Wondering What To Read?

carousel - Jennifer Hudson, left, and musician Usher attend the public memorial for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/ courtesy Jackson Family, Kevin Mazur)
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With a plethora of options on the shelves, it can be tricky figuring out what book to pick this summer. So John Searles, senior book editor for Cosmopolitan magazine, has pared the possibilities down to create a great summer reading list. He visits The Early Show to talk about it.

NON-FICTION:

You Cannot Be Serious, by John McEnroe (Putnam)

"This book is getting tons of buzz because of the public feud between McEnroe and his ex-wife Tatum O' Neal. It will appeal to sports fans, because it's the story of John's life as tennis star and those who love celebrity gossip," says Searles.

"You Cannot Be Serious" is McEnroe at his most personal, a no-holds-barred examination of contemporary tennis, his championship seasons, his cantankerous on-court behavior, his marriage to Tatum O'Neal, his current roles as a devoted father, husband to pop star Patty Smyth, senior tennis tour player, and controversial television commentator, and much more.

John McEnroe was just an 18-year-old amateur when he stunned the tennis world by making it to the Wimbledon semifinals in 1977. He turned pro the following year after winning the NCAA singles title; three years later, he was ranked number one in the world. McEnroe dominated tennis in the eighties, winning three Wimbledon and four U.S. Open titles. His 1980 Wimbledon final match with Bjorn Borg is considered by many tennis experts to be the best match ever.

Fire Lover, by Joseph Wambaugh (William Morrow)

"There is so much in the news these days about fires and who started them, that this book has a 'ripped from the headlines' quality to it. It follows the real-life investigation of the person that some have called 'the most prolific arsonist of the 20th century.' Anyone who loves true crime stories will love this book," says Searles.

From master crime writer Joseph Wambaugh, the acclaimed author of such classics as "The Onion Field" and "The Choirboys," comes the extraordinary true story of a firefighter who may have been, according to U.S. government profilers, "the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century."

John Orr rose through the ranks of the Glendale Fire Department to become fire captain and one of southern California's best-known and respected arson investigators. But while Orr busted a string of petty arsonists, there was one serial criminal he could not track down. Homes, retail stores during business hours, fields of dry brush in stifling summer heat -- little was safe from the fire lover's obsession to see them burn.

But after years of terror and destruction, the Fire Lover finally left behind a precious clue that helped investigators discover his true identity, to the shock and disbelief of the firefighting community.

Why I'm Like This, by Cynthia Kaplan (William Morrow)

"This is a charming collection of essays in the spirit of David Sedaris. They are humorous, but sweet. The book opens with the author at summer camp and takes us through her dating mishaps, marriage, honeymoon and pregnancy. The essays read like a novel -- and when you've reached the end you'll feel like you've grown-up with her. It's definitely a book for women, because they'll be able to relate," says Searles.

Cynthia Kaplan says, "This is an especially good book for people who aren't sure everything will eventually work out okay and need to be reminded that, despite all their efforts to the contrary, sometimes it does."

FICTION:

Hard-Cover

Social Crimes, by Jane Stanton Hitchcock (Talk Miramax)

"This is one of my favorite beach books of the summer. It's a murder mystery set in wealthy Manhattan. Anyone who is curious about the world of the NY elite will enjoy this book. Basically, an older socialite is duped by a younger one who steals her husband, kills him and steals his fortune. What makes it interesting is how the older woman gets revenge and regains the fortune. It's a really fun, light, page-turner for the beach," says Searles.

When Jo Slater, one of the grandest of New York's grand dames and great patron of the arts, befriends a young French countess, trouble begins. Ignoring warnings from friends, Jo abruptly discovers the truth about her mysterious guest. But it is too late. Jo is knocked off her pedestal and the young woman takes her place in society. A compulsively readable novel that scales the heights and plumbs the depths of the New York social scene, Social Crimes also tells a riveting tale of mystery and manners, obsession and revenge.

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (Little Brown)

"This sounds a little weird, but I am telling you it's amazing. It's the story of a teenage girl who is murdered on her way home from school. She narrates the rest of the book looking down on her family from heaven. It is part coming of age story and part murder mystery," says Searles. "Everyone from "The New York Times" to "Publisher's Weekly" is giving this book a rave review."

When we first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. As she looks down from this strange new place, she tells us, in the fresh and spirited voice of a fourteen-year-old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope.

"Ms. Sebold's achievements: her ability to capture both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the banal and the horrific, in lyrical, unsentimental prose; her instinctive understanding of the mathematics of love between parents and children; her gift for making palpable the dreams, regrets and unstilled hopes of one girl and one family." -Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Arts section review.

"A small but far from minor miracle...a story that is both tragic and full of light and grace...full of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights." -Publisher's Weekly.

Paper-back

Empire Falls, by Richard Russo (Vintage)

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it's Janine, Miles' soon-to-be ex-wife, who's taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it's the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town-and seems to believe that "everything" includes Miles himself.

Cane River, by Lalita Tademy (Warner Books)

An epic novel of four generations of African-American women based on one family's actual meticulously researched past.

On a Creole plantation on the banks of the Louisiana's Cane River, four generations of astonishing women battle injustice to unite their family and forge success on their own terms. They are women whose lives begin in slavery, who weather the Civil War, and who grapple with the contradictions of emancipation through the turbulent early years of the twentieth century.

AUDIO BOOKS:

Nanny Diaries, by (Random House Audio)

Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to insure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn't work, cook, clean or raise her own child has a smooth day.

When the Xes' marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four year old, her own integrity, and, most important, her sense of humor. Written by two former nannies this alternately comic and poignant satire punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class.

Milk Glass Moon, by Adriana Trigiani (Random House Audio)

Milk Glass Moon, the third book in Adriana Trigiani's best selling Big Stone series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mulligan MacChesney as she faces the challenges and changes of motherhood with her trademark humor and honesty.

Transporting us from the Ave Maria's home in Blue Ridge Mountains to the Italian Alps, from New York City to the Tuscan countryside, Milk Glass Moon is the story of a shifting mother daughter relationship, of a daughter's first love and a mother's heartbreak, of an enduring marriage that contains its own ongoing challenges, and of a community faced with seismic change.

About John Searles:
Searles is Senior Books Editor at "Cosmopolitan." He has had featured articles in "Redbook," "Cosmopolitan," "Mademoiselle," "The Washington Post," and "The New York Times." He has a Master of Arts degree from New York University, where he was the only student to be awarded the Herbert Rubin Writing Award twice. Searles visited "The Early Show" last spring to discuss his first novel, "Boy Still Missing."