Bethesda-area authors say they’re always up for a good read—when
they’re not busy plotting or researching their own books. Here are some of
their recommendations to take along to the beach this summer:
John Feinstein: The journalist and commentator from Potomac often turns to fiction
when he has time to read, including the latest thrillers by Jack Higgins and the espionage novels of D.C. author Daniel Silva. Feinstein also enjoys nonfiction, though (he
should—that’s what he writes). He recently bought U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia
Sotomayor’s autobiography, My Beloved World (Knopf, 2013); Sum It Up: A Thousand
and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective (Crown
Archetype, 2013) by legendary women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt and
Washington Post sports writer Sally Jenkins; and Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin
Press, 2013) by Charlie LeDuff.
Laura Hillenbrand: The Bethesda native, who penned the best-sellers Unbroken (
Random House, 2010) and Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Random House, 2001), suffers
from chronic fatigue syndrome and says vertigo prohibits her from reading an entire
book. But it hasn’t stopped her from enjoying audio books. Her recommendations: The
Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs (Bantam, 2012) by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle, which she says
“transcends its genre, becoming a moving exploration of ethical conflict and the emotional price of living a lie”; Summer (Charles Scribner and Sons, 1917), a coming-of-age
story that Hillenbrand considers to be Edith Wharton’s “most brilliant creation”; and
Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour
(Random House, 2010) by Lynne Olson.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: The Gaithersburg resident and award-winning author of
children’s and young adult books says she usually reads half a dozen books simultaneously. Among her recent selections: Wind, Sand and Stars (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
1992) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life (Henry Holt
and Co., 2011) by Charles J. Shields; Washington Goes to War (Knopf, 1988) by David
Brinkley; and Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief (Knopf, 2013)
by Lawrence Wright. “I like having books of all types ready and waiting for
whatever mood I’m in,” she says.
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Sally MacKenzie: Looking for something a bit steamier while you’re baking at the
beach? The Rockville romance novelist, author of Surprising Lord Jack (Zebra, 2013),
recommends historical romances to pump up the heat this summer. Her picks: Kensington author Kristen Callihan’s Firelight and Moonglow (Forever, 2012), both part of a
paranormal Victorian series; and When She Was Wicked (Forever, 2013), author Anne
Barton’s debut novel about a blackmailing British seamstress set in the Regency period.
Martha Grimes: The award-winning Bethesda author, who spends her days plotting
murder and mayhem, often turns to her own genre for a good read. She’s fond of anything by Robert Wilson, including his latest, Capital Punishment (Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt, 2013). “He’s a great thriller writer,” she says.
Manil Suri: The Silver Spring author, whose latest novel is The City of Devi (W. W.
Norton & Co., 2013), raves about Harvest (Nan A. Talese, 2013) by Jim Crace, one of