Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

8 (smart) books for the beach

(Read article summary)
View video

(Read caption) Imperium
By Robert Harris
Simon & Schuster
320 pp., $14

View photo

The Monitor's 2010 summer reading guide goes online on Monday. But until then, here's a list of recent books lively enough to keep the pages turning yet smart enough to keep you thinking. In other words, good reads – but no empty calories.

1. Imperium, by Robert Harris (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $14). This “account of Cicero’s dazzling career ... conveys vivid, accurate depictions of Roman political intrigue through the use of historical research.” (CSM review 10/6/06)

About these ads

2. Little Heathens, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (Random House, 304 pp., $14). This ­“generous-hearted” memoir about Depression-era life on an Iowa farm “will have you itching [to] put up some tomatoes and try out [Kalish’s] recipe for homemade marshmallows.” (CSM review 8/3/07)

3. Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes (Knopf Doubleday, 494 pp, $16). This novelized account of a true incident in which Sherlock Holmes’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, battled to overturn an unjust conviction is “as pleasing a read as they come, and yet it is also the chance to admire the skillful work of a top contemporary novelist.” (CSM review 1/17/06)

4. The Perfect Summer, by Juliet Nicolson (Grove Press, 290 pp., $15). This “sparkling social history about Edwardian society on the brink of World War I” makes “perfect beach reading for Anglophiles.” (CSM review 5/25/07)

5. Provenance, by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (Penguin, 352 pp., $16). This “preposterous but true story of ... perhaps the greatest art fraud of the 20th century” is “impossible to put down.” (CSM review 8/11/09)

6. Let Me Finish, by Roger Angell (Mariner Books, 320 pp., $15). Longtime New Yorker editor Roger Angell gracefully recalls “his childhood, service in World War II, and work at the [New Yorker] – along with his love of sailing, movies, and long car trips.” (CSM review 6/6/06)

7. The Telephone Gambit, by Seth Shulman (W.W. Norton, 256 pp., $14.95). “[T]he strangeness of truth definitely overtakes fiction here as Shulman explains how he unraveled Alexander Graham Bell’s claim to have invented the telephone” – making this book a “detective story” that “upend[s] history.” (CSM review 1/8/08)

8. A Summer of Hummingbirds, by Christopher Benfey (Penguin, 304 pp., $16). “Intellectual and personal plotlines intersect, intertwine, collide, and finish by creating a delicate pattern” in this examination of “the lives of the American intelligentsia” of the 19th century, including Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade. (CSM review 5/31/08)

About these ads

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

What will you be reading at the beach this summer? Join the Monitor's book discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.