books: Summer Reading List 

Science Fiction

“The Watch” by Dennis Danvers (Eos, paperback, $15.95). In “The Watch,” Richmonder Dennis Danvers spins an incredibly literate tale of time travel. In 1921 the 78-year-old anarchist Peter Kropotkin is given the chance to live the life of a young man in Richmond, Va., in 1999. Hailed as a minor classic, Danvers’ tale is reminiscent of old-school sci-fi writers.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic Paperbacks, $29.99). The Harry Potter phenomenon is bigger than the spork. Who could possibly resist the fifth installment of that wacky little magical scamp? Get in line: It’s due in stores June 21.

“Lost in a Good Book: A Thursday Next Novel” Jasper Fforde (Penguin USA, $24.95). Thursday Next is a literary detective who jumps into books to perform her work. This time she must find a villain in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” with the help of “Great Expectation’s” Miss Havisham. Fun and smart at once, this book is a total page-turner.


“Dry” by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin’s Press, $24.95). This tragically funny tale of rehab by the author of the best-selling “Running With Scissors” will keep you somewhere between laughing and crying. Burroughs’ undying wit is sharp and edgy as he tells the story of his own transformation.

“Jarhead” by Anthony Swofford (Scribner, $24). Swofford’s begrudging service as a Marine in the Gulf War gives way to flashbacks and flash-forwards in his life. This skilled memoir shows the root of Swofford’s cynicism about the Gulf War, as well as what he was able to learn from it.

“My Losing Season” by Pat Conroy (hardback: Doubleday, $19.57; paperback coming in August, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishers, $14.95). In his first nonfiction book since the ’70s, Pat Conroy, the author of “The Prince of Tides” and “The Lords of Discipline,” takes a look at his senior year as forward of the basketball team at the Citadel. In his memoir Conroy shows what losing teaches you about athletics and life.

Short Stories

“Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” by Z.Z. Packer (Riverhead Books, $24.95). These stories, generally told from an African-American, female perspective, all shine with the brilliance of life and struggle. Packer was a phenom at the exclusive Iowa Writer’s Workshop and her debut collection of stories gleams with her undeniable talent.

“Things You Should Know” by A.M. Homes (HarperCollins, $23.95). The stories in Homes’ collection are like accidents you pass on the side of the road: horrible but horribly fascinating. They are both creepy and beautiful, and Holmes gives the reader knowledge of things they probably are better off not knowing.

“Rumble, Young Man, Rumble” by Benjamin Cavell (Knopf, $22). This collection of tough-guy stories the author’s daring and directness can’t help but astound and amaze. Cavell’s writing gives the reader an irresistible dare to keep reading until the last story is finished.

— Francis W. Decker


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