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Publishers Weekly’s Best of Summer 2015

Spring may have finally arrived, but Publishers Weekly is already on to summer! Check out their list of the Best Summer Books of 2015, which include:

STAFF PICKS
THE ARGONAUTS by Maggie Nelson
“Reading Nelson is like sweeping the leaves out of your mental driveway: by the end of one of her books, you have a better understanding of how the world works. THE ARGONAUTS is about her relationship with Harry Dodge, her pregnancy, and becoming a mother, and it’s supplemented with references to Roland Barthes, The Shining, Anne Carson, Atari games, and more. The result is one of the most intelligent, generous, and moving books of the year.” — Gabe Habash, deputy reviews editor

ALL THAT FOLLOWED by Gabriel Urza
“A foreign setting that’s just exotic enough (the Basque region of Spain), a terrible crime (kidnapping and murder), a small town with complicated history and delicious superstitions (fear of la Cerda, a woman who was burned to death in a furnace as a witch during the Spanish Inquisition for holding gatherings where young girls cavorted with the Devil), and a beautiful widow are just some of the elements that make this intriguing literary debut a book to while away a summer afternoon with. The narrator is an American who has lived in the village for 50 years but acknowledges that he ‘would always be considered a foreigner here, a visitor passing through.’ Aren’t we all?” — Louisa Ermelino, reviews director


FICTION
IMPERIUM by Christian Kracht
This oddball novel follows a thumb-sucking vegetarian nudist named August Engelhardt and his quest to start a coconut-based utopia in the South Seas at the turn of the 20th century. Kracht’s delightful adventure shifts from the philosophical to the suspenseful to the slapstick, and is just as nutty as Engelhardt’s prized foodstuff.

DEATH AND MR. PICKWICK by Stephen Jarvis
If you’re looking for an immersive Dickensian doorstopper this summer, look no further than Jarvis’s rollicking re-creation of Dickens’s publication of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Jarvis’s panoramic perspective of 19th-century London and its vibrant denizens makes for thrilling reading.

A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
What better way to spend your summer than with Berlin’s cast of disaffected characters, drifting from cafeterias and laundromats, full of everyday resentments and affections. Many of these stories are just a few pages; the perfect length to pick up and come back to throughout the long, lazy summer.

MYSTERY
THE FLICKER MEN by Ted Kosmatka
Quantum mechanics geeks will find a lot to like in this superior SF thriller. Eric Argus, a struggling physicist looking to salvage his career, redoes the classic physics experiment at a Massachusetts research center to determine whether an electron passing through a slit behaves like a wave or a particle. The result of the experiment has devastating philosophical implications for humanity.

SIGNAL by Patrick Lee
A machine that foretells the future gives people a chance to change events in Lee’s cinematic second Sam Dryden novel. Sam, a credible hero, must try to stop those bent on world domination from taking control of the machine.

SF/FANTASY/HORROR
THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET by Natasha Pulley
Pulley’s electrifying debut captures the frenetic energy of London in the time of new electrical devices and the terror of Irish nationalist bombings. A humble telegraph clerk, a female scientist, and a Japanese clockmaker become enmeshed in a mystery rooted in bigotry and exploitation. Pulley expertly employs the tools of mystery and fantasy to examine the social pressures faced by the marginalized; the heart of the story is the universal human quest for acceptance, understanding, and love.

NONFICTION
LEAVING ORBIT: Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight by Margaret Lazarus Dean
Dean takes readers through NASA’s “heroic era” of spaceflight to the “shuttle era,” asking “What does it mean that we have been going to space for 50 years and have decided to stop?” It’s a history and an elegy not just for the U.S. space program, but also for the optimism and sense of wonder it inspired in a nation.

CITY BY CITY: Dispatches from the American Metropolis, edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb
Gessen and Squibb assemble a panoramic essay collection about the current state of the American city. A recurring story emerges over the course of the pieces—one of past economic glory, current decline or decay, and future hoped-for renewal—but the selections, each from a different writer and focusing on a different city, are most remarkable for the specificity of their insights, whether into fracking in Williston, North Dakota, or reality television in Whittier, Alaska.

THE FELLOWSHIP: The Literary Lives of the Inklings—J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski
The Zaleskis offer an epic-scale account of the informal Oxford literary club to which J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis belonged. According to PW‘s review, this group biography gives a warm, unexpected picture of the famous authors and their social circle as “a pipe-smoking, ale-drinking, loud-laughing group of friends.”

Click here for the full PW Best Summer Books of 2015 list.

 

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