Long Islanders may still have to stay at least six feet apart from friends, family and neighbors right now, but at least social distancing doesn’t apply to curling up with a good book.
In fact, sales of print books are up by more than 10% over this time last year according to Publishers Weekly, so there’s never been a better summer for escaping to some faraway place with a thrilling novel or lively biography as your mode of transportation.
Here are 12 new fiction and nonfiction titles that will take you to all sorts of exciting locales from Bangkok to Mars.
THE GLASS KINGDOM by Lawrence Osborne
Bangkok is the exotic setting for this thriller about a woman who flees New York City with some stolen money. She begins a new life in the Thai capital where she becomes part of the community in a glass-faced high rise filled with other expatriates. Her solace is soon shattered when she becomes embroiled in political unrest and a military coup. (Hogarth, Aug. 18)
PEW by Catherine Lacey
When a mute homeless person of no discernible gender or race is found sleeping on a church pew in a small Southern town, the fuse is lit for Lacey's eerie tale of social mores, human frailty and self-awareness. As the stranger, called Pew, is transferred from household to household, all sorts of secrets and hidden truths are revealed about the townsfolk. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, July 21)
THE INDOMITABLE FLORENCE FINCH by Robert J. Mrazek
The former Representative of Long Island's third Congressional District has reinvented himself as a writer. His latest historical offering is this intriguing bio subtitled "The Untold Story of a War Widow Turner Resistance Fighter and Savior of American POWs." Finch's dramatic transformation from housewife to heroine is set against the backdrop of such World War II milestones as the Bataan Death March and the fall of Corregidor. If this doesn't have the makings of a major motion picture, what does? (Hachette, July 21)
LADY ROMEO by Tana Wojczuk
The name Charlotte Cushman may not mean much today, but in the mid-1800s she was a prominent stage actress who specialized in Shakespearean roles from Lady Macbeth to Romeo (her sister played Juliet). Cushman was also openly gay and her radical lifestyle and many same-sex relationships were the stuff of scandal. Wojczuk's carefully researched biography, which draws heavily on Cushman's letters, paints a fascinating portrait of a true trailblazer. (Simon & Schuster, July 7)
ANTKIND by Charlie Kaufman
You can always expected the unexpected -- and something downright bizarre -- from the Massapequa-raised screenwriter of "Being John Malkovich" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." His debut novel about a neurotic film critic/filmmaker/shoe salesman who attempts to resurrect a lost movie sounds like it won't disappoint in that regard. (Random House, July 7)
THE SHADOWS by Alex North
Following the success of last year's compelling kidnapping yarn "The Whisper Man," North returns with a new thriller that sounds every bit as appealing. Like "The Whisper Man," this one takes place in the London suburb of Featherbank and again has Det. Amanda Beck on the case. Here she's investigating a grisly murder that's a carbon copy of one from 25 years earlier. (Celadon Books, July 7)
THE SIRENS OF MARS by Sarah Stewart Johnson
Of all the biographies coming out this year, this is likely to be the only one about a planet. Certainly Johnson, an assistant professor of planetary science at Georgetown University and a visiting scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is more than qualified for the task. As she details the history of the Red Planet, she also ponders questions such as "Does life exist on Mars?" (Crown, July 7)
28 SUMMERS by Elin Hilderbrand
Every summer needs some sort of chick lit pick for the beach, and this year Hilderbrand delivers with her latest which is inspired by the play and movie "Same Time Next Year." Told in flashback, the novel recounts a romance between Mallory, who has a beachfront cottage in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Jake, who meet in 1993 and reunite once a year for a romantic weekend. Did we mention that Jake's wife becomes a front runner in the U.S. presidential election? (Little, Brown and Company, June 16)
AN ELEGANT WOMAN by Martha McPhee
This novel by National Book Award finalist and Hofstra University English professor McPhee is proof positive of the importance of family stories being passed on from generation to generation. The author found inspiration in her grandmother's recollections of her ancestors and of growing up out West for this tale of two sisters whose lives take wildly divergent paths following an act of betrayal. (Scribner, out already)
Curtis Sittenfeld's latest novel is "Rodham."....Random House..
MUSIC BY MAX STEINER by Steven C. Smith
Smith is best known for shining a spotlight on Bernard Herrmann, the genius who created scores for "Citizen Kane" and numerous Hitchcock classics, in his definitive bio "A Heart at Fire's Center." Now he gives the brilliant Steiner, the premiere composer at Warner Bros. in the 1930s and '40s, his due. While his career soared creating the scores for "Gone With the Wind," "Now, Voyager," "Casablanca," "Mildred Pierce" and countless other classics, his personal life was plagued by financial woes exacerbated by gambling and family issues. (Oxford University Press, out already)
CHOSEN ONES by Veronica Roth
The YA queen behind the hugely popular "Divergent" series makes a stunning adult novel debut. The backbone of the story is about five teens, the titular Chosen Ones, who are given the Herculean task of defeating a powerful force known as the Dark One and save the world. That's only a setup to the rest of this gripping novel, which follows what happens years later. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, out already)