Below are a half-dozen books I’ve read lately for fun. If you’re looking for something worthwhile for your summer break, you might consideration any of these.
Relentless, Julian Edelman – Yup, the wide receiver/model/social media stud is also an author. Much to my amazement (and perhaps yours), his memoir is a legit page-turner. Edelman was coached by a maniacal father whom he adores (a revelation Andre Agassi might envy) and the stories of how he earned off-season workout time with Tom Brady in the early days as a New England Patriot speak to borderline bizarre levels of commitment. Allow him to help you enhance your performance, maybe short of sticking steroid needles in your bum.
You Play the Girl, Carina Chocano – The pop culture critic is a fierce feminist and remarkable writer. With a keen perspective that’s a direct hit in this #MeToo era, Chocano threads more than 20 essays with an Alice in Wonderland theme that makes for a cohesive collection. The book is named for the marginalization of women in Hollywood and is dedicated to the author’s young daughter who comes off as whip-smart and unapologetic as her mom. For such feisty subject matter, the author works in welcome humor throughout.
Better, Atul Gawande – You could say the Boston-based author of The Checklist Manifesto has done it again but this one was published first. Subtitled “A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance,” the 2008 book takes simple-yet-revolutionary lessons from hospitals (including, um, hand washing) and extrapolates countless takeaways for how to be better at nearly anything you might tackle in life. Gawande is an absolute marvel and has just been hired by some guys named Bezos, Buffett, and Dimon to fix healthcare for their 1.2 million employees… so, yeah.
You Think It, I’ll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld – Brand new in hardcover, this one contains ten stories spanning all manner of human interaction, with mysterious college classmates to distant spouses. Sittenfeld takes us deep inside the feminine mystique, although a standout herein is Plausible Deniability written by her in a male voice and centered on the rivalry between brothers. These stories are perfect for those sitting poolside and looking to be serially entertained by characters often shallower than the water in the kids’ end.
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman – If your preference is more long form, this 337-page novel may be just what you’re looking for. Ove is a grouchy cheapskate who lives by a handful of rules and principles and to hell with everything else. The book is hard to put down save for a gut punch reveal four chapters in that gave me pause and called for a break. Ever wonder why you didn’t read something when it first came out (in English, that is – this one’s translated from Swedish)? This is one of them for me. Truly great.
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan – Even among the talent already celebrated here, arguably the best writer on this list is Egan. There’s nary a throwaway line in this story of World War II-era Anna and the mobbed-up nightclub operator who may hold clues as to her father’s sudden disappearance. The 2017 bestseller tells the layered tale of our heroine trying to help win the war as a ship-repairing diver. Read it to picture the old-timey New York landscapes during a period when one was likely prouder than today to be American.