s pace during summer’s languorous days, it’s the perfect time to indulge in reading. Thrillers and spooky tales provide a particular chill on a torpid evening. Light and breezy reads are the perfect accompaniment for an afternoon beneath a beach umbrella. And should your tastes run a bit deeper, the longer days or half-day Fridays may just be the right time for a new political discussion or memoir.

Thankfully, publishers provide us with a bevy of choices that are perfect for all our summer outings. Here are a few books to round out your beach bag this summer.

Thrillers for standing in line at Six Flags Great America

Editor's Choice: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn (June 5)

Crown Publishing Group, 432 pages, $25

Newlyweds may want to steer clear of this toxic homage to a marriage gone terribly wrong. When Amy Elliott disappears, her husband is suspected of foul play — and the luster soon dulls on this golden couple. Another delicious psychological thriller from Flynn, the author of "Dark Places." (Watch for a full review in Printers Row Journal next week.)

"The Nightmare" by Lars Kepler (July 3)

Sarah Crichton Books, 512 pages, $27

If you like your thrillers dark, twisted and Swedish, this sequel to "The Hypnotist" should do the trick.

"The Dark Monk" by Oliver Pötzsch (June 12)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 512 pages, $18

Rousing sequel to "The Hangman's Daughter." Dark 17th Century Bavaria is the setting, and poisoned doughnuts are the clue for three sleuths trying to figure out the mysterious death of a priest.

"Bones are Forever" by Kathy Reichs (Aug, 28)

Scribner, 304 pages, $26.99

When a prostitute and mother to three dead babies flees in the midst of an investigation, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan finds herself involved in an intriguing case. Reichs, the author and producer of the television show "Bones," is a masterful storyteller.

"Mission to Paris" by Alan Furst (June 12)

Random House, 272 pages, $27

A handsome American movie star moves to Paris, just prior to the Nazi invasion, to make a movie. Another fantastic spy story from the esteemed Furst.

"The Risk Agent" by Ridley Pearson (June 19)

Putnam, 432 pages, $25.95

Brace yourself for a thrilling afternoon: Pearson's introducing a new action series that stars a Shanghai-based security agent named John Knox. Spoiler alert: Knox does not spend his nights nodding off in front of a black-and-white security screen.

"The Kings of Cool" by Don Winslow (June 19)

Simon & Schuster, 336 pages, $25

This prequel to the electrifying "Savages" explores how those main characters ended up in a race for their lives.

"Broken Harbor" by Tana French (July 24)

Viking, 464 pages, $27.95

The Dublin Murder Squad (don't you wish you'd thought of that name for your murder mystery book group?) tries to suss out the details of a grisly triple homicide that took the lives of a family man and his two children.

Fourth of July picnic conversation starters

"The New, New Deal" by Michael Grunwald (Aug. 14)

Simon & Schuster, 432 pages, $28

There's plenty here for everyone to get aflutter about all over again in this riveting account of President Obama's stimulus bill. Grunwald, a Time magazine senior correspondent, provides captivating background history on the stimulus and how it may prove to be a far greater deal than the one FDR famously launched.

Editor's Choice: "Barack Obama: The Story" by David Maraniss (June 19)

Simon & Schuster, 672 pages, $32.50

Obamaphiles and history buffs will enjoy this studious biography of our current president's life through age 27. Maraniss does a superb job exploring Obama's childhood and his parents' intellectual yearnings.

"Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt" by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco (June 18)

Avalon Publishing Group, 320 pages, $28

Camden, N.J., is the focus in this harrowing study of modern poverty. Once an industrial great, Camden is now a pit of crime and bleakness.

"Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Administration" by Daniel Klaidman (June 5)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages, $28

Fascinating insider's look at how President Obama has struggled to end terrorism — one terrorist at a time. Klaidman sensitively handles this dark material and infuses a sense of humanity and emotion into a topic that is often reported all too often purely in brief statistics.

Editor's Choice: "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy" by Christopher Hayes (June 12)

Crown Publishing, 304 pages, $26

More sadness and despair is in store for America, although Hayes (MSNBC's"Up with Chris Hayes") offers a social commentary infused with solution and possibilities for renewal. After all, if we survived the 2000s, what Hayes calls the "fail decade," there has to be hope. Right?

