Summer Reading Guide: Sound smart at cocktail parties

Read "Taipei," then bring it up at a dinner party.
Read “Taipei,” then bring it up at a dinner party.

Whether you’re spending your August lazing at the beach or, like the rest of us, trying to find the best space on the couch to fully feel the air conditioner, a book is the perfect accompaniment. We’ve taken the liberty of choosing a few books for the dog days of August – pick one of these to keep you company this month.

For a book to bring up at cocktail parties:

Receiving a lot of buzz this summer is David Gilbert’s “& Sons,” a tale of – you guessed it – a man and his sons. This family saga is set in the Upper East Side, where A.N. Dyer, eulogizing his best friend, becomes concerned with his own legacy. The book follows his three sons in New York, all confronting their own issues during a weeklong reunion. The book was inspired when Gilbert heard his father give a speech, and afterward an old friend told him his confident, reserved dad had been incredibly shy as a teenager.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for the 2012 presidential election, Dan Balz, who previously brought readers “The Battle for America 2008,” will fill that void. The Washington Post chief correspondent’s new book, “Collision 2012,” which is out Aug. 6, tracks Barack Obama’s presidency, including the 2010 midterm elections and his battle with challenger Mitt Romney. The book can also be a primer on what’s next for U.S. politics, judging by its lofty subtitle – “Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America” – including what changing factors like Twitter and Super PACs might mean.

Much-discussed author Tao Lin returns with “Taipei,” which opens with Paul, a Brooklyn writer navigating the city’s literary scenes and soon off on his own book tour, which leads him to the Taiwanese capital. Dipping into themes of purposeless adulthood, drug use and Internet-documented lives, the book is a slice of generational living. Lin called the book his “magnum opus,” and he has acknowledged much was sourced from his own life experiences.

Najla Said, the author of “Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family,” may have the kind of name that college students will immediately recognize — her father, Edward Said, is a regular on syllabi across the country. Her memoir of growing up amid literary luminaries and cultural influences the world over is told in the voice of a self-confessed confused child looking for meaning. Said learns to accept her Arab heritage along with the whirlwind of cultures that passed through her life, but not without struggling, joking and indulging in the ultimate celebration of culture: storytelling. Julia Furlan

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison


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