Archive: Jul 2016

Summer Reading List 2016

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As summer approaches, here are some of our favorite reads – from thrillers to literary fiction, memoir, science and politics. And 10 novels we’re looking forward to.

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

The Caped Crusade

By Glen Weldon

How does one comic-book character remain so consistently intriguing to so many people over eight decades? A look at the history of Batman.

Simon & Schuster

Mysteries & Thrillers

Fixers

By Michael M. Thomas

Thomas, a former partner at Lehman Brothers, spins an audacious financial thriller based on real-life events — the 2008 financial crisis — that features cameos by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The novel juxtaposes the ideals of loyalty, service, patriotism and noblesse oblige against the venality of contemporary Wall Street.

Melville

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

The Gene: An Intimate History

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

A thorough and thought-provoking biography of the gene: its science, the scientists who study it and the controversies that have spun from our understanding of it.

Simon & Schuster

Memoir

Knitlandia

By Clara Parkes

Parkes, who fled a job in high tech and launched an online magazine, Knitter’s Review, here she shares her travels through the world of knitting, from Iceland to Paris and Portland.

Stewart, Tabori and Chang

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

Lab Girl

By Hope Jahren

The story of a girl who becomes a scientist, the book is also the story of a career and the endless struggles over funding, recognition and politics that get in the way. It is also really the story of two lab partners and their uncommon bond.

Knopf

Fiction

Modern Lovers

By Emma Straub

Like her 2014 novel “The Vacationers,” Straub’s witty book has a warm-weather vibe, even if it is set in the less idyllic, if beautifully gentrified, Brooklyn. Here a group of friends from college, now nearing 50, are forced to take a hard look at their relationships.

Riverhead

Fiction

My Name is Lucy Barton

By Elizabeth Strout

Lucy Barton wakes in the hospital to find her estranged mother at the foot of her bed. For the next five nights, she sits in a chair and tells Lucy stories about her past.

Random House

Fiction

The Nest

By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Just before the Plumb siblings are about to cash in the trust fund that will solve all their problems, they discover it’s been almost completely depleted. A comic novel about familiar greed and affection.

Ecco

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

One in a Billion

By Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher

A riveting account of a medical team’s frantic search for the genetic error threatening a little boy’s life. What they found proved that it was possible to use a person’s genes to diagnose and treat a previously unknown disease and helped usher in the use of genome sequencing for people with unusual disorders.

Simon & Schuster

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

The Romanovs

By Simon Sebag Montefiore

Drawing on a wide array of Russian sources, Sebag Montefiore paints an unforgettable portrait of characters fascinating and charismatic, odd and odious.

Knopf

Fiction

The Summer Before the War

By Helen Simonson

Anglophiles mourning the end of “Downton Abbey” will find solace in this novel that begins in pre-World War I England and deftly observes the effect of war on the staid Edwardian sensibilities of the coastal village of Rye.

Random House

History, Current Event & Pop Culture

The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones

By Rich Cohen

Rich Cohen approaches the Stones from two perspectives — as the kid discovering the group from glorious sounds emerging from his older brother’s room and a young magazine writer, backstage as he works his way into the good graces of the aging rockers.

Spiegel & Grau

Memoir

Switched On

By John Elder Robison

Robison, who has Asperger’s syndrome, chronicles his rich emotional life following a scientific experiment on his brain. Exhilarated but chastened, Robison delivers an account that is both poignant and scientifically important.

Spiegel & Grau

Fiction

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

By Helen Oyeyemi

A series of loosely connected, magically tinged tales about personal and social justice. Built around the idea of keys, locks and magic doors, the stories cover a wide territory — from mythology and fairy tales to smartphones and YouTube stars.

Riverhead

Memoir

When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

Written by a young neurosurgeon as he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, this memoir is inherently sad. Still, this moving and thoughtful tale of family, medicine and literature is well worth the emotional investment.

Random House

Mysteries & Thrillers

Wilde Lake

By Laura Lippman

A new case dredges up painful memories for Luisa (Lu) Brant, the new state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland. In what feels like Lippman’s most personal novel, the book is as much a legal drama as it is tale of childhood and family life.

Morrow

Fiction

The Year of the Runaways

By Sunjeev Sahota

“The Year of the Runaways” is essentially “The Grapes of Wrath” for the 21st century. By following a handful of young Indian men in England, Sahota has captured the plight of millions of desperate people struggling to find work, to eke out some semblance of a decent life in a world increasingly closed-fisted and mean.

Knopf

Summer Fun for Kids

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kids

Summer may be a time to relax, but tell that to kids who are bouncing off the walls or shrieking “I’m bored.” As parents, we want each summer to be more memorable than the next, and with that comes the need for a few new ideas. Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week. Here are 101 ideas for your summer bucket list — to keep kids from being bored and create memories they’ll have for a lifetime (or at least for that first day of school when they’re asked “what did you do this summer?”).

