2008 summer reading list


June 8, 2008

Editor’s Note: It’s a perennial question for the summer months, what to read? Here you’ll mind more than 50 titles in fiction andƒononfiction, organized according to the months when they’ll be published. Books are listed in alphabetical order by title. There’s only one thing left to say: Good luck!



America America

A Novel

Ethan Canin

Random House

During the Nixon era, a working-class boy’s involvement with a powerful upstate New York family and a rising senator reveals the heights and depths of ambition in a novel of epic scope.

Claim of Privilege

A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets

Barry Siegel


How a case involving the widows of three civilian engineers, killed in a 1948 U.S. Air Force plane crash, led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing the “state secrets” privilege.

The Eaves of Heaven

A Life in Three Wars

Andrew X. Pham

Harmony Books

A son’s harrowing yet radiant account of his wealthy Vietnamese father’s struggle to survive the Japanese invasion of World War II, the French occupation of Indochina and a Viet Cong “reeducation camp.”


The Garden of Last Days

A Novel

Andre Dubus III

W.W. Norton

From the author of “House of Sand and Fog,” a pre-Sept. 11 novel -- set in Florida and involving a Saudi jihadist and an exotic dancer at the Puma Club for Men.

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

A Novel

Sasa Stanisic

Grove Press

This debut unfolds as a stream-of-consciousness recollection of a lost childhood by a Bosnian refugee.

The James Boys

A Novel Account of Four Desperate Brothers

Richard Liebmann-Smith

Random House

What if the younger brothers of psychologist William and novelist Henry were the outlaws Frank and Jesse?


This Land Is Their Land

Reports From a Divided Nation

Barbara Ehrenreich

Metropolitan Books

A satiric look by the cultural critic at what she sees as the deepening, and officially sanctioned, divide between those who have and those who barely get by.


The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West

Deanne Stillman

Houghton Mifflin

This majestic tale traces the horse’s evolution and die out in the Americas, its return with the conquistadors and its spread throughout the West in herds of wild mustangs whose existence is threatened today.

The Secret Scripture

A Novel

Sebastian Barry


Beneath the floorboards of her room at an Irish mental hospital, 100-year-old Roseanne McNulty conceals a journal describing her youth in Sligo -- and also the story of why she was committed.


The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal, edited by Jay Parini


Two dozen of Vidal’s best, wittiest and most coruscating critiques, culled from half a century of mind-bending work.

Skyscrapers of the Midwest

Joshua W. Cotter

AdHouse Books

A boy struggles with identity, death, puberty, religion and human communication in this beautiful collection of coming-of-age stories in graphic novel format.


A Novel

Paul Beatty


A young, disaffected DJ from Los Angeles goes on a wild search in Berlin for a jazzman who may or may not be his double.


The Spies of Warsaw

A Novel

Alan Furst

Random House

A new spy novel by a master of the genre, describing the cat-and-mouse games on the European Continent preceding the outbreak of World War II.

Spiral Jetta

A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West

Erin Hogan

University of Chicago

A trip west out of Chicago leads an art historian to discover the vastness of solitude among the treasures of land art she encounters along the way.

A Time It Was

Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties

Bill Eppridge


A photographic history of an American icon, by the former Life magazine photographer.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames


David Sedaris

Little, Brown

The piercingly witty humorist takes us from the French countryside to a mobile home in North Carolina and on to Tokyo (where he tries to quit smoking), in his sixth collection of essays on the big and little absurdities of life.

Year Million

Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge

Edited by Damien Broderick

Atlas & Co.

What will the world be like in a million years? What will humans be like? Fourteen essays consider the possibilities.



The Alchemy of Stone

A Novel of Automated Anarchy & Clockwork Lust

Ekaterina Sedia

Prime Books

An automaton finds herself caught among gargoyles, mechanics and alchemists in a struggle for control of a magical, clockwork realm.


All About Lulu

A Novel

Jonathan Evison

Soft Skull Press

In a family of bodybuilders from Venice Beach, Calif., a young man’s attraction to his troubled stepsister turns into a first step on his search for self-identity.

Ark of the Liberties

America and the World

Ted Widmer

Hill & Wang

A history of the United States that argues that its leaders, from the very beginning, had global ambitions to secure rights and liberties for all.

The Black Hole War

My Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics

Leonard Susskind

Little, Brown

If information falls into a black hole, is it lost forever? Find out here.


A Memoir


Larry McMurtry

Simon & Schuster

The author of “Lonesome Dove” recalls his attempts during his Texas childhood to acquire his own personal library and his eventual establishment of a bookstore.

Chasing Darkness

An Elvis Cole Novel

Robert Crais

Simon & Schuster

A corpse discovered in Laurel Canyon sets L.A. private investigator Elvis Cole on another quest.

A Few Seconds of Panic

A 5-foot-8, 170-pound, 43-year-old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL

Stefan Fatsis

Penguin Press

A sportswriter’s personal tale of surviving the Denver Broncos’ training camp, in the best tradition of such accounts as George Plimpton’s “Paper Lion.”

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

A New Zealand Story


Christina Thompson


Part history of the Maori civilization and European explorations in the Pacific and part memoir, by the editor of the Harvard Review, who is married to a Maori.

