Summer’s Must-Read Books

James T. Murray

The Departures summer reading list.

Out Now

Farther Away: Essays
by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Franzen may not be the life of the party, but his essays captivate with a mature mind often at odds with itself. This is one to make your reflective side fizz.

History of a Pleasure Seeker
by Richard Mason (Knopf)
A seductive romp about a rakish tutor unbuttoning the austerity of a wealthy family in Belle Epoque Amsterdam—worth it for the sex tips alone.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
by Anna Quindlen (Random House)
Life’s little instruction guides for women rarely offer groundbreaking information, but there’s merit and warmth in this memoir from the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Mid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men Era
by Jim Heimann and Steven Heller (Taschen)
This gallery of 1950s and ’60s ad campaigns is a master class in spiffy creative direction and the psyche of the outdated American consumer.

Paris: Portrait of a City
by Jean Claude Gautrand (Taschen)
Capturing the faces, fashion and attitude of Paris, this book offers social history laced with escapism—the ultimate album of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII
(Phaidon)

In this collection from the archives of famed photo agency VII, all the clichés are true: These images have the power to transport, inspire and change.

A Wedding in Haiti
by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)
A poignant recollection of a friendship with a child, this memoir traces Alvarez’s early promise to a young Haitian boy to attend his wedding.

May

The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service
by Henry A. Crumpton (The Penguin Press)
This real-life espionage tale by a veteran CIA agent brings a heroic face to an apparently bloodless organization.

Home
by Toni Morrison (Knopf)
Morrison wields language to beautiful yet devastating effect in a story that follows a scarred and displaced Korean War veteran returning to a racist homeland.

In One Person
by John Irving (Simon & Schuster)
Few writers can craft misfits with the tenderness of Irving, and this tragicomic portrait of a bisexual man is a masterpiece of sympathy and imagination.

Johnson’s Life of London
by Boris Johnson (Riverhead)
The mayor of London’s tribute to the English capital, featuring influential figures from Chaucer to Keith Richards, is a fast-paced, informative delight.

The Lower River
by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
A graying Massachusetts shopkeeper returns to the Malawi village of his Peace Corps days, with the novelist’s customary sage observations scattered along the way.

The Newlyweds
by Nell Freudenberger (Knopf)
The literary darling’s story of a Bangladeshi e-mail-order bride and the secrets between her and her American husband is cleverly spun and quietly astute.

Restaurant Man
by Joe Bastianich (Viking Adult)
The Wall Streeter turned restaurateur dishes in a book that’s equal parts memoir, business blueprint and food-world exposé.

They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?
by Christopher Buckley (Twelve)
A wittily plausible satire about a media machine spreading rumors that the Chinese secret service plans to assassinate the Dalai Lama.

June

Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter (Harper)
Spanning five decades, this enticing la dolce vita–style tale follows a young Italian innkeeper’s obsession with a supposedly dying Hollywood actress.

Capital
by John Lanchester (W. W. Norton & Company)
An elegantly written, richly cast novel that tells of an anonymous neighborhood hate campaign at the height of the financial crisis.

The Dream of the Celt
by Mario Vargas Llosa (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Now in English, this account of the life of executed Irish nationalist Roger Casement has been a best seller in Spain since its 2010 release.

The Queens’s Lover
by Francine du Plessix Gray (The Penguin Press)
Without throwing corset to the wind when it comes to the facts, Gray invents a credible and well-plotted account of Marie Antoinette’s alleged affair with a Swedish aristocrat.