From novels to literary dinner parties, these seven books make great summer reads – Columbia Daily Tribune
What would summer be without books?
Books that mirror the weather — sizzling with the hint of a breeze; books that free you to chase your latest literary obsession through the season’s laziest hours; books that become trusted companions for the road.
From personality-driven novels to spiritual memoirs and books as dinner parties, here are seven recent releases perfect for your next summer read.
Dan Chaon, “Sleepwalk”
The Cleveland-based writer’s latest — Chaon’s “Await Your Reply” was the Daniel Boone Regional Library One Read in 2010 — is a triumph of voice or, rather, voices. Chaon’s novel pairs a benevolent mercenary, who would find good company with the Coen Brothers’ cast of characters, with the young woman who might be his biological daughter, might be out to destroy him — or both. Their immediately engaging personas drive the narrative through close encounters, oddball Americana and dangerous plot twists. (Out now.)
Sloane Crosley, “Cult Classic”
Billed as “a masterfully crafted tale of love, memory, morality, and mind control,” Crosley’s latest revolves around a narrator trying to sift what’s metaphysical, what’s malicious and what’s mere coincidence upon meeting reminders of her failed relationships. Crosley’s story is “aimed with deadly accuracy at those unfortunate enough to have dated only during the twenty-first century,” best-selling author Nick Hornby said. “… It also contains one-liners destined to appear on T-shirts and coffee mugs.” (Out now.)
Isaac Fitzgerald, “Dirtbag, Massachusetts”
Subtitled “A Confessional,” this memoir from the children’s book author and former jack of a surprising number of trades promises uncommon intimacy and a resonant voice. Fitzgerald’s essays are “told through the lens of his constant work to become a better man,” Entertainment Weekly noted. In a Q&A with that magazine, he expressed a love for “writing about the relationships that strengthen us. … Remembering those people, and writing about them, comforts me.” (Out July 19.)
Marissa Moss, “Her Country”
Roots N Blues festival fans will gravitate to this work by one of our most keenly insightful music journalists. Moss turns this moment and its stories over to see how women artists are navigating the largely uneven field of country music. Focusing on festival vets Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton — as well as Kacey Musgraves — she studies challenges they’ve faced and celebrates their wins. Another festival favorite, Brandi Carlile, said the book is “a master class on the startling inequities in country music, introducing us to the modern-day pioneers, the rebels, the risk-takers, the marginalized, and the misfits.” (Out now.)
Sayaka Murata, “Life Ceremony”
No social more feels safe near the pen of Sayaka Murata. The decorated Japanese writer, known to many for the 2016 novel “Convenience Store Woman,” offers this story collection, her first to be translated into English. Concerned with great expectations, off-putting customs and our means of grasping for connection, these dozen stories bring “a grotesque whimsy to her fables of cultural norms,” Publishers Weekly noted. (Out July 5.)
Cole Arthur Riley, “This Here Flesh”
Every sentence from Cole Arthur Riley is worth reading twice, maybe three times, really letting the words sink into your bones. The creator of Black Liturgies, “a space that integrates spiritual practice with Black emotion,” Riley tells her life story through lenses of dignity, place, embodiment, rage, rest and more; each essay calling herself and readers toward a spiritually-integrated self. (Out now.)
Alissa Wilkinson, “Salty”
“This book is a dinner party, and you are invited,” Vox culture journalist Alissa Wilkinson writes, greeting readers, pulling back their chairs, introducing them to each guest of honor in a work filled with them. An exquisite mixture of history, food writing and criticism, “Salty” brings readers into the lives of figures such as Octavia Butler, Hannah Arendt and Maya Angelou through the lens of food. Readers will walk away the way one does from a truly electric dinner party — full yet floating, having tasted the divine in these dishes and experiencing true human connections around the table. (Out June 28.)
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.