8 books to read this summer

For many, the longer, slower summer days mean a bit more time to get lost in an absorbing book. Friday on the PBS NewsHour, NPR book reviewer Maureen Corrigan and New York Times book editor Gilbert Cruz join Jeffrey Brown to reveal their summer reading picks.

Here’s a roundup of some of their favorites. These answers have been slightly edited for brevity.


“The Five Star Weekend” by Elin Hilderbrand

It is a summer must-have. He is an author who has written nearly 30 books, most of which are set on Nantucket Island. She is an eternal bestseller. This one involves a recently widowed food blogger who brings together a group of friends on Nantucket to help her heal.

–Gilbert Cruz


“The Crooks’ Manifesto” by Colson Whitehead

(Colson Whitehead) is a two-time Pulitzer winner. He won very serious books on the black experience in America, “Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys”. But he’s worked in many genres, and he’s written a heist novel, and this is a sequel to that heist novel, “Harlem Shuffle,” that came out a few years ago. This novel is set in 1960s Harlem, and this one is set in 1970s Harlem. And if you know anything about New York in the 1970s, it was a filthy place, a dangerous place, but it was also a very exciting place.

–Gilbert Cruz


“Good Night, Irene” by Luis Alberto Urrea

Usually (Luis Alberto Urrea) writes about US-Mexico border issues, but here he draws on a story that stems from his mother’s experiences during World War II. She was a volunteer with the Red Cross, she was a so-called Donut Dolly. She and another woman were riding in a truck delivering coffee and donuts to the military. …His mother followed Patton’s army behind the lines in the Battle of the Bulge. So we get a great Herman Wouk type story, but also with lots of twists and very touching.

–Maureen Corrigan


“I’m Homeless If It Ain’t My Home” by Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore, there’s no one like her the way she plays with language, her kind of warm but absurd outlook on life. She tells a double story here. One is a story set in the 19th century that has something to do with Abraham Lincoln. So anyone who’s read George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” gets that kind of feeling…. The other story she tells is very topical about a young man who has lost his lover.

–Maureen Corrigan


“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This one is set in the Mexico City movie scene of the 1990s. It features a sound editor, his best friend who is a soap opera actor, and this cult horror director they meet who believes he has been cursed by a piece of film that a Nazi occultist manipulated. It’s scary and it’s scary, but it’s also happening in Mexico City. So you have both hot and cold.

–Gilbert Cruz


“Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett

I’m looking forward to … “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett, in which she somehow plays with Chekhov’s three sisters. They are three sisters who isolate themselves in a family cherry orchard during the pandemic.

–Maureen Corrigan


“Be Mine” by Richard Ford

(Richard Ford is) ending his Frank Bascombe novels. … I love his writing. And to say that he’s kind of saying goodbye to this character whose life has followed his through the seasons of his own life is truly touching.

–Maureen Corrigan


James McBride’s “Heaven & Earth Grocery”

This novel is set in the 1970s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a Jewish and African-American community. But a body is found under the ground of a building site.

–Maureen Corrigan

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