Every year we put out a summer reading list of 42 book recommendations to keep you busy by the pool, at the beach, on vacation, or wherever you plan to be all summer. Lori Satterlee and Larry Carlson are well known as frequent callers and contributors to the Bennington Show on SiriusXM, friends of ours, and they’re also avid readers and impassioned booksellers. They met, and fell in love while working for Barnes and Noble, so we invited them to create this year’s annual Summer Reading List. They graciously and excitedly agreed. Their title selections are all available online at BN.com and at your local Barnes and Noble Bookstore. If you’re in the Westchester County area of NY you can pick the books up at their respective stores in White Plains and Yonkers and follow and support their stores on Twitter @BNCityCenter and @BNYonkers. Lori and Larry have spent their entire adult lives, and part of Larry’s childhood, working at several Barnes and Noble bookstores. They can be reached via Twitter @LSatterlee & @LarryMCarlson
Between the two of us Lori and I have almost 40 years of bookselling experience. One thing we’ve learned is that humor works universally across all genres of literature. Some of the funniest books I’ve ever read won’t be found in the humor section of your local bookstore. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut are all regularly mentioned when customers tell me about their favorite novels and they have little in common except that they are hilarious. When I’m suggesting a book to a customer the tag line “and it’s funny” will usually seal the deal. When I took on the task of putting together this summer reading list I thought about the audience we were trying to reach, fans of comedy are generally an intelligent audience who are often voracious readers so I decided that I wanted to include a various array of new releases that you may have otherwise missed. Here are a few titles for your consideration. They are of varying subjects and interests, some humorous, some thought provoking, to help you feed your mind and enjoy your summer with a good book or two. Feel free to reach out to Lori and I for further recommendations or with suggestions of your own.
–Larry in Yonkers
I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro (available June 14th) . I’m Just a Person promises to pick up and expand on Tig, the wonderful documentary about Tig Notaro’s life and her struggle to keep and create it. Order it now at bn.com.
Dave Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Dave Hill. Dave Hill is a man of many gifts, his ability to tell a story is one of his greatest. His unique sense of humor comes through as he examines his familial relationships and tries to figure out why he’s so different from the people he grew up around. Order it now at bn.com.
I Know What I’m Doing & Other Lies I Tell Myself by Jen Kirkman. Jen Kirkman’s first collection of essays, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, is one of my favorite books of the last few years, it was also a New York Times bestseller. You may know Jen from Chelsea Lately, she is also a regular on @midnight. Order it now at bn.com.
Digging Up Mother: A Love Story by Doug Stanhope. Doug Stanhope is a one of a kind comic. He starts this love story with the end and then takes you on a ride that will help you understand his voice and how it was shaped by the woman he calls Mother. Order it now at bn.com.
The Clasp by Sloane Crosley (available in paperback June 7th). In this, Crosley’s first novel, three college friends, now entering their thirties, thought they’d left their college selves behind when they become entangled in a search for a long-lost priceless necklace. It’s peppered with Crosely’s biting humor throughout, but multiple scenes with the character Victor, who’s hiding that he’s lost his dead-end job, are especially wince inducing and hilarious. A great summer read for fans of cringe worthy humor. Order it at bn.com now.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays by Sloan Crosley. Wry and hilarious, Sloan Crosley is helplessly honest in her telling of her many misadventures in her journey into adulthood. She’s been compared to David Sedaris for good reason. This collection is perfect to read while traveling, each essay seems to take exactly as long as you have to wait to board your plane. Buy it now at bn.com.
Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine by Michael Ian Black. Since his work on the MTV sketch comedy show The State, I have enjoyed everything Michael Ian Black has put out. This tale of Michael’s navigation into middle age is exactly what you’d expect, grim, self deprecating and yet somehow optimistic. He can be seen on The Jim Gaffigan show, season 2 starts June 19th. Buy it now on bn.com.
Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain’s Raucous & Redemptive Round the World Comedy Tour by Richard Zacks. We’re all familiar with Mark Twain as the author of some of America’s greatest works of literature but he is also considered one of our greatest humorists. He toured the world giving well-attended lectures about his many adventures while raising money to pay off debts and fund further travel. Twain’s travels rival those of Anthony Bourdain in a time when visiting India was a much greater commitment. Zacks gives us a wonderful picture of Twain and his world in 1895. Buy it now on bn.com.
The Filthy Truth by Andrew Dice Clay. Dice was one of the biggest and most controversial comedians in the world and then he was gone. Now he’s back, showing his acting chops in Blue Jasmine, HBO’s Vinyl and his own Showtime series Dice. Read about his meteoric rise and fall, why he stepped back from the spotlight and how he returned. A must read for any Dice fan. Buy it now on bn.com.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (available August 16th). Book release date announcements don’t usually garner the attention that Schumer’s upcoming tome has received. Amy’s writing credits include her movie Trainwreck and her TV show, Inside Amy Schumer. This promises to be revealing and hilarious. Buy it now on bn.com.
You’re Better than Me: A Memoir by Bonnie McFarlane. In Bonnie McFarlane’s revealing Unmasked interview she shared a few stories from her memoir but until you read it you won’t know which distinguishing characteristics she shares with serial killers (most of them) or just how wonderful a writer this beloved comic really is. Buy it now at bn.com.
Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love, and Brunch by Matteson Perry. Perry’s work has been featured in McSweeney’s and on the Moth Radio Hour. His stories of single life as a nice guy are endearing and unique while still seeming all too familiar. His story about his own Manic Pixie Dream Girl was featured in the NYT. Buy it now at bn.com.
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo. If you’re a fan of Sully, hero of Nobody’s Fool (played by Paul Newman in the movie) you’ve been waiting for an update on his misadventures. Everybody’s Fool finds him 10 years older and in even worse health but some good fortune has finally come his way. But the real fool in this volume is bungling police officer Douglas Raymer, now the police chief. Richard Russo lives in Camden, Maine and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Empire Falls. Buy it now at bn.com.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (available May 31st). Three college band mates must come to terms with their pasts when they are asked to sell their life rights to a big-budget Hollywood biopic of their deceased lead singer, and are bewildered by their futures as their children graduate high school and approach adulthood. This is going to be the hip beach read of the summer. Buy it now at bn.com.
Other People We Married by Emma Straub. Also by Emma Straub and also perfect for the beach or pool lounger, Other People We Married is a collection of interconnected short stories. Emma Straub was also a bookseller for quite a few years. Booksellers stick together but we’d be fans even if she hadn’t been one of us. Buy it now at bn.com.
Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss. This beautifully written novel tells the story of an artist and the art critic with synesthesia who discovers him. A wide cast of characters surround them, including a clique of artists squatting in an abandoned building, art dealers and an innocent ingénue just off the bus from Idaho. New York City is almost a character itself—gritty, grimy and full of possibilities. Buy it now at bn.com.
The Fireman by Joe Hill. To many readers Joe Hill is known as the son of Stephen King but he has stepped out on his own and developed a different and wonderful style that mixes science fiction with horror and evokes other great authors such as Crichton and Bradbury. Hill has put together a playlist to go along with this read, seek it out; it will do more to convince you to pick up this book than I ever could. Buy it now at bn.com.
Just Life by Neil Abramson. While books about rapidly spreading viruses are not uncommon this one has a unique take on the premise and asks the difficult question, “when they come for your dog, what will you do?” Samantha Lewis runs a sanctuary for unwanted dogs in NYC but when a virus spreads in the neighborhood and dogs are believed to be the source it’s up to her to determine the truth, that will mean dealing with a past she has been avoiding. Buy it now at bn.com.
Zero K by Don DeLillo. DeLillo is one of our greatest novelists and this beautifully written study of life and death will make you examine your own mortality. In a career full of great work Zero K stands out amongst his best. Buy it now at bn.com.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany (available July 31st). Ok, so you probably wouldn’t have missed this one but I’m too excited not to include it on the list. It’s been 9 years since we had a new volume in the Harry Potter series and if you’re like me you’ve been hoping for one the whole time. I grew up as a bookseller reading these books, I read the first one before it was ever published in the United States, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, I named my dog Albus. JK Rowling is a master storyteller and this promises to be the story we’ve been waiting for. Keep an eye out for midnight release parties. Buy it now at bn.com.
Paper Girls By Brian K. Vaughan. I’m not a big fan of Graphic Novels, I have nothing against them, I just find it hard to get into them. However, Paper Girls is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Volume 1 introduces us to a group of paper girls who are looking out for each other in the early morning hours after Halloween in 1988. As seemingly apocalyptic events unfold they navigate their suburban streets trying to figure out where everyone has gone. Reminiscent of Stand By Me and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, this book will be especially loved by fans of Alex Cox’s cult classic film Repo Man. Buy it now at bn.com.
Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld Illus, by Joe Sumner. The Graphic Novel as memoir always intrigues me. This offering from Evie Wyld, Discover award winner for All the Birds Singing, does not disappoint. It tells the tale of her childhood in Australia, her obsession with sharks and the forces that change life as we know it. There are plenty of shark mouths. Buy it now at bn.com.
Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk. Most people I meet fall into two categories, fans of Palahniuk and those who haven’t read any of his work yet. The author of Fight Club can seem intimidating to some so if you’ve been meaning to read his work this is the perfect way to start. Pick this book up now and you’re likely to have finished his entire catalogue by summer’s end. Either that or you’ll put it down and realize that his work just isn’t for you, I haven’t met anyone like that yet. Buy it now at bn.com.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (2016 winner of the Man Booker Prize). Dark and odd, The Vegetarian tells the story of Yeong-hye in three parts from the perspectives of three family members. This tale of madness and detachment in a strict society comes to a heart stopping conclusion. Not for the faint of heart, but quick and wonderful in its telling of the fragility of ordinary life. Buy it now at bn.com.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. This is the book people will be talking about all summer. Well written with real front of house experience, this novel will give you a better appreciation for the people who bring you your food and clean up when you’ve finished. I’m in the middle of this right now; I’ll be finished by day’s end. Buy it now at bn.com.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. A tale of a floating bookshop on Paris’ Seine river, the proprietor seems to be able to prescribe the perfect book as the antidote to whatever ails you, every bookseller’s dream. Another great traditional beach read. Buy it now at bn.com.
