Your Summer Beach Book Bag

Fulvio Zanettini/Laif/Redux
so books
‘TransAtlantic: A Novel’ by Colum McCann. 320 p. Random House. $18.18.


By Colum McCann (June 4)

McCann's Let the Great World Spin was about a man's singular vision of walking across the sky by connecting one of the Twin Towers to the other with a wire. But that novel made clear that McCann's real mission was to connect the author's own childhood home of Ireland (where the man-on-wire dream was hatched) with his adopted home of New York. In his new book, McCann chronicles actual physical journeys across the Atlantic—the stories of aviators who looked across the ocean and longed to land on the other shore.

so books
‘The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths’ by John Gray. 240 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $16.48


By John Gray (June 4)

What's our place in the universe? This lyrical study, from one of Britain's most eminent and controversial thinkers, builds on Gray's previous cult classic Straw Dogs, which sees humans as animals struggling to be both rational and beastly, and takes us on a tour of literature and philosophy to argue that progress is just another myth we humans tell ourselves.

so books
‘Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo’ by Tim Parks. 288 p. W. W. Norton & Company. $15.74.


By Tim Parks (June 10)

Anyone who writes about modern Italy sooner or later has to deal with how its people must negotiate looking to the past and the future at the same time. Italy is changing, and the prolific essayist and novelist Tim Parks explores this theme as he travels the country by train, talking to people who see great monuments go by in a blur every day.

so books
‘Eleven Days’ by Lea Carpenter. 288 p. Knopf. $14.73.


By Lea Carpenter (June 18)

This is not one of the many tie-in books about the Navy SEALS raid against Osama bin Laden, but a novel about the disappearance of a Special Ops soldier. It is a distinct way of telling the story of the decade since 9/11—years that seem increasingly wraithlike.

so books
‘Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove’ by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Ben Greenman. 288 p. Grand Central Publishing. $16.28


By Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman (June 18)

Between fronting the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, recording vital hip-hop albums with The Roots, going on tour to play in front of packed houses, DJing sets almost every night, and even manning a killer Instagram feed, how does Questlove, the hardest-working man in show business, have time to tell his life story? With the help of Ben Greenman, you might answer, but how does The New Yorker editor, music critic, and prolific novelist find time to do that?

so books
‘Sisterland: A Novel’ by Curtis Sittenfeld. 416 p. Random House. $16.27


By Curtis Sittenfeld (June 25)

What scares us is knowing that disaster will strike some day and not knowing how to prevent it. In yet another work of psychological depth, Sittenfeld introduces us to Violet, a medium who announces that a devastating earthquake is going to hit St. Louis, and Kate, her twin sister who fears that the premonition is true. This is an ingenious setup—as Hitchcock said, film a bomb going off and you get 15 seconds of surprise, but show that a bomb is about to go off and you provide the audience with 15 minutes of suspense, where they are fascinated by even the most innocuous conversation.

so books
‘My Education’ by Susan Choi. 304 p. Viking Adult. $15.61


By Susan Choi (July 3)

A graduate student is warned about her irresistible professor, but what might seem like an ordinary soap opera turns into a fascinating examination of sexual politics and the many disguises of desire.

so books
‘Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad’ by Brett Martin. 320 p. The Penguin Press HC. $20.99.


By Brett Martin (July 3)

How did they do it? How were such shows as The Wire, The Sopranos, and Mad Men able to become the voice of our time? How did cable television drama become the most sophisticated art form of the 21st century? A look at a new breed of auteurs who created a movement.

so books
‘Fin & Lady: A Novel’ by Cathleen Schine. 288 p. Sarah Crichton Books. $16.26.


By Cathleen Schine (July 9)

There was a time when we were free to do things we would regret—the '60s. And Greenwich Village was the epicenter of the magic. In the hands of a novelist as smart and funny as Schine, the story of a pair of siblings living through the swinging '60s reads like an affectionate satire of a lost culture.

so books
‘& Sons: A Novel’ by David Gilbert. 448 p. Random House. $15.95.


By David Gilbert (July 23)

This trickily titled book is about an aging, reclusive writer named A.N. Dyer—the author of the coming-of-age novel Ampersand—and his relationship with his three sons. Which is to say that Gilbert has created a stand-in for the hermetic J.D. Salinger, the author of the coming-of-age novel The Catcher in the Rye. Only an author as audacious as Gilbert would explore fatherhood with such a complex narrative, which looks at the fact that fiction is also fraud.

so books
‘The Infatuations’ by Javier Marias (Author), Margaret Jull Costa (Translator). 352 p. Knopf. $16.55.


By Javier Marías (August 13)

A woman is infatuated—the Spanish title is Los enamoramientos, which suggests more passion, even love, than what "infatuations" can convey—with the handsome best friend of a man who has just been murdered. Part layered mystery, part examination of time, chance, and destiny, this is the book that will likely make the Spanish writer a household name.

so books
‘Claire of the Sea Light’ by Edwidge Danticat. 256 p. Knopf. $15.94.


By Edwidge Danticat (August 27)

A 7-year-old child runs away the day her father is to give her to another family, but the disappearance is really a chance for a writer as vivid and poetic as Danticat to tell the stories of the people of a seaside Haitian town, and to bring the place to life.