Summer Arts Preview: Books

Exploring the season’s best in books by bike, train, boat and car

By Bike

Actor, comedian and author John Hodgman travels to the Harvard Book Store on June 1 to discuss Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches. In his latest work, the funnyman steps away from his usual quips based around false facts—a la his humor on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—for a more honest approach as he faces the reality of his 40s. Through essay-like stories set in western Massachusetts and coastal Maine, Hodgman explores the surrealism of full-blown adulthood through the lens of his childhood landscapes and, despite the profound nature of these topics, manages to squeeze his signature wit into every page—along with anecdotes about mustaches, freshwater clams and eclectic Mainers.

By Boat

Porochista Khakpour. Photo credit: Sylvie Roskoff

(Left) Nafissa Thompson-Spires. Photo credit: Adrianne Mathiowetz

This year’s Martha’s Vineyard Author Series draws writers from near and far to present their latest works. The seven-part series, running through July and August, showcases literary legends such as Tayari Jones—speaking on her novel An American Marriage, about a woman grappling with her relationship during her husband’s incarceration—alongside new voices like Nafissa Thompson-Spires discussing her debut short story collection, Heads of the Colored People. The series also seeks to incorporate books dealing with social issues relevant to the Vineyard, such as Porochista Khakpour’s Sick, her memoir about battling Lyme disease, which is an increasing problem on the island.

By Car

The Mount. Photo credit: Sarah Kenyon

Where better to find literary nirvana than the home of Edith Wharton? The Mount brings back its Summer Lecture Series on July 2-Aug. 28, featuring award-winning biographers and historians showcasing their latest works. Notable speakers include Anne Boyd Rioux presenting Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, her book chronicling the influence of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women on several generations of literary ladies, such as J.K. Rowling and Margo Jefferson. The Mount also debuts its new Wednesday Shorts series, during which guests gather—wine in-hand—on the estate’s outdoor terrace to enjoy professional actors reading short stories penned by Wharton and her contemporaries, including Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Henry James.

By Train

Former Boston Ballet principal dancer Laura Young reads from her memoir, Boston Ballerina, at the New England Mobile Book Fair on June 16. The longest-affiliated dancer in its history, Young chronicles the company’s rise from its humble beginning in the early ’60s as the New England Civic Ballet to the renowned institution it is today—including some not-so-glamorous moments from its early days, like when the company was en route to an early-morning performance of Peter and the Wolf with a massive tree prop hanging out the back of a station wagon. Young also meets with guests and signs copies after the reading, allowing time for chats about ballet’s history and anecdotes from partnering with famed Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev.


Summer Arts Preview: Books Q&A


Read our Summer Arts Preview Q&A with Nantucket-based author Elin Hilderbrand on her latest novel, The Perfect Couple.





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