Summer books: We’re making our hot list

By Mary Rogers

So here we are, beginning June in a world upended by the coronavirus pandemic. After weeks of lockdown, we long for escape. Even in normal times, we’ve turned to the most current and talked-about “beach read” to carry us away for the summer.

But finding a great read for the beach or the porch is sometimes like finding true love. We may need a matchmaker.

Here are a few titles that publishers hope will deliver everything a reader wants. I’ve also asked two Fort Worth women, a museum director and an entrepreneur, to share their reading plans for summer.

The Paris Hours, Alex George Set on a single day in 1927 Paris, it’s the story of four ordinary people desperately searching for something each has lost. In a dazzling city filled with famous citizens, these four meet and find those lost things. The book was released in late May.

Barcelona Days, Daniel Riley This new release (June 23) revolves around an American couple stuck in Barcelona who deal with jealousy, infidelity and more, all enough to keep the pages turning.

The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice, David Hill The long title says it all. Find it starting July 7.

Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings Set in Australia, this late-July release begins with a young woman receiving a note from a brother who vanished much earlier. Filled with mystery and more than a little magic, it has been called a “gothic delight” and a “dazzling debut.”

The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), Katie Mack Mack is a rising star in the astrophysics world, and this nonfiction tome, to be released Aug. 4, looks at five ways the universe could end. It sounds like a downer, but reviewers promise it’s easy to read and surprisingly upbeat.

Our neighbors’ nightstands Marla Price, the director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, is a dedicated and avid reader. I love to talk with Marla about books; she is always looking forward to cracking the cover on something new. Better yet, she has always just finished something she can recommend.

She is excited about Hamnet, by award-winning British author Maggie O’Farrell. It has a July 21 release date for the U.S., but those across the pond have already devoured this bit of historical fiction inspired by Shakespeare’s son. “Everyone raves, raves, raves about this book. It may be the book of the year,” says Price. She sold me. I’ve pre-ordered this one.

Price also had just finished something delicious. The Last Trial, by Scott Turow, is a legal thriller that she says has it all: relationship drama, insider trading, cancer cure, murder.

For years, Julie Hatch Fairley was a familiar name locally in public relations. Today, she runs JuJu Knits, a Fort Worth yarn store located in the hospital district; JuJu is the nickname given to Julie by her niece.

Fairley is big on following the sometimes-bumpy road that leads to your dream. She has been featured in our sister publication, 360 West, and maybe you read about her vision and her shop in The Washington Post in May.

Among her mantras are to be kind to yourself, and listen to your heart and follow its advice.

“I don’t know if it’s the coronavirus or what, but right now I can’t read anything too serious,” she says. That means letting new books wait. Her want-to-read list of just-published works includes The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, about a young woman who marries Jesus and whose adopted brother is Judas.

“I will get to it, but right now I need something sweet,” says Fairley. So, she’s revisiting a familiar 10-book series by Debbie Macomber, one of the gentlest writers working. The series revolves around a yarn shop in Seattle, and the dream it represents for its owner. “Through the summer, I’ll be reading The Shop on Blossom Street from beginning to end.” She says these books were once a North Star for her. “I want to remind myself what I wanted to create … what I wanted JuJu Knits to be.”

THE DETAILS

Mary Rogers is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer. Have a book or book club recommendation? Contact her at maryrrogers@msn.com.