Summer Reads

    As I prepare to have some August downtime, I’m dying to get my summer reading list in order. I’ve asked some friends for their best summer reads – to help narrow down the plethora of great novels. There is something for everyone here.


    Abby’s Picks

    Abby Kane is one of my best childhood friends; she is a mother of two and lives in Georgia. Abby's four-year-old son Emmett has Type 1 diabetes and she supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

    The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It
    by Robyn O’Brien

    As a lover of food and a mother, this book is eye-opening and interesting and I believe it’s a must-read for moms everywhere. It is an examination of the food industry and the revolving door between the corporations that are supplying our food (often dangerous to our health and, more importantly, the health of our children) and the FDA. The author has done incredibly brave work, as the book is informative and at the same time a fascinating read. The author is also a friend and a college-mate of mine and is now being compared to Erin Brockovich.

    Loving Frank
    by Nancy Horan

    This is the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, Frank Lloyd Wright’s muse and mistress of seven years. Both were married and parents, and their love was forbidden by society. The book explores the themes of morality, women’s liberation, reputation and love. I very much enjoyed learning about Wright, his life and interactions, and found the book exciting and compelling.

    The Space Between Us
    by Thrity Umrigar

    The tragic and beautiful story of two Indian women: a wealthy woman and her most trusted servant. I was touched by the huge differences yet intense similarities in their lives. This is a book about how class transcends money and position.

    by Hillary Jordan

    A wonderful and heartbreaking novel set in post-WWI rural Mississippi. It deals with issues of racial tension, love and betrayal . I could not put it down.

    Also, on my summer list...

    The Count of Monte Cristo
    by Alexandre Dumas

    A classic, which I hear is steamy.

    As I Lay Dying
    by William Faulkner

    Must get through another Faulkner this summer.

    Ellen’s Picks

    Ellen Silverman is a brilliant, warm, and intellectual New York City mother who also happens to be one of the world’s best food photographers. Check out the gorgeousness:

    The following is a list of books that I have picked up and not been able to put down. In fact, some of them have caused me to miss my stop on the subway on more than one occasion. My favorite bookstore in NY is Crawford and Doyle, one of the last small, well-stocked and personable book shops around. This is a place you can walk into and talk to any of the sales people, tell them what you like to read and walk out with a stack of unbelievable reads. I imagine they could do the same over the phone.

    Crawford and Doyle
    1082 Madison Avenue
    New York City, NY 10028
    +1 212 288 6300
    Open Hours 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, noon-5pm Sun

    The Almond Picker
    by Simonetta Agnello Hornby

    This novel is set in Sicily in 1963. The author successfully evokes the mood of a small Sicilian town in the throes of a family crisis. It traces the history of one of the town’s most prominent families – unveiling all of their secrets. The author is brilliant at describing all of the nuances of life in this town. You feel the heat, smell the air, crave the gossip and feel transported to Sicily. If you've been there you will appreciate the authenticity of the description, and if you haven't you will want to go.

    The Josephine Bonaparte Trilogy: The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe and The Last Great Dance on Earth
    by Sandra Gulland

    Once you start reading this trilogy you will not be able to put it down. You become so immersed in the life of Josephine Bonaparte that you feel as if you are there with her. The books are written in diary format and trace her life from her birth in the islands through the French Revolution – chronicling not only her life before, during and after Bonaparte, but providing rich solid historical information and beautiful detail regarding fashion, culture and society during her lifetime.

    Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, Dark Voyage, and The Spies of Warsaw
    by Alan Furst

    In other words, any WW II spy novel by Alan Furst. Every one is a page-turner complete with well-researched history of Europe between 1933-1945, including: sex, intrigue, politics and well-developed characters. Each one has a main character who is from a different country; he uses this to explore and contrast the political situation which shapes each person’s views of the conflicts of this historical period. Furst is a master of this genre.

    A Coffin for Dimitrios
    by Eric Ambler

    Furst recommends reading this book.

    The Journal of Helene Berr
    by Helene Berr

    A beautiful, sad and poignant excerpt of a diary written by a brilliant young Parisian Jewish woman. She chronicles her life between April 1942 and February 1944, writing about her life and that of her family and friends in Nazi-occupied Paris. She describes the changes she is forced to make in her life as the reality of the war takes hold. Amidst all of the fear and anxiety she is still able to find joy in reading, studying, playing the violin, falling in love, meeting with friends and family and dreaming of her future as well as accepting that she may not live to see it. Although the ending is evident from the start it is an important read as it pays homage to the beauty of her courageous spirit.

    Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and Shanghai Girls
    by Lisa See

    All three of these books are carefully researched works of historical fiction. From the first page, they are gripping tales of how girls and women cope in a very strict and traditional society. Peony In Love takes place in 17th century China and is based on a true story of a young girl who is arranged to be married. Much of the story takes place in the after-world and chronicles her journey to her final resting place. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan follows two young girls who are brought together at a young age to enter into a laotong relationship - "A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose -- to have sons.'" The story is set in China in the 19th century and describes in exquisite detail the intertwined path of their lives. I just started reading Shanghai Girls, which is set in Shanghai in 1937 and can't put it down. Again, See creates an authentic and vibrant environment in which to tell the story of the lives of two sisters whose lives radically change when there father abruptly announces he is bankrupt and marries them off to pay his debts...

    Mark’s Picks

    Mark Wells works in Risk Management in Nigeria, Africa, and is also a voracious reader.

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    by Michael Chabon

    Pulitzer Prize winning evocation of 1940s New York and the golden age of comic books by the author of The Wonder Boys.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
    by Susanna Clarke

    Ten years in the making, this book is a magical cross between Bleak House and Harry Potter; you will never read another book like it. Long-listed for the Booker Prize and winner of the Hugo Award in 2005.

    The Black Echo
    by Michael Connelly

    Opening novel in the multiple award winning Harry Bosch series by former Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Connelly. You will be happy that there are fourteen more after this and they only get better.

    The Religion
    by Tim Willocks

    A bloody and visceral historical novel set around the Grand Siege of Malta in 1565 from the reclusive author of Green River Rising.

    Tricia’s Picks

    Tricia Brock is a successful director of shows like Saving Grace, Gossip Girl and 30 Rock. She is also a brilliant single mother who raised her daughter before conquering the fiercely competitive entertainment business.

    These five books are on my own personal bestseller list, especially over the summer. In addition to being brilliant novels, each of them creates such a strong sense of place - transporting you to Italy, Ireland, Russia, India and, even if you never wanted to go, the Badlands of North Dakota!

    A Venetian Affair
    by Andrea di Robilant

    I read this book two weeks ago before going to Venice for the first time! The book made visiting that city all the more magical. Forbidden, clandestine love in the 18th century - so romantic. Passion drips off the page. Its impact is all the more felt because it’s a true story, based on letters found by the author’s father.

    Peace Like A River
    by Leif Enger

    I was in Washington, D.C., on my way to my daughter’s college graduation, when I overheard a woman talking about this book. I bought it immediately, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. A miracle of faith, family and classic adventure - an incredible story.

    The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B.
    by J.P. Donleavy

    This book is hilarious, as well as heart-wrenching. At Trinity College in Dublin, shy, rich Balthazar is mentored by the ribald, outrageous Beefy. I’ve been laughing for 20 years. I sometimes wish it were a movie, but I’m glad it’s not. It could never be as good as the book.

    White Tiger
    by Aravind Adiga

    I love India, and have a whole shelf of Indian novels. This one is on a lot of summer reading lists - they were even talking about it at a dinner party in Venice! It’s so well-written, and humorously articulate about the class system.

    The People’s Act of Love
    by James Meek

    If it gets really hot this summer, read this. It’s set in Siberia. I read about it when I was in England last year. It’s an incredible book, although it does require patience. Get past the first 50 pages and it’s a book you will never forget.

    Luke’s picks

    Luke Janklow is an extremely tall, very hilarious, super smart book agent in New York City.

    Sidney Sheldon's Mistress Of The Game
    by Tilly Bagshawe

    At long last...back from the dead...we have Sidney Sheldon channeling the sequel to Master Of The Game through Tilly Bagshawe...the quintessential summer read.

    The Pirates! In An Adventure With Napoleon
    by Gideon Defoe

    Insane, absurdist, hilarious English wit and very short...what more could anyone ask for??

    Drink Play F@#k
    by Andrew Gottlieb

    The hilarious response to Eat Pray Love that asks the question "what happened to the poor guy that got left behind while Elizabeth Gilbert went on that Fakakta adventure?"

    Plea Of Insanity
    by Jilliane Hoffman

    A seriously creepy, layered and composed thriller with a real moral point of view...think female Thomas Harris.

    A Happy Marriage
    by Rafael Yglesias

    One of the most beautiful books about marriage, ever...

    by Alex Wellen

    Cute n' girly…pulling back the curtain on what men really think about getting married.

    The goop collection