TIME Books

‘Booking’ Your Summer Travel

You may not be getting away this summer, but these books can take you places

In Flight

BOAC Stewardesses
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Jet Set: The People, the Planes, the Glamour, and the Romance in Aviation’s Glory Years

William Stadiem

Remember when commercial flight was sexy? No, you don’t. But Stadiem does, and he’s got the cocktails, “skycoons” and sexy stews to prove it.

The Arctic

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In the Kingdom of Ice

Hampton Sides

The true story of the U.S.S. Jeanette, which set out for the North Pole in 1879. The voyage descended into disaster, but the crew fought on with a heroic determination that recalls Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken (8/5).

Majorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain
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The Vacationers

Emma Straub

The Post family is in heaven—or at any rate Majorca—-but they’ve brought hell with them in the form of secrets and lies and insecurities of all kinds. Straub observes it all with wisdom, good humor and no mercy.

The Middle East

Middle East
Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi Getty Images

The Kills

Richard House

A colossal (1,024 pages) four-part novel of Pynchonesque ambition that starts with graft among military contractors in Iraq and follows the tendrils of corruption outward across the globe (8/5).

Provence, France

Provence, France
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A Wedding in Provence

Ellen Sussman

Specifically in Cassis, where Olivia and Brody will tie the knot amid the splendors of the Côte d’Azur and all the tensions and drama that weddings inspire (7/15).

U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands
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Land of Love and Drowning

Tiphanie Yanique

A sprawling, century-spanning story of love, family and magic that follows the changing fortunes of a ruined family and those of their troubled home, the U.S. Virgin Islands (7/10).

New Guinea

New Guinea
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Lily King

A love triangle with three scientists in the jungles of New Guinea, King’s novel is loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead and rendered in suitably lush, steamy prose.


Xinjiang province, China
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The Emperor Far Away

David Eimer

China is a vast place, with millions of people from dozens of ethnic minorities living far from Beijing, in regions where Westerners rarely go. Eimer visited the fringes and tells us what he saw there (7/15).


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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Haruki Murakami

At 36, a Japanese train engineer seeks out his four best friends from high school to discover why they all unceremoniously dropped him (8/12).


Rural Sweden Getty Images

The Farm

Tom Rob Smith

Daniel’s parents are peacefully retired in rural Sweden. Or are they? Suddenly Dad says Mom is psychotic and has her committed. Mom denies it and says Dad is lying. It’s up to Daniel to dig up the truth.

TIME Books

Read Me! Authors Tell You Why to Read Their Summer Books

Who better to recommend a summer read than the author in question? We asked 6 writers to blurb their own books for the beach

Jennifer Weiner

All Fall Down is William S. Burroughs’ Junkie meets Judy Blume’s Wifey … and the collision is a riveting joy ride in a car with no brakes. All Fall Down is Weiner, raw and in your face. You won’t be able to look away.”

Jordan Ellenberg

“School’s out for summer, and you probably thought you weren’t going to think about math until September—-or, if you’re over 21, for the rest of your life. But Jordan Ellenberg’s How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking will surprise you by how much fun one can have with math all year round.”

Lisa See

China Dolls presents a whole new way of looking at the American dream of stardom through the experiences of three women who don’t have the privilege of being treated as ‘real’ Americans. Singing! Dancing! Heartache! Triumph! The best book ever! A must-read!”

Tom Rachman

“That round-the-world ticket you’ve dreamed of? Find it in the pages of The Rise & Fall of Great Powers, a globe-trotting novel (see Asia, Europe and beyond!) that’s better than a pat-down from the TSA, with more legroom than the middle seat in coach. Switch all smartphones to flight mode—your summer adventure departs at page 1!”

Deborah Harkness

“Nothing screams ‘beach reading’ like a book about vampires. With witches, daemons, ancient vendettas, a macabre missing book and the longest-lived dysfunctional family in fiction, The Book of Life will make your own summer–travel and vacation nightmares seem trivial in comparison.” (7/15)

Mark Whitaker

Cosby isn’t just for sweater weather! Enjoy the last days of summer with the first major biography of this comedy giant, complete with behind-the-scenes stories of his wayward youth; his classic comedy albums; I Spy, Fat Albert and The Cosby Show; and the three women who shaped his life—his mother, his wife and his sixth-grade teacher!” (9/16)

TIME Books

A Little (Heavy) Light Reading

What’s in a name? How to beachify your serious summer reads.

