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Summer Books to Dive Into

By Pam Lamp July 28, 2023 Lifestyle

It is hot, hot, hot where most of us live. Pour a tall glass of lemonade. Retreat into the air conditioning or under a shady tree or to a porch with a swirling ceiling fan. And then disappear to Chicago or Fire Island or London or Africa. These locales are also warm, but the beautiful stories may make you forget about the heat.

On Fire Island by Jane Rosen

From the author of A Shoe Story, this novel takes a unique – and heartwarming – approach to death. In the book’s first few pages, Julia, the 37-year-old narrator, dies. For one last summer, she “hangs around” Fire Island, a haven off Long Island’s south shore and Julia’s happy place.

She watches over Ben, her bestselling novelist husband, and other friends and family members. She’s satisfied to see people miss her and that her death affected so many.

Ms. Rosen’s father died when she was only 11. Her sister passed at an early age from cancer. She wondered how she would keep both of these loved ones in her life. How would she keep the connection alive? This novel is not a morose tale but an uplifting take on death and the effect you have on those you leave behind.

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

I’ve never seen the Rockettes perform in New York’s Radio City Music Hall. But, after devouring Fiona Davis’ latest historical fiction novel, I would love to plan a holiday getaway!

Ms. Davis has the uncanny ability to take an iconic New York City landmark and weave a compelling story around its history. In this book, readers dive into the world of the Rockettes, the internationally famous precision dance team. Readers experience glamour, dedication, hard work, and friendships.

We also learn about a real bomber that terrorized New York City for two decades. Utilizing criminal profiling for the first time, the case was finally cracked.

A spectacular read!

Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen

What a beautiful cover! That alone would make me read this book!

It’s 1938, and young Estee Lauder makes face creams in her New York City apartment. She sells them at a beauty parlor and pushes her products on any woman who will listen.

Readers will cheer for this underdog who – through tenacity, determination, and grit – became the queen of the cosmetic industry. Despite the twists and turns in her professional and personal life, Estee is a textbook example of how hard work pays off.

I’m a fan of Renee Rosen’s novels, and readers may also want to check out Social Graces and Park Avenue Summer.

The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian

Following her European honeymoon, mega movie star Katie Barstow treats her best Hollywood friends to the trip of a lifetime. But the East African safari takes a grizzly turn.

Wow! I raced through this novel – equal parts thriller and travelogue. My daughter-in-law, who used to travel to Africa for work, labeled it “unputdownable.” And I agree. Be prepared for violence and gore but also an informative glimpse into the Serengeti, its residents, culture, and geography.

Whether you’re fortunate enough to have been on a safari – or a trip to Africa is on your bucket list – this book offers beautiful writing and interesting animal facts. The author, who also wrote The Flight Attendant, did a great job of weaving 1960s history into the story.

Confession: I read the last two chapters midway through the book. I couldn’t wait. I had to know which characters I should worry about.

Iona Iverson’s Rules of Commuting by Clare Pooley

For a fun ride, hop aboard London’s commuter train! Like an engine pulling out of the station, this escapist read starts slow, picks up speed, and then begins to zip along.

An assortment of early-morning commuters has little in common. They board the train, pick a seat, and bury their noses in papers and books. Until one day, a passenger chokes on a grape, and the group comes together to save him. Keep reading. I promise the story gets better and better and better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I adored Iona. She and her fellow passengers will have you studying yourself and those around you with a much gentler eye. And the novel may inspire you to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the train or airplane or…

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

The perfect book club read, this novel offers much to unpack, discuss, and debate.

William, a broken young man, marries Julia, one of the sisters in a lovable, boisterous, tight-knit family. Julia has her entire life – and William’s too – mapped out. But life doesn’t always go according to the best-laid plans, and a family’s ties are severed.

This family drama is profound and thought-provoking. Heartbreaking and tear-jerking. A beautifully written novel, and I look forward to reading Dear Edward by the same author.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are you reading now? (I’m reading Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.) What book is high on your reading list that you haven’t jumped into yet? (Mine is Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.) Have you read any of these or would you like to add a book to the list?

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I know some readers love her books but I’ve never been a Kingsolver fan. Hello Beautiful sounds intriguing! I’m currently reading Outlive by Dr. Peter Attia. I’m always curious about what our current medical system is missing!


Loved Remarkably Creatures
Had to put Demon Copperhead down after a few chapters – I know it tells an important story, but I just didn’t have the heart to finish it

Regina French

I suggest any book by Dorthea Benton Frank. Her characters are real and her writing is amazing and includes humor .

Ann B

I’m an avid reader; Remarkably Bright Creatures and Hello Beautiful are two of my absolute favorites from the past year. Both are beautifully written and heartbreaking in different ways.

I’m currently reading The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel and so far it’s wonderful. I find art theft so intriguing.

I started Demon Copperhead twice and could just not get through it. I know I’m in the minority but it just wasn’t for me. I hope you enjoy it.

Gaili Schoen

Thanks for these great recs Pam! I loved Iona Iverson and am currently listening to the audiobook of Hello Beautiful which I’m enjoying. Also started reading First Ladies which is great so far. I love learning about new authors so I’m glad to know about Renee Rosen.


The Author

It’s never too late to learn something new. At Who I Met Today – a blog and podcast – Pam Lamp interviews people from all walks of life. Through conversations about health, hobbies, books, food, and travel, she invites you to join her, explore new territory, and expand your horizons.

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