NPL has the It Books of Summers Past!
The New York Times posted the “It Books of Summer” in their June 2 issue, and we have paired their descriptions with our catalog holdings. Enjoy!
The Girl on the Train / Paula Hawkins (e-Book available via Overdrive and also available as an Audiobook). Booze, sex, marriage and murder: What’s not to love? No one in this diabolical psychological thriller can be trusted – especially not the narrator, a bitter, hard-drinking commuter who thinks she has witnessed a crime. Readers, primed by Gone Girl, had come to love flawed female characters but had never met one like Rachel.
Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan. In the summer of 2013, after a year of heavy news — the Boston Marathon bombing, nuclear threats from North Korea — escapism was appealing. Readers found it in Kwan’s tale of superrich Chinese families in Singapore, a mix of ‘‘Mean Girls’’ and ‘‘Gossip Girl’’ topped generously with couture, private jets, yachts, flashy cars and extravagant parties. The film adaptation was a smash hit last summer.
Gone Girl / Gillian Flynn. This venom-spiked cocktail of a novel unspools the story of a troubled marriage, told by the husband and wife in alternating chapters. Which one was the sociopath? It wasn’t clear. The book gave readers something they’d rarely seen in fiction — a female character who was unapologetically and absolutely straight-up evil — and they couldn’t get enough of it.
The Passage (also available as an Audiobook)/ Justin Cronin. Part post-apocalyptic thriller and part vampire novel, ‘‘The Passage’’ is also a meditation on human nature, an irresistible combination for readers thanks in part to Stephen King. He called in to ‘‘Good Morning America’’ to tell Cronin, ‘‘You put the scare back in vampires, buddy!’’ Never mind that the book was over 700 pages — it was the vacation book to end all vacation books.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (via Overdrive) / Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. In 2009, the era of ‘‘Twilight’’ and vampires was beginning to fade and the zombie cultural renaissance was well underway. Grahame-Smith took a beloved 19th-century novel of manners and populated it with a scourge of undead corpses, creating a singular literary mash-up — and a pop-culture phenomenon.
Eat, Pray, Love (also available as an Audiobook) / Elizabeth Gilbert. Thanks in part to Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, journeys of self-discovery were all the rage in 2006 when Gilbert published her account of a postbreakup trip through Italy, India and Indonesia. Some people adored ‘‘Eat, Pray, Love,’’ and others loathed it — but there’s no question that it was the most-talked-about book of the year.
Something Borrowed (via Overdrive as e-Audio) / Emily Giffin. In early 2004, ‘‘Sex and the City’’ finally ended its run, leaving fans looking for something to fill the void. Giffin’s smart, sexy romance — about a 30-year-old New York City lawyer who falls for her best friend’s fiancé, later made into a movie starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin — was just the ticket.
The Lovely Bones (also available as an Audiobook) / Alice Sebold. “The Lovely Bones’” — narrated by a teenage girl who has been raped and killed — grabbed people and didn’t let go. Though its novel framing device was the initial hook, the raw, gripping story, about a family learning to live in the face of unspeakable grief, made it a page-turner. It came out right after several highly publicized murders and the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, tapping into universal fears.
Seabiscuit (via Overdrive as e-Book. Also available as a book and an Audiobook) / Laura Hillenbrand. It’s safe to say that the success of ‘‘Seabiscuit’’ the book was just as unexpected as the success of ‘‘Seabiscuit’’ the horse, despite his small size and unremarkable early record. But never underestimate the power of a true-life underdog tale — especially one as swiftly paced and plotted as a novel.
Bridget Jones’s Diary / Helen Fielding. Dating disasters, dieting nightmares, difficult mothers: This retelling of ‘‘Pride and Prejudice,’’ told through the uproariously funny diary of a young woman in London, was the perfect beach read, fizzy and smart and lively.
Into Thin Air (also available as an Audiobook) / Jon Krakauer. Krakauer’s minute-by-minute account of a real-life Everest expedition gone horribly wrong was a different kind of escapist reading, one that took people into the rarefied air tens of thousands of feet above sea level. Part adventure, part tragedy, it gave the inside scoop on what had been a huge news story.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil / John Berendt. Berendt’s shimmering book — a love letter to Savannah, with a murder embedded in its very heart — was published quietly in early 1994, when the true-crime genre was booming. Within weeks, it was all anyone in the literary world could talk about.
Like Water for Chocolate / Laura Esquivel. The English translation of this Mexican novel landed on best-seller lists just as the film version hit theaters; sales of movie tickets fueled book sales, and vice versa. Fans loved both versions of Esquivel’s tender, all-consuming tale of forbidden love, in which a young woman wields fantastical powers through the food she cooks.
Waiting to Exhale (via Overdrive as e-Audio) / Terry McMillan. The blockbuster sales of this affectionate novel about the lives and loves of four friends in Phoenix were driven by African-American women, who had never found themselves portrayed in much commercial fiction before McMillan came along.
American Psycho (via Overdrive as e-Book) / Bret Easton Ellis. Some people thought this controversial novel about a Harvard-educated yuppie slashing and murdering his way through Manhattan was sharp social satire; others declared it to be nothing but sensationalist garbage. As the summer progressed, so did threats of banning and boycotting — which, predictably, sent sales soaring.
The Joy Luck Club (via Overdrive as e-Book and e-Audio) / Amy Tan. The novel people couldn’t get enough of in 1989 was an emotional one, told around the mah-jongg table, about four Chinese immigrant women and their daughters, all born in America. ‘‘The Joy Luck Club’’ was published at a time when the country was becoming increasingly multicultural and when social turmoil was roiling China (the events of Tiananmen Square unfolded not long after it came out).
The Name of the Rose (via Overdrive as e-Book) / Umberto Eco. It was the year the Challenger flew its first space mission, the year cellphones first went on sale and arguably the year the internet began. So it’s both completely surprising and not surprising at all that the summer of 1983’s hot book was a cerebral murder mystery steeped in medieval history and set in a 14th-century Benedictine monastery.
Love Story (via Overdrive as e-Book) / Erich Segal. Segal ticked a lot of boxes with his tear-jerker — passion, sex, dying young, poor Radcliffe girl, rich Harvard boy. The country, battered by the events of the late 1960s, was still at war with Vietnam. Social tensions were running high, and the moment was ripe for a transporting romance. After Barbara Walters said on the ‘‘Today’’ show that she’d been up all night reading it and sobbing, sales took off.
The Andromeda Strain / Michael Crichton. Crichton’s novel — about a deadly extraterrestrial plague that arrives on a downed military satellite — was perfectly timed: It came out shortly before the 1969 lunar landing, when people were worried that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would bring strange germs home from the moon.