How Fiction Works

James Wood

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

An analysis of forms and styles from Homer on up, by one of our finest literary critics.

The Last Embrace

A Novel

Denise Hamilton


Dark doings (You don’t say!) in 1940s Hollywood.

The Lemur

A Novel

Benjamin Black


A new novel of murder and nasty family secrets, set in 1950s Dublin and contemporary New York City, from John Banville, writing again as Benjamin Black.


My Name Is Will

A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare

Jess Winfield


A tale of two Williams: the Bard, on a secret mission to bring a sacred relic to England, and a broke graduate student who delivers a psychedelic mushroom to a client.

Palace Council

A Novel

Stephen L. Carter

Alfred A. Knopf

An up-and-coming Harlem literary star finds the garroted body of a prominent Wall Street lawyer, and soon his sister disappears. His 20-year search for her leads him to the corridors of Nixon-era Washington and a shadowy group that tries to pull the levers of U.S. power.

Real World

A Novel

Natuso Kirino

Alfred A. Knopf

Four teenage friends become entangled in a brutal murder and the search for the killer during a hot, smoggy summer in Tokyo.


Rome 1960

The Olympics That Changed the World

David Maraniss

Simon & Schuster

How the Cold War was played out on the fields of the 17th Olympiad.

Secrets of the Sea

A Novel

Nicholas Shakespeare

Harper Perennial

Young newlyweds build a farm by the Tasman Sea, only to have their plans -- and their new life -- upset by a castaway they take into their home.

Shining City

A Novel

Seth Greenland


A satire set in West Hollywood, in which a dry-cleaning business fronts for an escort service.


Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)


Tom Vanderbilt

Alfred A. Knopf

A cultural and psychological study of that most mundane of our daily activities.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

A Memoir

Haruki Murakami

Alfred A. Knopf

The celebrated Japanese novelist, who took up running in 1982, reminisces about his wide-ranging preparations for the 2005 New York City Marathon.



An Inspector Espinosa Mystery

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Henry Holt

A Rio de Janeiro detective can’t get the murder of a homeless man out of his mind and soon discovers a connection to the slaying of a beautiful denizen of the city.


A Novel

Justine Picardie


The lives of Daphne du Maurier and the Brontës intertwine in a story of literary obsession and deception.

Dry Storeroom No. 1

The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum


Richard Fortey

Alfred A. Knopf

Behind the scenes at London’s storied Natural History Museum and a look at the collections and their collectors. Fortey sees the world’s great museums as the saviors of nature’s diversity.

The Implacable Order of Things

A Novel

José Luís Peixoto

Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

The tangles wrought by love and jealousy torment the inhabitants of a dirt-poor rural Portuguese village.

The Little Book

A Novel

Selden Edwards


The high-living scion of a banking family suddenly finds himself transported back in time to late 19th century Vienna, half a century before his birth.

Man in the Dark

A Novel

Paul Auster

Henry Holt

A retired book critic, recovering from a car accident, spends a troubled night re-imagining the country’s recent history and avoiding his own.

The 19th Wife

A Novel


David Ebershoff

Random House

A Mormon woman’s crusade against her husband, Brigham Young, and his church is woven with a present-day story of murder and polygamy in Utah.

One More Year


Sana Krasikov

Spiegel & Grau

A debut collection of stories about Russians, Georgians and émigrés from the former Soviet Union -- and some who have returned.

Reinventing Knowledge

From Alexandria to the Internet

Ian F. McNeely and Lisa Wolverton

W.W. Norton

Monks, libraries and more: a history of humanity’s long effort to protect and preserve knowledge for the future.

The Road Home

A Novel


Rose Tremain

Little, Brown

A widower, seeking to support his family, leaves Eastern Europe to live among fellow immigrant dreamers in London and finds the thought of returning problematic.

Southern Storm

Sherman’s March to the Sea

Noah Andre Trudeau


The author of “Gettysburg” details Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s effort to break the backbone of the South.

This Must Be the Place

A Novel

Anna Winger


Walter, who dubs Tom Cruise movies into German and dreams of making it in Hollywood, and his neighbor Hope, an American trying to adjust to life in Berlin, forge a friendship among the ghosts of history.

A Week in October

A Novel


Elizabeth Subercaseaux

Other Press

A husband discovers his mortally ill wife’s novel-in-progress and wonders whether her writings are really fiction, or the untold story of their lives.

What Happened to Anna K.

A Novel

Irina Reyn


A re-imagining of the Tolstoy novel, set in the Russian-Jewish immigrant community of Queens, N.Y.

White Heat

The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Brenda Wineapple

Alfred A. Knopf

An intense literary, epistolary friendship between the shy poet and her mentor, the radical abolitionist and reformer.

The White Mary

A Novel


Kira Salak

Henry Holt

An adventure tale set in the jungles of New Guinea, in the tradition of Conrad’s “Lord Jim.”

The Wrecking Crew

How Conservatives Rule

Thomas Frank

Metropolitan Books

What happens when the faction calling itself “conservative” takes over the controls of the state: how conservatism-in-power is very different from conservatism on the streets.