Summer reading 2012: 50 books that aren’t ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
Looking for some dishy reads to throw in your carry-on this summer? Check out our list of 50 books that are must-reads for the warmer months. (Various)
Release date: May 1, 2012
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Book 12 in the Sookie Stackhouse series promises a murder mystery on top of the usual vampire antics when a dead body appears on Eric Northman’s front lawn just in time for a visit from the Vampire King of Louisiana. With “True Blood” Season 5 heating up HBO this summer, you can have double the sexy vampires in your life.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Allman’s recent struggle with Hepatitis C had him worried that he may not finish this memoir before his death, but he persevered -- and we can’t wait to dig in to this unparalleled tale of rock and roll excess. He doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to his devastating recollection of the death of his older brother, Duane Allman.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Frankel is known for her blunt honesty and foul-mouthed sense of humor, so fans of hers won’t be disappointed with her foray into fiction. And part of the fun in this dishy, brain-vacation read is trying to figure out what’s thinly veiled fiction and what is purely her invention.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Pearson and former NBC Entertainment president Littlefield have rounded up NBC talent like Jerry Seinfeld, Kelsey Grammer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Julianna Margulies, Debra Messing and Helen Hunt for a fascinating oral history of what made the network’s Thursday night lineup so gigantic and groundbreaking.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Way before Cohen was a Bravo exec and host of “Watch What Happens Live,” he was just a pop-culture obsessed kid who loved “Charlie’s Angels” and “All My Children.” Readers will almost be able to hear Cohen’s inflection in the witty tome full of witty stories about everything from interviewing celebrities like Susan Lucci to creating celebrities like the “Real Housewives.”
Why to throw it in your beach bag: A book filled with hate doesn’t sound like vacation reading, but it is when it’s written by the incredibly politically incorrect Rivers. A few of the things -- other than herself -- that the comedian hates include old people, Arizona and Anne Frank. And according to Rivers, “hate makes the world go round.”
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Though not exactly about Elizabeth Taylor, this novel weaves a fascinating tale about how her antics on the set of “Cleopatra” had a ripple effect, making waves from the tiny coastal town of Porto Vergogna, Italy in 1962 to present-day Hollywood. It’s a fascinating story of a train-wreck romance -- though, not the one you expect, perhaps -- and with Lindsay Lohan’s biopic on the way, we’d rather hear it this way first.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Described as a “family tragicomedy,” this novel reunites estranged siblings Richard and Angela for a week at a vacation home during an already turbulent time in their family. Told through the point of views of eight family members over the course of seven days, this story from the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” is just sudsy enough for a beach-read, with enough emotional resonance to keep you up reading long after bedtime.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Furst is one of the best spy novelists in the game, and the plot of “Mission to Paris” is the stuff that devour-it-all-in-one-reading dreams are made of: A Hollywood star who travels to Paris for a film shoot in 1938 is targeted by the Nazis -- but also recruited to join an informal spy network working against the Third Reich.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: In his second book, the man-child comedian tells true tales from his colorful past, using the construct of all of the decrepit places he lived in his formative years. Bonus: Jennifer Aniston and Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines make cameos.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: If you’re missing “Revenge,” turn off your television and pick up this book. Call us crazy, but we detect a note of Truman Capote in Maggie Shipstead’s satirical voice. The novel takes place on an island in New England at a family vacation home, where the Van Meter family is preparing for a wedding. There’s scandal, seduction, and plenty of bad behavior. We’re definitely hoping Shipstead’s first book won’t be her last.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Set in 1663 in New Amsterdam -- the place we currently know as Manhattan -- “The Orphanmaster” is a good old-fashioned mystery set against the backdrop of the colonial struggle with England. Orphans begin to go missing, and everyone is a suspect as a 22-year-old woman and a handsome British spy (seriously) set out to solve the tale. There’s romance, espionage, accusations of witchcraft -- all the trappings of a great historical page-turner.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: The slow death of the world -- thanks to a slowing of the Earth’s rotation -- as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl? Color us intrigued. Walker’s first novel has received heaps of advanced praise -- so why not see if it lives up to the hype?
