Summertime is beach time, and for many that means time to catch up on some reading. We asked the borough’s brightest bookworms for their picks of the year’s best beach reads:
The BookMark Shoppe’s Picks:
“Inside Madeleine” by Paula Bomer
Paula Bomer’s new short story collection, “Inside Madeleine,” should come with a warning label: not for the timid or easily shocked. This slim volume packs in extreme quantities of sex, drugs, violence and mental illness. Somehow, though, Bomer’s use of these volatile ingredients never becomes gratuitous. She pushes her characters to the extreme in service of exploring the lives of girls and women who are fighting to claim their own space in the world (as often as not, her character find that the world has other plans for them). The title novella follows Madeleine from overweight pre-teen, to promiscuous high school student, to anorexic, anxiety-ridden adult. It’s a remarkable transformation, not less shocking for the fact that every step of Madeleine’s journey is credibly and compellingly drawn, making the haunting final pages feel both wrenching and inevitable. If you’re looking for an unconventional summer read that is both brutally funny and powerfully emotional, don’t miss this book.
Timothy Hallinan’s hilarious mystery novels about burglar detective Junior Bender are the ultimate summer beach reading — as funny as the best of Carl Hiaasen, but with the kinds of puzzling mysteries and plot surprises of the best of Agatha Christie. Junior Bender is a good-natured, too-smart-for-his-own good burglar who cases the houses of Hollywood’s rich and famous. His criminal underworld contacts hire Junior as a fixer to solve their problems and locate their stolen valuables. Well, actually, Junior is blackmailed into taking on cases more often than he is hired. Each book is full of Hollywood trivia, delightful quips, and burglary secrets. The latest novel, “Herbie’s Game,” which comes out in July, has Junior solving the murder of his own burglar mentor. I love this whole series, but think this fourth book is the best installment yet.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115, www.bookma
“Lexicon” by Max Barry
This one sits in a particular place between “The Flame Alphabet” and “Snow Crash” — a fun-smart-affecting-thoughtful-absurdly-enjoyable thriller in which language’s power as a weapon and a tool is massively heightened in the hands of “poets” who hone their scary skills in a special school (of course). Barry neatly combines a love story, a globe-trotting adventure, and nifty ideas about identity, love, and the compelling power of the right words.
— Molly Templeton, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
This science fiction tale of future Africa and Asia has all the escape you could want — new technology, a murder mystery, two interwoven narratives — plus the cultural commentary inherent in the best of speculative fiction. Byrne’s characters are complicated, a little lost, and well worth rooting for. With a debut like this, you’ll want to keep an eye on her.
— Jenn Northington, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
“Life Drawing” by Robin Black
There are some secrets we choose to share and there are others we keep hidden. They can tear a couple apart or they can bind a couple together. Then there are those that do both in equal measure. “Life Drawing” is a searing, exquisite portrait of a marriage and a novel devoted to life, love, creativity, passion, and art.
— Emily Russo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl