What We’re Reading This Summer

Whether you're at the pool or down the Shore, these books with New Jersey ties will make the perfect companion.

A Beach Wish

By Shelley Noble
(William Morrow)

The latest beach read from Jersey Shore resident Shelley Noble tells a story of family, secrecy and self-discovery. The novel centers on Zoe Bascombe, a woman who, up to now, has never disobeyed her family’s wishes. Following the death of her mother, Zoe learns some secrets from her mother’s hidden past. As questions and feuds abound, the one certainty is that answers lie at fictional Wind Chime Beach.—JT

Disappearing Earth

By Julia Phillips
(Knopf)

In Montclair-raised Julia Phillips’s engrossing debut novel, two sisters disappear on Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. Clues to their fate are found in the interconnected stories of the women who continue to search for the sisters long after the police have stopped. The tale of hope and survival is juxtaposed with a voyage through alluring, transportive scenery.—SV

Gods of Wood and Stone

By Mark DiIonno
(Touchstone)

Veteran journalist and author Mark DiIonno explores fame, parenting and middle-aged sexuality in this novel about two men—one ordinary, one extraordinary—as they hurtle toward a confrontation at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The action toggles between Cooperstown, New York, and northern New Jersey—familiar turf for DiIonno, a former sportswriter and longtime Star-Ledger columnist.—KS

The In-Betweens

By Davon Loeb
(Everytime Press)

In his debut collection of essays, Medford resident Davon Loeb wrestles with his identity as a biracial man and what it means to grow up in a fractured family. He recounts stories from his suburban South Jersey childhood and adolescence, during which he often felt like an outcast caught between two cultures. In the process of exploring the stories he’s inherited, Loeb finds his own transformative narrative.—SV

My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball

By Dale Berra
(Hachette)

Dale Berra, the youngest of Yogi Berra’s three sons, was bound for stardom before trashing his baseball career in a fog of cocaine abuse. Berra’s memoir is both a candid self-examination of his addiction issues and a loving reflection on his famous father’s achievements as baseball legend and family man. Berra wisely steers clear of Yogisms, but provides plenty of star-studded anecdotes.—KS

Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense

By Joyce Carol Oates
(Mysterious Press)

Novelist and Princeton resident Joyce Carol Oates takes readers on an intricate journey through the mind, exploring its fragility and the line between sanity and insanity. In this collection of six unnerving stories, Oates examines our darker impulses, from sex to violence. Each story encourages readers to meditate on how these impulses shape lives.—JT

The Patch

By John McPhee
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Princeton professor John McPhee took 56 of the pieces he has written in a six-decade career and edited them down to his favorite parts, some only paragraphs long. The title piece is an homage to his father’s fishing habits. There are celebrities—including Sophia Loren—and pieces about the Earth’s vital places, all serving as patchwork in the quilt of an iconic writer’s life.—RS

Queen Bee

By Dorothea Benton Frank
(William Morrow)

The author, a part-time New Jersey resident, crafts a story about love and redemption through the viewpoint of a devout South Carolina beekeeper. While caring for her demanding mother and tending her hives, Holly McNee Kensen develops a bond with her neighbor, a recent widower. The relationship blooms, but not without complications. Queen Bee is a warm, wise and hilarious tale with a pinch of whodunit.—DM

Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier

By Mark Kram Jr.
(Ecco)

From Haddonfield resident and sports journalist Mark Kram Jr., this biography of boxing legend Joe Frazier delves into the athlete’s rivalry with Muhammad Ali—and more. It follows Frazier from South Carolina, where he was born into rural poverty, to Philadelphia, where he learned to fight, and through his post-retirement life. Transcending sports, Smokin’ Joe offers an intimate look at race and class in a divided America.—SV

Under the Table

By Stephanie Evanovich
(William Morrow)

After relocating from Ohio to New York City, Zoey Sullivan builds a catering business and basks in her independence apart from her estranged husband. Zoey helps one of her clients, a socially awkward millionaire, overcome his shortcomings, but falls in love with him in the process. New Jersey-born author Stephanie Evanovich serves classic romance, charm, sincerity and wit in this modern twist on My Fair Lady.—DM

Very Nice

By Marcy Dermanksy
(Knopf)

Set in what’s recognizable as the post-Obama era, Montclair author Marcy Dermansky’s newest novel involves contemporary cultural touchstones: the threat of a school shooting, a messy mother-daughter-professor love triangle, and the complicated world of Manhattan investment banking. But it’s also deeply, darkly humorous. Read our profile of Dermansky from the July issue.—SV

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