Overseas vacation fare

"A Hundred Flowers" by Gail Tsukiyama (Aug. 7)

St. Martin's Press, 304 pages, $24.99

A family suffers gravely after the father is hauled off to a labor camp at the beginning of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Tsukiyama, the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award, has a moving and lyrical style.

"The Hypnotist's Love Story" by Liane Moriarty (June 14)

Penguin, 416 pages, $25.95

The author of "What Alice Forgot" returns with a twisted tale of an Australian hypnotherapist who becomes involved in a romantic triangle when she discovers her new boyfriend has a stalker ex-girlfriend.

"Capital" by John Lanchester (June 11)

Norton, W.W. & Co., 528 pages, $26.95

A diverse group of people in modern London is connected by a threatening postcard.

"The Red Chamber" by Pauline A. Chen (July 10)

Knopf, 400 pages, $26.95

This is a creative reworking of "Dream of the Red Chamber," a classic Chinese novel written in the mid-18th Century. The novel follows the lives of three cousins who live — and scheme — in Beijing.

Editor's Choice: "The Kingmaker's Daughter" by Philippa Gregory (Aug. 14)

Touchstone, 432 pages, $26.99

Two sisters grow up as political pawns and fierce competitors in an old British royal court. Sound familiar? Set in the court of King Edward IV, the book promises to be as intriguing and sexy as Gregory's best-selling "The Other Boleyn Girl."

For the road-tripper who would rather time travel  

"The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln" by Stephen L. Carter (July 10)

Knopf, 528 pages, $26.95

Carter, author of "The Emperor of Ocean Park," imagines what President Lincoln's life would have been like if he had survived his assassination attempt. The Yale Law School professor envisions quite a courtroom drama with Lincoln facing charges for violating the Constitution during wartime.

Editor's Choice: "Motherland" by Amy Sohn (Aug. 14) 

Simon & Schuster, 320 pages, $25

Park Slope is again a major character in Sohn's ongoing smart soap opera about how wealthy Brooklynites live — and squabble and cheat and hook up.

"The Good Dream" by Donna VanLiere (July 3)

St. Martin's Press, 320 pages, $25.99

In 1950s Tennessee, a lonely woman struggling with the loss of her parents discovers that a filthy boy from the nearby hills has been stealing food from her garden. When she tries to learn more about the boy, she uncovers a world of secrets.

"Heading Out to Wonderful" by Robert Goolrick (June 12)

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 304 pages, $24.95

Bad deeds are in store for the good folks of quaint Virginia town when a WWII veteran decides to make it his home. Poetic tale that simmers with foreboding atmosphere.

"Little Century" by Anna Keesey (June 5)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 336 pages, $26

A teenage woman from Chicago at the turn of the century finds that she enjoys small-town life, horseback riding and a certain sheep farmer in the dusty ranchlands of Oregon — but she's not so keen on the violence that ensues.

For satisfying a sudden Edith Wharton craving

"The Innocents" by Francesca Segal (June 5)

Voice, 288 pages, $25.99

Just what is a nice young Jewish man to do when his sweet fiance's unruly and wildly sexy cousin pays them a lengthy visit in their tight-knit London community? It's a lovely update on "The Age of Innocence." (Watch for a full review in Printers Row Journal on June 10.)

"Gilded Age" by Claire McMillan (June 12)

Simon & Schuster, 256 pages, $25

This debut novel transforms "House of Mirth" into a modern-day tale of one woman's emotional crises in a wealthy enclave of Cleveland.

As you ponder your own empty journal

"Off Balance: A Memoir" by Dominique Moceanu, with Paul and Teri Williams (June 12)

Touchstone, 256 pages, $24.99

It's high time another juicy gymnast tale hit the market. And this, from the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. Women's Olympic Gymnastic team, is a whopper.

"Hotels, Hospitals and Jails: A Memoir" by Anthony Swofford (June 5)

Grand Central Publishing, 300 pages, $26.99

Jarhead returns! A writer made famous by his earlier account of the Gulf War now retraces his drunken footsteps through his post-war and post-fame life. It is indeed a harrowing and traumatic journey.

Editor's Choice: "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz (Aug. 7)

Knopf, 576 pages, $29.95

Published just in time for the famous chef's 100th birthday, this definitive biography is full of delicious tidbits from Child's diaries and letters. In Spitz's capable hands (he also wrote "The Beatles"), the eccentric Child roars to life and will make you crave a hearty beef bourguignonne despite the heat.

