Five Great Summer Book Reads

There’s some theory out there that people spend most of their summer reading books on the beach. Doesn’t quite happen that way for me; I’ve got tennis season next month and that usually begets a long vacation in August. By the time I look up, it’ll be the other side of Labor Day and we’ll be talking holidays.

But, that doesn’t stop me from reading books, even if it isn’t while sitting on some baking sand next to some guy who may or may not have his trunks on under that towel (beach sitting isn’t my thing). Popular wisdom also holds that summer book reading must also be relatively mindless. Perhaps…it is hard to focus while smelling your neighbor’s skin sizzling in the sun (did I mention that beach sitting isn’t my thing?).

Anyway, here’s a gift from me to you. Five books that are terrific reads; sand or not.

A Clean Kill in Tokyo (aka Rain Fall)
by Barry Eisler
Written by a former CIA operative, John Rain is a half Japanese, half American Vietnam vet who makes his living as an independent assassin in Tokyo. He inadvertently runs afoul of a large foreign government, and (better than) Bourne style hijinks ensue. Terrific writing, a story paced to within an inch of its life and true to life details. It’s not hard to blow through the ten novels and four short stories in a couple of weeks.

Lamb (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal)
by Christopher Moore
Ever wonder what Jesus did from the time he was a young child until the time he turned 30? So did author Christopher Moore. Told from the point of view of Jesus’ BFF, the pair travel the world, learning the wonder of eastern religions, judo and bacon. Incredibly engaging and laugh out loud funny, Lamb is a good time, with a side helping of spiritual enlightenment.

Straight Man
by Richard Russo
Richard Russo is, without a doubt, one of the best living authors today. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the more widely known Empire Falls, but Straight Man is even better. Funny and soulful, Straight Man covers the impending midlife crisis of a college professor who must come to terms with who he was, is, and will be.

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
What happens when gaming becomes a total immersion experience? The year is 2044, and the outside world isn’t worth opening the door for. But you can jack in (Matrix style) to an immersive gaming experience which takes over the world. Wade Watts lives his best self within OASIS, and when he stumbles across an Easter Egg planted by the creator – his life changes, both for the better and worse.

The Beach
by Alex Garland
So maybe you didn’t get the Danny Boyle/Leonardo DiCaprio movie – it’s compromised ending didn’t do justice to the experience. There’s lots of stories with unreliable narrators, lots of stories about people slowly losing their minds and lots about dystopian states – but seldom all within the confines of the same pages. Follow Richard through the back alleys of Bangkok and following the treasure map to paradise.