In honor of the glorious season of summer reading, some of the UIP staff have provided recommendations to fill your beach bags! From graphic novels to books on 70s glam rock, we’ve got you covered for all of your summer reading needs. In addition to UIP books such as Baking Powder Wars or Beyond Respectability, of course!
My Favorite Thing is Monsters was the talk of the town when I went to the Chicago Alt Comics Expo this June. I saw Emil Ferris speak on a panel, and she is every bit as psychedelic and noir-ish as her virtuosic debut. Set in late ‘60’s Uptown Chicago at a time of political and racial turmoil, My Favorite Thing is Monsters tells the story of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, who lives with her mother and older brother. A social outcast, Karen loves B-movie monsters and spends her time drawing, watching horror movies, and visiting the Art Institute of Chicago. When her upstairs neighbor, holocaust survivor Anka Silverberg, is murdered, Karen delves deep into Anka’s past as well as the interconnected relationships of those around her in order to find the killer. Both the art and the storytelling in this book are absolutely incredible. And she did it all in ballpoint pen!
When I first read Alexis M. Smith’s debut novel Glaciers, it knocked my socks off, so I was delighted when I heard this book was coming out and have been anxiously awaiting its paperback release ever since. This book has all the hallmarks of a great summer read and is perfect for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. Lucie Bowen fled Marrow Island in the aftermath of an earthquake that destroyed the local refinery, and consequently the island’s environment. Now, invited by her former best friend, Lucie’s back as an environmental journalist investigating Marrow Colony, a group founded by an ex-communicated nun, that’s claiming to have healed the island…. But how? And how far is Lucie willing to go for the truth? Written in haunting, lyrical prose, Marrow Island is a perfect book to cozy up with on a rainy summer afternoon.
One of the tragedies of modern education is that we turn teenagers loose on a beautiful novel they cannot emotionally comprehend. Teachers know it, too. That’s why they concentrate on The Great Gatsby’s symbolism and themes and all the other claptrap that year after year, turns F. Scott Fitzgerald’s perfectly wrought cheesecake into a plate of kale. But you’re an adult now. You’ve experienced love and longing, loss and betrayal, the whole universe of compromised hopes and shattered dreams. You’re ready to tackle Gatsby on your terms. And it’s the perfect beach read. There’s deplorable rich people. There’s infidelity. There’s a murder-suicide. There’s even cheating at golf. Plus it’s short and you can always find a used copy for a buck.
When I can’t find something to play in my record collection, it’s usually time to buy a book on one of rock’s subgenres which will point me to those once desired but now underplayed LPs filling my shelves. Enter Simon Reynolds’ Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century. Bowie! Alice Cooper! T. Rex! Reynolds—whose Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 set me down a different path ten years ago—guides the reader chronologically through the style and seduction of this early ‘70s glitter fest. The bridge between hairy rock of the late 1960s and punk rock nearly a decade later, glam mixed fashion, camp, and guitar riffs to lure youth to concerts and into record shops. And lure me it does still.
My current glam playlist:
David Bowie – Panic in Detroit
T. Rex – The Motivator
Alice Cooper – Halo of Flies
The Sweet – Fox on the Run
Slade – How Does it Feel?
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us
Mott the Hoople – Thunderbuck Ram
Jet – Start Here
Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Swampsnake
Cockney Rebel – Psychomodo
In the midst of my current – somewhat obsessive – British detective novel habit, I stumbled upon Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumed (2016) this spring. While the thrill of the mystery at the heart of the first novel quickly passed, my devotion to Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw lingered, and I was thrilled when the second novel in the series, Persons Unknown, was released this summer. DS Manon is messy. Her life is messy, her house is messy, and even the way she works through a mystery can be messy. But the character has beautiful depths as a result of these various complications, and you can’t help but empathize with her professional and personal predicaments because she is just so relatable. I highly recommend a dive into her stories – the procedurals will keep you guessing, but in the end the characters will keep you hooked.