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Find The Best Summer Reads at pages: a bookstore

Jun 12, 2019 10:37AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A bright display of great reads at pages: a bookstore

Looking for a great book this summer? pages: a bookstore is one of Manhattan Beach's best resources for a good read. To help get ready for a page-turning summer, DigMB sat down with pages' Kristin Rasmussen to talk about the staff's top recommendations. 

All-Around Great Reads

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: This book is a favorite of pages co-founder Linda McLoughlin Figel. It begins in the early 1970s with two rookie New York cops and their families who are next door neighbors in the New Jersey suburbs.  Spanning the next forty years, the book explores how the lives of these two families are connected, particularly Francis’ daughter Kate and Brian’s son Peter, born six months apart. One shocking night the families' loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. "I just really loved this book," said Figel. 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: This coming-of-age love story begins in New York in the 1940s when wealthy Vivian Morris is kicked out of Vassar for her unimpressive academic performance, and is sent to live with her eccentric aunt who owns a playhouse in New York City.  The book leads through Vivian’s first loves, tastes of life, and losses as recalled in her telling as an old women looking back. "Even if you're not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love [Gilbert's famous autobiographical novel] you'll be drawn in by this one," said Rasmussen.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: Written in the form of a letter from a son to his mother who cannot read, the book unveils a poignant and heartbreaking story that begins before the son is born and is rooted in Vietnam. With explorations of cultural divides, race, class, immigration, coming of age, mother-son relationships and the narrators’ own masculinity, it has been called a beautiful and important read. The book was chosen as the number one Indie Next List pick and received starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal.

Beach Reads

Cape May by Chip Cheek: In late September 1957, Henry and Effie, naive newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in nearly deserted Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. There they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama: Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn. People magazine calls it a "mesmerizing tale of sexual desire and discovery." (Author Chip Creek is local to the South Bay; he appeared at pages on June 12.)

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner: Mrs. Everything is a story of two sisters' lives from the 1950s to the present. It is described as a "smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration" of the two womens' lives as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Those who have read and enjoyed Weiner classics like In Her Shoes will find this new novel deeply engrossing. 


Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok: Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes. The story is a poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women in a Chinese immigrant family, and explores what happens when Sylvie's disappearance causes a series of family secrets to emerge. The Mystery Reader Club at pages has picked this book as their book of the month. 

Quirky Romance

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper: This novel tells the story of Andrew, a public health worker whose job is to search for the next of kin for those who die alone. But Andrew himself has a lonely personal life, which he has hidden with carefully constructed lies. When new employee Peggy breezes into his office, Andrew feels truly alive for the first time and is forced to confront the truth about how he lives his own life. Rasmussen notes that this book is perfect for fans of books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project.

True Crime

Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan: Norco '80 tells the story of a violent 1980 bank robbery in Norco, California that spiraled quickly out of control, ultimately devolving into a massive pursuit and ongoing gun battle through several towns and into the mountains. Fast-paced and right in the center of the action, the book reads like a thriller. "It's about a bank robbery gone horribly wrong... it is absolutely riveting," said Rasmussen.


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein: David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. This is a great read for anyone who wants to stretch their mind or expand their thinking over the summer. 

Design/Gift Books

Pacific Natural: Simple Seasonal Entertaining by Jenni Kayne: Organized by season, this  entertaining book is your guide to creating special moments with family and friends. Each chapter includes tabletop ideas, simple crafts, tips for keeping a stocked kitchen and pantry, what to plant in your garden, and healthy recipes. This gorgeous book would make a beautiful host/hostess gift for your next dinner party - or to keep for yourself.

Intrigued? Stop by pages to pick up your own copy. One final note - since so many of these authors visit pages, many of these books are available as signed copies.

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