Illustration by Ben Wiseman for TIME

Hard Choices
Hillary Clinton
At No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, Clinton’s account of her years as Secretary of State is indisputably popular, but its title is a little severe for the season. We suggest a more Elizabeth Gilbert approach to capture the tale of a woman at a crossroads in life who finds new purpose traveling the world.


Illustration by Ben Wiseman for TIME

My Struggle: Boyhood
Karl Knausgaard
Knausgaard, known as the Norwegian Proust, is the current darling of the literary set, but who wants to read about struggle during vacation? We borrow from another Scandinavian sensation to give his opus a title befitting a barbecue.



Illustration by Ben Wiseman for TIME

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Thomas Piketty
This French economist’s study of income inequality in capitalist nations became the unexpected hit of the spring. Catch up with it this summer, by all means, but first give it a Tom Clancy -makeover—-in the hope that Jack Ryan will show up to rescue us from the rising social discontent Piketty predicts.


Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution
Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz
The Roberts court is transforming the country we live in with its profound, sweeping rulings. A title like Barely Legalwould capture the complex dynamics and conceptual tensions in the court’s decisions, while also moving some extra units.

Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Rick Perlstein
Vietnam, Watergate, the oil embargo—-nobody wants to think about that stuff on a beach blanket. Surely retitling this book That ’70s Show would put people in mind of the bright spots of the Me Decade. There must have been some.

Last Stories and Other Stories
William T. Vollmann
Vollmann’s 700-page collection, the National Book Award winner’s first fiction in nine years, is an exploration of the super-natural. Why not just call it Goosebumps? It seems accurate enough and somehow much less daunting. —Lev Grossman

TIME Books

How a Book Becomes the Book of the Summer

Illustration by Ben Wiseman for TIME

And the most likely contenders this season

Most summers have a book of the summer, though not all do. We had Gone Girl in 2012, but I’m not convinced 2013 had a book of the summer. It’s hard to say why it happens and why it doesn’t. Some novels, when read in hot weather, just seem to melt and run together with their surroundings, to the point where afterward one can never quite think of that summer without thinking of that story, and vice versa.

We rarely see them coming, though after the fact it seems obvious. Of course the summer of 1991 would go for American Psycho, with its savage immolation of 1980s mores. Likewise it seems inevitable now that in 2002, the summer Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, we should have flocked en masse to the icy brilliance of The Lovely Bones. But at the time, no one knew. If books of the summer have something in common, it’s that they tend to break rules: people pick them up because they can’t quite believe somebody actually wrote that and got away with it. Lolita (1958) rendered skeezy pedophilia as high art. John Updike’s Couples (1968) did the same with suburban adultery. Love Story: the girl dies. The Lovely Bones: the girl dies in the first paragraph. The Name of the Rose: OMG, I can’t believe how much medieval scholarship is in this book.

It’s impossible to predict it in advance, though that’s what we’re about to try to do, because the book of the summer is a surprise by definition. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in July 2007 and sold through the roof, but it wasn’t the book of the summer because everybody saw it coming. What really makes a book of the summer is when we surprise ourselves. It’s not just about being fascinated by a book. It’s about being fascinated by the fact that we’re fascinated.

The odds:

The One Plus One
Jojo Moyes
Pros: Single mom plus nerdy millionaire equals unlikely romance. And there’s a road trip!
Cons: Very few killer sharks.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Pros: Blind daughter of a locksmith meets reluctant Nazi engineering whiz! What more do you want?
Cons: Complex, lyrical historical fiction may not have the necessary mass appeal.

The Fever
Megan Abbott
Pros: Small-town girls hit by mystery syndrome. Tense, erotically fraught, has Gillian Flynn blurb.
Cons: Much adolescent angst. Are the stakes high enough?

We Were Liars
E. Lockhart
Pros: Rich people on an island; sharp, funny-sad writing; a head-snapping fourth­quarter reveal.
Cons: It’s a YA novel, so some adults might pass.

