156 hot summer reads: Fiction, thriller, YA, nonfiction, kids, more

Summer books
Summer books in the Sunday Los Angeles Times.
(Dongyun Lee / For the Times)

If you’re planning to hit the beach -- or mountains or woods or backyard patio -- don’t forget to bring along a book or two. In our list of 156 summer book picks, you’ll find thrillers and young adult books, science books and novels, memoirs and science fiction, books about pop culture and just for kids. There’s really something for everyone.

A special summer books pull-out tablet -- online here -- appears in the L.A. Times print edition on Sunday. It includes an essay from book critic David L. Ulin, in which he contemplates the luxury of time the summer affords us to read -- a luxury that may be more imaginary than real. He also selects three books that he plans to read this summer: a philosophical meditation on stories, a new novel and a new history of one of the most notorious crimes of the 1960s.

We’ve also interviewed some intriguing authors with books coming out this summer.

Hector Tobar talks to Thomas Keneally. The author of the nonfiction book “Schindler’s List” has written 20 novels; he tells Tobar about his latest, “The Daughters of Mars.” The book is about two sisters who join up as nurses in World War I -- or as they would have called it, the Great War. “They had no idea the war would end in 1918, and they thought everyone they knew would be obliterated,” Keneally says. “They had seen so much damage, they didn’t believe anyone could ultimately survive.”


Writer Sara Gran talks to the L.A. Times’ Jessica Gelt about her new mystery novel, “Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway,” which is partly set in the mind of her painkiller-snorting detective, DeWitt. In one scene, DeWitt thinks, “[H]e leaned over and kissed me — not for the first time, but it still felt like something. Like something I don’t remember having felt before, or at least for a long time. Like a door had been opened that had been shut so long ago that I forgot it was there, and whatever was behind that door was younger and brighter and less burdened than what I’d become.” 

Prize-winning novelist Kate Christensen makes her first foray into nonfiction with the memoir “Blue Plate Special.” Part the story of her normal-but-unusual path, part a memoir of food, complete with recipes, “Blue Plate Special” shines with her polished prose. “My 50th birthday approaching felt like a big milestone to me,” Christensen says by phone from her house in Maine. “I’ve lived half a century. If I write about food and use my life as a fulcrum to move the story along, maybe I’ve lived long enough to fashion a narrative that has a happy ending.”

We hope you’ll be reading lots this summer. If you have to bring more than two books, well, go ahead. There’s a lot to look forward to.



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