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction by Neil Gaiman (available May 31st). This is the first collection of non-fiction from the author of beloved modern classics such as American Gods, the Sandman graphic novels, and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett). Buy it now at bn.com.
Your Song Changed My Life by Bob Boilen. I love a book that starts a conversation. Here, Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s All Songs Considered, asks some of today’s greatest musicians “Is there an unforgettable song that changed your life?” In this collection of personal experiences you’ll learn about the music that inspired such artists as David Byrne, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Brownstein and many more. Buy it now at bn.com.
Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride. Getting to know James Brown was an almost impossible task when he was alive. James McBride, author of one of my favorite memoirs of all time The Color of Water, takes on that task and while we may not truly get to know the Godfather of Soul, McBride takes us on a journey that will change the way we see Brown and the world he helped create. Buy it now at bn.com.
Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements by Bob Mehr. I’ve heard it said over and over again, The Replacements should have been bigger. Bob Mehr takes you on a journey that took him a decade to make. One of the 80s most influential bands was torn apart in large part by their own self-destructive nature. For the first time key members of the band help tell their story in this quintessential rock biography. Buy it now at bn.com.
NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub & Other Stories by NOFX & Jeff Alulis. Honest and sincere tales of life as members of one of the longest running and most influential Punk bands. Amanda Palmer said it best “Not for the faint of heart, and therefore highly recommended to everybody.” Buy it now on bn.com.
32 Yolks by Eric Ripert. Ripert is one of today’s greatest chefs and also one of Anthony Bourdain’s closest friends. I haven’t read this yet and even if I had I couldn’t say it better than Bourdain himself: “Heartbreaking. Horrifying. Poignant. And inspiring. I’ve known Eric for years, and I had no idea that this was how it all started. If you want to get a clear picture of where one gets the drive and dedication to be a truly great chef, there is no better or more harrowing account.” Buy it now on bn.com.
The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers by Loren Bouchard. As we enter grilling season why not spend your summer recreating some of Bob’s classic specials. Bob’s Burgers is one of the funniest shows on TV today and fans will not be disappointed with this cookbook. We’ve made a few veggie burgers with these recipes and they’ve come out spectacularly. Buy it now on bn.com.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography). Finnegan, a long time staff writer for The New Yorker, delivers a picturesque tale of a real life adventure that every young man dreams of and every old man wishes he’d taken. Perfect for anyone who longs for their youth and enjoys surf rock rejoiners. Buy it now on bn.com.
Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild by James Campbell. Father and Daughter set out on an adventure that such a pair may never have embarked upon before. Sounds like a father and daughter team I know. Buy it now on bn.com.
The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. Birdbrained is actually a misnomer. The brain to body size ratio of birds is actually quite impressive. Some species even possess a level of intelligence that rivals that of dolphins. You’ll find out about crows that have learned to make tools and that some pigeons are very discerning art critics. Buy it now on bn.com.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. This effortless mix of memoir and science is a remarkable accomplishment. If you question a woman’s ability to be a scientist this book may not be for you, all the more reason that you should read it. Buy it now on BN.com.
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. For those of us who still hold onto the cliff notes version of the American Revolution that we were taught in school, Philbrick gives us a more accurate and compelling story of an eight year struggle for independence and the seemingly small events that victory hinged upon. Buy it now on bn.com.
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. When Sarah Vowell noticed how many places in the United States are named after the Marquis de Lafayette, she wanted to know more about how this young French aristocrat became so pivotal in the American Revolution. She tells the story of the Revolutionary War in a way that will make anybody who thought they didn’t like history want to take a road trip to visit Brandywine and Valley Forge. This makes a great pairing with Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition. Buy it now on bn.com.
Five Presidents by Clint Hill. For much of the 20th century Clint Hill was there. When you live your life waiting to take a bullet for the President, you come out the back end with some stories to tell. Buy it now on bn.com.
Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple. Molly Crabapple is as much activist as she is artist. Living in a loft near Zuccotti Park in 2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement changed her art. She began to use her art to bring attention to the causes she so strongly believed in. Molly is also a reporter who has brought attention to the plight of sex workers and refuges throughout the world. Buy it now on bn.com.
Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutlin. This tale of rescue will fill you with emotion and make you want to stop reading and do something. Do it, give a home to a homeless animal. Buy it now on bn.com.
For more book recommendations, read our past years’ editions of 42 Great Summer Reads (created in 2012), Even More Great Books For Your Summer Reading List, (created in 2013), and Liberty Hardy’s Perfect Comedy Summer Reading List (2014). Last year we created a mega list combing them all.
Lori and Larry have spent their entire adult lives, and part of Larry’s childhood, working at several Barnes and Noble bookstores where they eventually met and fell in love. They can be reached via Twitter @LSatterlee & @LarryMCarlson
These titles are available online at BN.com and at your local Barnes and Noble Bookstore. If you’re in the Westchester County area of NY you can pick the books up at their respective stores in White Plains and Yonkers and follow their stores on Twitter @BNCityCenter and @BNYonkers.