One of the great summer pleasures is lounging pool or ocean side with an ice-cold drink and a fabulous book. Looking for some new recommendations to dive into this summer? Before you head out, visit your local library or independent bookstore and pick up one of these 10 great selections, all written by local New Jersey-based writers. Enjoy your summer reading!
For Teens and Adults
Playing Catch With Strangers by Bob Brody
This memoir celebrates Brody’s boyhood in small-town, suburban New Jersey during the 1950s and 1960s. Brody reflects on his childhood adventures in Dunkerhook Park, recalls imitating The Temptations at a Fair Lawn High School talent show and recounts the time he was mugged and attacked in his 20s while living in Manhattan. These hilarious and often heartbreaking vignettes chronicle the author’s ongoing struggle to be a good son, husband and father.
Best Friend for Hire by Mary Carlomagno
You’ll laugh and cry along with Jersey Girl Jessie DeSalvo, as she’s fired from her posh publishing job in Manhattan and tries to figure out her next steps. While dealing with her supportive but inquisitive Italian-American family, she accidentally stumbles into a new career as a professional “best friend.” Her new job includes planning an over-the-top wedding and saving a bankrupt rock club. Things get (extra) complicated when she falls in love with the club manager—and promises an appearance by Bruce Springsteen.
Strong in the Broken Places by Quentin Vennie
Motivational speaker Vennie’s memoir details his difficult Baltimore upbringing—he struggled with chronic anxiety and battled with prescription drug addiction. Over time, Vennie beat his anxiety disorder and pill addiction and he credits this achievement to a combination of meditation, juicing and yoga. This “wellness trinity” of mindfulness practices changed his life for the better. He not only shares his journey through poverty, depression, anxiety and addiction, but also outlines the meditations, juice recipes and yoga poses that helped him heal.
Alive in the Sunshine by Nancy Colasurdo
Hoboken resident Nancy Colasurdo’s book is a call to simplify and awaken, to live more authentically, and to find meaning and beauty in our everyday lives. The author outlines her decade of self-reflection and change, beginning with the staggering effects of being in New York on 9/11 and her subsequent layoff as a television producer. Feeling overwhelmed and lost, she continually questions her life, family and actions. Eventually, she finds a new profession in life coaching, expands her horizons and attracts a man who helps her explore her capacity for love.
Blind to Sin by Dave White
Teacher Dave White of Nutley writes NJ-based thrillers centered around private detective Jackson Donne. His newest mystery novel depicts Donne, who has spent the last year in prison, kept safe by his mentor, Kenneth Herrick. Recently released, he finds himself caught in the clutches of an associate from Herrick’s past. Mix in a life-changing journey to Afghanistan, an ultimatum, millions of dollars and a dangerous heist, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a mystery.
The Mapmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Nouri Hughes
A historical novel set in the 16th century, The Mapmaker’s Daughter is the confession of Nurbanu, the powerful, illegitimate Venetian who became the most influential woman in the Ottoman Empire. Readers follow the story of Queen Mother Nurbanu, as she explores her bond with the greatest of all Ottoman sultans, Suleiman the Magnificent, and discovers how it has shaped her destiny. Not only the wife of his successor, Nurbanu was the appointed enforcer of one of the Empire’s most critical and shocking laws.
Around the World Right Now by Gina Cascone & Bryony Williams Sheppard
Journey on a magical and multicultural travelogue through each of the 24 time zones. Young readers travel the world and experience all the places, people and things that exist on our amazing planet. In Santa Fe, an artist sits behind his easel painting, while at the same time in Greenland, an Inuit boy is training his first pack of sled dogs. Meanwhile in Madagascar, a playful lemur tries to steal treats from a family’s picnic, just as a baby humpback whale is born deep in the Pacific Ocean.
Annabelle & Aiden series by J.R. Becker
West Orange resident Joseph (J.R.) Becker recently launched a children’s book series named after his two children. “The series is dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, thinkers, and all-around adventurers,” says Becker. His adventure books aim to foster curiosity, wonder, critical thinking skills and inspiration on the line where science and philosophy meet. Currently, The Story Of Life and Oh, The Things We Believed! are both available online.
Daddy Depot by Chana Stiefel
This recently-released book tells of a little girl named Lizzie who returns her football-loving, bad-joke-telling, snoozing dad to the “Daddy store.” There are all kinds of other dads available at the Daddy store. Will Lizzie find the perfect “new daddy” or decide to keep her own daddy? Join her on this sweet but kooky adventure that celebrates all types of fathers.
Lucinda’s Magical Yoga Adventure by Betty Larrea
Yoga Teacher Betty Larrea of Verona wrote this interactive picture book that weaves poetry, yoga, breathing and relaxation into a fun story about a little girl who uses her imagination to connect with herself and the natural world through yoga. Young readers explore popular yoga poses, as they pretend to be the animals and characters they meet in the story. “It’s also a fun, simple tool and resource for parents to teach yoga, mindfulness, focus and relaxation to their child,” says Larrea, who has taught yoga to kids of all ages for more than 15 years.
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Dmytro Panchenko / Adobe Stock
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- Amazon / Website / Bob Brody
- Mary Carlomagno / Amazon / Website
- Quentin Vennie, Jon Sternfeld / Amazon / Website
- Nancy Colasurdo / Amazon / Website
- Dave White / Amazon / Website
- Katherine Nouri Hughes / Amazon / Website
- Sleeping Bear Press / Website
- Joseph Raphael Baker / Amazon / Website
- Chana Stiefel / Amazon / Website
- Be Yoga Be Love / Website