Ask an author: Five books you should read before summer is over

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Reading list: While the heat of summer may be finally cooling off, there are still plenty of lazy, hazy days to fill with a good book. We asked a few local authors what was the best book they read this summer, so you could possibly squeeze it onto your bedside table before the leaves begin the change. But if you don't fit it on your summer reading list, don't worry, a good book is good any time of the year. (Turn to page E5 for a preview of the fall book lineup.)

1. Elizabeth Kolbert: For Kolbert — a Williams College professor, journalist and author of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner "The Sixth Extinction" — "Being A Beast," by Charles Foster was an enjoyable read. "It's a crazy romp through the animal kingdom, but it makes a serious point about our relationship to other creatures," she said. For the book, Foster lives alongside badgers and acts like an urban fox in London in the hopes of understanding what these animals feel.

2. Jim Shepard: The prolific writer, who also teaches at Williams College, said his favorite read this summer was Patrick Modiano's "Suspended Sentences." "Three linked autobiographical novellas about occupied France that intriguingly vex the issue of — and blur the distinction between — what the protagonists and perhaps even the author cannot know or will not face when it comes to his family's complicity with the Nazi occupation," he said.

3. Jennifer Trainer Thompson: For the cookbook author, who recently wrote "Fresh Fish," it wasn't a book, but rather an essay. "The best thing I've read all summer is a blog post called 'All the Wrong Things To Say at College Drop Off' (from Flown and Grown). My eldest child is about to go off to college, and I'm inching toward the date like it's the Last Supper — alternately excited for him ... and secretly dreading it, feeling like I'm about to walk over a cliff," she said.

4. Courtney Maum: When we asked Maum, whose debut novel "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You," was a top summer read last year, she said: "To me, a great read both entertains and inspires. Two story collections I've read this summer, 'Some Possible Solutions' by Helen Phillips and 'You Are Having a Good Time' by Amie Barrodale do just that, in spades. Weird, unexpected, and unexpectedly touching, these stories offer a refreshing twist on the summer beach read."

5. Alex Kershaw: Author and historian Kershaw, who is known for his New York Times best-selling WWII books, picks a book you might not be able to enjoy until the fall. "The best of the summer has been an advanced reading copy of 'The Tunnels' by Greg Mitchell — to be published this fall by Crown. It's a great Cold War spy story that's never been told, set in Berlin, featuring amazing characters trying to escape to the West. And it's a true story," he said.


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