Unable to commit to summer reading? Just follow our four-step plan
American history will rule this summer thanks to David McCullough's 1776 ($32), a stirring account of the Revolutionary year. "You know how when you walk down the beach and every 20 feet you see the same book? That'll be one of those," says Cathy Langer, buyer for the Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver. But don't make this the summer of just one book, pleads Steve Leveen, author of The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life: How to Get More Books in Your Life and More Life From Your Books . Some titles may seem overwhelming--even John Irving's fans will be daunted by the 819-page UNTIL I FIND YOU (July 12, $28), about a boy searching for his tattooed, organist father. But packing more books into your schedule is a cinch if you select a "library of candidates," then figure out how those books can fit into your life. One tip: With books, you don't have to finish what you start. "Many people feel guilty about giving up on a book, but that's as wrong as wrong can be," Leveen says. Sample tons, reject a bunch, then stick to what you truly enjoy. (Books noted here are already in stores if no date appears.)
Books you can't put down
When you have a big chunk of time--an airplane ride or a rainy Sunday--you have the chance to devour a book whole. Even if you meant to take a break, you'd probably forget a few pages into NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy (July 19, $25). For his first novel in seven years, the author of All The Pretty Horses delivers a modern Western (without quotation marks). The gritty plot follows what happens when a hunter finds a suitcase of dough. The guys who own it really want it back. "This is not a novel of young New Yorkers dealing with their marketing jobs. It's for people who really appreciate a story well told," says Dave Weich, of Powell's Books in Portland, Ore. And it helps not to mind a generous helping of gore. If dirt is more your thing, turn to OH THE GLORY OF IT ALL by Sean Wilsey ($26), already generating buzz for its trash-talking about the San Francisco social set. This no-holds-barred memoir of a spoiled rich kid in boarding school and beyond tracks the childhood of McSweeney's writer Wilsey, who's the product of two royally screwed-up parents--a father who had an affair with Danielle Steel and a mother who attempted to get her son to join her in a suicide pact after her marriage broke up. He reserves most of his scorn, however, for his stepmother, who rivals the wickedest fairy-tale version. For an easy, breezy beach read--and a good laugh--crack open Rodney Rothman's EARLY BIRD: A MEMOIR OF PREMATURE RETIREMENT ($23). It tells the true story of what happens when the former head writer for Late Night With David Letterman burns out on comedy writing and moves to Boca Raton.
Books you can put down