When it's as hot as it's been outside, our minds at Art Attack turn to one thing -- the summer beach read. There's just something about soaking up some sun with a new book that you can't put down. Rather than go it alone, we asked the good folks at some of Houston's best local bookstores what they recommend for your summer reading list. Dive in.
Blue Willow Bookshop 14532 Memorial Dr. 281-497-8675
Son by Philipp Meyer This multigenerational novel is an "epic Texas tale with shades of Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry," says Blue Willow owner Valerie Koehler. It follows 150 years of one family's rise, from the Comanche raids of the mid-1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century.
The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields This historical-fiction reimagining of Edith Wharton's life will "send you looking for all of Wharton's work," says Koehler. "She was definitely a woman ahead of her time."
Lexicon by Max Barry In this ambitious "thriller for word lovers," students at an exclusive Virginia school are taught the art of persuasion and become "poets," and rival factions of poets lead to deadly consequences.
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal This young-adult novel, which follows a teenage boy who hears the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm (one half of the Brothers Grimm), will appeal to any reader, says Koehler. "It's real and it's magical and it's creepy!"
Brazos Bookstore 2421 Bissonnet 713-523-0701
Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng Staffer Keaton Patterson raves that this is an "astounding debut novel," which is narrated by a black man living in the Jim Crow South in 1927.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki This long-awaited novel from the bestselling author comes recommended by staffer Jeremy Ellis. The story connects the lives of Nao, a 16-year-old girl in Tokyo so tormented by bullies she's contemplating suicide, and Ruth, a Canadian novelist who finds a diary washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.
Cooked: A Story of Human Transformation by Michael Pollan Nihal Ramchandani recommends the Omnivore's Dilemma writer's latest, which explores how fire, water, air and earth give us food.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño Staffer Mark Haber puts his money on this award-winning novel by the late Chilean writer. While it may not be new, published in 1998 and translated in 2007, it still makes an impact thanks to an explosive story that follows two young poets on a quest to track down a third.
Murder By The Book 2342 Bissonnet 713-524-8597
Killer Ambition by Marcia Clark This third novel in the Rachel Knights series, out June 18, is "perfect for people that love a great legal thriller," says Murder By The Book publicity manager John Kwiatkowski. You can also meet the author in the flesh at the bookstore on July 19.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes In this thriller, a young woman is determined to bring her would-be time-traveling killer to justice. It's a "great twist on the serial killer thriller, mixing elements of time travel with a police procedural," says Kwiatkowski.
Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith The novel follows four strangers who meet on a train and pass the time talking about love. "This one isn't a mystery, but we're big McCall Smith fans," says Kwiatkowski.
The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio This one is a mystery and looks at the lives of two women enchanted by a rare flower. One disappeared in 1940 looking for it, the other is trying to solve the mystery more than a half century later.
River Oaks Bookstore 3270 Westheimer 713-520-0061
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan This fictional tale is inspired by the real-life model for Degas's famous painting, "Little Dancer Aged 14," and late-19th-century Paris.
The City of Women by David R. Gillham Set in war-torn Berlin in 1943, this historical fiction novel follows the women left behind. "It's a beautifully written love story," says River Oaks Bookstore owner Jean Jard.
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones Fans of The Game of Thrones will like this epic history book, says Jard; it explores the royal dynasty starting with the first Plantagenet king.
Country Girl: A Memoir by Edna O'Brien The Irish author, whose first novel so scandalized her local parish that a priest burned it, looks back over her elopement, divorce, single-motherhood and fame.