Rainbow Rowell
Pros: Keen psychological insight, irrepressible humor and a supernatural twist: a woman can call her husband in the past.
Cons: Relative lack of violence, perverse sex.

One Kick
Chelsea Cain
Pros: Child kidnapping victim grows up to become ass-kicking vigilante looking for other missing children. Boom.
Cons: A thriller but maybe not a rule breaker.

The Quick
Lauren Owen
Pros: Set in lovely, lush Victorian London. Plus: vampires, vampires, vampires.
Cons: Owen’s pacing is slow and artful—maybe too slow for some.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
David Shafer
Pros: Genius techno-­thriller à la Neal ­Stephenson, powered by social-media info-conspiracy à la Dave Eggers.
Cons: Low-key romance may not play to all quadrants.


7 Fabulous Summer Recipes from Writers We Love

Illustration by Ben Wiseman for TIME

Eat, drink, and enjoy a good book

1. “Ground to Glass” Cocktail from Greg Seider

Owner of Summit Bar and author of Alchemy in a Glass

The Ground to Glass was born on a rooftop where my brother and I grew a cornucopia of vegetables (much to the chagrin of our landlord) and used them to tweak the classic Margarita. Our Bloody Mary-Margarita hybrid features red pepper and cucumber, highlighted by the earthy vegetable notes of tequila. For an added dimension of BBQ-influenced umami, I topped it with hickory-smoked salt, thus crowning our pilgrimage from ground to glass.

2 ounces Corralejo Blanco tequila

(notable substitutions: Olmeca Altos, Herradura, and Cabeza Blanco)

1 ounce fresh lime juice, and lime wedge

¾ ounce agave mix

1 cucumber slice

¾ ounce red pepper puree

2 dashes orange bitters

Hickory-smoked salt

Rub the top rim of the glass with the lime wedge, then roll in smoked salt. muddle the cucumber in a shaker tin. Add all the remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain and pour over fresh ice into a double old fashioned.


2. Grilled Cucumber with Pumpkin Seed Yogurt and Grapes

From Michael Gibney, Author of Sous Chef

Nothing says summer like cooking over an open flame. Whether it’s a campfire or a backyard barbeque, a smoky cookout is the perfect way to celebrate the season. Lacquered ribs and pork chops are always a hit, burgers and sausages too. But what about those accouterments? Cole slaw, mac-n-cheese—they always seem like a high-calorie after thought. Here’s a great way to liven up that all-too-familiar cucumber salad, which can act as a refreshing side for your steak, or a healthy snack on its own.

6 pc Persian cucumber

12 oz. Greek yogurt

2 T Pumpkin Seed oil

2 oz. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (chopped)

1 bu. Champagne grapes

1 T Canola oil

To taste:

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Ground cumin

Champagne vinegar

Preheat the grill on high. In a large mixing bowl, toss the whole cucumbers in canola oil, season lightly with salt, pepper, cumin, and a few drops of champagne vinegar, and place them on the grill, parallel to the bars. Let them sit until they begin to develop a light char. If the grill is hot enough, this should only take a minute or two. Rotate every thirty seconds or so, until all sides are equally colored. Meantime, mix the pumpkin seed oil and the yogurt in a bowl with a rubber spatula until they are thoroughly incorporated, season with salt and pepper, and adjust the acidity as necessary with champagne vinegar. Rinse the grapes under cold running water and separate into small clusters.

To plate, paint a large swoosh of yogurt across the bottom of a bowl or plate. Cut the cooked cucumber into one-inch coins and arrange around the yogurt. Place grape clusters here and there around the cucumber. Finish with a dusting of chopped pumpkin seeds.

Depending on what’s available at your local market a few adjustments can be made: champagne grapes can be swapped for red seedless grapes split in half, sesame seeds and sesame oil can take the place of the pumpkin ingredients, and apple cider vinegar can be substituted for champagne vinegar.


