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Beach Reads: Top Picks for Summer '14 at Head House Books

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Welcome to Beach Reads, a recurring feature that delivers page-turning picks for the dog days of summer.

Image credit: Head House Books

Staring blankly at a sailboat-dotted horizon can be a real mind cleanse, especially when the view is interrupted only by back issues of Star magazine. But even the most diehard tabloid addict needs something a little more substantial to chew on during all that decompressing.

We enlisted Richard De Wyngaert, the owner of Queen Village's Head House Books, to choose his three favorite beach reads for summer '14 —the page-turners guaranteed to keep idle minds busy between periods of sunning and swimming. Or as De Wyngaert so eloquently puts it, "beautifully written stories to contemplate one's existence after having engaged in some kick-bottom body-surfing."


Beach Read #1) White Man's Problems by Kevin Morris
​Kevin Morris is a terrific writer, one able to effectively plumb the jigsaw psyche of the achievers in our high octane society. In White Man's Problems, a wonderful collection of short stories, Morris, a highly successful entertainment lawyer, looks behind the curtain and seeks to understand the ever shifting and often elusive nature of happiness. Why, given our tools, our hitherto unerring compass, and many successes, are so many of us feeling unsatisfied and misled? Beautifully written stories to contemplate one's existence after having engaged in some kick-bottom body-surfing!


​Beach Read #2) All the Light We Cannot See ​by Anthony Doerr​
For me, perhaps one of my finalists for the best book of the year, certainly of the summer season. The story begins ​just after D-Day, and follows Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who, after having fled Paris with her father, is all alone in a coastal town in Brittany targeted for destruction by the Allied Forces. Nearby, trapped in the basement of a bombed-out building, is Werner, a young German orphaned boy. Using short chapters that move briskly and are often dazzling, Doer explores in exquisite detail Marie​'s​​​ and Werner's ​paths​ from childhood, to their current circumstance where, while facing dark unknowns and a shattered world, ​hold onto their dignity, their humanity, and their capacity to grow and to love. ​


Beach #3) The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
By the author of The Imperfectionists, Rachman has crafted a brilliant story that insightfully critiques the perils of our perhaps too-connected completely digitized world. He does this by following Tooly Zylerberg, an unconventional young woman traveling the globe to all the great cities desperately trying to make sense of her disturbing,convoluted, ​and largely ​unknown past. A keenly observed, suspenseful story with that keeps one thoroughly engaged until the book is devoured.
· Head House Books [Official Site]
· Beach Reads [Racked Philly]

Head House Books

619 South 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA