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Boston Indie Booksellers Sound Off On Summer Reads

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(Cinco Mom – MRH Photography/Flickr)

BOSTON — There’s beauty in a great summer read — it presents us with an unabashed chance to catch up on a tome we’ve ignored for half the year, to immerse ourselves in theory, or gives us something to throw in a bag before a weekend getaway or our daily commute.

So let’s collectively put last summer’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” fever behind us and step into the compelling world of summer reads with these suggestions from local independent booksellers.

Jane Jacobs, a buyer at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, praised Claire Messud’s recent “The Woman Upstairs,” and says fiction is by far the most popular genre of the season.

“They’re reading lighter, we’re seeing lots of drama and fiction,” Jacobs said of her customers. “Instead of picking up a big dramatic read, it’s something easier to read, and faster.”

Jacobs also suggests:

  • “And The Mountain’s Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini
  • “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman
  • “Tiger Writing” by Gish Jen, which invokes Jen’s own childhood and her study of the ever-evolving concept of “self,” and how the creation and maintenance of “self” is dependent observation and experience
  • “Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution” by Nathaniel Philbrick remembers Boston’s tumultuous beginnings
  • “An Eden Of Sorts: The Natural History of My Feral Garden” by John Hanson Mitchell explores the Massachusetts nature enthusiast’s relationship with his ever-growing (literally) backyard garden
  • “Bring Up The Bodies” by Hilary Mantel — her second book in a trilogy chronicling Thomas Cromwell’s lubricious political and social rise to power in Tudor England

Carol Stoltz, children’s manager at Porter Square Books, says kids have been reading based on school reading lists. “The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian” is a contender now, as well as Gareth Hinds “The Odyessy” told as a graphic novel. Stoltz noted that in kid lit, the trend is more straight-forward fiction, not fantasy.

John Mipizel at Calamus Bookstore, a new and used GLBT bookstore in downtown Boston, says David Margolick’s “Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns” has been popular this season. Burns was Massachusetts native and authored the legendary 1947 novel “The Gallery,” based on his experiences during World War II while stationed in Italy and Africa. “Dreadful” is the first full biography on Burns.

Courtney Flynn, of Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street in Boston, touted “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter as an undeniable summer novel.

“It’s a summer read but not a formulaic one,” Flynn said. “It’s got a bit more depth than some of the traditional summer reads.”

Flynn also suggests:

  • “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation” by Lodro Rinzler, which Flynn says has been popular for a few seasons now at Trident and is a favorite of readers into alternative thinking
  • For those looking for a new cookbook, Joanne Chang’s “Flour, Too” has been leading in the local cookbook genre

What are your favorite independent  bookstore haunts in Boston, and what do you suggest for summer reading? Let us know below.