Question: Three stags walk into Powell’s, and each comes out with a book of his choosing: Alan, ever the dreamer, gets Summer House with Swimming Pool; J.T., who lives above the Dancers and Prancers nightclub, opts for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; and Terrance, the stubborn one, chooses Can’t and Won’t: Stories. If there are six antlers, twelve hooves, and three tails between them, how many books, deerest reader, did they pay for?
Answer: Two! The third they got for free thanks to Powell’s More Books for Your Bucks Sale! No heads or tails about it.
I loved reading this on Powells’ website. And the deal is pretty darn good. So what three books should you get?! Well…in my humble opinion, you should get six. Because that’s two free books! The only fine print is that the offer is good on new (full-priced) copies of select titles, in the featured edition only. The discount applies to the lowest-priced book.
Still…not too shabby. Need some suggestions? Below are some (conveniently…six!) that I have read that I highly recommend for some great summer reading.
About as introspective as a novel can be, Murakami’s latest spends its entirety inside the somewhat sad mind of its protagonist. Damaged by a betrayal he cannot comprehend, Tsukuru is a man wholly undone by his closest friends. After years of loneliness, and only after stumbling into a new relationship with a woman who insists on his complete presence, Tsukuru realizes he must unravel his tangled past. Hoping for a new life of connections and companionship, Tsukuru tracks down his former friends and is, perhaps, a bit more kind than they deserve. Murakami writes with crisp, clear prose, and his characters feel wonderfully alive. A detailed character study, Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage is delicately done; a lovely read.
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.
Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office — leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist — an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways…
Johannes gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand — and fear — the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation… or the architect of their destruction?
4. One Plus One
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell — until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever.
Scandalized and celebrated by Parisian society, Lou Villars is an extraordinary athlete who is confident that one day she will be an inspiration for her gender. She’s also a lesbian and cross-dresser who finds a safe haven in the Chameleon Club, a louche nightspot.
As the exuberant 1920s give way to the depression of the 1930s, Lou abandons her work as a server and performer at the Chameleon Club to become a talented race-car driver, hovering on the brink of success. She falls in love with a German driver, Inge, and is soon ensnared in a web of flattery and lies that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more sinister: collaboration with the Nazis.
Three young adults grapple with the usual thirty-something problems — boredom, authenticity, an omnipotent online oligarchy — in David Shafer’s darkly comic debut novel.
The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.
Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark’s platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading — and erasing — Leo’s words. On the other side of the world, Leila’s discoveries about the Committee’s far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.