3. Avocado Crostini with Tomatoes, Capers, Olives, Almonds and Arugula

From Ben Ford, Author of Taming the Feast


16 ½-in.-thick diagonal slices from a baguette

olive oil for brushing the crostini and avocados

1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for the crostini and avocados

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 whole garlic clove, peeled, to rub on the crostini, plus 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and diced

¼ cup niçoise olives, pitted

¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained

3 tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil

3 medium Hass avocados, halved and pitted

¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1 cup wild arugula, loosely packed

Fire up a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush both sides of each bread slice with olive oil and season both sides with salt and some of the pepper. Put the bread slices on the grill or in the oven until they’re nicely toasted but not hard, 12 to 15 min. If you’re grilling the bread, you will need to turn the slices once during cooking; this isn’t necessary if you’re toasting them in the oven.

Rub one side of each toasted bread slice with the garlic clove. If you’re toasting the crostini ahead of time, store them in an -airtight container -until it’s time to -assemble them.

Gently stir together the tomato, olives, capers, avocado or olive oil and ½ tsp. of the salt in a bowl.

Brush the insides of the avocado halves with olive oil, and season with salt and some more of the pepper. Grill the avocados cut side down for 3 to 4 min., until they have nice grill marks and are warmed through. Scoop the avocado out of the skin into a bowl. Add the minced garlic, the remaining ½ tsp. salt and the remaining pepper, and mash well. Taste and add more salt or pepper if you want.

To assemble the crostini, top each piece of toast with a heaping tbsp. of avocado. Spoon about a tsp. of the tomato mixture over the avocado and top that with a sprinkling of the almonds and a few pieces of arugula. Makes 16 crostini.


4. Fresh Peach Breakfast Cobbler from Ruth Reichl

Author of Delicious!


4 large ripe peaches

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 – 1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 stick butter

1/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the peaches by putting them into boiling water for 10 seconds, then running them under cool water. The skins should slip right off. Slice the peaches into a glass or ceramic pie plate. Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit and toss with the sugar and cornstarch.

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Cut in the sugar using a pastry blender or two knives, until the butter is the size of peas. Gently stir in the buttermilk.

Cover the peaches, loosely, with the wet dough. If it doesn’t cover all the fruit, don’t worry; it will spread in the oven. Bake for half an hour, until the top is craggy and golden. Serve warm with a pitcher of cold cream.


5. Instant Strawberry Ice Cream

(Also from Ruth Reichl!)

This is a miracle of a recipe: it has only three ingredients, requires no fancy equipment and makes the most delicious ice cream you will ever eat. Serves four to six people—depending how greedy they are

A pint (about a pound) of fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market

¼ cup sugar plus more for sprinkling

1 cup heavy cream

Wash and stem your berries, and cut them into 1- to 2-in. chunks (leave them whole if they’re very small). Sprinkle the berries liberally with sugar and put them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. (You can do this ahead of time, then put the berries into plastic bags and have them on hand whenever you want them.)

Just before serving, mix the cream with the sugar. Put the frozen berries into the blender, and slowly add the cream, stopping to stir from time to time. Blend until it has come together into a cool, gorgeously pink ice cream.

Serve immediately; this is best when it is freshly made, although it will keep in the freezer for a few weeks.


6. V11 Juice

From Dan Barber, Chef of Blue Hill and Author of The Third Plate


A Blue Hill play on classic vegetable juice, served in shot glasses. Serves a party.


6 lb. tomatoes, mixed

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded

2 parsnips, peeled

2 carrots, peeled

2 stalks celery

4 shallots

1 jalapeño, seeded

1 fennel bulb, cleaned and chopped

¼ cup sherry vinegar

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. sugar

½ bunch tarragon, stems removed

1 bunch parsley, stems

1 bunch basil, stems removed


Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsnips, carrots, celery, shallots, jalapeño and fennel in a food processor.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and mix in the sherry vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for 12 hours.

Combine the marinated vegetables, basil, tarragon and parsley in a blender, and puree until very smooth. Strain the vegetable puree through a fine mesh sieve. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Chill and serve.


7. Gin & Tonic Sorbet From Natasha Case and Freya Estreller

Owners of the Coolhaus Truck and Authors of Coolhaus Ice Cream Book

Makes about: 1 quart

Active time: 15 to 20 minutes


1. The first step in making sorbet is simple syrup.

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and chill, about 30 minutes. (Syrup keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 months.)


2. Then, make the base:

Makes about: 2 1/2 cups; 2 cups simple syrup

Active time: 10 minutes


2 cups Simple Syrup

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Pinch kosher salt

Combine simple syrup, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl. Stir well. (Base keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 months.)


