Sun’s Out Fun’s Out: 10 Books to Read This Summer

Summer reading isn't just for students. Whether you're at the pool or down the Shore, these books by New Jersey writers will make the perfect companion.

Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo
Willingboro native and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo turns to memoir in his first book of prose—an engrossing exploration of his relationship with his father, who lost his job during the air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981. The result is a masterful meditation on history and memory, fatherhood, masculinity, family, race, addiction and ambition in America.—Shelby Vittek

Bluff by Michael Kardos
(The Mysterious Press)
Jersey Shore native Michael Kardos’s latest page turner, the intriguing tale of a female magician down on her luck, is no sleight of hand. Set in Atlantic City, the novel takes the reader on a suspenseful ride through the world of magic, gambling and the lure of quick money. This story wins with strong female characters, surprising plot twists and a glimpse at the underbelly of high-stakes poker.—Deborah P. Carter

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara
Inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza in the 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning, Freehold native Joseph Cassara illuminates the lives of gay and transgender teens as they flee their traumatic pasts for the Harlem drag-ball scene of the ’80s and ’90s. The ambitious debut novel recollects the AIDS crisis with a story of love and resilience that’s tragic yet beautiful.—SV

American Marriage by Tayari Jones
In turns epistolary and first person from multiple perspectives, this, Jones’s fourth novel, takes an intimate look inside a marriage to illuminate the tragedy of wrongful conviction and mass incarceration. Jones, a Rutgers–Newark professor, delivers a compassionate story with sharply drawn characters who grapple with love, fairness and forgiveness.—DPC

Eternal Life by Dara Horn
(W.W. Norton & Company)
This entertaining novel about a woman who can’t die—and the bad boyfriend she can’t shake after 2,000 years—raises questions about the meaning of life and the value of death. It’s the fifth novel by the Short Hills writer, and once again she deftly weaves humorous observations and detailed historic flashbacks into an often surprising plot.—Ken Schlager

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
(Tandem Literary)
When the daughter of a wealthy power couple becomes engaged to a young, low-country South Carolina man with barbecue throwing, pickup-truck driving parents, the fun starts. In her 19th novel, Montclair resident Dorothea Benton Frank rolls out an epic tale of social clash with humor and empathy.—DPC

Godforsaken Grapes by Jason Wilson
(Abrams Books)
There are nearly 1,400 varieties of wine grapes in the world, yet almost 80 percent of wine is made from only 20 grapes. In his second book, Haddonfield author Jason Wilson travels the world on the trail of obscure and underappreciated wines. Along the way, he discovers why we drink the wines we do and makes a case for trading in your glass of chardonnay for a glass of altesse or zweigelt instead.—DPC

Dylan on Dylan: Interviews and Encounters edited by Jeff Burger
(Chicago Review Press)
Burger, a Ridgewood-based journalist who has anthologized interviews and other material by Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and Leonard Cohen, this time tackles Bob Dylan. The material stretches back to the singer/songrwriter’s early career. Dylan is illusive and mischievous as he talks about life, songwriting and stardom with such interviewers as Nora Ephron and Nat Hentoff.—KS

Humdinger by Michael A. Malpass
(Chicken Man Press)
This oversized coffee-table tome chronicles the life of the Point Pleasant author’s artist father. Michael Malpass, a multimedia artist, died in 1991 at 45, leaving a large and varied legacy of forged metal sculptures, including spheres fashioned from repurposed industrial findings, whimsical chicken-men sculptures and jewelry. Malpass’s work has been exhibited worldwide; the Malpass Gallery in Brick Township is open by appointment.—DPC

How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister
Set in the wake of a deadly high school shooting, Haddon Township resident Tom McAllister’s second novel follows Anna Crawford, an English teacher recently suspended from her job. After being named a person of interest on television, she is quickly exonerated, but her life is forever changed—as are the lives of everyone in town.—SV

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