Popular novels for summer days

Popular novels for summer days

By Derek Hawkins

Summer is winding down, but it’s not too late to pick up one last book for pleasure before the fall semester begins. Below is a News staffer’s list of some bestsellers and recent releases to give students one last dose of literature before they make their descent into textbooks in September.

Water for Elephants (2007) By Sara Gruen 350 pp. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. $13.95

Set in the early years of the Great Depression, “Water for Elephants” tells the story of Jacob Jankowski, a failed veterinary student who joins a second-rate travelling circus troupe to survive economic hardship. Gruen’s narrative, highly detailed and written in a gritty style, follows Jacob through an underworld of freaks, misfits and star-crossed lovers.

On Beauty (2006) By Zadie Smith 464 pp. Penguin. $15

Smith became one of England’s most highly acclaimed young authors with the release of her first novel, “White Teeth,” in 2000. “On Beauty,” Smith’s third major work, is a comic portrayal of today’s culture wars through the point of view of a dysfunctional, British-American family living in the United States.

Zbigniew Herbert: The Collected Poems (2007) By Zbigniew Herbert, Alissa Valles (editor), Czeslaw Milosz (translator), Peter Dale Scott (translator) 624 pp. Harper Collins. $34.95

Herbert, one of the 20th century’s most renowned European poets, died in his home country of Polandin 1998. But his legacy lives on in this newly compiled and translated collection of his post-WWII poetry. Herbert’s poems range from melancholy to triumphant and introspective to wry, but are bound by a worldliness still relevant today.

A Man Without a Country (2005) By Kurt Vonnegut 192 pp. Seven Stories Press. $23.95

A quasi-autobiographical collection of short essays and memoirs, “A Man Without a Country” is the last book Vonnegut wrote before his death in April. Vonnegut delivers the same wry wit, irreverence and terse style that have made him a counter-cultural icon for more than a half-century.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) By Ishmael Beah 240 pp. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $22

This first-hand account of a 13-year-old boy forced to fight in the Sierra Leone Civil War reveals the gruesome reality of what war is like through the eyes of a child soldier. Beah describes how he survived almost three years of fighting before he was rescued by United Nations workers and brought to the United States.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) By J.K. Rowling 759 pp. Scholastic Inc. $34.99

Rowling’s final installment in the seven-book Harry Potter saga had children and adults piling into bookstores around the world the night of its release. It is a must-read for anyone waiting to see what fate awaits Harry and his Hogwarts cohorts.

No One Belongs Here More Than You (2007) By Miranda July 205 pp. Simon and Schuster. $23

Award-winning performance artist, independent filmmaker and musician, July makes her debut in the literary world with this collection of short stories. July covers the familiar topics of love, sex and relationships in a provocative, eccentric and entirely original style.

The Road (2006) By Cormac McCarthy 304 pp. Knopf Publishing Group. $14.95

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, “The Road” has been lauded as McCarthy’s best work to date. Set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic United States, the novel follows a father and son’s treacherous journey along abandoned highways, searching for safety.

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