3. Make the ice cream:

1 ½ cups tonic water

¼ cup fresh lime juice (grate zest first)

1 ½ teaspoons juniper berry extract

½ cup gin (we like Hendrick’s)

Zest of 1 lime, grated on a microplane


Combine sorbet base, tonic water, lime juice, and juniper extract in a bowl.

Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add gin during last 2 minutes of churning. Add zest and churn for a few more seconds.

Scrape into an airtight storage container. Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

MONEY stocks

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Spinoff Reverses the Usual Plot

Amazon Nook
Dominick Reuter—Reuters

Barnes & Noble plans to split off its Nook tablet unit so investors will focus on its much-healthier book-selling business. Go figure.

In most media companies, it is the “old” part of the business — usually, things printed on dead trees — that’s a drag on the much faster-growing and promising tech-driven side. So the typical playbook calls for management to sell, jettison, or spin off its old media unit so investors can focus on the newer and shinier parts of the company.

That’s what happened at the old News Corp. (now Twenty-First Century Fox) , Time Warner (former parent of Time Inc., which owns Money) TIME WARNER INC. TWX 0.104% , and it’s happening again at Tribune.

Yet at the struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble BARNES & NOBLE BKS 0.8027% , it’s just the opposite.

The company — which on Wednesday reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss of 72 cents a share (Wall Street was bracing for around a 63 cents a share drop) — found a way to assuage worried investors by announcing that it plans to split off its troubled Nook e-reader division into a separate company.

The stock immediately shot up on news that Barnes & Noble investors would no longer be saddled with the Nook’s disappointing sales:

BKS Price Chart

BKS Price data by YCharts

Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby noted that management has taken several steps to strengthen the company. Among them: Improving the company’s core retail operations and growing its promising college book business. As such, he said, “we believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail. We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately.”

In other words, investors will better appreciate the decent growth in the company’s traditional print-driven businesses — retail revenues grew around 1% in the quarter, while college sales jumped more than 18% — if the Nook wasn’t tethered to the company.

In the quarter that ended April 30, Nook sales fell more than 22%. In fact, revenues for the company’s tablet business for the fiscal year have sunk to around $505 million, versus $933 million in fiscal year 2012.

When Barnes & Noble launched its first Nook e-readers around five years ago, the device was supposed to be an answer to rival Amazon.com’s Kindle devices. Yet as e-readers morphed into full-fledged tablets, which required investments not only in hardware but also in building out a software- and payment-based ecosystem, the book-selling chain started feeling the pinch.

The company recently began breaking out its Nook sales, possibly to find a suitor for the division. Yet the grim details only added to the misery that Barnes & Noble investors were feeling.

How much time does this buy both halves of Barnes & Noble?

The traditional retail business has found some success with an aggressive push into the college book space. Yet Dan Caplinger at the Motley Fool correctly notes that there is a concern that eventually, the digital revolution will hit that business too, so the company may be right back having to figure out a digital business model.

And as for the Nook, sales were depressed in part because the product line did not get a refresh in 2013. This year, Barnes & Noble has teamed up with Samsung, which is launching a 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 Nook later this summer.

The fact that Samsung will be shouldering the burden of hardware development does take a load off of Barnes & Noble — more specifically, the soon-to-be-independent Nook business.

However, with demand for Nooks so soft compared with other tablets, it’s unclear how a smaller, independent Nook company will be able to keep up with the Amazons and Apples of the world when it comes to software development, marketing, or that cool factor.


Where to Find Free and Cheap Ebooks


Summer is officially here. It’s a great time to sit back at the beach and enjoy a good read. But at prices as high as $15 a pop, a summer’s worth of ebooks can get real expensive real quick.

The good news: There are plenty of places to find great ebooks for free or at significant discounts. Here are some of our favorite places to go for summer reading on the cheap.

Your Local Library

The best place to start for free books is your local library, and the same holds true for ebooks. The vast majority of libraries now offer popular ebook titles to borrow, just like their hardcovered cousins. To find out what books are available near you, either visit your library in person or search online using the OverDrive website at overdrive.com.

