Hot off the presses: 10 super summer reads recommended by local booksellers

Photo of book by Brenda Starr.

Summer is here! Time to kick back – or perhaps kick into literary gear, if you’re so inclined. Instead of reviewing one book this month, I’ve collected a list of suggestions from all the local book people: one that will pique your interest in something new or remind you of a title that you’d love to read again. Thanks to all the bookstores and libraries from Hudson to Newburgh for providing these ten hot picks and cool favorites! Happy reading!


Freedom’s Gardener: James F. Brown, Horticulture and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America by Bard history professor Myra B. Young Armstead. Based on the diary of a one-time slave turned free man during the early 19th century.


The Lola Quartet: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel is literary fiction with a strong detective-story element.


The People’s Pension by Eric Laursen is both groundbreaking history and an indispensable guide for anyone concerned about one of the biggest issues in the upcoming election. Provoking.


Swan by Mary Oliver: her newest of collection of nature-inspired devotional poetry. The perfect book to read beside a babbling brook.


Unsaid by Neil Abramson, a poignant and soul-awakening novel about life, death and the love that connects them. A must-read for all animal-lovers and animal-healers.


Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Yes, we all remember the story from childhood, but reread it as an adult and you will be struck by White’s wonderful descriptions of nature and how he manages to capture the essence of summer.


Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Another way to escape the heat is to read about its polar opposite – literally.


Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel takes readers in and out of Bechdel’s personal therapy sessions, phone calls, lovers, dreams and deep into the realm of psychoanalysis to examine and illuminate her relationship with her mother.


The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel by Amy Hempel, whose writing career is gathered humbly into this collection of fictional works.


Silk Parachute by John McPhee: another collection of penetrating essays by the master of the genre.




Almanac’s guide to Hudson Valley author events, signings & readings for the month of June


At Barnes & Noble in Kingston:


Saturday, June 23 at 3 p.m. – Sandra Gardner is a former contributing writer and columnist for The New York Times and the author of four non-fiction books. Her new book Mother, Murder and Me is a tale sure to delight mystery-lovers.


At Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie:


Saturday, June 2 at 1 p.m. – Meet author Tracy Dunstan as she signs and discusses Fishkill Revisited. Her book captures the people and places that have shaped this town.


Saturday, June 9 at 2 p.m. – Meet Daniel Cohen, who will be in house to sign his book Masters of the Veil, Book One of a three-part series.


Sunday, June 10 at 2 p.m. – Local authors of children’s and teen’s books will be in the store to discuss and sign their books. Meet Selene Castrovilla (The Girl Next Door), Da Chen (Sword, Forbidden Tales series), Julie Chibbaro (Deadly, Redemption), Nancy Furstinger (Kids Making a Difference for Animals), Karen Orloff (I Wanna Iguana), Colleen Paratore (From Willa, with Love) and Iza Trapani (The Bear Went over the Mountain).


At bluecashew kitchen pharmacy in Rhinebeck:


Saturday, June 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. – Come check out The Whole Hog Cookbook: Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon and All that Good Stuff by Libbie Summers, who grew up on a hog farm in Missouri and wrestled pigs as a kid at the State Fair. As culinary producer for Paula Deen, Summers has in her a Southerner’s affection for the pig.


At Half Moon Books in Kingston:


Saturday, June 2 at 5 p.m. – Author Elizabeth Cunningham will read from Red-Robed Priestess, the conclusion to her series The Maeve Chronicles, a retelling of Mary Magdalene’s story from a Celtic perspective.


At Inquiring Minds in New Paltz:


Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. – Anthony Robinson will read and sign copies of his novel The Floodplain.


Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. – Come to a Young Adult author panel and reading event with Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After) and Kim Purcell (Trafficked).


At Merritt Books in Millbrook:


Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies – David Owen will be at the Millbrook Literary Festival’s opening reception to talk about his latest book The Conundrum, a mind-changing manifesto about the environment, efficiency and the real path to sustainability.


Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Millbrook Free Library on Franklin Street – The Millbrook Literary Festival hosts a celebration of the written and spoken word with a lineup of authors that includes Susannah Appelbaum (Poisons of Caux trilogy), Harvey Araton (Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry and Baseball’s Greatest Gift), Artie Bennett (The Dinosaur Joke Book: A Compendium of Pre-Hysteric Puns, The Butt Book and Poopendous!), Eileen Charbonneau (Elements of the Novel), Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (more than 30 children’s books), Susane Colasanti (When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer and Keep Holding On), Jacky Davis and David Soman (the Ladybug Girl books), Jim DeFelice (The Helios Conspiracy), Alison Ashley Formento (This Tree Counts!), Mike Freeman (Drifting), K. L. Going (Fat Kid Rules the World, Dog in Charge), Carol Goodman (The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water), Annik LaFarge (On the High Line: Exploring America’s Most Original Urban Park), Ron McLarty (The Dropper), Frank Miniter (The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide, Recovering the Lost Art of Manhood, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting and Saving the Bill of Rights), Anthony Musso (Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley), Steven James Petruccio (illustrated more than 60 books), Michael Quadland (Offspring), Susanna Reich (Minette’s Feast: A Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat), David Rothenberg (Thousand Mile Song, Why Birds Sing, Survival of the Beautiful), Jamie M. Saul (The First Warm Evening of the Year), David L. Strayer (Freshwater Mussel Ecology: A Multifactor Approach to Distribution and Abundance, Hudson River Fishes and Their Environment and The Hudson Primer: The Ecology of an Iconic River), Timothy Tocher (Chief Sunrise, John McGraw and Me, Bill Pennant, Babe Ruth and Me and Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual and Bizarre Baseball Moments), Iza Trapani (illustrator, The Bear Went over the Mountain) and Jean Zimmerman (Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance).


At Mirabai in Woodstock:


Sunday, June 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. – Join a workshop with author Jeff Davis (The Journey from the Center to the Page) for no-nonsense tools to connect to your creative calling, sculpt time, sustain fire and focus and honor your creative relationships. Coaches, teachers, writers, artists, designers, enterprisers and other curious creative souls are welcome. Cost: $20 if registered and prepaid by June 8; $25 if registering after the 8th.


Saturday, June 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. – Author Gerald Epstein (Healing Visualizations) will conduct a workshop on “Meditations on the Tarot: The Magician.” Dr. Epstein is the author of the newly released Encyclopedia of Mental Imagery. Cost: $20 if registered and prepaid by June 14; $25 if registering after the 14th.


Friday, June 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. – Celebrate the Summer Solstice with herbs that protect the skin, counter skin cancer and keep us cool. This workshop with author Susun Weed (Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Healing Wise, New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way and Down There: Health the Wise Woman Way) will address the best herbs to use to prevent and deal with Lyme disease. Cost: $25 if registered and prepaid by June 20; $30 if registering after the 20th.


At Oblong Books in Millerton:


Saturday, June 30 at 6 p.m. – Judy Marshall reads from her new novel Crazy, the story of one woman’s journey through pain, betrayal and forgiveness.


At Oblong Books in Rhinebeck:


Friday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. – Poet Marcia Slatkin will read from her collection of poems Not Yet: A Care-Giving Collage, work that illuminates the four years that she spent as caregiver to her mother, an Alzheimer’s patient.


Saturday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m. – New York Times best-selling author Gene Stone will discuss his new book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick. This event is part of the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce Health & Wellness Fair, a free event at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.


Sunday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Woodstock illustrator Iza Trapani will sign copies of her newest picture book for kids, The Bear Went over the Mountain, at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market on East Market Street.


Friday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. – Rhinebeck author Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya will read from and discuss his acclaimed novel The Watch, which takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan.


Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. – Acclaimed novelists Emily St. John Mandel (The Lola Quartet) and Janyce Stefan-Cole (Hollywood Boulevard) read from their newest books.


Saturday, June 16 at 2 p.m. – Children’s author June Pierce will read Buford the Bully to kids aged 2 to 6 years.


Sunday, June 17 at 4 p.m. – Oblong hosts the Hudson Valley YA Society’s Fierce Reads Tour, including authors Anna Banks (Of Poseidon), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow & Bone), Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14) and Caragh O’Brien (Prized). RSVPs are required for this free event. RSVP at or to [email protected]


Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. – David Schuyler will discuss his book Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909, the story of America’s idealization of the Hudson Valley during the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Sunday, June 24 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Rhinebeck illustrator Elwood Smith signs copies of his newest picture book Zoo Ah-Choooo! for ages 2 to 6. This event will be held at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market.


Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. – Veteran CNN journalist Kitty Pilgrim discusses her newest thriller The Stolen Chalice, a riveting page-turner combining the glamour of the international art world and a devastating terrorist plot.





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