5 Books To Read: Late-Summer Edition

Summer afternoons are the perfect opportunity to enjoy a new read, soaking up the sun in America’s heartland. Here are five of our current favorites.

1/ Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger”
Curtis Armstrong, Thomas Dunne Books

In show business, sometimes it’s nearly impossible for an actor to escape from the shadow of their most popular role. In this memoir, actor Curtis Armstrong embraces his fate with great relish. A classically trained actor with over four decades of television, theater and film credits, Armstrong is still best known for playing the affable character “Booger” in the Revenge of the Nerds films.

Armstrong also starred in the films “Ray,” Risky Business” and “Better Off Dead,” as well as TV shows like “American Dad,” “Moonlighting” and “Supernatural,” which seems superfluous as he will always be known as Booger.

Told with wit and candor, Armstrong tells the story of his journey—from his childhood spent in Europe to hanging out with Tom Cruise—and eventually inhabiting one of pop culture’s most beloved characters.

2/ “Everything All At Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap into Radical Curiosity and Solve Any Problem”
Bill Nye, Rodale Books

Bill Nye’s ascent to fame is nontraditional, as a lover of science and math, a former stand-up comic and Boeing engineer. With “Everything All At Once,” the former head of the Planetary Society takes readers into his own universe—one where education, engagement and advocacy are the foundation for an intelligent society that is as broad as the universe itself.

Harnessing his inquisitive nature, passion for physics and scientific creativity at an early age, Nye explains how he became himself, with a combination of science street cred and comedic mojo that have provided him with a penchant for discovery.

3/ “House of Names”
Colm Tóibín, Scribner

Toibin’s latest book is a fresh take on an age-old tale—The Myth of Agamemnon, a story that reads almost like a contemporary soap opera. Filled with murder, greed, lust and war, this reimagining of the Greek classic is loaded with unsavory characters and deeds.

Based on the Greek myth, it is the story of King Agamemnon, who has left home to lead troops to glory on the battlefield. While he is off fighting with his men, his scheming wife has found someone new: the lustful Aegisthus.

More “Melrose Place” than Mycenae, what follows next is a string of poor decisions followed by even more blood, treachery and poorer decisions, leading up to a dizzying climax of mayhem and madness.

Tóibín turns ancient mythology into gripping fiction, delivering an insatiably scandalous and diabolical story that keeps the essence of this ancient tale intact, offering readers an interesting combination of the modern and the mythic in one intense adventure.

4/ “Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed The World”
Billy Bragg, Faber & Faber

Billy Bragg’s music, filled with activism and broken hearts, is, at its core, deeply rooted in the blues, folk, punk traditions and sounds he absorbed at an early age. Despite this Mélange of influences, Bragg’s musical pulse stems foremost from the skiffle music running through his veins.

Bragg takes his love for skiffle to print in a new book that explores its origins and influence of latter generations. Bringing jazz, folk and blues together, it transformed the musical jambalaya of Louisiana into the teenage sound of postwar England. Skiffle became the first music for British adolescents who quickly picked up guitars (or for those who made their own), ushering in an age of rebellion during Cold War austerity.

Though widely acknowledged as influential in the U.K., skiffle is relatively obscure in these parts of the world. But, thanks to Bragg’s narrative, it all comes front and center in his history of the genre.

5/ “Goodbye Vitamin”
Rachel Khong, Henry Holt

For those whose lives have not gone according to plan, expect to find solace, humor and sanctuary in “Goodbye Vitamin,” an emotional roller coaster filled with loss and humanity.

Quitting a job and rearranging your life is a serious endeavor—especially for Ruth, who returns home at the request of her mother to help care for her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Trading off good days with bad ones, the book finds Ruth focusing on her father’s daily struggle against dementia, forcing her to put her own life on hold and face her father’s declining health.

Tragic and heartbreaking, Khong skillfully steers readers into a story where moments of despair, gentleness and emotional distress cross paths amidst a haze of missing memories and lost opportunities.

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