Project Gutenberg

Free is hands down my favorite price for books, and few places offer more free books without subscription or commitment than Project Gutenberg. The non-profit is full of approximately 46,000 public domain titles from authors like Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Austin and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’ve ever wanted to check out a classic novel, Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org) is a great place to start.

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

If you’re already a member of the $99-per-year Amazon Prime premium service, then you already have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The service now contains over 500,000 ebooks, including the entire Harry Potter series and a number of other New York Times best sellers. They’re not all top-tier reads, but they are free for Kindle owners to download and try.

Kindle Daily Deals

Like most major bookstores, Amazon has a sale section, too. Before you pay full price for an ebook, check out Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals where you can find titles for teens and adults priced between 99 cents and $3.99. There’s a little bit of everything to discover, from historical biographies to mystery novels to light summer romance fare. And if you don’t like what’s currently available, check back tomorrow – the deals are updated every day.

Samsung Galaxy S5

If you picked up Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone, then you’ve also picked up access to a free rotating selection of ebooks via Kindle for Samsung. You get four “prominent” books to choose from every month on your Samsung Galaxy S5, up to a total of 12 per year. There’s no telling if you’ll want to read the limited selection, but hey – free is free.

Oyster and Scribd

If you’re the type of person who craves new reads rather than re-reading old favorites – or if you just blaze through a ton of books each month – then you’re a perfect candidate for Oyster and Scribd. Both are relatively new subscription services, something akin to a Netflix for books. The services have access to approximately half-a-million titles each, including ebooks from top publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. In short: Even the pickiest readers are guaranteed to find something worth their time.

New members get a free month of service on both Oyster and Scribd, allowing you to get through prime summer vacation season without spending a dime. After the free trial, Oyster costs $9.95 per month; Scribd is $8.99 but with approximately 100,000 fewer titles. You can check out Oyster by visiting oysterbooks.com and Scribd at scribd.com.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Books

Read to Your Baby, Say Doctors — But Which Books?

Baby Reading
Tetra Images / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging members to encourage reading to newborns

When her son was very small, Dr. Pamela High noticed something funny: she would come home and find the babysitter in the rocking chair with the boy, reading out loud from whatever book she happened to be working on herself at that moment. As her son got older and began to respond more to the words themselves, the babysitter switched to reading children’s books — but the image made an impression on his mother.

Now her son is grown up and High is the lead author of a new policy paper released by the American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends pediatricians advise parents to read aloud to young children “beginning in infancy,” to encourage word learning, literacy and positive family relationships. The report notes that reading to children is correlated with family income level — and, as the New York Times reports, Scholastic is donating 500,000 books to the literacy advocacy group Reach Out and Read, which works with pediatricians to get books to low-income families — but even in families that make 400% of the poverty threshold only 60% of children are read to daily.

But what exactly should they be reading? If your one-day-old baby doesn’t understand the words, does it even matter?

“I don’t think that there’s a huge amount of information on that,” High tells TIME, noting that her own experience with the sitter reading to her son is just an anecdote, not research. “The research is primarily about reading children’s books.”

Part of the issue is that it’s hard to measure understanding, to say that at some number of months of age it begins to be important that you’re not reading a kid something totally inappropriate like 50 Shades of Grey. Language is acquired gradually, and High says that she’s personally seen evidence of understanding even before the 1-year marker at which most children can point to pictures that correspond with spoken words. Plus, she says, “I think [babies] understand the emotion in the words that are being read to them very, very early.”

But there are some things that parents should keep in mind, she says. For example, it’s developmentally appropriate for children to chew on books, so you shouldn’t read to a baby from a valuable and rare manuscript. Colorful illustrations can help keep a child’s attention, but even so you shouldn’t expect a very young infant to concentrate on the book for longer than about 90 seconds. And finally, it’s important that the parent not think the book is annoying. “It starts with the parent’s enjoyment and then becomes a shared enjoyment,” High says.

With that in mind — chewability, enjoyability and calm or positive emotions — here are a few books parents might consider reading aloud to their newborns:

For actual newborns: Can’t & Won’t by Lydia Davis. This short story collection, which came out in April, is a book for grown-ups, by Man Booker International Prize- and MacArthur grant-winner Davis. But it’s great for tiny babies because the short stories are, in some cases, very short. If your kid doesn’t understand the words yet and you can only sneak in a minute of reading a day, and it’s perhaps a minute out of the precious few moments of “me time” you have, you can get up to date on a buzz-worthy literary release. Plus, if the baby’s too young to do too much damage to the book, investing in a hardcover isn’t such a risk.

