Minding Our Business: Time Out for Books

2 col culture karma kraft_MG_9586Take a break from business and read a good story this summer. Here’s a sampling from my alternate persona, the OC Book Blogger, all available at Laguna Beach Books.

New in paperback: “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver, another gorgeous journey of humanity bumping up against the environment, she never fails to please.

“Lifeboat” by Charlotte Rogan, a harrowing journey by the survivors of a ship’s demise, not quite “Life of Pi” but a page-turner and superb character study.

“Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel, the second of the Cromwellian trilogy. No one writes period detail like this. Start with number one, “Wolf Hall,” and prepare to be entranced.

“The Light Between Oceans” by M. L. Stedman, an Aussie love story that will break your heart.

“The End of Your Life Book Club,” a memoir by Will Schwalbe, is a charmer, especially for avid readers.

“Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead, a Cheever-like satire of the dysfunction of the rich but not famous during one wedding weekend back east.

“Days of Abandonment” by Elena Ferrante, is a stunning narrative of a woman scorned, filled with rage and recrimination, without any of the sap of similar stories.

“The Summer House: A Trilogy,” is really three tellings of one situation, each character pivotal to the outcome, published in the ‘80s, it has just been issued here and it’s a winner. Speaking of trilogies, or in this case multiples, if you have a strong heart and willing to navigate painfully destructive family dynamics, the writing is worth the reading in “The Patrick Melrose Novels” by Edward St. Albyn. And, if you haven’t yet discovered “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter, grab a copy.

New hardcover/E-readers: “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer is a luscious chronicle of a handful of summer camp friends over their lifetimes, beautifully told and sparkling with contemporary hot buttons. “Transatlantic” by the great Colum McCann features three disparate narratives tied together brilliantly, a fiction carved out of history that ties the oppression of African-Americans in America with the plight of the Irish in Britain. “The Woman Upstairs” by Claire Messud features a lonely repressed teacher whose life is upended by a visiting professor, his wife and son. “Schroder” by Amite Gaige, is the charming narrative of an imposter on the lamb with his daughter. And my favorite book this year, “Mary Coin” by Marisa Silver, imagines the intersection of the woman in the famous Depression-era photograph, “Migrant Mother,” with photographer Dorothea Lange.

And a few oldies in paperback or e-readers: “City of Thieves” by David Benioff is a totally original, prosaic adventure, that takes place during the siege of Leningrad. And if you want to stay in that period, read “The Madonnas of Leningrad” by Debra Dean, recounting the salvation of artwork during that period. If you weren’t thrilled with the latest Ann Patchett, go back to her earlier works, especially her very first published novel, “The Patron Saint of Liars,” and the lesser known but totally wonderful “Magician’s Assistant.” And, because I honor the classicists, I read “What Maisie Knew,” the basis for the new film, which is darker and more insightful than the movie, with all that lovely dense prose you expect from James, but only if you think that might be fun on the beach.


Randy Kraft, our business columnist, also pens the OC BookBlog at www.ocinsite.com

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