The Ten-Year Nap (Riverhead, $16) is a book that should probably be read while reclining—though that alone isn’t what makes it a great summer read. At first it appears simply to be a book about stay-at-home moms in New York City, a subject, in all honesty, I did not think I’d find interesting. In truth, the book is much more than that. It’s not just about mothers, it’s about all women and the choices we make. Meg Wolitzer gently weaves together a story of marriage, friendship, and fidelity and keeps it all intimate and interesting. This book is poignant and thoughtful without being heavy-handed or preachy.
Richard Price is known for his crisp, realistic dialogue, and Lush Life (Picador, $15) would be a joy to read for the dialogue alone; fortunately, the story and characters are excellent too! Technically, Lush Life is a “police procedural,” but in fact it’s something of a mystery in reverse: you already know who did it—what you don’t know is how, or if, the police will figure it out. Price, who wrote for the TV series The Wire, is expert at portraying city life in all its quirky, gritty, imperfect, and sometimes even funny, glory. It’s amazing how his writing makes you feel like a fly on the walls of his characters’ lives. Best of all, though, reading Lush Life leaves you feeling as though you have spent time in a small corner of New York City you would never get to experience otherwise.
I think of Hallie Ephron’s The Bibliophile’s Devotional (Adams Media, $16.95) as an amuse bouche of books: each day it offers a small bite of something good. Ephron’s hope is that these tidbits (she calls the book a “tasting menu”) will tempt you to run to your favorite (local independent) bookstore and get one of the books she describes. There are many ways to enjoy this book; you can treat it like a true devotional, reading one page a day, or you can look up significant dates in your life and see which book corresponds. (My birthday is The Hobbit.) You may want to use it to learn about interesting books you’ve never gotten the chance read (so many books so little time!). Or follow it as a ready-made list of must-reads.