Stuff these books in your beach bag

Escape the heat with quality, off-the-radar fiction.

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Summer reading offers the chance to stop worrying about hurricane season, about expanding Russian nationalist fervor, or even about whether or not to refinance. 

But too often, like the movies, readers are offered only the too-slight entertainments of the season, the literary equivalent of Godzilla. The best books, whether discovered on the beach or by the fire, entertain. But as Graham Greene once described, they also pierce the living heart with their memory. Herewith, some choices for summer you can tote with literary pride on your getaway. 
Novelist Elizabeth McCracken returns with her first story collection in 20 years. Thunderstruck and Other Stories brims with her trademark good humor and is populated with her usual keen observations about people that we often overlook.

Imagine a generation of children who cannot speak, who never learn to read or write. That conceit is at the core of The Silent History, a collaborative novel by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett. The Silent History began as an app that uses “serialization, exploration and collaboration” to tell a tale of dystopic yet entirely plausible future.

Joshua Ferris, whose Then We Came to the End is one of the funniest novels about the boom and bust 1990s, offers the cautionary tale of Paul O’Rourke, a dentist who someone begins to impersonate online, in To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.

Novelist Rick Moody, himself a finalist for nearly every major American book award, calls Lydia Davis “the best prose stylist in America.” Her recent book, Can’t and Won’t, offers more than 120 of her trademark short stories, most around two pages in length. It’s the perfect episodic read for the busy summer escape or lunch at your desk.

Steve Kistulentz is the Director of the University of Tampa MFA Program in Creative Writing and a member of the Department of English. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Little Black Daydream (2012) and The Luckless Age (2010), along with numerous stories, essays, and reviews. He also is director of UT’s biannual Lectores public readings series, which brings famous authors and other creators to Tampa. This year’s second event takes place June 19-26 and will feature acclaimed scribes Rick Moody, Susan Minot and Nathan Deuel. Visit for more details. 

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