We realize that when readers search for a seasonal travelogue, thriller, memoir or bit of light fiction to tote around, they look for two things: cool locations and dominant mammals. So of course we know your first summer pick—Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s Gorilla Beach, her second guidette frolic in as many years—but what happens once you’ve torn through that? Will any book offer the same perfect combo of beast and biosphere? Here’s a look at some of the summer’s other offerings and an evaluation of how well their subjects and settings stack up to Snooki’s.
The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (FSG, $27)
Central creature: A globe-trotting Irish nationalist
Primary environs: Jungles in the Southern Hemisphere, courtrooms in the Northern
Story: It’s a novelization of the true tale of Roger Casement, who spent his life working to improve the lives of native populations in Africa and South America and was hanged by the British government for his involvement in the Northern Irish struggle.
How juiced is it? Not at all. Okay, it’s got a grand, historical redemption and sure, the Nobel-winning Vargas Llosa can sling sentences, but Casement was not nearly hirsute enough to be considered apelike and had no memorable abbreviations to clarify his principles.
Jerusalem by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly, $25)
Central creatures: Muslims, Jews
Primary environs: The title city’s
holy places, playgrounds and checkpoints
Story: Delisle, who has made a career of graphic travelogues, moves to East Jerusalem with his wife—an organizer for Doctors Without Borders—and their two kids. For the next year, he catalogs the sights and sounds around him in a series of short comics.
How juiced is it? Not very. Despite its subtle examination of politics both personal and governmental, the story features no tanning, very few clubs and zero smushing.
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (Random House, $26; June 26)
Central creature: A chef, yes
Primary environs: Kitchens, kitchens, kitchens
Story: Having been orphaned in Ethiopia and grown up in Sweden, Samuelsson “chases flavors” behind the scenes in restaurants, including Aquavit (where he received a three-star rating from The New York Times) and his own Red Rooster in Harlem.
How juiced is it? Somewhat. Samuelsson has an easy way about his writing and does dish when it’s required, but he never says anything like, “You’re slut-shaming me? Seriously?”
Broken Harbor by Tana French (Viking, $28; July 24)
Central creature: A policeman
Primary environs: Dublin
Story: Detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, whom French introduced in Faithful Place, returns to the haunts of his youth to solve a triple homicide. His past inevitably catches up with him, and the case becomes more than he bargained for.
How juiced is it? Juiced. There’s plenty of action here, and to top
it off, it’s about a dick called “Scorcher.”
Empire Steak House – East
For the classic New York steakhouse experience, look no further than Empire Steak House. Start with an hors d'oeuvre like jumbo shrimp cocktail ($21.95), a Maryland crab cake ($18.95) and French onion soup ($8.95). Carnivores might have a hard time deciding on a main course, though—choices include a Kobe burger ($28.95), dry-aged emperor’s steak for two ($129.95) or a twelve-ounce Wagyu ribeye ($275). Chilean sea bass ($35.95) and spaghetti with lobster ($36.95) might tempt seafood lovers, too. There are plenty of steakhouse sides to go with your meat, like truffled mac and cheese ($15.95), creamed spinach ($10.95) and a jumbo baked potato ($6.95). If you somehow still have room for sweets, the dessert menu is also quite extensive, with treats like apple strudel a la mode ($13.95), chocolate lava cake ($10.95) and creme brulee ($9.95).
Venue says: “Host our private event in our upstairs mezzanine with a full bar or downstairs in our private wine room.”