We are on the cusp of summer, and it’s time for a preview of the books and novels worth reading in the months to come. June marks the release of a slew of good books, from a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s work to offerings from the acclaimed 33 1/3 series, while July and August give us heists, holes, and hackers, so get ready to while away the lazy summer days with a book by one of the authors below. We are indebted to The Millions for much of this list, so check out their 2011 book preview if you’re curious about what’s going to be popular in the fall.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) has finally received Library of America fame. This is the first of a projected three-volume edition, so you may as well immerse yourself in the world of darkly comedic sci-fi this summer. In the meantime, here’s some sage advice from Mother Night: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (June 7)
Dr. Marina Singh is a research scientist who tries to locate her former mentor in the Amazon rain forest in Anne Patchett’s new novel. HarperCollins describes the book as such: “In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss.”
The Curfew by Jesse Ball (June 14)
William and Molly are a couple who mostly keep to themselves, but when a violent uprising begins and Molly is taken away, William and his young daughter are left to their own devices. When an old friend contacts William, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William finally decides to react. Suspense, intrigue — what more do you need? The Curfew should be at the top of your reading list. We have to admit the promo stickers for the novel look pretty cool, too.
Television’s Marquee Moon by Bryan Waterman (June 16)
Continuum’s 33 1/3 series strikes again with three incredible June releases (the others being Dinosaur Jr.’s You’re Living All Over Me by Nick Attfield, and The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls by Cyrus R.K. Patell). We don’t know which one we’re more excited about, so we’re going to have to read all of them and probably tell you all about it later. Fans of Television frontman Richard Lloyd can ask him questions here, so if you have any nagging metaphysical quandaries not addressed in the book, send ’em his way.
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell (July 5)
The protagonist in this novel has been referred to as a “female Huckleberry Finn,” which is to say that Margo Crane is a teenage adventurer who escapes her home life and takes a boat downriver. However, Margo’s trip is dedicated to finding her mother after her father passes away, which makes it an entirely different story. With a biography of Annie Oakley at her side, Margo floats through the rivers and byways of Michigan, ready to take on the world.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich (July 12)
In 2004, 25-year-old Thad Roberts was working in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA with his girlfriend, Tiffany Fowler, who was an intern. The duo, along with help from two other interns, broke into the Johnson Space Center and lifted 101 grams of lunar samples from different Apollo missions. They stole a piece of the moon! For love! Aren’t you curious how it all ends? We certainly are.
White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race by editors Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay (July 18)
Verso gives us an engaging collection of political essays about race and representation in punk from critics like Greil Marcus to Paul Simonon of the Clash. The book features photos, lyrics, letters, and accessible articles from musicians and academics concerned about the greater issues in revolutionary music.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick, Steve Wozniak and William L. Simon (August 15)
Kevin Mitnick was on the lam from the FBI after hacking into a series of corporate and government computer systems across the country. In the book, we follow him as he goes off the grid via fake identities and middling jobs, but still manages to break into what was thought to be impenetrable companies and agencies despite the intense level of security involved.
Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery by Alexander Theroux (August 17)
From his musings on Hamlet to his thoughts on the TV show Married..with Children, Alexander Theroux covers pop culture, literature, and high art while he takes us on a rambling tour of this tiny Baltic country. Theroux examines Estonia’s language and customs in order to get a larger view of a land which holds a population of less than two million. As he states, “Seeing Estonia — disrobing her — was my focus.”
Anatomy of a Disappearance: A Novel by Hisham Matar (August 23)
The novel begins with the following sentence: “There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest.” Hisham Matar delicately explores a son’s quest for his missing father, who is captured by agents in Egypt under mysterious circumstances. This novel was released earlier this year in the UK to great acclaim, and we can’t imagine the same won’t happen here as well.
Some other summer reads worth mentioning:
The Astral by Kate Christensen (June 14) The Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie (June 14) – paperback Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim (June 14) – paperback The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block (June 21)
Lola, California by Edie Meidav (July 5) The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (July 12) A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R.R. Martin (July 12) A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard (July 12) Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison (July 19)
Beijing Welcomes You by Tom Scocca (August 4) Lights Out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre (August 8) House of Holes: A Book of Raunch by Nicholson Baker (August 9) The Magician King: A Novel by Lev Grossman (August 9)