Why labor over the the dog daze of August? There’s still lots of time to catch some rays, dodge Great Whites and read some good reads. Here are 13 memorable books.
“The Memory Painter” (Picador, $26)
Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills . . . such as the ability to speak obscure languages and an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections, if he is re-experiencing other people’s lives. Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding the genes that help the brain make memories, until she is confronted with an exact rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan’s shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: Visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago.
“Love in the Elephant Tent: How Running Away with the Circus Brought Me Home” (ECW Press, $25.95)
Author Kathleen Cremonesi knew early on she wanted to be different. Determined to avoid following in her mother’s footsteps to an ill-fated marriage, Kathleen left Oregon in her early 20s to travel across Europe. On a whim, this former administrative assistant with wanderlust took a job as a dancer in a circus and, working her way up, became an ostrich-riding, shark-taming showgirl. Kathleen bonds with the exotic animals that could strike and kill at any moment, but instead bring her a peace she has never known. And when she stumbles into the arms of Stefano, the sexy elephant keeper, she finds a man who understands her wild spirit. With thrilling prose and vivid descriptions, Kathleen takes the reader around the Mediterranean, where she discovers unexpected friends and learns how to cook, forgive and love—across language barriers.
“Our Town” (Counterpoint Press, $25)
Kevin McEnroe’s debut novel follows the dark fairy tale of an aspiring actress, whose downward spiral from elusive fame to consistent infamy—filled with DUIs, neglect of her children and unhealthy relationships—is not without grace and warmth. Despite the embarrassing tabloid fodder, she’s a sympathetic character caught in Hollywood’s riptide. FYI: Kevin is the son of tennis legend John McEnroe and Oscar-winning actress Tatum O’Neal.
“Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty” (Simon & Schuster, $25)
Think of this as baseball story written by Bengie Molina in a non-traditional style. The book is a beautiful memoir about fathers and sons; at the center of the story is Bengie’s father, a factory worker from Puerto Rico who loved his family and baseball above all else. A local hero, Pai (as he was affectionately known) instilled his own passion and talent for the game into his three sons—Bengie, José, and Yadier—and raised the most unlikely dynasty in baseball: all three sons went on to be star catchers; all three played in the Major Leagues; and all three earned World Series rings.
“The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation” (Crown Archetype, $26)
Melissa Rivers writes a book about her mother and it is published a year after Missy took Joanie off a respirator and Joan went to Heaven or Hell . . . or neither, since Missy writes that mama didn’t believe in either. But Mama believed in hating Ben Stiller and Katie Couric and Dane Cook and many other of her peers. She believed in using two four-letters words (they begin with F and C) and much as possible. She believed in hating Costa Rica, lesbians (she preferred the word “dykes”), and so many other unsavory things. Perfect for those who love curses, avmean-spirited mother/daughter team and Hollywood excess. If you must, remove the dust jacket fro your protection..
“All This Life” (Soft Skull Press , $25)
The story opens with 14-year-old Jake, who captures a shocking and disturbing mass suicide on camera during his sluggish morning commute over the Golden Gate Bridge. He uploads the video, and it immediately goes viral. As the media swarms over the story, he finds himself getting pulled deep into the online world, where he’s rapidly collecting too much attention. Josh brings together a wide cast of characters all connected by that fateful morning. Their lives collide at a thrilling pace that mimics the speed of our modern, all-too-connected lives. A riveting fifth novel by Joshua Mohr.
“Pope Francis: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism” (Bloomsbury, $30)
Pope Francis has shown a willingness to publicly discuss issues previously considered taboo, such as the ban on those who divorce and remarry receiving Communion; and he has elevated the Synod of Bishops to a new status to make the papacy less like a medieval monarchy and to return the Pope to the position of being a first among equals. Pope Francis wants to remake the Roman bureaucracy so that it becomes the servant of the Church rather than its master. His liberal instincts have outraged traditionalists in the Vatican and especially Church hierarchy in the United States. With revealing chapters on Francis’s efforts to reform the Vatican Bank and the Curia and to democratize the Church, and on his contradictory positions on women in the Church, Paul Vallely has produced a deeply nuanced and insightful portrait of perhaps the most influential person in the world today.
“The Secrets of Lake Road” (Thomas Dunne, $24)
Reminiscent of S. E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders”, the story follows three sisters on the run after killing their abusive father. Unfortunately for them, after their truck breaks down on the side of the road, they end up in an even worse circle of hell when two young men come to their “rescue.” Author Karen Katchur set the tale on a lake in the Poconos, where she spent summers growing up and, one summer, witnessed a teenage boy drown. She was never able to shake that image, and begins her novel with a young girl’s drowning. Yikes!
“Seinfeld FAQ” (Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, $24.99)
This is a tell-all reference guide that tells all about Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, as well as the other unforgettable characters in their world. It features season-by-season episode reviews and a wealth of fun facts about everything from the characters’ inevitably doomed relationships to their food obsessions and fashion sense (or lack thereof) as well as profiles of actors and other notables.
“Hostile Takeover: A John Lago Thriller” (Simon & Schuster, $25)
Everyone’s favorite intern/killer John Lago returns to track down his nemesis, who also happens to be the toughest—and sexiest—adversary he’s ever faced: former FBI agent Alice. Instead of putting a bullet in her head however, John puts a ring on her finger. As husband and wife, they execute a hostile takeover of Human Resources, Inc., the placement agency that trains young assassins disguised as interns, to take the body-dropping business to new heights. Of course, honeymoons aren’t meant to last; when Alice burns John, he finds himself forced out of the bedroom and the boardroom, and back in a role he promised he would never play again: the intern.
“Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy” (Random House, $27)
From the writer and director of “Knocked Up” comes a collection of conversations with the biggest names in comedy. The tome gathers Judd Apatow’s most memorable conversations into one wide-ranging, incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career, but his entire adult life. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, talent, struggle, ambition, fame, generosity, spirituality and the joy that comes from making people laugh.
For young adults and wee ones . . . who should be reading books instead of hitting those annoying hand-held devices
“Surviving Santiago” (Running Press Kids, $16.95)
The companion book to the award-winning “Gringolandia”. Returning to her homeland of Santiago, Chile, is the last thing that Tina Aguilar wants to do during the summer of her 16th birthday. It has taken eight years for her to feel comfort and security in the United States with her mother and her new stepfather. And it has been three years since she has last seen her father. Still damaged from the torture inflicted on him by the secret police during the Pinochet regime, Papá spends all his time with politics and alcohol rather than reconnecting with her. Fortunately, a cute motorcycle-riding boy has taken an interest in Tina—though his presence turns out to be far from incidental or innocent. Tina’s heart is already in turmoil, but a threat to her family brings her to the edge of truth and discovery.
“It’s a Seashell Day” (Blue Apple Books, $12.99)
The ideal book to shell out for the little ones. Through the perfect combination of rollicking rhymes and sunny-sky illustrations, ls the story of a mother and son sharing their special day at the beach. Together, they explore the seaside, dig in the sand, and collect–and count–seashells. Kids will want to count along with the boy as he totals up his collection, puts his shells away, then drifts off into sleep. With captivating narrative, featuring nature and counting, the book also includes with an informative spread about shells.
The listed prices are publishers’ retail prices. For deeper discounts, visit amazon.com; for deep discount visit barnesandnoble.com.