Our Summer Reading List

Yes, it’s common sense that a publishing house would attract bookworm employees. Some of us read old books, some of us read new books, some of us read to our kids, and some of us re-read a seven volume graphic novel every year (no, really). This summer, a handful of Workmanites were kind enough to tell me about the tomes that have been weighing down their book bags.

So, in the spirit of beach chairs, sand, and sunglasses, here are some of the spines we cracked while sprawling in the sun on our vacations… or at least (sigh), some of our subway reads. I hereby present to you… the unofficial Workman Summer Reading List.

First, a few highlights, in the words of the readers:

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman. “So much fun, so cleverly constructed, so real—who isn’t something less than perfect? A great first novel.” –Suzie …and “Great for plane trips, beaches, etc., because it’s told in short takes. Light reading, but full of keen characterizations.” –Ann

The Irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald. “The novel’s premise (what kind of life would a man have if he had spent his first year as a ‘practice baby’ in a ‘practice house’ on a college campus?) is as irresistible as the title’s promise.” –Suzie

Help Lord–The Devil Wants Me Fat, by C.S. Lovett. “A faith-based diet book [that’s] absolutely hysterical. The main focus of the diet is fasting and resisting Satan’s evil plan to make you obese.” [Unfortunately, it’s out of print. I guess the Devil is winning.] –Randy

The Four-Story Mistake, by Elizabeth Enright. “I’m… reading [this] aloud to my children… The ‘mistake’ is the nickname for a wonderful rambling house that’s as much a character in the story as the four Melendy children. This book was published in the 40s, but it’s full of adventure and a wonderfully warm family, so doesn’t feel dated at all.” –Page

Tinkers, by Paul Harding. “…well worth the effort, a lot of interesting language…about fathers and the wilds of New England.” –Ann

Last Call, by Daniel Okrent. “[This] history of prohibition is thorough and engrossing and eye-opening. And it’s about another weird moment in American history, a time when the Ku Klux Klan and feminists and fundamentalists were all on the wrong side of the table together. Anyone curious about organized crime or our tax laws or marijuana reform or booze or so many other things will learn a lot from this one.” –Suzie

Imperial Bedrooms, by Brett Easton Ellis. “Any time a new Brett Easton Ellis book comes out, I need to buy it immediately. This sequel to Less Than Zero was breezy read, a perfect way to unwind on a warm summer night. There’s just something alluring about stories of horrible people doing bad things to each other.” —Randy

…and one more plug, that’s too good not to relay here:

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, by Robin D. G. Kelley. “It’s an exhaustive portrait, encompassing nearly every gig; what was played, and how. For jazz geeks like me, it is a marvelous wallow in music trivia. He even writes about Monk’s 1962 engagement at my favorite club, The Renaissance, on Sunset Strip. That was the one and only time I heard him live. Between sets, he unexpectedly sat down with my girlfriend and me. Don’t ask me what he said. I was nearly catatonic with shock, being a teenager, and in awe of him. Oh, would I like that opportunity, again!” –Michael
Here’s the full list. (I was delighted to find selections from our very own Book Lover’s Calendar! And, of course, a hefty Algonquin representation.)

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez (Algonquin)

In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez (Algonquin)

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, Elisabeth Bailey (Algonquin)

The School of Essential Ingredients*, Erica Bauermeister (Putnam Adult)

Show Me a Hero, Lisa Belkin (Back Bay Books)

Capitol Offense, William Bernhardt (Ballantine Books)

Peep Show, Joshua Braff (Algonquin)

In the Belly of Jonah, Sandra Brannan (Greenleaf Book Group Press)

Born Round *, Frank Bruni (Penguin)

61 Hours, Lee Child (Delacorte)

The Children in Room E4, Susan Eaton (Algonquin)

The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff (Random House)

What is the What, Dave Eggers (Vintage)

Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis (Knopf)

The Four-Story Mistake, Elizabeth Enright (Square Fish)

Dry Storeroom No. 1*, Richard Fortey (Vintage)

The Cranford Chronicles, Elizabeth Gaskell (Vintage UK)

Love the One You’re With, Emily Giffin (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Something Blue, Emily Giffin (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin (St. Martin’s Griffin)

A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein (Algonquin)

The Irresistible Henry House, Lisa Grunwald (Random House)

Tinkers, Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen (Holt Paperbacks)

Thelonious Monk, Robin D. G. Kelley (Free Press)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (Vintage)

The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson (Vintage)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson (Vintage)

Sweet Tooth, Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)

Help Lord–The Devil Wants Me Fat, C.S. Lovett (Personal Christianity)

A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin (Bantam)

A Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin (Bantam)

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann (Random House)

The Host, Stephenie Meyer (Back Bay Books)

The Invisibles, Grant Morrison (Vertigo)

One Day, David Nicholls (Vintage)

Last Call, Daniel Okrent (Scribner)

In Pursuit of Silence, George Prochnik (Doubleday)

The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman (The Dial Press)

My Father’s Paradise, Ariel Sabar (Algonquin)

The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad (Back Bay Books)

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

The Book of Joe, Jonathan Tropper (Bantam)

Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)

Good in Bed, Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press)

A Vintage Affair*, Isabel Wolff (Bantam)

* A Book Lover’s Calendar entry.

— Liz, editorial assistant, who recently has been transfixed by The 19th Wife, laughed out loud on public transportation at Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, and who plans to enjoy her next read, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

1 Comment

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    August 10, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for the good ideas.

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