This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September.
Between baseball games, beach days and social engagements, you have about a hundred days worth of excuses not to pick up a book this summer. But do it you must, for towing around a dogeared copy of something good is as fundamental to the season as the beads of sweat on a cold beer can. Which incidentally pairs nicely with the following titles.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Considering A Brief History of Time is one of the least-read bestsellers ever (chalk it up to the incredibly complicated subject matter that is arguably beyond human comprehension, dunno), it makes sense that science writing is moving toward a more accessible format. This new foray into making sense of it all is down-to-earth in all the ways we non-scientists like it to be.
China Lake: A Journey Into the Contradicted Heart of a Global Climate Catastrophe by Barret Baumgart
Conspiracy, weather manipulation and ancient petroglyphs all play their roles in this part memoir, part conspiratorial analysis of climate change and modern civilization (the makings of a gonzo powerhouse) that just won the Iowa Prize in Literary Nonfiction. Readers of China Lake leave thrilled, if just a little ill at ease.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
This thriller is getting a feature-length treatment this November, so now is the time to remind yourself of this simple truth: Agatha Christie is still the queen of whodunits. This story involves a whole lot of rich people on a luxury train, when one morning they find themselves less one passenger … Of note: the film will be directed by Kenneth Branagh, who will also portray Detective Poirot; other stars include Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Podcasts — Various Authors
Full disclosure: I pretty much consider listening to podcasts reading at this point. There are so many to choose from that if you go in blind, it can be overwhelming, and the bar for quality is pretty low (they are pretty much free to produce and share, after all). My favorites come in the form of true crime: Casefile, Somebody Knows Something and In the Dark are all well executed, with hosts who don’t fight with the content for the spotlight. And of course if you like learning, there's 99% Invisible, The Allusionist and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, which all touch on design, history and language in ways that illuminate things that are “common knowledge” with uncommon backstories.
Theft by Finding by David Sedaris
America’s favorite neurotic memoirist has basically unleashed his life’s work to the public in these diaries, which were written from 1977-2002. It’s an unparalleled collection of observations, anecdotes and cultural snapshots from different snapshots in time, with Sedaris's sardonic yet somehow always hopeful wit the only constant. Expect more gossip than a country club.
It by Stephen King
If you read this back when it came out, your memory isn't wrong: it really is terrifying. In light of the impending big-screen reboot, which we are admittedly excited for, it's a good time to revisit the source material for at least of half of America's night terrors. It's hefty, but you can get it through it in a summer, even if you take your time on each page (source: I've done it).
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
A spiritual follow-up to the hugely successful The Lost City of Z — a non-fiction narrative about a Quixotic explorer who disappeared in the Amazon in the 1920s — Killers of the Flower Moon brings more of what David Grann does best: stranger-than-fiction mysteries told in a hard-boiled style that would make Chandler and Hammett proud. Here, the victims are the Osage, a Native American tribe that was victimized in the 1920s by westward charlatans who coveted the oil-rich land they inhabited. Murders, insurance fraud and subterfuge abound as a group of FBI neophytes head west to try to prove their mettle.