On the Shelf: Summer Books

Leif Parsons

What to pack (or download) this season.


The Sea Inside, by Philip Hoare
In this travel journal–meets–memoir–meets–natural history, the author sets out on a yearlong journey to explore the world’s oceans. April 29; Melville House.

The Animals, Edited by Katherine Bucknell
Love letters chronicle the May–December passion between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, a rare openly gay couple in a closeted Hollywood. May 13; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Capital: The Eruption of Delhi, by Rana Dasgupta
A fascinating and exhaustive portrait of Delhi told through encounters with everyone from the city’s billionaires to money launderers to politicians to slum dwellers. May 15; The Penguin Press.

Stress Test, by Timothy F. Geithner
Geithner’s apologia for his handling of the financial crisis in 2009, when he was secretary of the Treasury, is a crucial document of a trying time. (The title’s double meaning is apt.) May 12; Crown.

Creativity: The Perfect Crime, by Philippe Petit
Artists are born to break the rules, argues the high-wire walker in this guide to creative transgression. May 15; Riverhead.

Carsick, by John Waters
The cult filmmaker pulled out his “I’m Not a Psycho” sign and hitchhiked from his native Baltimore to San Francisco. Then he wrote a (very funny) book about it. June 3; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Poking a Dead Frog, by Mike Sacks
An unusually insightful interviewer, Sacks teases deep wisdom from comedy titans—including Mel Brooks, Amy Poehler and George Saunders. June 24; Penguin.


The Temporary Gentleman, by Sebastian Barry
In his sixth book, Barry once again fuses fiction and family history with the bittersweet story of Irishman Jack McNulty, his swashbuckling world travels and his strange, lost love. May 1; Viking Adult.

The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham
By zeroing in on faith, addiction and cancer treatment, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours explores one family’s yearning for transcendence. May 6; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
A blind French girl and an orphaned German boy cross paths during World War II and find beauty in destruction. May 6; Scribner.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris
What’s real versus virtual That’s the question the literary darling poses in his dense comic novel about identity theft, social media, baseball and the meaning of life. May 13; Little, Brown and Company.

Lost for Words, by Edward St. Aubyn
Examiner of the English upper class, St. Aubyn doesn’t pull punches in taking down the absurdity of awards and judging in this satire set in the literary world. May 20; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
A salacious yet—because it’s so beautifully written—largely guilt-free beach read about a family’s vacation at a Majorcan villa. May 29; Riverhead.