If you sometimes can’t remember where you put the car keys — or like author Joshua Foer, the car itself — don’t panic. You can do something about it, Foer promises, in an intriguing-sounding new book called Moonwalking with Einstein.
Foer is a science journalist who participated in the U.S. Memory Championship and went from a guy with an average memory to actually winning the competition.
Moonwalking with Einstein is on the bestseller list now because so many people, like me, are obsessed with memory and how to improve it. I’m anxious to read this book, which Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, called “both fun and reassuring. All it takes to have a better memory, he (Foer) contends, are a few tricks and a good erotic imagination.”
Foer’s book is at the top of my reading list this summer. I don’t get as much new book information as I did when I edited the book pages of the defunct Houston Post, but I still read book sections online from around the country, get catalogs from publishers and review books. And here are some titles — four more nonfiction books and five novels — that sound like great summer reading.
Trillin on Texas is by the wonderfully amusing Calvin Trillin, a writer for The New Yorker who has, surprisingly, a Texas connection. His family immigrated to the United States through the port of Galveston, and he seems to love writing about Texas. Included in this collection are previously published articles and poems in various publications about everything from Houston’s colorful immigration lawyers and scouting for books with Larry McMurtry to his sardonic take on the Bush dynasty and their tendency toward fractured syntax.
The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker, edited by David Remnick, is a paperback collection coming out next month that also promises to be fun reading. Here is John Updike on Ted Williams, Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Michael Jordan, David Owen on Tiger Woods, and Martin Amis writing about several tennis personalities.
I love biographies of interesting people, and here are two that sound promising:
Ben: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee, Journalism’s Legendary Editor, by Jeff Himmelman, is about the crusty Washington Post editor who led the fight to publish the Pentagon Papers. Famous for his brashness and charm, Bradlee was depicted by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men. This short (192 pages) biography will be in bookstores next month.
Will Rogers: A Political Life by Richard D.White is about the Great American Humorist who died in a 1935 plane crash. It got a rave review recently in The New York Times, which pointed out that Rogers in his day was bigger than Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and even Rush Limbaugh.
In fiction this summer? A lot of people are still reading and talking about The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s compellingly-readable novel about black maids in 1960s Mississippi (and soon to become a movie). But here are several newer novels to check out:
In The Social Animal, New York Times columnist David Brooks explores the unconscious mind and how it shapes the way we eat, love, live, vacation and relate to other people. The novel focuses on one couple, and one of my book club members who is always looking for good new fiction found this one fascinating and funny.
An Object of Beauty is a new novel about the New York art world by actor and comedian Steve Martin, who is also a wonderfully-amusing writer. His bestselling novella Shopgirl was made into a movie.
The new book focuses on an ambitious young woman who will do anything to get ahead, including indulging in questionable deals and possible felonies. Martin, himself an art collector, knows his subject well, and may have another bestseller on his hands.
The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain is a new novel based on Ernest Hemingway’s first wife that several friends are reading this summer. Though doomed, Hadley Richardson’s marriage to Hemingway had its giddy high points, including a whirlwind courtship and a few fast and furious years in Paris in the Jazz Age. Reviews have been mixed, but USA Today predicted that women and book groups “are going to eat up this novel.”
And here’s another blending of fact and fiction called Not Between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas by David Marion Wilkinson. A bloody and gripping tale of the birth of the Lone Star State, the book portrays three cultures — Mexican, white immigrant and Comanche — in collision.
It’s not a new book — the 15th anniversary edition was published last year in paperback — but Not Between Brothers has been optioned for a TV mini-series and received a number of awards.
Finally, the most talked-about book in literary circles in 2010 was Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. It’s been called, like Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections, a masterpiece of American fiction. Book critics who reviewed it pronounced it “a page turner” and “the great American novel.”
This one has been on my list for months, and this summer, at last, I’m hoping to read it.