Recommended Reads For June

As the sun beats down upon us, book-lovers are left to reap the harvest of summer, one of the publishing world’s biggest seasons. Here’s a sample of the goodness currently resting on bookshelves.

1/ “Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World”
Rob Sheffield, Dey Street Books

In “Dreaming the Beatles,” bestselling author and Rolling Stones scribe Rob Sheffield focuses on man’s search for meaning in the obsessive worldwide phenomena of The Beatles. Sheffield enthusiastically provides a fresh and emotionally charged examination of how the Liverpool lads became beloved worldwide. While there are hundreds of scholarly tomes about The Beatles and their music, this one shows the band both at the height of their fame and when they were each making innovative solo records. The fruits of Sheffield’s labor reveals a world forged by the creativity of The Beatles, who have artistically left their their fingerprints in our modern society.

2/ “Lost Treasures of St. Louis”
Cameron Collins, Reedy Press

For anyone who’s spent most of his or her life living in the River City, Cameron Collins’ new coffee-table book is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Split into bite-size sections, “Lost Treasures of St. Louis” is a visual history of days gone by that features archival photographs supplemented with facts about the city’s locales of interest, including roller rinks, dance halls, diners, movie theaters, convert venues, grocery stores, local brews, sports teams and more. Shedding the wonders of toasted ravioli and questions about where you went to high school, “Lost Treasures of St. Louis” is loaded with a mix of the familiar and forgotten, rescuing historical gems that have been overlooked and reminding readers of the city’s beauty.

3/ “Men Without Women: Stories”
Haruki Murakami, Knopf

One of the best voices in fiction has given us seven new stories, each dealing with a male protagonist who finds himself alone in the world. While these stories each have an air of melancholy to them, they also feature Murakami’s unique humor and passions, which include jazz, baseball, Kafka and The Beatles, as they seep onto the pages and explore masculine isolationism.

Murakami revisits core leitmotifs of loneliness, detachment, darkness and mystery, though his fans don’t mind as they devour tales filled with rich characters and deep emotional resonance.

4/ “Hostage”
Guy DeLisle, Drawn and Quarterly

Based on his track record of graphic-novel success, one would expect the latest graphic novel by Guy DeLisle to fall along the same lines. But this is where the twist comes in that his latest, “Hostage,” is a radical departure from his previous offerings. The story centers on the fate of Christophe André, a Doctors Without Borders worker who was snatched in the dark of night and held captive for three months in a Chechnyan prison. Loaded with the same gritty, realistic narrative as his other graphic novels, this one is every bit as much of a page-turner as André spends his isolation trying to alleviate boredom and fend off fear.

Using a variation of shades, colors and panels, DeLisle perfectly frames this agonizing drama within the graphic-novel format, resulting in an astounding adventure that absorbs audiences into a gripping adventure that—despite being laced with hopelessness—ebbs and flows like a film, giving him the luxury of telling his compelling story on his own terms.

The result is a bleak yet powerfully uplifting bit of graphic nonfiction.

5/ “Isadora”
Amelia Gray, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This potent novel about Isadora Duncan, the mother of contemporary dance, is rife with tragedy and tempestuousness. Larger than life and noted for her erratic behavior, multiple affairs and creative genius, Duncan was classically as tormented as she was brilliant. Opening just before World War I, the novel follows the Duncan’s internal duality to a jarring conclusion. As the book unfolds, this Madonna of the early 20th century is sent by her lover to the Greek paradise of Corfu to get her mojo back. The respite backfires horribly, as Duncan remains grief-stricken and despondent. By the time she returns to France she is drained, unstable and noncompliant. This downward spiral of destruction leaves us with a fascinating character study about an innovator who was in equal parts bold, brash and broken.

 

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