For slightly older babies who will one day get English degrees: Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Because emotion is more important than content, a nice big collection of lovey-dovey poems that take about a minute to read is perfect. As High points out, reading is often used to help a baby wind down at the end of the day, and the regular rhythm of a rhyming sonnet can’t hurt. If the baby can’t understand Shakespearean words, that’s no big deal; if a word or two does sneak into her brain, there’s nothing inappropriate to worry about.

For kids old enough to touch the book: Farm by James Brown. This picture book made the 2014 Best Books for Babies list, an annual list put together by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Company (as in, Mr. Fred Rogers). The selection committee commended the author for his use of interesting textures to “add tactile appeal” to the book.

For kids who are already growing up too fast: The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey. The classic tale of a lollygagging dog was once ranked by Publishers Weekly as the top-selling children’s book ever, having sold nearly 15 million hardcover copies between 1942 and 2000. That means parents are likely to remember reading it themselves. Help your infant’s future literacy and reminisce about your own childhood, all in one place.

For kids old enough to laugh : Toot! by Leslie Patricelli. Yes, this book is about farts — but it was also, just today, named Amazon’s top book of the year so far for babies age 0–2.

TIME Books

Review: Top Model Alum Tackles iPhone Addiction and Social Media in New Book

Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I'll Never Do) by Kim Stolz
Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I'll Never Do) by Kim Stolz Scribner

Kim Stolz sheds light on what anyone with a Facebook page and a smartphone likely already knows

There are two things the world really doesn’t need more of: former reality stars with book deals and screeds about how technology and social media are undermining our humanity.

But both are bound to keep happening, and if you’re determined to read up on the topic, Kim Stolz — otherwise known as “the gay one” from the fifth season of America’s Next Top Model — isn’t a bad choice for a guide. The author of the new book Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do) must have serious social media self-promotion skills if we’re still talking about her almost a decade later, right? (Kidding — Stolz has had an impressive career beyond Top Model: she’s the vice president of equity derivatives sales at Citigroup, a former MTV News correspondent and a co-owner of the currently closed New York City lesbian bar-restaurant The Dalloway).

As a writer, Stolz is non-judgmental (she admits to Googling herself and once almost checked her phone during sex), self-aware (she knows she has no business comparing her iPhone detox to Thoreau’s Walden) and sometimes pretty funny (she gives the real-life people in her book code names from Beverly Hills, 90210). So it’s too bad the book is short on the groundbreaking insight promised by the effusive back-cover praise from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham. Yes, we know we can’t put down our phones at the dinner table. Yes, Facebook has made the definition of “friend” a little fuzzy. Yes, technology can make romantic communication a war zone, and, yeah, social media is just one big performance. Oh, and people sometimes embarrassingly text the wrong person? You don’t say!

Mixing personal anecdotes with social science research can be a compelling way to understanding human behavior, but it often feels forced in Unfriending My Ex. Stolz has experience writing for MTV and other outlets, so journalistic ambitions aren’t a stretch, yet when she drops studies and statistics into her stories, it comes across like a cursory attempt to justify bad behavior, rather than truly explain it. Stolz often quotes other writers and journalists, too, which isn’t so much a problem of originality as it is an issue of timeliness—the Times’ Jenna Wortham wrote about Facebook resisters and FOMO back in 2011, so when her work is referenced here, the book’s themes (to say nothing of its Candy Crush shout-out) feel dated.

In the very first chapter of Unfriending My Ex, Stolz talks about her self-imposed technology hiatus and the difficulty she had staying focused while reading a book. It’s a relatable struggle, sure, but it’s also a little ironic: there’s not a lot in this book that will keep you from wanting to check your phone, either.


The Dishonest Diplomat: How a Critical Profession Got a Bad Rap

I work in a profession devoted to compromise and incremental change — and we diplomats have acquired an unfortunate reputation for dishonesty

“An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.”

—Sir Henry Wotton, 1604

“Diplomacy, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.”

