7 Books To Read This Summer
It's starting to get hot and so is this reading list!
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation By Maud Newton: Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in a mental institution. Mental illness and religious fanaticism percolated through Maud’s maternal lines, to an ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts. Maud’s father, an aerospace engineer turned lawyer, was a book-smart man who extolled the virtues of slavery and obsessed over the “purity” of his family bloodline, which he traced back to the Revolutionary War. He tried in vain to control Maud’s mother, a whirlwind of charisma and passion given to feverish projects: thirty rescue cats, and a church in the family’s living room where she performed exorcisms.
Their divorce, when it came, was a relief. Still, the meeting of her parents’ lines in Maud inspired an anxiety that she could not shake; a fear that she would replicate their damage. She saw similar anxieties in the lives of friends, in the works of writers and artists she admired. As obsessive in her own way as her parents, Maud researched her genealogy—her grandfather’s marriages, the accused witch, her ancestors’ roles in slavery and genocide–and sought family secrets through her DNA. But sunk in census archives and cousin matches, she yearned for deeper truths. Her journey took her into the realms of genetics, epigenetics, and the debates over intergenerational trauma. She mulled modernity’s dismissal of ancestors along with psychoanalytic and spiritual traditions that center them.
Searching, moving, and inspiring, Ancestor Trouble is one writer’s attempt to use genealogy–a once-niche hobby that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry—to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors has for all of us.
Finding Me By Viola Davis: In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.
Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
Fire Island: A Century in the Life of an American Paradise By Jack Parlett: Fire Island, a thin strip of beach off the Long Island coast, has long been a vital space in the queer history of America. Both utopian and exclusionary, healing and destructive, the island is a locus of contradictions, all of which coalesce against a stunning ocean backdrop.
Now, poet and scholar Jack Parlett tells the story of this iconic destination—its history, its meaning and its cultural significance—told through the lens of the artists and creators who sought refuge on its shores. Together, figures as divergent as Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Carson McCullers, Frank O'Hara, Patricia Highsmith and Jeremy O. Harris tell the story of a queer space in constant evolution.
Transporting, impeccably researched and gorgeously written, Fire Island is the definitive book on an iconic American destination and an essential contribution to queer history.
Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath By Bill Browder: When Bill Browder’s young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in a Moscow jail, Browder made it his life’s mission to go after his killers and make sure they faced justice. The first step of that mission was to uncover who was behind the $230 million tax refund scheme that Magnitsky was killed over. As Browder and his team tracked the money as it flowed out of Russia through the Baltics and Cyprus and on to Western Europe and the Americas, they were shocked to discover that Vladimir Putin himself was a beneficiary of the crime.
As law enforcement agencies began freezing the money, Putin retaliated. He and his cronies set up honey traps, hired process servers to chase Browder through cities, murdered more of his Russian allies, and enlisted some of the top lawyers and politicians in America to bring him down. Putin will stop at nothing to protect his money. As Freezing Order reveals, it was Browder’s campaign to expose Putin’s corruption that prompted Russia’s intervention in the 2016 US presidential election.
At once a financial caper, an international adventure, and a passionate plea for justice, Freezing Order is a stirring morality tale about how one man can take on one of the most ruthless villains in the world—and win.
French Braid By Anne Tyler: The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever leave home, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. Mercy has trouble resisting the siren call of her aspirations to be a painter, which means less time keeping house for her husband, Robin. Their teenage daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, could not have less in common. Their youngest, David, is already intent on escaping his family's orbit, for reasons none of them understand. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts' influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation.
Full of heartbreak and hilarity, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a stirring, uncannily insightful novel of tremendous warmth and humor that illuminates the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close--yet how unknowable--every family is to itself.
Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals By Laurie Zaleski: Laurie Zaleski never aspired to run an animal rescue; that was her mother Annie's dream. But from girlhood, Laurie was determined to make the dream come true. Thirty years later as a successful businesswoman, she did it, buying a 15-acre farm deep in the Pinelands of South Jersey. She was planning to relocate Annie and her caravan of ragtag rescues--horses and goats, dogs and cats, chickens and pigs--when Annie died, just two weeks before moving day. In her heartbreak, Laurie resolved to make her mother's dream her own. In 2001, she established the Funny Farm Animal Rescue outside Mays Landing, New Jersey. Today, she carries on Annie's mission to save abused and neglected animals.
Funny Farm is Laurie's story: of promises kept, dreams fulfilled, and animals lost and found. It's the story of Annie McNulty, who fled a nightmarish marriage with few skills, no money and no resources, dragging three kids behind her, and accumulating hundreds of cast-off animals on the way. And lastly, it's the story of the brave, incredible, and adorable animals that were rescued.
The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit, and Peril at the Beach By Sarah Stodola: With its promise of escape from the strains of everyday life, the beach has a hold on the popular imagination as the ultimate paradise. In The Last Resort, Sarah Stodola dives into the psyche of the beachgoer and gets to the heart of what drives humans to seek out the sand. At the same time, she grapples with the darker realities of resort culture: strangleholds on local economies, reckless construction, erosion of beaches, weighty carbon footprints, and the inevitable overdevelopment and decline that comes with a soaring demand for popular shorelines.
The Last Resort weaves Stodola’s firsthand travel notes with her exacting journalism in an enthralling report on the past, present, and future of coastal travel. She takes us from Monte Carlo, where the pursuit of pleasure first became part of the beach resort experience, to a village in Fiji that was changed irrevocably by the opening of a single resort; from the overdevelopment that stripped Acapulco of its reputation for exclusivity to Miami Beach, where extreme measures are underway to prevent the barrier island from vanishing into the ocean.
In the twenty-first century, beach travel has become central to our globalized world—its culture, economy, and interconnectedness. But with sea levels likely to rise at least 1.5 to 3 feet by the end of this century, beaches will become increasingly difficult to preserve, and many will disappear altogether. What will our last resort be when water begins to fill the lobbies?
*Book descriptions provided by Good Reads