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Summer Reading 2017

As the weather gets warm and the days grow long, the ideal companion is a good book. The following are our annual summer reading recommendations, as well as titles we look forward to reading this summer. For more summer reading, see posts from previous years: 2016, 2015, 2014. To see highlights of the summer publishing season, have a look at this recent blog post. 

The best book I’ve read recently is American War by Omar El Akkad, a debut novel of unusual urgency. It’s set sixty years in the future, in a United States fractured by a second Civil War.  The protagonist flees with her family from Louisiana and grows up in a tent city in Tennessee. Here, we witness her transformation from refugee to rebel soldier/terrorist. Like other novels of its kind,1984 and The Road to name but two, the dystopia in American War is crafted from current world crises, notably those of the United States and Middle East, and yet it avoids didacticism and provides no easy answers. —Patrick Rayner, Circulation/Acquisitions Assistant

When I think of summer, I think of epic road trips across the country. Someday I’ll have time for that. In the meantime, my hankering for the open road ought to be satisfied by William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways: A Journey into America, Larry McMurtry’s Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways, and Robert Sullivan’s Cross Country. And who can resist a title like Irving D. Tessler’s With Malice Toward All with the subject listing “Automobiles—Tours”? Check back for a full report. —Carolyn Waters, Head Librarian

The Go-Between, by L.P. Hartley, is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in recent years, so I’m really looking forward to spending my summer with his trilogy known as Eustace and Hilda. Hartley is masterful at describing childhood, which is where this story of an extraordinarily close brother and sister begins. In her introduction to the New York Review of Books edition, Anita Brookner writes “the novel is so expertly written that one hardly notices the skill which informs it.” —Diane Srebnick, Membership/Development Assistant

In Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters, a young girl named Karen, who sees herself as a monster and loves to draw imaginary horror magazine covers, narrates her life living with her mom and older brother in late 1960s Chicago. When their upstairs neighbor, a beautiful exile from Nazi Germany, is found murdered in her apartment, Karen sets out to find whodunit. My Favorite Thing is Monsters is Ferris’s debut graphic novel and it is epic in proportion and scope, accomplishing things I’ve never seen another artist do with simple materials like ordinary notebook paper and ballpoint pens. Her many-layered story haunted me for weeks after I finished it. —Katie Fricas, Events/Circulation Assistant

It is easy to imagine taking in the entirety of David Garnett’s 1922 novel Lady into Fox over a long, quiet summer day. The lady and the fox of the title is Sylvia Tebrick, who suddenly and inexplicably turns into a fox while out walking with her husband, Richard. Garnett (a long-time associate of the Bloomsbury Group) carefully melds humor, fantasy and realism to chronicle Richard and Sylvia’s difficult adjustment to their predicament. It sounds light, and its 91 pages go by quickly, but this is a beautiful and at times painful tale that explores darker, deeper realms of love, devotion, and more.  —Steven McGuirl, Head of Acquisitions 

If you want some suspense for the summer, The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware (also available as an ebook), will have you enthralled. The small, luxury cruise ship on which the story is set provides a claustrophobic atmosphere where all of the passengers—including a young travel journalist on a plum assignment—are suspicious. A classically styled thriller (à la Murder on the Orient Express), this book keeps the surprises coming up to the end. —Cathy McGowan, Circulation Librarian

Need some motivation for a vacation from your devices? Check out Utopia is Creepy and Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr. Though tech-savvy and Web-loving, these pick & mix short takes from the last twelve years provide needed perspective, especially on the corporate agendas and utopian thinking we often absorb uncritically from our screens. “What I want from technology is not a new world,” Carr writes. “What I want from technology are tools for exploring and enjoying the world that is—the world that comes to us thick with ‘things counter, original, spare, strange,’ as Gerard Manley Hopkins long ago described it.” —Sara Holliday, Head of Events

I haven’t finished reading Sunshine State by fellow Floridian Sarah Gerard yet, but that won’t stop me from recommending it now. I’m only three essays in and I’m already hooked. Gerard’s writing is a mix of personal history and journalistic backstory, deeply felt and often droll, and deftly illuminates the ways that we spin fantasies as children and as adults, whether they are ideas about who we are, who our loved ones are, or what our choices mean. Maybe you’ll find yourself reading it as you eat a grouper sandwich at a Pinellas County beach this summer. —Mia D’Avanza, Head of Circulation


I missed my stop on the train while reading The Speed of Life! This compelling and absorbing new novel from Society Library member author Carol Weston draws the reader into the life, mind, and heart of Sofia, a 14-year-old New Yorker grieving the sudden death of her mother, with some help from advice columnist “Dear Kate.” Throughout an eventful and challenging year Sofia navigates the complicated realities of “life goes on” in realistic and relatable fashion with a mix of vulnerability, curiosity, and strength. Meet the author at an NYSL event this fall (look for details in our fall events newsletter). —Randi Levy, Head of the Children's Library

Whether it be the Beatles, One Direction, or countless others, boy bands have long been making teenagers go to extremes. In Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky, readers are introduced to The Ruperts and their devoted fan base, known as Strepurs. Four fangirls are huddled in a hotel NYC room strategizing how to meet them when they unintentionally kidnap one of the boys. Many twists and turns follow as each gal vies to spin this unique opportunity to her advantage. How many Ruperts remain at the end of this crazy tale? Take this one to the beach for a hilarious read peppered with subtle feminist rhetoric and love for 80s flicks. —Susan Vincent Molinaro, Children's Librarian