N Magazine‘s resident bookworm Tim Ehrenberg gives his ultimate summer reading list.
FREEDOM by Sebastian Junger
Small, but mighty. That’s how I would describe Sebastian Junger’s new book. The man can write a good sentence, and this new book is about a primary desire that defines us all—freedom. While we all strive for community and freedom, Junger shows that the two don’t coexist easily. “We value individuality and self-reliance, yet are utterly dependent on community for our most basic needs,” he writes. This is a thought-provoking book, one that examines the tension that lies at the heart of what it means to be human.
Nantucket Book Festival presents Juneteenth
Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. This year the Nantucket Book Festival has gathered five dynamic writers for a virtual event to discuss the importance of Juneteenth. Mitchell Jackson (Survival Math), Clint Smith (How the Word Is Passed), Imani Perry (Breathe), Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dr. Keisha N. Blain (Set the World on Fire and co-editor of Four Hundred Souls) will sit down and discuss the importance of this day. These five books are all powerful exposés on contemporary America’s legacy of slavery but also offer us hope for a better, more inclusive future. Check nantucketbookfestival.org for more information about this event.
SURVIVING SAVANNAH by Patti Callahan
On June 14, 1838, an explosion on board the American steamship Pulaski caused her to sink 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina with the loss of two-thirds of her crew and passengers—many of Savannah’s elite. It has become known as the “Titanic of the South” but I had never heard of it. Patti Callahan has written such an immersive novel about the disaster as well as a present-day storyline involving a museum exhibit about the calamity. Surviving Savannah is a perfect example of great historical fiction: In writing and reading about the past we discover something about the present.
GOLDEN GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand
Summer doesn’t begin until you have the new Elin Hilderbrand book in your beach bag. Golden Girl is classic Elin, but with a twist. The main character, best-selling author Vivian Howe, is hit and killed by a car in the first chapter and then watches her loved ones from above for the summer, learning their secrets while they learn hers and how to live without their “golden girl.” This novel is for anyone who has lost a loved one and thinks they are still with you. It’s funny and tugs on some heart strings, but ultimately is a hopeful book. It’s a beach read like no other and is sure to please all of the #Hilderbabes.
THE GUNCLE by Steven Rowley
I lost my sister to cancer four years ago. I’m also a guncle to her children, my nieces Savannah and Leah, and my nephew, Logan. This novel by Steven Rowley is about Patrick (Gay Uncle Patrick, GUP for short; I guess that makes me GUT), a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer. This book might resonate deeply for me, but I know everyone who picks it up this summer will be sure to love it. Packed with heart and humor, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience and family in even the most trying of times.