Summer Reads


Need some inspiration for your beach bag? We turned to inveterate reader, writer and reviewer, Jen Petty Hilger, for a short stack of books worth reading this summer.

Lost and Wanted

Nell Freudenberger

Some books are internalized without you realizing. I finished Lost and Wanted and felt its reverberations. Apropos, I am sure, given the metaphysical nature of the book. MIT professor, Helen is a scientific rationalist suddenly intrigued by the supernatural. When her Harvard roommate, Charlotte, “Charlie”, dies it seems that she is not quite gone. What should be the end of their communication may not be. Helen starts receiving calls, texts, and emails.

Quantum entanglement is a real phenomenon. “A pair of particles, even once separated, behave as if they knew what the other was thinking”. Helen and Charlie are still seemingly connected. By what?

Freudenberger does quite well explaining complicated theory and weaves it with a moving, wholly absorbing, story of love and friendship. Both Charlie’s family and Helen’s move back and forth together in gut-wrenching but inspiring ways.

Purchase here.


Tiny Hot Dogs

A Memoir in Small Bites

Mary Giuliani

Oh Mary! I want to be friends. You are hilarious, clever, deeply personal. She had me when she admitted The Jerk (Steve Martin, see it if you haven’t) is her favorite movie. Throw in references to The Love Boat, Charro, and I’m all in. Am now humming the Thermos Song continually.

After a highly dramatic childhood waiting for her Oscar…Mary realizes it may be time for a new dream. The Olympics were sadly also off the table. Serving mini tacos to Alec Baldwin is apparently attainable.

As a wildly successful caterer to the rich and famous, she finds her niche. From Montauk to Woodstock, wrenching infertility to motherhood, Mary writes a wonderful memoir. She lays it all on the table. I am now stalking her on Instagram and may have to reread this book soon.

Purchase here.


My Sister the Serial Killer

A novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite

As Korede and her sister sneak a body down the hall she says a prayer that no one will see. She is,” … fairly certain that those are exactly the types of prayers he doesn’t answer.”

Ayoola and Karede are Nigerian sisters. Ayoola is a selfish spoiled beauty who kills her boyfriends before they can attack and kill her. Is that true? Despite the rivalry between them, Karede, a head nurse, covers her tracks. She is meticulous in her disposal of the bodies. Their strange but deep bond of hatred, jealousy, fear, and love is impenetrable.

This is a treasure of a book, small, concise, beautifully written, each chapter is a vignette. A subject that should repel entices.

Purchase here.


Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault

Essays from the Grown Up Years

Cathy Guisewite

Why do we grow up as women thinking things are our fault? Why be so well behaved when you really want to tell someone, deserving of the honor, to STICK IT. Cathy’s essays make you both acknowledge AND laugh at some of these realities. Her long-running comic strip is now a book to which we can all relate.

Who hasn’t been trapped in a sports bra or cried trying on bathing suits? Why get all made up when you can walk out the door barefaced and proud?

Cathy yanks off the band-aid keeping people feeling bad about themselves. The majority of situations are NOT her fault, or mine. I am taking my stuffed animal “village” in to wash my face with soap.

Purchase here.


Save Me the Plums
My Gourmet Memoir

By Ruth Reichl

Ruth is a marvel of a renaissance woman. She is a cook, a writer of cookbooks, memoirs, and fiction. She was the food critic for The New York Times. She then left to resuscitate GOURMET magazine. For ten years she reinvigorated the waning publication. With her now familiar wit and forthrightness, she takes us into the world of Conde Nast for the rise and ultimate demise of her team. We meet the talented motivated people both on the masthead and behind the scenes at a pivotal time in the world of the printed page versus the internet. Her favorite recipes are, as always, terrific. A must-read, as indeed, are all her books.

Purchase here.