Don’t shoot the messenger, but we’re approaching midsummer, which definitely casts a pall over the sun-loving Bunnies hanging around the Grotto. While summer is a great time to go out and party, hit the waves with your board or spice up your evenings with a new lady friend or two, there’s something to be said for literally lazing about all day — relaxing at the pool, beach, park or even in your own backyard, and there’s nothing better to complement this than an ice-cold beer and hot new read to expand your horizons. Here are some of our favorite books for the late-summer languor, from paperbacks that take you on an adventure through the history of pop culture and cyber battles to a gripping autobiography by Jarhead author Anthony Swofford, who is struck with so much fame, fortune and grief that it is almost the end of him.
Released last year to critical acclaim, Ready Player One is the highly addictive story of Wade Watts, a teen in dystopian 2044, where the inhabitants of Earth live primarily connected to the fantastical cyber universe known as OASIS. When a mysterious video game maven and creator of OASIS dies, an epic war to control the money and minds that his empire commands emerges, taking the form of a treasure hunt reliant on clues and challenges from 20th century pop culture, gaming, television and music. A new classic for fans of sci-fi or adventure, this Alice in Willy Wonka-esque thrill ride is a nonstop adrenaline rush that will leave you ready to plug in. It’s rare when an author has the ability to transport his readers into a superbly illustrated world of complex design in the vein of Tolkien or Orson Scott Card, but when it takes the form of a debut novel, we’re looking at an imagination of Rowling’s magnitude.
Joshua Knelman won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Nonfiction for a reason. His book Hot Art, which chronicles the four years he spent in the seedy world of international art theft, is hard to put down. It’s a great read for any man who can’t stand the thought of wasting his time reading fictitious stories while still getting the fun and pleasure of good old brain-numbing pulp fiction. Seriously, this book is like eating an entire bowl of cherries. They taste like candy, but they’re good for you! We can’t believe that all the crazy stuff that takes place in this book is true. By the end of the book you’ll be itching to share your niche knowledge of the world of art.
It is appropriate that Shadow Show, a collection of short stories dedicated to the memory of Ray Bradbury, should start with a piece titled “Homecoming” written by none other than the enigmatic author himself. Along with being a tribute to the short story of the same name that propelled Bradbury to science fiction stardom (and who could deny that a self-written foreword from beyond the grave is a classically Bradburian idea?), Shadow Show is indeed a homecoming of sorts. In the piece, Bradbury parallels the relationship between the author and his influences to that between a father and son and reflects on his transition from one to the other. What follows is undeniable evidence that the former is true; Shadow Show has on display authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and Alice Hoffman, all paying tribute to the dystopian themes and complex characters of the Bradbury tradition. Anyone who had their world turned upside-down by Fahrenheit 451 will be impressed by this one last hurrah for one of sci-fi’s leading men.
Click below for the other great reads we have on tap!