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Summer books preview 2015

Let's face it: If you love books, you're not waiting for Memorial Day to kick-start your reading habit. You're already waist-deep in the year's many enticing reads, and the change of seasons is merely a milestone. Nevertheless, there are particular pleasures to summertime reading, not the least of which are long twilit evenings when you can extend the day's outdoor reading until your eyes can't take it anymore. (And you'll still be up half the night reading by flashlight or screen light while everyone else slumbers.) So keep at it, on a beach or in a hammock or wherever you may find yourself, and look for these 10 titles coming your way this summer.

THE ROCKS, by Peter Nichols

Photo Credit: Riverhead

"The Rocks" by Peter Nichols (Riverhead, May 26). If you won't be vacationing on the Mediterranean, here's the next best thing: a sweeping, romantic novel set on the sunny island of Mallorca. Opening in the near present, "The Rocks" introduces us to octogenarians Lulu Davenport and Gerald Rutledge, once married and now divorced, who encounter one another after decades of mutual avoidance. The fight that ensues -- and the subsequent fall to their deaths from a rocky ledge -- occurs in the novel's opening pages; the author turns back the clock, again and again, to trace the history of their ill-fated romance all the way back to the 1940s.

STALIN'S DAUGHTER, by Rosemary Sullivan

Photo Credit: Harper

"Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva" by Rosemary Sullivan (Harper, June 2). What was it like to be raised by one of the 20th century's most notorious dictators and mass murderers? "Stalin's Daughter" tells the story of Svetlana Alliluyeva, born in 1926 and sequestered in the Kremlin for most of her childhood, where she was protected from the famines and purges that Stalin visited upon Soviet citizens. After her father's death, at the height of the Cold War, Alliluyeva shocked the world by defecting, leaving behind two children; she died in Wisconsin in 2011, mostly forgotten and in debt. Sullivan's biography promises a fascinating window on this unknown woman and her times.

FINDERS KEEPERS, by Stephen King

Photo Credit: Scribner

"Finders Keepers" by Stephen King (Scribner, June 2015). Is King -- author of "Carrie" and "The Shining," among other iconic horror novels -- one of our great writers? Or simply a terrific entertainer? And does it matter, in the end? "Finders Keepers" brings back the trio of detectives from last year's "Mr. Mercedes" while revisiting one of King's delicious recurring themes: the deranged, author-obsessed fan. Here the author is John Rothstein, an Updike/Salinger mashup who is murdered in 1978 by a reader who also steals the notebooks that may contain an unpublished Rothstein novel. But when a young boy unearths the manuscript decades later, and the killer gets out of jail and comes looking for it . . . well, you see where this is headed. (Scribner, June 2)

I'M SPECIAL, by Ryan O'Connell

Photo Credit: Simon and Schuster

"I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Ryan O'Connell (Simon and Schuster, June 2). Already in development as a half-hour TV comedy to be produced by Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory," "I'm Special" is the memoir of a gay millennial with cerebral palsy. O'Connell, known for his YouTube videos and his posts on, finds humor in the very ordinary experiences of his generation -- helicopter parents, entry-level jobs that pay next to nothing -- and the more singular challenges of navigating the world as a self-labeled "gimp."

MODERN ROMANCE, by Aziz Ansari

Photo Credit: Penguin Press

"Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari (Penguin Press, June 16). The popular comedian, fresh from the success of the "Parks and Recreation" finale and a stand-up special for Netflix, brings out his first book -- and it's not just another celebrity memoir. Instead, Ansari collaborated with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg ("Going Solo") to examine the rapidly changing world of dating, a subject he has often mined for his comedy material. From apps such as Tinder to the challenges of composing romantic text messages, Ansari explores how technology has -- and hasn't -- transformed our love lives.

GO SET A WATCHMAN, by Harper Lee

Photo Credit: HarperCollins

"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee (Harper, July 14). Is there a more anticipated novel this summer? Fifty-five years after she published "To Kill a Mockingbird," an undisputed American classic, Lee has delivered a sequel, of sorts. In fact, this novel -- also featuring Scout and Atticus Finch -- was written first and shelved when her editor asked her to focus on the story that eventually became "Mockingbird"; now we'll get to find out what happened to these beloved characters in the years after Atticus defended Tom Robinson in court. Why Lee, now 89 and living in a nursing home, has decided to release the book is the subject of fevered speculation, but this much is certain: Anyone who grew up reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" won't be able to resist having a look into "Watchman."

BARBARIAN DAYS, by William Finnegan

Photo Credit: Penguin Press

"Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life," by William Finnegan (Penguin Press, July 21). Growing up between Hawaii and California in the 1960s, bookish Finnegan found a calling and a community through surfing -- at a time when surfers were for the most part outcasts and marginals. Now a staff writer for The New Yorker, Finnegan explores the role of surfing in his life, including his far-flung travels in search of the perfect wave (Fiji, Samoa, Australia and, yes, Long Island) and his changing relationship to the sport as he grows older.

GONZO GIRL, by Cheryl Della Pietra

Photo Credit: Simon and Schuster

"Gonzo Girl," by Cheryl Della Pietra (Touchstone, July 28). The author of this fast-paced roman a clef worked as an assistant to legendary gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in 1992. The author of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" -- here rechristened Walker Reade -- is past his prime, and the protagonist, called Ally, finds herself revising his pages as she types them into the computer. There's not much plot, but there's plenty of booze, cocaine and guns, and the fun of guessing the characters' real identities: Is that Johnny Depp? John Cusack? Drew Barrymore? Della Pietra isn't saying.


Photo Credit: Random House

"Circling the Sun," by Paula McLain (Ballantine, July 28). Her bestselling 2011 novel "The Paris Wife" -- about Hemingway's first spouse, Hadley Richardson -- put author Paula McLain on the map. With "Circling the Sun" she brings another obscure historical figure to life: Beryl Markham, who made a name for herself as a female bush pilot in 1920s Kenya and was caught in a love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of "Out of Africa."


Photo Credit: Simon and Schuster

"The Marriage of Opposites" by Alice Hoffman (Simon and Schuster, Aug. 4). After setting recent novels in turn-of-the-century New York City ("The Museum of Extraordinary Things") and the biblical Middle East ("The Dovekeepers"), Hoffman travels to the 19th century Caribbean for a story of the small Jewish community on the island of St. Thomas, refugees from the European Inquisition centuries earlier. The central character is a headstrong young woman, Rachel Pomie, mother of the future artist Camille Pissarro, whose affair with her late husband's nephew creates a scandal in their insular community.


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