For many of us, summer is the time to catch up on reading. Even book editors, who have to read books for a living, look forward to reading new releases and classics. John Searles, book editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and best-selling author of “Strange but True,” and Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publisher’s Weekly, were invited on “Today” to give us their top picks for summer reading.
As a novelist and books editor, I am sent hundreds of books every month for consideration. My only real criteria is that I have to want to turn the next page and keep reading, so I look for books with stories and characters that pull me in from the very beginning. For my list, I tried to pick a little something for everyone. “Heat” is a memoir that takes place in the kitchens of Mario Batalli’s restaurants. Before I was a writer and editor, I worked as a waiter for 12 long years to support myself. I always swore I never wanted to go back to that crazy world, but this book brought back a lot of memories for me and I had fun reading it.
As a book lover, “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” was an easy pick for me. I am sure I’m not alone when I say that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was my favorite book when I was growing up, and it was one of the stories that made me want to be a novelist some day. Also, I am always intrigued by public figures who cut themselves off from society the way Harper Lee did when she stopped granting interviews in the '60s. This book gives us a glimpse of this mythic literary figure, and attempts to humanize her.
As much as I love a good, serious read, my job at Cosmo has taught me to appreciate a juicy thriller as well. That’s why I picked “No Good Deeds” and “The Hard Way.” These stories are full of twists and turns and surprises, and they kept me reading right up until the very last page. And speaking of surprises, I don't consider myself a history buff, but “Manhunt” sucked me right in. It is about the hunt for Lincoln’s killer and reads like a thriller. Once I started it, I could not put it down.
John’s reading list:
“No Good Deeds,” by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins)
“The Hard Way,” by Lee Child (Delacorte)
“Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer,” by James L. Swanson (William Morrow)
To view an interview with Swanson and read an excerpt of his book, click here.
“Heat,” by Bill Buford (Knopf)
“Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,” by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt)
Sara’s reading list:
“The Debutante Divorcée,” by Plum Sykes (Miramax)
“Water for Elephants,” by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books)
“Terrorist,” by John Updike (Knopf)
To view an interview with Updike and read an excerpt of his book, click here.
“The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
“Guests of the Ayatollah” by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly Press)