Book Talk: Summer Standouts

Pack your beach bag with these captivating reads.

SummerBookTalk

THE GILDED YEARS
By Karin Tanabe
For her third (and arguably best) novel, Vassar alumna Karin Tanabe went back to her alma mater to research Anita Hemmings, the first African American student to attend the elite school. Decades before the college opened its doors to black students, Hemmings is able to pass for white, until her roommate catches on and threatens to expose her secret. This engrossing work of historical fiction follows a powerful woman who would risk everything for an education. (Washington Square Press, $16)

THE OPPOSITE OF WOE: MY LIFE IN BEER AND POLITICS
By John Hickenlooper, with Maximillian Potter
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s new tell-all is both funny and refreshingly candid, characteristics uncommon in political memoir. Those interested in our political landscape, or just a good success story, will appreciate Hickenlooper’s journey from failed geologist and millionaire brew pub entrepreneur to surprisingly successful politician. (Penguin Press, $30)

GRACE
By Natashia Deón
One of the summer’s most talked-about books, this intergenerational saga follows 15-year-old runaway slave Naomi in 1840s Alabama as she seeks freedom against unthinkable odds. Deftly alternating points of view between Naomi and the beloved mother she left behind, this moving and vivid debut has announced Deón as a powerful new literary voice. (Counterpoint Press, $25)

WE COULD BE BEAUTIFUL
By Swan Huntley
Wealthy New Yorker Catherine West has everything she could ever want, but still feels like there’s something missing. When she meets the equally upper-crust “man of her dreams” at a gala, things start looking up — until a “web of deception” challenges everything she thought she knew or wanted. Huntley’s debut novel is a haunting psychological thriller with smart, witty social commentary. (Doubleday, $25.95)

THE HOPEFULS
By Jennifer Close
We love novels set in Washington, and this one has characters you’re sure to find familiar. Young professionals in Ann Taylor suits brag about their security clearance levels at dinner parties and ignore those who don’t work in politics (in this case, narrator Beth, who has relocated from New York to support her husband’s career move and immediately despises her new city). This funny, spot-on novel about ambition, friendships and marriage in the nation’s capital is a must read from local author and George Washington University professor Jennifer Close. (Knopf, $26.95)

WALK WITH US: HOW THE WEST WING CHANGED OUR LIVES
By Claire Handscombe
“The West Wing” went off the air ten years ago, but like any great TV show, its legacy continues. “It’s inspired the career choices of countless political staffers, helped viewers think through issues and impacted lives on a profound level, creatively, relationally, even spiritually,” says editor Claire Handscombe, an American University MFA graduate. Her anthology of essays and quotes tells some of those stories, from fans ranging in age from twenty to seventy. (CH Books, $7.49)

BookTalk_Kidsbooks

CHILDREN’S SELECTIONS
These new releases from local authors will keep your kids occupied (and educated!) all summer long.

MISS E
By Brian Herberger
Vienna middle school teacher Brian Herberger makes the topic of war accessible for young adults in his tale of 15-year-old Bets and life in 1967 California after her father deploys to Vietnam. (Bublish, Inc., $12.99)

THE PRESIDENT AND ME
By Deborah Kalb
A fifth-grade boy takes a class trip to Mount Vernon and ends up traveling back in time for 18th-century adventures with his new buddies, George and Martha Washington. (Schiffer, $11.60)

FOLLOW THE MOON HOME
By Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson
A story featuring sea turtles on the South Carolina coast teaches kids about grassroots activism and how they can become involved in efforts to save the environment. (Chronicle Books, $16.99)

These picks first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Washington Life.

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