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Picoult has authored 18 novels, including “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Nineteen Minutes.” But for her first foray into YA books, she teams up with her daughter, van Leer, who came up with the idea for the tome. In it, teenage Delilah is obsessed with a fairy tale that really speaks to her. No, really -- the prince in it speaks to her. Definitely a book to get lost in.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Fans of Hilderbrand’s work will get another Nantucket-set romance, one that springs out of tragedy when a high-school student is killed and her twin brother left in a coma after a car crash. As the community looks for a way to make sense of things, a new love blooms.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Foodies and reality TV lovers alike will recognize Samuelsson, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times for his work at Aquavit. In “Yes, Chef,” he recounts the tales of his successes and failures in the kitchen and in life.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Friends and rivals Zoe and Kate face some big decisions as the professional cyclists approach their last Olympics as competitors, the 2012 London Games. It’s topical and dramatic -- lives are at stake! Their complex friendship is tested when the women must decide whether their lifelong dreams are more important than the people they love.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Weiner’s work -- including books like “Good in Bed” and “In Her Shoes” -- always feels like a step above chick lit with her humor and engaging style. And her latest “gal against the odds” story is no different as it follows 23-year-old Ruth Saunders who heads to LA with her grandma in hopes of making it as a screenwriter. Six years later, her sitcom gets picked up, but is Hollywood all she dreamed it would be?
Why to throw it in your beach bag: What if Abraham Lincoln survived the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre? That’s the jumping-off point for Carter’s story, which has Lincoln impeached two years later and centers on a young black woman involved in his defense. In this summer of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” why not take in a different retelling of Honest Abe’s life?
Why to throw it in your beach bag: A comatose piano prodigy, his father, a disparate group of people holding a vigil outside the hospital, a wolf and an angel form the cast of characters in Brandon’s follow-up to the much-loved “Citrus County.” It’s hard not to wonder how they all come together.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: This fantasy novel is set in Goredd, a world where tensions are high between human and dragons, who are able blend into society by taking on human forms -- which means it’s especially suspicious when a member of the royal family is murdered. Our heroine, musician Seraphina Dombegh, is roped into the investigation and must find out why someone wants to destroy the peace, all the while hiding a secret about her gifts as a musician. Hey, if you’re traveling to paradise on the beach, you might as well take it one step further and transport yourself to a new literary world as well.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: The sequel to Harkness’ best-selling “A Discovery of Witches” picks up right where the first novel left off, with reluctant witch Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont still chasing the mystery of Ashmole 782. Diana discovers new cohorts in the likes of Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe, and the mystery is likely only to get a little deeper this time out.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Andersen’s latest sure-to-be-bestseller follows Karen Hollander in her present day as a respected attorney and her past in the 1960s as a girl who play-acted spy missions with her friends -- a game that became more real than she ever thought it would. Short on time? Get the best of two literary genres: It’s a coming-of-age novel and a thriller in one.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Dublin detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy from French’s “Faithful Place” returns to take on what at first looks like a pretty simple murder case. It’s not that simple, of course, and it ends up dredging up a painful incident from his own past.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: Author of breezy chick lit with surprising depth, Giffin hits the right beach read note with her latest “Where We Belong.” Marian Caldwell is a TV producer living in New York City with a seemingly picture-perfect life, but she has a secret past that she thinks she’s escaped until one night when it comes knocking at her door.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: What better way to celebrate what would have been the acclaimed chef, author and TV personality’s 100th birthday (Aug. 15) than with this affectionate telling of her life.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: When architect, housewife and all-around awesome mom Bernadette Fox disappears, it’s up to her 15-year-old daughter Bee to figure out where she went. Complicating matters is the fact that Bernadette was so agoraphobic she had an assistant in India who would virtually complete her most basic errands.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: If you want to have your heart broken in the best way possible this summer, pick up Tropper’s latest. Drew Silver, a washed-up one-hit-wonder rock star, discovers that he needs emergency surgery on his heart -- but he refuses it, instead using the very little time he has left to attempt to repair his relationship with his pregnant daughter. Mixing humor with tragedy in the way only Tropper can, this book is a can’t-miss.
Why to throw it in your beach bag: A wakes up in a different person’s body every day without fail, never seeing them again. But what happens when he falls in love with the girlfriend of one of his hosts? How will he get back to her when he doesn’t know where or who he’ll be tomorrow? If it sounds too heavy, don’t worry -- it’s YA, so all ages will be able to handle it.
Titles: “666 Park Avenue: A Novel” by Gabriella Pierce for ABC’s “666 Park Avenue”
“The Carrie Diaries” by Candace Bushnell for The CW’s “The Carrie Diaries”
“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling for FOX’s “The Mindy Project”
“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for CBS’ “Elementary”
“Beauty and the Beast” by Gabrielle Suzanne de Villeneuve for The CW’s “Beauty and the Beast”
DC Comics’ “Green Arrow” books for The CW’s “Arrow”
Why to throw them in your beach bag: If you’ve always wanted to be (or already are) that person who says, “Oh, the book was sooo much better,” then consider these titles your assignments to prep for what’s coming this fall. Some of the TV interpretations are much looser -- “Elementary” and “Beauty and the Beast” for example -- than others. And Kaling’s show isn’t actually based on her wonderfully hilarious book at all. But for the TV aficionados, they’re all good references.