'I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.'
- Ralph Waldo Emerson ‪


Summer Reading, 2015

Published: May 21, 2015
Category: Books

Water Bottles
The Marriage Book
The holiday weekend makes it official — it’s summer. The catalogs I get from publishers send the same message in a way I’ll charitably call “timeless.” But really, the summer offerings look to me like déjà vu all over again. The brood reuniting at ye olde family retreat, where “secrets are revealed.” The evil nanny/assistant. And so on.

Whatever is wrong with my novel — and I count on you to tell me — at least it’s not a book you’ll feel you’ve read before. But it’s not out until August 25th, almost Labor Day. You’ll just have to make do with other books. How good are they? I stole from many of them. And I try to steal only from the best.

To get you in the mood:

The Quiche of Death
A London PR executive retires early to savor the joys or English country life. As if.

Bonjour Tristesse
Francoise Sagan wrote this sophisticated beach romance when she was 18.

Just Kids
Patti Smith has a second memoir coming out in the fall. Read this first.

Light Years
The summer scenes in the Hamptons are beyond. The whole book is.

Levels of the Game
In one epic tennis match, we learn everything about Clark Graebner and Arthur Ashe — and about great tennis.

The Garden of Eden
Hemingway’s generally unknown novel about a couple on their honeymoon — and their new friend.

The Stories of John Cheever
The creator of “Mad Men” read Cheever’s journals as research. Good idea. The stories are better.

Lillian on Life
The best novel I’ve read this year.

The Queen’s Gambit
Because you don’t want to be the last Butler reader to inhale it.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911
The last great party before the war that killed a generation.

Of Human Bondage
I stole half my prose style from Maugham.

Salt Water Buddha
The wisest surfer there ever was.

Three seasons of Danish TV. But it’s really a novel.


Short takes

Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day

You pump your own gas. Check out your own groceries. Book your own plane tickets. Essentially, you work for large corporations — for free. How that came to be is the subject of “Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day,” by Craig Lambert. I’m too conflicted to review this book: Craig’s not only a close friend and my editor at Harvard Magazine, but he thanks me profusely — too profusely — in the acknowledgments. I can assure you the book’s a winner because it’s reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Book Review by the estimable Barbara Ehrenreich. To read more about it, visit Craig’s web site. To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition. click here.

Surprise! I am reading a 531-page novel.

“All the Light We Cannot See” was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and a #1 New York Times bestseller. Despite the praise, I didn’t rush to read Anthony Doerr’s book — the last time I read a 531-page novel the author was Russian and dead. Then I saw this video — and immediately one-clicked a purchase. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.] Sometimes a picture-with–words really is worth more than just words. The Pulitzer committee thought so — “All the Light” won for fiction. Do watch.