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Beach reads

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - June 14th, 2010
What to Read? Summer’s Best Beach Books
By Elizabeth Buzzelli
Yes, another list of books to read while on vacation, sitting on a
quiet beach, in a summer house, in a garden—any place you dream of
being and don’t often get to.
Or just a sampling of books not to miss; maybe to stockpile for long
winter evenings. And for our summer people, a list of Michigan books
that shouldn’t be missed.
In other words, a non-discriminating, highly subjective, even
downright self-serving list — with a little nepotism thrown in for
good measure. So — on to this year’s picks which will cause
consternation, disagreement, and, perhaps, a bounty on my head.
The choices come from me, from local writers, booksellers, and
librarians. Those who have contributed picks include writers Doug
Stanton and Aaron Stander, bookseller Margaret at Horizon Books, and
Deborah Bull at the Kalkaska Country Public Library.

• Of course I will begin with our own Doug Stanton’s best sellers:
“Horse Soldiers” and “In Harm’s Way,” for their view of war as told
through the eyes of men who live it every day. (Doug recommends:
“Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and
the International Manhunt for His Assassin” by Hampton Sides.)
• “Isadore’s Secret” by Mardi Link. This story of a small northern
town’s terrible secret was chosen a Michigan Notable Book for 2009.
• “The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and
Betrayal” by Ben Mezrich. “A high-energy tale of how two socially
awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the
opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook. Eduardo Saverin and Mark
Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends. They shared
both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women.”
• “Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid who changed the world
of oil, from Wall Street to Dubai,” also by Ben Mezrich. “The
startling rags-to-riches story of an Italian-American kid from the
streets of Brooklyn who claws his way into the wild, frenetic world of
the oil exchange.”
• “The Girls from Ames” by Jeffrey Zaslow — a tale of a friendship
between a group of women, from college through the next 40 years.
• “Pearl of China” by Anchee Min. “The “pearl” in the title of Anchee
Min’s sixth novel, “Pearl of China,” is the Nobel Prize-winning author
Pearl S. Buck, who died in 1973 and spent much of her life in China.
Min’s latest explores the friendship between Buck and a Chinese girl
called Willow.”
• “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Howe. “This
charming novel is both a tale of New England grad-student life in 1991
and the Salem witch hunts in 1692. Howe is a descendant of two women
who endured the Salem panic of 1692, one of whom survived, one who
didn’t. Her central thesis in this novel is that, while we may think
of the witch hunts as symbolic of the decline of the Puritan theocracy
or as a cultural shiver between the age of superstition and the Age of
Enlightenment, the good folk of Salem thought they were hunting real
• “Dreamers of the Day” by Mary Doria Russell. The Traverse City
Reads yearly pick offers an amazingly authentic voice telling the
story of 40-year-old Agnes Shanklin, a schoolteacher from Ohio, who
gets to travel to Egypt and mingle with people such as Lawrence of
Arabia, Winston Churchill, and Lady Gertrude Bell.

• “Summer at Tiffany” by Marjorie Hart. “Do you remember the best
summer of your life?
New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and Marty Garrett arrive fresh
from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa to miraculously find
jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work
on the sales floor.” Great fun, with celebrities, such as Judy
Garland, dropping by the store.
• “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” by Rhoda Janzen. A coming back
home story with an unusual twist. “This book is not just beautiful and
intelligent, but also painfully -- even wincingly -- funny.”
• “At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream” by Wade Rouse.
A hilarious romp with two gay guys settling down in Michigan’s back
woods, beginning with an attack by an angry raccoon.
• “An American Map: Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen.” “Oomen uses moments
from her life to facet experience, finding small and large truths in
unusual places.”
• “Driving With Dvorak” by Fleda Brown. “In this non-linear
examination of a single life, Brown delivers biography through
philosophy and a poetic voice never consciously poetic.”

• “As If We Were Prey” by Michael Delp. Lessons learned in Delp’s work
are never the ones we suspect we’re learning.
• “American Salvage” by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Each story is a small
room where people you don’t want to know live. The trouble is you
find you need to know.

• “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. “In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn
Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to
start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way
women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends -- view one another. A
deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, “The Help”
is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the
ones we don’t.”
• “That Old Cape Magic” by Richard Russo. “A novel of deep
introspection as a middle-aged man confronts his parents, their failed
marriage, his own troubled marriage, a daughter’s new life and what he
thought he wanted as opposed to what in fact he has.”
• “I Thought You Were Dead” by Peter Nelson: A guy and his aging dog
share a life that grows close—including a shared fear of thunderstorms
and seedy bars. Ond reviewer said: “dialogue is smart, sweet, and
• “Deer Season” by Aaron Stander (Mystery)—“Northern Michigan is
caught (as if in amber) under an unusual blanket of snow.” A good
solid mystery with great characters.
• My own mysteries — of course: (the Dead Series): “Dead Dancing
Women,” “Dead Floating Lovers,” “Dead Sleeping Shaman” — all laid in
Northern Michigan where dead bodies keep appearing in the lives of
edgy friends, Emily Kincaid and Deputy Dolly Wakowski.
• “The Mapping of Love and Death” (The Newest Maisie Dobbs mystery) by
Jacqueline Winspear. “. . . seems a pivotal novel in the series and
will be life altering for some of the characters.”
• “61 Hours” by Lee Child. “the 14th novel in the Jack Reacher
series, Child endeavors to push the envelope and his readers’
expectations. He puts Reacher on the clock, on the phone and on the
harrowing end of a scorched-earth encounter with a full load of jet
• “Rules of Vengeance” by Christopher Reich, a new thriller by the
author of “Rules of Deception.” “The New York Times bestselling
author delivers a riveting sequel to his smash hit that catapults him
to the distinction of master of the espionage thriller.”
• “Intervention,” by Robin Cook. “This thriller has an interesting
plot, good characters, the whole enchilada. I’d recommend it,
especially if you’re a fan of Robin Cook and a follower of the Jack
Stapleton series.”
• “The Scarecrow” by Michael Connelly. “Connelly, who has the nerve
and timing of a whole SWAT team, gives Jack two weeks to find the
creep who’s been raping and killing attractive long-legged women and
dumping their remains in car trunks —if his young replacement doesn’t
beat him to the story.”
And there you have it for this year. So many favorites left out. So
many good books to read. So little time.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s newest mystery is in book stores now.

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