The approximate number of titles Simon & Schuster publishes annually.

Shelf Life

Valet's Summer Reading List

Published on June 30, 2008

What better time than summer to put down the iPhone, grab a new book and do a little reading? Even us Web-savvy style hunters like to curl up with some paper now and then—if only to learn a few new phrases to pepper into conversations on dates. The Valet editors gathered up some of the season's most anticipated releases for a handful of suggested summer reads and paired them with where they might best be read (i.e. why not drift off to the golf course while stuck in the subway?). But you don't have to take our word for it.


This bookmark not only keeps your page, but its wrap-around bungee cord construction keeps it in place (so you never lose your spot again) and prevents a paperback's cover from getting bent.
$8, at Levenger.

For the Nonfiction Aficionado

The Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston.
(Grand Central), $26 ($17.15 on Amazon.com)

Fans of The Devil in White City or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will devour this true-life story by Douglas Preston, former editor of the American Musueum of Natural History's Curator magazine. After Preston moved to Italy, he discovered that the olive grove in front of his 14th century farmhouse was the scene of the most infamous double-murders in the country's history—committed by a serial killer known as the Monster of Florence. Of course, like any good murder mystery, there's plenty of twists and surprises, including some face time with the monster himself.

For the City

The Host, by Stephenie Meyer.
(Little, Brown and Co.), $26 ($15.59 on Amazon.com)

Stephenie Meyer, creator of the best-selling teen-vamp Twilight series and one of TIME magazine's Most Influential people of 2008, mixes sci-fi and romance into her first adult novel. The planet's been invaded by an alien species that takes over the minds of their human hosts. Most of society has succumbed to the inhabitation, but our heroine Melanie Stryder refuses to give up her mind to her parasite, Wanderer. Strong-willed Melanie occupies her host's thoughts with visions of the man she loves—a human still in hiding. What develops may be the first love triangle involving just two bodies.

For the Lunch Break

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris.
(Little, Brown and Co.) $26 ($16.55 on Amazon.com)

Broken into distinct, digestible stories, this book offers a perfectly-timed distraction from the doldrums of working during the long, summer days. This is the sixth collection of essays from Sedaris, the brilliant humorist who frequently contributes his dry, self-deprecating wit to The New Yorker and NPR. Story after story, Sedaris explores such inane (but odd) conundrums of daily life as lancing a boil from his backside, accidentally spitting a cough drop into the lap of a unknowing seatmate on a plane or upon finding his water shut off, looking to a vase of fresh cut flowers to fill the coffee machine.

For the Subway

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport, by Carl Hiaasen.
(Knopf) $22 ($14.74 on Amazon.com)

"What possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at which he'd never excelled in his prime, and which in fact had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation?" asks Carl Hiassen, a columnist for the Miami Herald who penned the novel Strip Tease, which later became the 1996 Demi Moore cult classic. His answer: "I'm one sick bastard." First drawn to golf by his father, Carl quit in the '70s. But as the memories of shanked 7-irons faded, he figured he may be better at golf in middle age than when he was a kid. Hiaasen comically chronicles his return to the links, culminating in a savage 45-hole tournament. While he may struggle with the blue-blood's game of choice, he's skilled in the sport of satire.

For the Plane

Dear American Airlines: A Novel, by Jonathan Miles.
(Houghton Mifflin) $22, ($14.96 on Amazon.com)

Giving a whole new meaning to the term "airport novel," Miles debut centers around Bennie Ford, a 53-year-old failed poet turned translator, who is en route to his estranged daughter's wedding when his cross-country flight is canceled during a lay-over at O'Hare airport. Stranded in the terminal, he does the only thing he can: write a letter. He begins by demanding a refund, but in the slow-motion minutes that creep into hours, Ford is finally free to mentally move about the stages of his life—reflecting on opportunities missed, talent wasted and mistakes made. Suddenly, the lines to board or waiting to taxi won't seem so annoying.

For the Couch

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, by David Wroblewski.
(Ecco) $26, ($17.13 on Amazon.com)

Reruns dominate the television landscape so go unplugged, pour yourself a glass of wine and crack this book. The namesake character, Edgar is born mute but is able to enjoy his peaceful, idyllic life on his parent's remote farm. The Sawtelle family breeds and trains dogs and Edgar develops a strong relationship with the pack. But his world comes to a halt when his father dies unexpectedly. Edgar soon runs away into the nearby woods with three loyal dogs as his only allies. This coming-of-age story is both stately and rustic, painful yet liberating.The realism in Wroblewski's vivid scene-setting is fitting—the author grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where the story is set.

For the Water Cooler

Bright Shiny Morning, by James Frey.
(Harper) $26 ($17.79 on Amazon.com)

Wanting to examine the idea of the American dream, Frey turn his pen onto the hopes, fears and realities surrounding Los Angeles. Four different narratives move you through this gritty story, navigating various neighborhoods and cultures of the city of angles. We know what some of you are thinking. Maybe you don't want to give any money to this guy. But one thing is clear, the man knows how to spin a damn good yarn. We say have a gin and call it bygones. Still holding a grudge? Borrow it from the library.

For the Beach

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler.
(Simon Spotlight) $25, ($14.97 on Amazon.com)

You don't need anything too complicated when you're balancing your reading in between swims, lunch and some serious sunning time. Which is why we're recommending this hilariously tactless tome by the comedic host of E's Chelsea Lately. Paying homage to Judy Bloome's 1970 classic, Chelsea Handler gets a few things off her chest by appealing to her higher power—vodka. Whether convincing classmates in the 3rd grade she's a famous actress, embracing egalitarianism by dating a redhead, or searching for foulmouthed, rum-swilling little person, Handler knows which sorted stories to mine for the most laughs.

  • FYI: David Sedaris was discovered reading his diary at Lower Links, a Chicago club by NPR star Ira Glass who invited Sedaris on his show.


Literature, Books, Travel Reading, Beach Reads, Douglas Preston, Stephenie Meyer, David Sedaris, Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Miles, David Wroblewski, James Frey, Chelsea Handler



Most Popular On Valet



Advertise on Valet