Whether you're on summer vacation or "staycation," a good book (or three or five) is a fine companion – hardback, paperback or digital.
The landslide of summer titles that began in May will continue into September, with tempting choices.
In fiction, the undisputed blockbuster is Dan Brown's "Inferno" (Doubleday, $29.95, 482 pages), marking the return of Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon, star of "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol." Secret codes and hidden passageways, history and art, murder and weird science abound in Italian settings. They're all linked to the mysteries surrounding "Inferno," the tour of hell in Dante Alighieri's 14th century epic poem, "Divine Comedy."
The nonfiction landscape is rich in memoir, history, global travel, outdoors adventure and true crime. Two titles in particular stand out:
"Second Suns" by David Oliver Relin follows two ophthalmologists – one American, the other Nepalese – as they pursue their mission to prevent blindness via the Himalayan Cataract Project (Random House, $27, 432 pages). The late Relin co-wrote the mega-hit "Three Cups of Tea."
In"Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays" by Allen Barra, the veteran sportswriter examines the friendship and "parallel lives" of two baseball legends during the game's "golden age" (Crown, $27, 498 pages).
This list offers a sampling, arranged alphabetically by authors' last names. Many are on sale now; for the others, publishing dates are noted.
Go ahead – read on.
"Maya's Notebook" by Isabel Allende (Harper, $27.99, 405 pages): Coming of age is a teenage mother from Chile who settles in Berkeley, only to fall from grace after tragedy visits. Allende has appeared for the Bee Book Club.
"The Highway" by C.J. Box (Minotaur, $25.99, 400 pages; on sale July 30): Box returns to his four-title Cody Hoyt series in a mystery involving the search for two teenage girls who have vanished along a stretch of desolate Montana road. Everything points to a serial killer. Box is best-known for his 13-title Joe Pickett series.
"Light of the World" by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 560 pages; July 23): A hellbent death row inmate escapes and comes gunning for Cajun police detective-troubleshooter Dave Robicheaux, his family and friends. This is the 20th Robicheaux tale by a celebrated master of the thriller genre.
"Benjamin Franklin's Bastard" by Sally Cabot (William Morrow, $25.99, 373 pages): The serving girl Anne gives up her illegitimate son, William, to be raised by his father, Franklin, and the statesman's common-law wife. The historical-fiction novel traces William Franklin's journey into adulthood and explores the conflict between father and son.
"The Ghost Bride" by Yangsze Choo (William Morrow, $24.99, 368 pages; Aug. 6): When impoverished Li Lan "weds" the spirit of the deceased only son of a wealthy Chinese family in an ancient ceremony called a "ghost marriage," the world of humankind overlaps with the afterlife. Set in 19th century colonial Malaysia. A much-anticipated debut novel.
"The Kill Room" by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central, $28, 497 pages): Lincoln Rhyme stars in Deaver's 10-title series as a quadriplegic criminologist-forensics expert. Rhyme and his team investigate an assassination, but become the targets.
"Children of the Jacaranda Tree" by Sahar Delijani (Atria, $25.99, 285 pages; June 18): The dramatic tale of family survival plays out in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, as three idealistic generations strive for freedom.
"The Barbed Crown" by William Dietrich (Harper, $26.99, 373 pages): The witty and perilous global journey of American expatriate-rogue Ethan Gage continues. As usual, he is up to his chin in over-the-top action and adventure as he and his crew thwart Napoleon's planned invasion of England.
"Death Angel" by Linda Fairstein (Dutton, $26.95, 400 pages; July 30): Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper returns for the 15th time to track down a serial killer. Fairstein is a former New York City prosecutor known for exploring New York history in her novels. Now she delves into Central Park.
"The Black Country" by Alex Grecian (Putnam, $26.95, 401 pages): The place: Victorian England. The situation: A family has disappeared and members of Scotland Yard's new Murder Squad are called in – but can they get out? The author says: "With this second book (after 'The Yard') I feel like I've written an old Hammer Studios horror movie."
"The Asylum" by John Harwood (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 269 pages): The author of "The Ghost Writer" and "The Séance" shocks readers with another gothic thriller. A woman awakes in a gloomy insane asylum and is told she is someone else.
"Deeply Odd" by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 354 pages): Of all the characters created by horrormeister Koontz, the most likable is Odd, the young fry cook from Pico Mundo, Calif. Odd has the ability to communicate with the "lingering dead," a gift – or curse – that has led him into many tight spots. In his sixth adventure, Odd sees portents of the future and must literally prevent murder.
"The Last Word" by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, $25, 352 pages; July 9): The funny but bizarre series continues with Izzy Spellman being fired from her family's PI firm, but she counters with a hostile takeover. Now she runs the company – and the problems really begin. Lutz appeared for the Bee Book Club in 2012.
"A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, $26, 402 pages): A young girl watches as Russian police arrest her father and burn down their house in a Chechnya village. She and her rescuer find their way to a deserted hospital and meet a doctor who ministers to wounded refugees. Over the next five days, the world will change for all of them. Many starred reviews.
"Red Sparrow" by Jason Matthews (Scribner, $26.99, 450 pages): It's the CIA vs. Russian Intelligence in a big-buzz international spy thriller with a twist – the author "engaged in the clandestine collection of national security intelligence" for the CIA for 33 years.
"Little Green" by Walter Mosley (Doubleday, $25.95, 306 pages): At the end of "Blonde Faith" (2007), fans gasped as PI Easy Rawlings apparently drove off a cliff to his death. Not so. The WWII vet survived and is in 1960s L.A., tracking trouble on the Sunset Strip with his murderous pal, Mouse. Welcome back.
"Stoker's Manuscript" by Royce Prouty (Putnam, $26.95, 352 pages): Building off the many strange real-life events connected to the publication of "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, the author weaves a familiar-sounding story of a young man held captive in a Romanian castle by his "host," a relative of Vlad Dracul.
"The Other Typist" by Suzanne Rindell (Amy Einhorn, $25.95, 369 pages): In 1923, the timid and out-of-style Rose works as a typist for the New York City Police Department. She can't seem to get with "modern" times, but then meets a new typist, Odalie. That's where her obsessions begin.
"The Eye of God" by James Rollins (William Morrow, $27.99, 432 pages; June 25): The El Dorado Hills author specializes in historical mysteries with cutting-edge science. This thriller mixes physics, "dark energy," the Vatican, ancient relics, a vanished scientist and the possible end of Earth. Rollins appeared for the Bee Book Club in 2008.
"Big Brother" by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins, $26.99, 385 pages): When Pandora's very large older brother Edison "temporarily" moves in with her and her fitness-obsessed husband, the literal and figurative weight lead to life-altering choices.
"The English Girl" by Daniel Silva (Harper, $27.99, 496 pages; July 16): The 13th title in the Gabriel Allon series finds the art restorer-spy investigating the dis- appearance of a British woman on Corsica.
"The Keeper of Secrets" by Julie Thomas (William Morrow, $14.99, 384 pages): The journey of a rare and valuable violin made in 1742, across time and generations. Reminiscent of the movie "The Red Violin."
"The Blood of Heaven" by Kent Wascom (Grove Press, $25, 432 pages): The young (26) author's much-heralded debut novel is an epic journey of a rough-and-tumble preacher's son who travels through frontier Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana in the early 19th century. One brutal adventure follows the next.
"Snow Hunters" by Paul Yoon (Simon & Schuster, $22, 208 pages; Aug. 6): At the end of the Korean War, Yohan escapes the country for a new life in Brazil. The four people who enter and leave his sphere ultimately give him hope to move beyond his tortured past.
"Mission to Mars" by Buzz Aldrin (National Geographic, $26, 272 pages): The second Apollo astronaut to walk on the moon proposes ways to bring colonization to planet Mars by 2035.
"Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Burt Bacharach (Harper, $27.99, 304 pages): From the late 1950s into the 1980s, the Bacharach-Hal David team dominated pop music. Bacharach recalls the highs and lows.
