What We’re Reading This Summer

Nine new 2017 books to read at the beach this summer, including Abandon Me by Melissa Febos, Hourglass by Dani Shapiro, The Idiot by Elif Batuman and more.

The Idiot
by Elif Batuman
(Penguin Press)
This Jersey-raised author’s idiosyncratic debut novel is full of contemplation, humor and wit. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, leaves New Jersey for her freshman year at Harvard. It’s 1995, and among other firsts, Selin gets her first e-mail account and embarks on the journey of becoming her own person, discovering a love of language along the way. –SV

Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
In this collection of intimate essays, Monmouth University professor Melissa Febos navigates the waters of abandonment, identity, love and obsession. She meets her birth father, reconnects with her Native American heritage and ultimately abandons herself to a passionate love affair. –SV

Hourglass by Dani Shapiro
(Alfred A. Knopf)
Writer Dani Shapiro, who grew up in New Jersey and attended the Pingry School, confronts the life she used to dream of and the life she’s made with her husband and son. This dynamic and lyrical memoir moves fluidly through sorrow, love, marriage, motherhood and time. –SV

Edgar & Lucy
by Victor Lodato
(St. Martin’s Press)
This compelling read follows Edgar, an 8-year-old albino boy in suburban New Jersey; his troubled mother, Lucy; his adoring grandmother, Florence; and the men who come in and out of their lives. When a stranger abducts Edgar and takes him to a remote cabin deep in the Pine Barrens, Lucy searches high and low for her lost son. –SV

4321 by Paul Auster
(Henry Holt)
What if? That’s the question at hand in Garden State native Paul Auster’s ambitious, 866-page novel. On March 3, 1947, Archibald Isaac Ferguson is born in a Newark hospital. Auster creates four simultaneous yet independent paths for the boy, chapter by chapter following the possibilities of four parallel lives over the course of four decades. –SV

Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz
(Random House)
In her first novel, North Jersey author Yoojin Grace Wuertz  explores Seoul’s social and political climate during the 1970s. Two female friends at South Korea’s top university get caught in a love triangle as they wrestle with their differences in a turbulent postwar era. –SV

Stolen Beauty
by Laurie Lico Albanese
(Atria Books)
Inspired by artist Gustav Klimt’s The Woman in Gold, Montclair writer Laurie Lico Albanese illuminates the story of the woman in the painting, Adele Bloch-Bauer, and her niece, Maria. Based on real people and events, this suspenseful novel follows Adele’s life and relationship with Klimt, as well as Maria’s escape from the Nazis and search for her aunt’s beloved painting. –SV

The Impossible 
Fortress by Jason Rekulak
(Simon & Schuster)
Travel back to the 1980s with Billy Marvin, a 14-year-old computer-programming geek from the fictional Jersey town of Wetbridge in this charming coming-of-age story. If you’ve ever felt like a teenage misfit or wanted to journey back in time, this book is for you. –SV

Seeking Redemption: The Real Story of the Beautiful Game of Skee-Ball by Thaddeus O. Cooper and Kevin B. Kreitman
(Nomoreboxes LLC)
From boardwalk arcades to an iPhone app, Skee-Ball has been a source of entertainment since Joseph Foureister Simpson of Vineland received a patent for the game in 1908. The authors entertainingly recount Skee-Ball’s rise from fledgling venture to international success story. —TW




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  1. Trixie

    “Stolen Beauty”, written by Laurie Lico Albanese looks like such an interesting story.
    I’ll look for it. So many interesting books listed. Thanks, New Jersey Monthly.

    • Trixie

      I’ll check our local library for it.

  2. Pennsy671

    “What we’re reading”??? Yeahhhh no… I felt it in my gut that this would be wasted time opening this link from NJmonthly. None of these will make it over the dune or onto the boat this summer…

  3. Cathy

    As a recently published author who sent you a press release, have been disappointed my book…that is set in Monmouth County, NJ and highlights the more beautiful aspects of our fair State vs. our housewives and beach teens…has not been reviewed. A Taste for Love is a clean romance and a perfect beach read. Its also written with an omniscient POV as a nod to Jane Austen…the original romance author. Hoping you will read and review. Thank you, Cathy Padilla