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From guilty pleasures to academic heavy lifting, the summer book season has it all

Summer Book Preview

Published: Saturday, May 21, 2011

Updated: Sunday, May 22, 2011 10:05

Ah, summer. Time to dust off those books that have been sitting on your nightstand all semester and read more than three pages before passing out at 1 a.m. Whether summer means leisurely days on the beach, long international flights to glamorous places or a lengthy commute on the T, a good book is your best friend. We took a look at many of this summer's literary releases and are here to tell you how you should be spending your time when you don't have to worry about Blackboard readings or response papers.

 

If you want to revisit some literary favorites from middle school and lament how your favorite characters have grown up: "Incredibly Alice" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

When I said goodbye to Alice, I was an eighth grader graduating from middle school, facing high school. Unbeknown to me, Naylor continued the series over the past eight years and with the latest installment, "Incredibly Alice," Alice herself is on the brink of graduation — but from college. Sound familiar? (Available now.)

 

If you have no shame in your literary taste and want to combine as many ridiculous genres as possible: "Vampires in Atlantis" by Alyssa Day.

Historical romance, smutty sex scenes, bloodsucking creatures and a disappearing city: What more could you ask for in terms of a self-indulgent read? Might want to go the Kindle route with this one, though, to avoid being judged in public. (Available June 7.)

 

If you like vodka as much as Chelsea Handler does: "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me" by Chelsea Handler.

In the follow-up volume to her wildly successful tomes "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" (2009) and "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" (2010), funny girl Handler is at it again, but this time with tales from her family and friends about how she thwarted them in one way or another. A perfect beach read. (Available now.)

 

If you're not so desperate as to resort to reading a trashy vampire romance novel: "Happy Birthday" by Danielle Steel.

Steel is known for her myriad romances with great potential to be adapted into Lifetime Original Movies. Fact: She has sold more books than any other living author. You should probably help her maintain this extremely honorable title by delving into her latest, a tale of class, wealth and romance among the New York City elite. (Available July 19.)

 

If you wonder what kinds of things Carrie Bradshaw would possibly put on her body in the '80s: "Summer and the City" by Candace Bushnell.

The follow-up prequel to the 2010 "The Carrie Diaries," this latest chronicle of everyone's favorite Manolo Blahnik-sporter follows Carrie Bradshaw as she makes her pioneer voyage to her Mecca and future home: New York City. Follow Carrie as she meets future besties Samantha and Miranda and turns into the cosmopolitan-drinking, fashion-savvy sex guru that everyone knows and loves. (Available now.)

 

If you want to solve a bigger mystery than whether or not you will get sunburned today: "I'll Walk Alone" by Mary Higgins Clark.

Known first and foremost for her mystery novels, Clark is a well-respected figure in the world of suspense. "I'll Walk Alone" deals with everything from New York City glamour to identity theft to kidnapping and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. (Available now.)

If you want to spend your days dreaming about getting away: "The Tao of Travel" by Paul Theroux.

Renowned travel writer Theroux is back again with this collection of literary travel anecdotes. In referencing icons such as Jon Krakauer, D.H. Lawrence and Marco Polo, readers will enjoy the travels and travails of these world wanderers while daydreaming of their own adventures. (Available now.)

 

If you have major European envy and like non-fiction: "La Seduction" by Elaine Sciolino.

The French live a glamorous life, and it is in large part because of the role of seduction in their society. Sciolino takes the reader on a journey through the sensual aspects of the French lifestyle, from food to art to fashion, and explains just how they incorporate these values into their society. Grab a copy and get seduced. C'est la vie! (Available June 7.)

 

If historical thrillers are your guilty pleasure: "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson.

Fans of "Devil in the White City" (2004) will gravitate toward Larson's latest book about an American father-daughter pair in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. The literary manifestations of these dark and twisted times are well-researched and extremely thorough on Larson's part and readers won't be able to tear themselves away from William and Martha Dodd's exploits in New Germany. (Available now.)

 

If you want "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" in book form: "Matterhorn" by Karl Marlantes.

Newly released in paperback form, Marlantes' fictionalized chronicle of the Vietnam War is now just as long but less heavy — physically, anyway. Taking us through the vividness and horrors of the Vietnam War, "Matterhorn" is sure to impress any history buff. (Available now.)

 

And if you loved all your summer reading so much that you couldn't possibly stop during the school year: "11/22/63" by Stephen King.

The next highly anticipated release from world-renowned author King is approaching and he wraps up time travel, the JFK assassination and changing the course of history all in one book. At 960 pages, if you start it upon its release you might be done by the time Spring Fling rolls around. (Available November 8.)

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