  1. Bake cookies for ice cream sandwiches.
  2. Volunteer at a nature center.
  3. Make a photo journal or a family yearbook.
  4. Have a luau in the backyard.
  5. Visit the beach and collect shells.
  6. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes.
  7. Visit a farmer’s market.
  8. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter.
  9. Pick berries.
  10. Have a picnic at a state park.
  11. Make ice cream.
  12. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  13. Build a sandcastle.
  14. Write and illustrate your own book and have it published into an actual hardcover book.
  15. Forget cooking — set up an ice cream sundae buffet for dinner.
  16. Clean up trash at a local park.
  17. Have a backyard campfire…or just use the grill! Roast hot dogs on sticks, pop popcorn and finish off with s’mores.
  18. Make homemade pizza.
  19. Go for a walk and then make a collage from nature objects you find along the way.
  20. Head to a creek and look at the ducks.
  21. Set up a lemonade stand.
  22. Have a water balloon fight.
  23. Practice your origami skills and make objects to hang from the ceiling.
  24. Go biking on a trail
  25. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  26. Plan a picnic at a local park — or in your backyard.
  27. Print out a list of children’s books that have won Caldecott Medals. Visit the local library throughout the summer and try to read as many as you can.
  28. Create salad spinner art: Place circles of paper inside a cheap salad spinner, dab tempera paints on top, cover and spin away.
  29. Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  30. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  31. Make a sidewalk chalk mural.
  32. Go ice blocking (sledding) in the grass with a towel-covered block of ice.
  33. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvases or cardboard.
  34. Visit a fish hatchery.
  35. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers.
  36. Pretend to be pirates for a day — dress up in costumes, plan a treasure hunt and talk like a pirate.
  37. Make an indoor sandbox using colored rice: mix 4 cups of rice with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring and let dry overnight.
  38. Turn the backyard into a carnival — set up a face painting area and games like ring toss.
  39. Make totem poles out of paper towel rolls and decorate them.
  40. Visit a museum you’ve never been to.
  41. Make a giant hopscotch or Twister game on the lawn (with spray paint) or driveway (with chalk).
  42. String beads into jewelry.
  43. Make a bird house out of Popsicle sticks.
  44. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible — see if there are any local astronomy groups for kids.
  45. Create leis with wildflowers.
  46. Go fossil hunting near a lake.
  47. Break out your baseball gloves and start a game, sandlot style.
  48. Make paper boats and race them in a kiddie pool using straws to propel them.
  49. Play mini-golf — or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  50. Make your own colored sand and create sand art.
  51. Get a map of the United States and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit — create the ultimate road trip.
  52. Set up a net and play badminton and volleyball.
  53. Visit an amusement park or water park.
  54. Wade through a stream and search for minnows or tadpoles.
  55. Go zip-lining.
  56. Have a tricycle race at the park.
  57. Investigate an ethnic grocery store and make lunch using interesting spices.
  58. Visit a fire station.
  59. Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals.
  62. Run through the sprinklers.
  63. Blend your own smoothie.
  64. Set up a bike wash and raise money for a local charity.
  65. Batter up at a batting cage.
  66. Let kids paint the sidewalk or patio with plain old water and sponge brushes. When their creation dries, they can begin again.
  67. Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones and then decorate them.
  68. Assemble a family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.
  69. Go horseback riding.
  70. Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  71. Catch fireflies in a jar (and let them go at the end of the night).
  72. Stage your own Summer Olympics with races, hurdles and relays.
  73. Create a backyard circus — kids can pretend to be animals and dress up as clowns.
  74. Decorate bikes and have a neighborhood Fourth of July parade.
  75. Take a sewing/crochet/knitting class.
  76. Make Mexican paper flowers using different colored tissue paper.
  77. Go to a flea market.
  78. Volunteer at an animal adoption organization.
  79. Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents.
  80. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  81. Pick a nearby town to visit for the day.
  82. Visit a cave.
  83. Get a map of your area, mark off all the local parks — then visit them, take pictures and vote for your favorite.
  84. Take in a fireworks exhibit.
  85. Make crafts with recyclable items like stickers using old photos, magazines and repositionable glue.
  86. Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with 1 cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and 1 tablespoon of glycerin.
  87. Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  88. Create three dimensional buildings using toothpicks and mini marshmallows.
  89. Make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.
  90. Paint with ice by freezing ice cube trays with washable tempera paint.
  91. Create unusual s’mores by experimenting with ingredients like cookies, bananas, flavored marshmallows and white chocolate.
  92. Have a fancy tea party.
  93. Make a giant slip-n-slide with a painter’s tarp and shaving cream.
  94. Go camping in the backyard or at a campsite.
  95. Let kids paint each other with washable tempera paint, then wash it off in the sprinklers.
  96. Visit a national park and help the kids earn a junior ranger badge.
  97. Go to a ballgame and teach your kids (and yourself!) how to keep a scorecard.
  98. Set up a tent in the backyard to use as a summer playhouse.
  99. Take a free kid’s workshop at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Pottery Barn.
  100. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary and bingo.
  101. Take a boring brown paper bag and have kids brainstorm creative things to do with it — you’ll be surprised at how many things you can come up with.