"The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss & Life" by Marie Tillman (June 26)

Grand Central Publishing, 272 pages, $23.99

The widow of Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, poignantly remembers her life with the former football star — and her struggles to survive without him.

"Yes, Chef: A Memoir" by Marcus Samuelsson (June 26)

Random House, 336 pages, $27

Celebrity chef Samuelsson revisits his childhood in Sweden, where he was raised after being adopted from Ethiopia at age 3. Layered into his story are beautiful descriptions of food preparation, particularly his memories of cooking with his grandmother.

"Dinner: A Love Story" by Jenny Rosenstrach (June 5)

HarperCollins, 336 pages, $27.99

Drop the frozen corn dogs and pick up a copy of this book. Wildly popular food blogger Rosenstrach makes dreaded dinner prep enjoyable with her easy recipes and humorous been-there, ate-that charm.

Chillers for the campfire

"You Came Back" by Christopher Coake (June 12)

Grand Central Publishing, 432 pages, $24.99

A bereaved dad who is finally beginning to cope with his son's death learns that the child's ghost might be haunting his old home.

"The Playdate" by Louise Millar (July 3)

Atria, 432 pages, $15

Whatever you do, don't drop your kids off for the afternoon at a neighbor's house so you can have a few moments to read this unnerving novel about a playdate in London that goes horribly wrong.

"Niceville" by Carsten Stroud (June 12)

Knopf, 400 pages, $26.95

Sudden, random stranger abductions are making this seemingly pleasant little town in the Deep South regret its name. Evilville, however, does not have as sweet a ring.

"Heartbroken" by Lisa Unger (June 26)

Crown, 384 pages, $24

Three women are haunted by their pasts in this insidious psychological thriller. Set, quite appropriately, on a claustrophobic island.

Books that read best covered in sunscreen and sand

"Summerland" by Elin Hilderbrand (June 26)

Little, Brown & Company, 400 words, $26.99

The inhabitants of Nantucket Island are jolted into a cloud of anxiety and grief when several high school students are in a deadly car wreck graduation night. But was it just an accident?

"Where We Belong" by Emily Griffin (July 24)

St. Martin's Press, 384 pages, $27.99

Light entertainment about a successful woman in her 30s who receives an unexpected knock on her door that barrels her back to her past and makes her consider what is missing in her life.

"Spring Fever" by Mary Kay Andrews (June 5)

St. Martin's Press, 416 pages, $25.99

Oh Annajane, it's really never a good idea to attend your ex-husband's wedding. You just might start thinking about second chances.

"Between You and Me" by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (June 12)

Atria Books, 272 pages, $25

The ladies who brought us "The Nanny Diaries" are back with their sixth novel, which follows a woman as she is slowly sucked into her famous cousin's crazy life. Read it for the tabloidesque gossip, not for deep emotional character analysis.

"The Soldier's Wife" by Joanna Trollope (June 5)

Simon & Schuster, $15, 320 pages

A wife and mother on a British army base struggles when her husband returns from tour in Afghanistan.

"Tumbleweeds" by Leila Meacham (June 19)

Grand Central Publishing, $25.99, 480 pages

Texas is the setting for this expansive generational saga that explores the evolving relationship between three friends whose lives take a dramatic and unforeseen turn. Fans of "Friday Night Lights" will enjoy a return to the land where high school football boys are kings.

"Porch Lights" by Dorothea Benton Frank (June 12)

HarperCollins, 336 pages, $25.99

It's really impossible to pass up a summertime book with a string of glowing lanterns, a hammock and a beach on the cover. Fortunately, this Southern island story is a perfect accompaniment to a tall glass of icy sweet tea.

"Seating Arrangements" by Maggie Shipstead (June 12)

Knopf, 320 pages, $25.95

A pregnant bride feels the heat from her WASPy family and friends in this charming satire set in New England.

"The Next Best Thing" by Jennifer Weiner (July 3)

Atria Books, 400 pages, $26.99

Ruth Saunders heads to Los Angeles, moves in with Grandma and writes a sitcom that eventually makes it big. Well, it's not supposed to be Shakespeare, but it certainly is entertaining.

Publication dates subject to change.

This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email.

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