Not sure what to read this summer? The staff at Capitola Book Café and Bookshop Santa Cruz reveal their favorite book picks of the season
Capitola Book Café:
“This is How” by Augusten Burroughs: The kind of wry, observational self help book that might have been written by a 21st century Mark Twain. Snarky hope for cynical optimists.
“Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams: This is armchair travel at its best, with all the exotic locales, physical challenges, off-beat humor and grand history anyone could ask for. Read it and look south. The mountains of Peru are waiting.
“The Age of Doubt” by Andrea Camilleri: This sharp, funny, inventive mystery series captures the light of Sicily as well as the darkness. People here eat, drink, and murder as they please, with inspector Montalbano in pursuit between courses.
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain: Ben Fountain manages to capture perfectly the bravado of soldiers, the intimacy of friends, the dark humor of hypocrisy and our collective hunger for wisdom at the expense of truth.
Bookshop Santa Cruz:
“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach: In “The Art of Fielding,” baseball is simply a stage setting to the tiny soap opera of what it means to find one’s place in the world. Harbach’s subtle style of writing is hard to resist, regardless of one’s own feelings about our great American pastime.
“State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett: “State of Wonder” is an adventure story whose beauty lies in the description and, well, oddity of its setting, with deadly snakes, harrowing river rides, and malaria-induced nightmares, where breathtaking beauty stands side by side with wrenching loss. There is a moral tug-of-war that will make your heart pound, as well as the incredible beauty that Ann Patchett embeds in her writing.
“Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead” by Sara Gran: Six months after Hurricane Katrina, detective Claire deWitt arrives in New Orleans to investigate the disappearance of a well-known prosecutor. The best part of this novel is New Orleans itself, reeling and wounded from Katrina and its aftermath. Dark and richly atmospheric, this book is highly recommended.
“Maphead” by Ken Jennings: In a charming and witty tone, Jennings blends memoir, humor, anecdote, and serious research to talk about his devotion to the world of maps. Delightful, funny, and perfect for Bill Bryson fans.
“Area 51” by Annie Jacobsen: There’s nothing like a good secret—more satisfying than philosophical truth, more personal than a mystery. And it’s hard to find a secret bigger than Area 51. Jacobsen uses extensive, recently declassified documentation and interviews to unearth a (still operational) Cold War–era research, development, and testing site. Not all the secrets of 51 are here, but there are enough to make you hungry for more. The truth is still out there.