Summer Reading Picks

Summer has arrived and reading lists are popping up everywhere. We discuss with our panel of bookworms what to look for in a summer read and their top picks for the season. Whether you are traveling, relaxing on the lakeshore or just want to get swept away in a winding tale, we dish out a wide array of novels that will engage and delight every reader. Join us as we talk with Loyola Business School professor Al Gini, Printer's Row Journal writer Laura Pearson, and Chicago author Brigid Pasulka.

Read their recommendations.

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 “Arts & Entertainments” by Christopher Beha

“Ecstatic Cahoots: 50 Short Stories” by Stuart Dybek

“Sleep Donation” by Karen Russell

“Once I Was Cool” by Megan Stielstra

“The Last Magazine” by Michael Hastings

“Why Soccer Matters” by Pelé (with Brian Winter)

“The Book of My Lives” by Aleksandar Hemon

“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas

“Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month is Enchanted” by Annie Hawes

“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion

“The Silent Wife” by A.S.A. Harrison

“The House at Bella Fontaine” by Lily Tuck

“Every Day Is For The Thief” by Teju Cole

“The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism” by Doris Kearns Goodwin



Read excerpts of "Arts & Entertainment," "The Last Magazine," and "The Book of My Lives."


By Christopher Beha

Chapter One

“You know who I saw on TV last night?” John Wilkins asked the small group of old friends surrounding him. “Dr. Drake.”

They’d been drinking in the St. Albert’s library for less than half an hour, but Eddie was surprised it had taken even that long for the name to come up.

“The show’s in syndication,” he said. “It’s on every day.”

Not Dr. Drake,” Wilkins clarified, as though the distinction should have been obvious.  Martha. She was on Entertainment Daily talking about her new boyfriend, Rex Gilbert.”

Wilkins still had his reddish blond hair and the pale, lightly freckled skin that made him look perpetually young. In the years since Eddie had seen him last, he seemed to have aged only by a slight thickening. He wasn’t fat so much as dense.

“She’s a big star now,” Eddie allowed.

“Are you kidding?” Wilkins said. “She’s all over the place. All the talk shows. Reverberator’s sexiest list. Must drive your wife nuts.”

He said this last part like a joke, though it was true and wasn’t funny.

Jesus, Wilky,” Justin Price said. “Cut the guy a break.”

Wilkins waved Justin off.

“You still keep up with her?”

“We haven’t really talked since she moved out west.”

“You know who I saw on TV the other day?” Justin broke in again. “Handsome Eddie Hartley.”

He was trying to help, Eddie knew, but in some ways this was worse. The edge of good-natured mockery his old nickname had always carried felt more pointed now. The last thing he wanted was for his acting career to be set beside Martha’s.

Read an extended excerpt. 

From Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha. Copyright 2014 Christopher Beha. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Last Magazine

By Michael Hastings 


My name is Michael M. Hastings, and I’m in my twenties. I’m sitting in a studio apartment on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Second floor, overlooking Orchard and Rivington. There’s snow dropping by the streetlights. It’s three a.m., and I just got off work.

My magazine has a policy, a little item in the fifty-seven-page Human Resources manual called the “outside activities clause.” It prevents employees from publishing journalism without the magazine’s permission. That could apply to writing books like this one. So I want to say right now: This is fiction, it’s all made up.

This book is a story about the media elite. Maybe you’re interested in that world. I have the cc’s and the bcc’s and the reply-alls. Three years’ worth, from 2002 to 2005, time- and place-specific, a very recognizable New York, at least for now.

I do have themes, too. Love, in a way, though it’s not my love, and I can’t say I understand it too well. Not murder, at least not in the whodunit sense. No ghosts or supernatural horrors or serial killers. Sex, yes, I have a bunch of sex scenes. There’s war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included.

Maybe I’m talking genres, and maybe the genre is corporate betrayal. Including the big decision that the entire media world is so interested in: Who and what is left standing?

It’ll take me about 300 pages, approximately 85,000 words, to get to that. By turning the page, you’re 1 percent closer to the truth.

Read an extended excerpt. 

Excerpted from The Last Magazine. Excerpted with permission by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

The Book of My Lives

By Aleksandar Hemon

The Lives of Grandmasters

I do not know how old I was when I learned to play chess. I could not have been older than eight, because I still have a chessboard on whose side my father inscribed, with a soldering iron, Sasa Hemon 1972. I loved the board more than chess - it was one of the first things I owned. Its materiality was enchanting to me: the smell of burnt wood that lingered long after my father had branded it; the rattle of the thickly varnished pieces inside, the smacking sound they made when I put them down, the board's hollow wooden echo. I can even recall the taste - the queen's tip was pleasantly suckable; the pawns' round heads, not unlike nipples, were sweet. The board is still at our place in Sarajevo, and, even if I haven't played a game on it in decades, it is still my most cherished possession, providing incontrovertible evidence that there once lived a boy who used to be me.

The branded board was the one Father and I always played on. It would be my job to set up the pieces, after he offered me the choice of one of his fists, enclosing a black or a white pawn. More often than not, I'd choose the hand with the black piece, whereupon Father would dismiss my attempt to negotiate. We'd play and I'd lose, each and every time. My mother objected to his never letting me win, as she believed that children needed to experience the joy of victory to succeed. Father, on the other hand, was ruthlessly firm in his conviction that everything in life had to be earned and that wanting victory always helped achieve it. As an engineer who had faith in unsentimental reasoning, he believed in the hard benefits of knowledge acquired by trying and failing - even if, as in my case, it was exclusively failing.

Read an extended excerpt.

Excerpted from THE BOOK OF MY LIVES by Aleksandar Hemon, published in March 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2013 by Aleksandar Hemon. All rights reserved. 

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