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Escape With Some New England Summer Reading



It’s finally August; mid-summer and definitely time for a summer break. And for many of us, that means an-all-too-rare opportunity to read — a chance to stretch out and lose ourselves in a good book.

Maybe it’s a classic. Maybe it’s the latest offering from the best-seller list. Maybe it’s a history, or maybe it’s a bit of escapist trash about a hot summer romance.

Whatever it is, we’re looking at summer reading with a New England theme. We’re discussing great books — new and old — set in New England, and possibly written by New England authors.

Maybe it’s Dennis Lehane, who grew up in Dorchester, and wrote the gritty crime mystery, “Mystic River.” Maybe it’s “The House of Sand and Fog,” by Andre Dubus, who just published a terrific memoir about growing up in the mill towns north of Boston. Or maybe you favor the classics, in which case you can choose from names like Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau or Melville.

So for now, forget about the debt ceiling impasse and all the tedious news out of Washington, and escape with us into the world of summer reading.

What are you reading this summer, and who’s your favorite New England author — new or old? What books are you packing in the beach cooler?


  • Carole Horne, general manager, the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge
  • Paul Harding, Pultizer Prize-winning author of “Tinkers”

Carole Horne’s Suggestions (See her full list, PDF)

  • “Sixkill” and others, Robert B. Parker

Literary Fiction

  • “Caleb’s Crossing,” Geraldine Brooks


  • “Let’s Take The Long Way Home,” Gail Caldwell
  • “Townie,” Andre Dubus III


  • “The Late George Apley,” John Marquand

Anthony’s Suggestions

  • “That Old Cape Magic” and “Empire Falls,” Richard Russo

Short Stories

  • “You Think That’s Bad,” Jim Shephard


  • “The Last Hurrah,” Ed O’Connor

Other stories from this show:

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  • andy from westborough

    Gee whiz – these books sound so darn heavy.  I prefer action adventure novels myself – like James Rollins or the science fiction of SM Stirling.  How about Bernard Cornwell?  He’s great writer of historial fiction and some good modern thrillers.  Agincourt and the Archer series come to mind. 

  • http://twitter.com/iambrandsuz Suz Carter

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think The Last Hurrah is by Edwin O’Connor.
    The Late George Apley was SUPER.
    Common Ground is something I’ve taken to the beach.

  • Joanne

    Just finished “Maine” by the author who wrote Commencement.   I found it to a perfect
    summer read — light…and quick…sit with it by the beach with an iced tea and a fresh
    lobster roll…what could be better?!  Maureen Corrigan loved it and I love anything she
    Wellesley, MA

  • David

    For New England crime novels it’s hard to beat “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” by George Higgins.  The inspiration of Dennis Lehane and many other crime writers, it is still one of the best.

  • mauree richards

    Oh my – I was about to call in and praise “Tinkers” when I realized Paul Harding was one of the hosts. His book is a work of mastery. I read many books, buy few. After I read “Tinkers” I had to own my own copy so I could reread it at will, and think of it whenever I look at it on my bookshelf.
    Anyone who is awed by “the Country of Pointed Firs,” as I was, will love “Tinkers.”

  • Paula Coyle

    My best summer read is a fairly new release from a Boston author. It’s called, Slaves to the Rhythm, a love story” by Terry Connell. It is a touching, historical and heart-waming chronicle of family and the early years of the Aids crisis. A great read!

  • Maura

    This is a great summer read, by Boston writers Anthony Amore of the Gardner Museum and Tom Mashberg of the Bosotn Herald:  http://www.stealingrembrandts.com/

    Great both for those interested in Art History and those who like mysteries.

    • Agbrooks

      Thanks, Maura.  This is a great suggestion that I was going to bring up in the show.  I interviewed Tom Mashberg about hisbook (Stealing Rembrandts), and we will be airing the interview soon.  It is an excellent book about art,  art theft, cops and robbers. 
      Cheers, Anthony

    • Emilyfaith

      I also enjoy mysteries and art history.  The Forger’s Spell by Edward Dolnick is a great read about the forgery of Vermeers.  There are so few but this man got away with it for years.  

  • Amanda Rolfe

    Did anyone catch the name of the short, classic book about Maine that Paul suggested?  I heard him describe it as “pastoral”. I couldn’t get to a pen in time.

    • mauree richards

      I think it was “The Country of Pointed Firs” by Sarah Orne Jewett – an austere brilliant book – as is Harding’s “Tinkers.”

    • Cheersjt

      you probably mean “the county of the pointed firs” by sarah orne jewett.

    • Amanda

      Thanks Cheersjt and Mauree!

  • Chris

    Am currently reading “The Sound of a Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. At only 170 pages, excluding endnotes. it’s a mesmerizing concise account of the author’s recovery from a devastating illness and her observations of a “pet” snail during her convalescence. It’s set in Maine and very engaging!

  • Camille Napier Bernstein

    Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout.  Not a new one, but I just read it — spent every moment free reading and when not reading, wanting to read it.  Thirteen linked short stories with title character appearing in each.  Mature and sophisticated look at marriage, parenting, growing older, etc.

    • http://profiles.google.com/camillenapierbernstein camille napier bernstein

      Set in Maine.

  • Emilyfaith

    My favorite read so far this summer is a historical fiction, Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.  It’s about Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany girls.    The setting is NYC but the dragonfly  shade, winer of the bronze medal at the 1893 Chicago World’s fair, is at the MFA, not lit but still beautiful.

  • Mcevoy Ashley

    Did anyone catch the name of the short story about the lobsters and their apparent ability to feel pain? It was mentioned by one of the guests briefly in the program.

  • Clownface3

    I picked up Stephen Carter’s “New England White” last summer, expecting a thought provoking fiction story about race and class in Boston. I was pleasantly surprised by what ended up as a fast paced mystery in a fictionalized NE college town akin to New Haven.  Another New England-related mystery by Stephen Carter is “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” which has major action taking place on Martha’s Vineyard. Perfect beach reading!

  • Ronnie Z

    I’m reading “Winter Born” by local author Nicole Burrill.  I have to say it is an  enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

  • Ebernier6

    What was the story of the 3 sisters? Didn’t get the name or author.

    • Jalpert

      I believe it was “The Peabody Sisters” by Megan Marshall.  More here: http://www.slate.com/id/2118582/

  • Tommyo1971

    I am reading the recently published and long awaited Encyclopaedia Of Hell… by Boston native and long time comedy icon Martin Olson. One of the funniest books I have read in a long time filled with biting satire, also contains brilliant illustrations by Boston native and long time Gloucester native, Tony Millionaire.


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