The Best Summer Reading

Fourth of July Creek, Smith Henderson

Few literary heroes are as complicated and as memorable as Pete Snow, the social worker whose story is the heart of this debut novel, set in Montana in 1980. Smith Henderson’s novel is violent and harrowing, but also propulsive and compelling.

Toxin Toxout, Bruce Lourie & Rick Smith

As a follow-up to their international bestseller, Slow Death by Rubber Duck, Lourie and Smith wade back into the toxic bywaters of what we all expose ourselves to everyday (through personal care products, pesticide-laden food, and household contaminants), and explore ways for getting it all out of our systems.

& Sons, David Gilbert

This is one of the most enjoyably well-written books we’ve read in a long time: It follows the Dyer family, a NYC-establishment helmed by the Salinger-esque writer, A.N. Dyer, as they gather together in the city after a long estrangement. It is incredibly told, and a fantastic portrait of the city.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr.

As the daughter of a copper baron whose fortune once rivaled the Rockefellers, Huguette Clark grew up in a 121-room mansion in New York City’s Upper East Side. When she died, at age 104, in a hospital room she’d occupied for decades, she left behind a handful of estates, some of which she hadn’t set foot in for more than 60 years. This is her eccentric story—and a tale of the strange spending of one of America’s largest fortunes.

The End of Your Life Bookclub, Will Schwalbe

Both heartbreaking and irresistibly lovely, this moving memoir tells the story of editor Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, who began an impromptu book club after she was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment. While it initially started as a way to pass the hours in waiting rooms for chemo, it became a doorway for them to talk about their life together.

Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner

While there is nothing new about this classic, it’s one of those books that deserves to be read again—or picked up for the first time. Stegner is a quietly profound writer, and this story—of two couples who are long-time friends—is one of his best.