’s Summer Reading List

It’s still officially not summer but we figured we’d take a break from our excitables and devote this post to our recommended summer reading. There’s is little in life more enjoyable than a good summer read and though much is a matter of taste there are some common elements.

  • Summer reads are fun.
  • They don’t require a lot of hard work. No Thomas Wolfe here.
  • They travel well (that’s why you won’t see anything here that is only in hardcover)

There’s a little bit for everyone here so pick and choose. Some of it is Jersey centric and some of it isn’t but when you’re reading it on the beach does it really matter.

The Stand, Stephen King – Next to Halloween, the summer is the best time to read anything by America’s leading man of letters, well, at least horror letters. We polished off the Cell a few months back and give it a thumbs up, but truly if you have not read the Stand there’s no better time to do so than during the warm months. Bonus if you pick up the unabridged version, which tops out over 1,000 pages and should take the whole summer to read. Three months of entertainment for less than $10. How do you beat that? The Stand is also one of the few King novels with a Garden State local. The scene where survivors crawl through a victim filled Holland Tunnel from New York to New Jersey is one King’s most harrowing and best written.

The Plot Against America, Philip Roth – JerseyCool is not a particularly big fan of what if novels, but Roth’s speculation about life in 1930s Newark under a President Lindberg is perhaps the Jersey writers finest work in years. The ending will be take it or leave it for some but there’s always the literary cache of toting around a Philip Roth book all summer long.

Water Music, TC Boyle — More than 30 years old, Boyle first novel is probably his best and filled with the mischievous, no holds barred  linguistics that Boyle has become famous for. If you’ve never heard of Mungo Park or Ned Rise, this summer is a good time to get acquainted with them.

October 1964, David Halberstam – The passing of David Halberstam a few weeks ago was one of the most tragic in literature this year. The journalist who died in a car crash could work effortlessly in sports and history. Best known for his rumination on the Kennedy years in the Best and the Brightest, October 1964 chronicled the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. It was the end of a dynasty for the Mickey Mantle led Yankees whose old school ways were being eclipsed by teams like the Cardinals with a plethora of young, African-American talent like Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. For Yankee fans this could be a bitter sweat read as it looks like the team’s latest era of dominance may be coming to a close.

Max Perkins, Editor of Genius, Scott Berg – Princeton grad Berg has made a nice living chronically the movers and shakers of the 1930s namely Charles Lindberg, Samuel Goldwyn and Kate Hepburn but his first work, which was an extension of his graduate thesis at Princeton may be his best. Perking was the editor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and Earnest Hemingway at a time when the three literary heavyweights dominated the country’s social landscape. It was the end of an era as publishing gave way to new media but Berg paints a complex and fascinating portrait of the man behind the men.

A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby —  Only the incomparable Mr. Hornby could make a book about suicide so much fun. Four people with nothing in common meet on a rooftop one New Years Eve to put an end to it all. Hilarity ensues.

John Adams, David McCullough — HBO is planning a miniseries of this historical biography that many feel is one of the best ever written. Adams, the second president of the United States, takes the center stage for the first time in this book, and McCullough reveals exactly how important and fascinating this man’s life really was. There are actually several key events that take place in New Jersey, namely the Adams-Ben Franklin peace delegation to the British in Perth Amboy, which established the uneasy relationship the two founding fathers had for most of their lives. The worst part of this book is that when it’s over, you’ll miss Adams.

Happy reading folks and feel free to suggest your own summer books below,



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