—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1906

There are few more odious figures in popular culture than the diplomat. Ben Kingsley’s ambassador to Yemen in the movie Rules of Engagement is first a coward, hiding under his desk from an angry mob, waiting to be rescued by U.S. Marines, and then later a snake, lying smoothly under oath to help convict the very Marine officer who saved him from the mob. In Costa-Gavras’ classic Missing, the American diplomats are alternately dissembling and disinterested. And it would be hard to top The Omen, in which an American diplomat, played by Gregory Peck, lies to his wife, played by Lee Remick, and tricks her into raising the Antichrist. That, needless to say, does not work out well.

Spies and soldiers can draw on the goodwill generated by thousands of popular books and movies that, on balance, present a broadly positive image. Tom Clancy’s CIA officers, for instance, are good-looking, hardworking, honorable patriots. The general public has every reason to feel that it understands what soldiers and spies do for a living and how they contribute to American security. Diplomats, on the other hand, are something else. Only a relatively small number of people have a good grasp of what it is that diplomats actually do. We are part of the national-security establishment. We collect information, formulate policy and seek to influence foreign governments in support of that policy. And as instruments of state power, we are considerably cheaper than spy satellites or cruise missiles.

To the extent the public thinks about it at all, however, there is something vaguely slippery about diplomacy as a profession. Part of the reason is that, at its core, diplomacy is fundamentally about compromise. It is the art of the possible. Victories are rarely clear-cut, and they are typically more of the incremental variety than of the transformational. Even more important, however, is the reputation diplomacy has acquired for dishonesty. Diplomats, it is widely assumed, are professional liars with expense accounts and nice suits. If not immoral, they are at best amoral.

The reality is that diplomacy — good diplomacy, at least — places a premium on honesty, defined here as credibility and trustworthiness. Do you mean what you say? Do you deliver on what you promise? If not, why would anyone give you the time of day?

I have devoted more than 20 years to the diplomatic service of the U.S., and I have never once been asked to lie for my country. I have said things — often with complete confidence and utter conviction — that later turned out to be wrong. And I have engaged in my fair share of lies of a social nature — “We’re friends, aren’t we?” “Of course we are” — but I have never, to the best of my recollection, deliberately lied to a contact.

I have said things I do not believe — lots of things. But that’s a very different issue. When I speak professionally on behalf of the U.S., whether in public or private, I represent U.S. policy and U.S. views to the best of my abilities. Like royalty, diplomats do a great deal of talking in the first-person plural (“We believe . . .”) or the third-person inanimate (“My government feels . . .”). My contacts — interlocutors, in diplomatese — don’t care what I think. Or at least they shouldn’t. They care a great deal, however, about what the U.S. thinks. So my job is to persuade others to see things our way but not necessarily my way.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought the board game Diplomacy for my 12-year-old son, drawing on my fond memories of late-night sessions in junior high school. The other day, I brought the game to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, where I am currently assigned. What could be more fun than playing Diplomacy with a bunch of diplomats?

We were terrible at it.

On one level, of course, Diplomacy the board game bears as much resemblance to diplomacy the profession as the board game Operation does to surgery. Diplomacy is the exercise of national power in its multidimensional complexity. The game version involves pushing little cardboard pieces across a map of long-defunct European empires. It also involves lying — lots of lying. You make promises to other players about how you are going to support them in achieving their ambitions, and then you don’t follow through. You deceive and cheat your way to Continental domination.

There was a demonstrable reluctance on the part of the diplomats playing Diplomacy to promise X and do Y, even in a game. In real diplomacy, if it ever becomes apparent that your word is no good, you are, for all intents and purposes, finished. A diplomat who can’t be trusted is little short of worthless.

This doesn’t mean that being a diplomat is being an open book. Far from it. We cherry-pick our facts, omit the inconvenient from our narratives and manipulate language without mercy to make our point. All of this is fair game. But just don’t lie. It’s not only unethical, it’s bad business.

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State.

Matthew Palmer is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as political counselor at the American embassy in Belgrade. While on the Secretary of State’s policy-planning staff, Palmer helped design and implement the Kimberley Process for certifying African diamonds as “conflict free.” His experience in Africa serves as the foundation for his debut novel, THE AMERICAN MISSION, out June 26.

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