Looking for a great book to take away with you this holiday weekend, or to the beach this summer? There are lots of new titles on the shelves, but how can you be sure to get your hands on a good one? John Searles, book editor for Cosmopolitan, offers a range of suggestions.
"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth SteinThis is the Starbucks book pick of the summer, so you’ll see it by the counter whenever you stop to get your vente latte. Imagine if your dog wrote a tell-all about you — that gives you an idea of what kind of book this is. It’s a novel about a family told from the pooch’s perspective. The concept may sound cutesy, but it is actually a very gripping and well-written story. And it’s getting some heady praise from big-deal writers like my favorite, Wally Lamb.
"Skeletons at the Feast" by Chris Bohjalian Bohjalian is another favorite author of mine. This is the perfect novel for a book club because there’s so much to discuss. The story is set in World War II and follows a group of German refugees as they flee their homeland. Normally, I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but this book sucked me right in. It opens with a young girl who’s trying to get across a frozen river with her family, but enemy soldiers are bombing the ice to keep people from crossing. It’s vivid and heart-wrenching. One interesting sidenote: The author was inspired to write this book when someone gave him an unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945.
"The Story of a Marriage" by Andrew Sean GreerI love the first sentence of this novel: “We think we know the ones we love.” With an introduction like that you just know there’s some deep, dark secrets in store. And that’s exactly what you get. It’s about a 1950s housewife who opens her door one day to find a stranger standing there. This stranger tells her some shocking things about her husband.
"Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger
OK, now for the lighter reads. I don’t want to call these next couple of books trashy, but we’ll say they’re on the “fluffy” side. And there’s nothing wrong with that — especially in the summer. This one is by the author of "The Devil Wears Prada." It’s the story of three best friends — two of them make a pact to dramatically change their entire lives within the course of a year.
"Love the One You're With" by Emily GiffinAnother fun book that raises the question: How do you know if you’ve found “The One”? It’s about a woman who is happily married — or so she thinks — until she runs into an ex she never quite got over. He’s a real bad boy so the reader doesn’t want her to be tempted, but we can also understand why she is.
"Black Out" by Lisa Unger I was a big fan of the author’s debut novel, "Beautiful Lies.” This time, she’s back with a novel about a woman leading a pretty comfy life in a Florida suburb until some dark memories from her past begin to surface. As she sets out to uncover the truth behind these memories, her world turns upside down. The book is full of twists and turns. A great read for anyone craving some suspense.
"Bringing Home the Birkin" by Michael TonelloYou ladies must know what a Birkin bag is, but I had no idea until I read this book. They’re Hermes bags that are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Socialites and celebrities would pretty much kill for them. This is a true story by a guy who went from having not much of a job to being one of the busiest Internet resellers of the coveted Birkin bags in the world. It’s a witty and wild ride.
"Wolf at the Table" by Augusten BurroughsThe author is best-known for his runaway bestseller “Running With Scissors.” This latest memoir is a much more serious look at his relationship with his father. It opens with the memory of his dad chasing him through the woods as a child. Once you start turning the pages, it’s hard to stop.
"Summer of Naked Swim Parties" by Jessica Anya BlauThis wins the prize for the best title of the list. It’s by a first-time author. You know, with the show "Swingtown" coming out this summer, there’s been lots of talk about the ’70s and people having parents who did some wild things back in the day. Again, the title says it all!
"Loving Frank" by Nancy HoranIf you missed this one in hardcover, grab it in paperback. It’s a novel based on the true story of the love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and a woman named Mamah Cheney; both of them left their family to be together, creating a Chicago scandal that eventually ended in violence.
John Searles is the deputy editor of Cosmopolitan, where he oversees all book coverage for the magazine. He has written two books, "Strange But True" and "Boy Still Missing." His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times and other national magazines and newspapers.