"Proof of Guilt" by Kathleen A. Cairns (University of Nebraska Press, $29.95, 238 pages): Cairns, who specializes in women criminals, follows the case of Barbara Graham, who was tried for murder in 1953 and became the third woman to be executed in California.
"Here Is Where" by Andrew Carroll (Crown, $25, 512 pages): Carroll combines humor and history in his nationwide trek to find the sites of incredible, mostly unknown moments by amazing people.
"The Outsider" by Jimmy Connors (Harper, $28.99, 437 pages): The former "bad boy" of tennis tells all in his candid autobiography, including dish on his on- and off-court battles with Björn Borg, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.
"Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home," edited by Walter Cronkite IV and Maurice Isserman (National Geographic, $28, 356 pages): As a young correspondent during World War II, the legendary newsman revealed his inner thoughts in long letters to his wife, Betsy, while describing the horrors that surrounded him. Context and transition by his grandson and historian Isserman help the flow. If you liked last year's blockbuster biography "Cronkite" by Douglas Brinkley, this one's for you.
"The Receptionist" by Janet Groth (Algonquin, $21.95, 241 pages): Since its founding in 1925, the New Yorker has published works by the world's most influential writers. Groth was the magazine's receptionist from 1957 to 1978. She knows all the secrets, which she shares here.
"The Making of the Great Communicator" by Ken Holden (Lyons, $26.95, 288 pages): Regardless of your personal politics, this is a fascinating account of how two behavioral scientists molded "the Gipper" into the "Great Communicator."
"Eleven Rings" by Phil Jackson (Penguin, $27.95, 368 pages): The storied NBA coach explains his theories of leadership and shows how he put them into practice with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. With plenty of stories about great players.
"Lost Girls" by Robert Kolker (Harper, $25.99, 416 pages; July 9): In one of the country's most horrific unsolved mysteries, five prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist were killed by the Long Island Serial Killer. Journalist Kolker explores their lives and the circumstances around their deaths.
"Nothin' But Blue Skies" by Edward McClelland (Bloomsbury, $27, 353 pages): The Rust Belt was once the world's manufacturing universe, but decades of social, political and global influences brought it to its knees. The journalist profiles America's heartland and sees hope for a revival.
"The Kingdom of Golf in America" by Richard J. Moss (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95, 400 pages): The eminent golf historian looks at the game as a cultural place of community, with its own laws and language. For golf purists.
"The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America" by George Packer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 449 pages): The journalist and author of "The Assassins' Gate" posits that America has become a nation of chaos, with our political and social systems verging on breakdown, leaving much of our population to fend for itself. Included are detailed interviews with "average" Americans, from a factory worker to a Silicon Valley billionaire.
"The Last of the Doughboys" by Richard Rubin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 528 pages): Rubin found and interviewed the few surviving veterans of World War I to present a fresh and poignant look at a nearly forgotten war with consequences that still reverberate.
"Into the Abyss" by Carol Shaben (Grand Central, $25, 313 pages): When a commuter plane crashed in 1984 in freezing terrain, only four of the 10 onboard survived. Here's how.
"The Last Train to Zona Verde" by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 373 pages): The internationally acclaimed novelist and travel writer takes an "ultimate safari," journeying 2,500 miles through West Africa's cities and shantytowns, leaving the tourists and national politics behind. Brilliant, as usual.
WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS SUMMER?
What's in your book bag this summer? Whether you're packing paperbacks and hardbacks into your suitcase for a trip outta here, or loading an electronic reader with the latest e-books, we're curious about what you'll be reading this summer.
Send us your summer reading lists and we'll share them with other readers each week in the "Between the Lines" column in the Sunday A&E section. That way, we'll all be on the same page, so to speak.
Please email your summer reading lists to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the words "Summer Reading" in the subject field, and tell us your full name, city of residence and daytime phone number.
ON THE WEB
For more summer reading suggestions, visit:
www.nybooks.com (New York Review of Books)
www.npr.org (National Public Radio)
www.thedailybeast.com (Daily Beast)
www.newyorker.com (New Yorker magazine)
Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.