Good Books: Top Hamptons Beach Reads of 2016

Hamptons books of 2016
Book publishers listed in article

Looking for something good to read? The past year brought forth a solid number of books by Hamptons authors and books featuring the Hamptons. We saw everything from self-published tomes to literary collections to memoir and novels from major publishing houses. One Hamptons author even won the National Book Award! Here we share some of our favorite and most notable selections published in 2016.

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TSR: The Southampton Review’ 10th Anniversary Edition
This literary and art journal published bi-annually by the Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Creative Writing and Literature Program, returned with its 10th Anniversary Edition toward the end of 2016. As usual the journal features an eclectic and exciting mix of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, alongside visually stunning art and cartoon portfolios. The journal is fully devoted to discovering new voices and visions while savoring long-standing favorites, and opens its pages to both emerging and established writers and artists. In the latest issue, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Timothy Liu, two well-established poets with more than 20 published books between them, are joined by lesser known poems and short fiction by MFA students. The issue also includes cartoons by The New Yorker contributor Michael Maslin and others.

Kill and Be Killed by Louis Begley
Sagaponack’s Louis Begley continues the story of former Marine Corps Force Recon officer, combat veteran and novelist Jack Dana, who avenges the murder of his uncle in Begley’s first thriller, Killer Come Hither, which was published exactly one year before this book, published by Nan A. Talese Doubleday in April 2016. In this sequel, Dana has killed his uncle’s assassin and retreated to the serenity of a small Venetian island, Torcello. There he begins writing again and works on a plan to win back his ex-girlfriend, Kerry, who left Dana following his violent turn in the first book. But his break from vengeance doesn’t last long. Kerry is found dead of a very uncharacteristic overdose, sending Dana back to New York City, where a new adventure begins against Abner Brown, the Texas billionaire, right-winger and criminal mastermind responsible for orchestrating Kerry’s death and the murder of his uncle Harry.

A Hero of France: A Novel by Alan Furst
Published by Random House in May of 2016, this historical thriller by Hamptons resident Alan Furst was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post. Set in 1941 Paris and the French countryside, it’s about the small groups of ordinary men and women fighting to defeat the occupying forces of Adolf Hitler. This suspenseful tale follows Mathieu, a French Resistance leader who helps downed British airmen escape back to England. Furst brings Paris and occupied France to life, along with the citizens, resistance fighters, collaborators, informers, blackmailers and spies who inhabit it. Aiding Mathieu are Lisette, a 17-year-old student and courier; arms dealer turned nightclub owner Max de Lyon; Chantal, a woman of class and confidence; Daniel, a Jewish teacher fueled by revenge; Joëlle, who falls in love with Mathieu; and Annemarie, a willful aristocrat with deep roots in France, and a desire to act. As the German military police tighten their grip on the region, Mathieu and his team face a new threat, dispatched by the Reich to destroy them all.

Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney
Hamptons resident Jay McInerney’s first novel in almost a decade, Bright, Precious Days (Knopf, August 2016) tells the story of Corrine and Russell Calloway, a successful New York City couple who summer in the Hamptons and seem to have it all—a Tribeca loft, twin children and fulfilling jobs. But things are about to take a dark turn. Russell is an independent book publisher and Corrine helps feed the city’s poorest residents, and while they truly love their work, they soon find themselves unable to afford the life they’ve created. The situation gets worse when a man Corrine had an affair with after 9-11 re-emerges in their lives.

Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s by B. Smith and Dan Gasby
The book, published by Harmony in January 2016, tells the story of Smith and Gasby’s struggle with Smith’s Alzheimer’s disease through the lens of the couple’s loving relationship, which has endured through good times and hard times, especially since her diagnosis in 2013. Smith, who was a model, restaurateur, celebrity chef, syndicated television host, magazine publisher and lifestyle guru, has had to let much of her empire go in the years since 2013 but she remains a prominent figure—now as a voice for the 5 million people who suffer with Alzheimer’s and the many newly diagnosed. Her partner for life, Gasby, shares his experiences caring for Smith, showing the struggle from both patient and caregiver.

Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.
If you give a child a tablet with a game, you’ve perhaps bought yourself some minutes (hours?) of uninterrupted calm, but what else have you done? In Glow Kids (St. Martin’s Press, August 2016), Kardaras lays out his argument that “an ever-increasing amount of clinical research correlates screen tech with psychiatric disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression and even psychosis.” Young children play with tablets and smartphones at the dinner table, watch video screens embedded in the backs of car seats and spend hours transfixed by hundreds of cable channels—and it’s a serious concern. Kardaras’s book presents research about the effects of glowing screens on the developing brains of children.

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
The Hamptons is famous for beautiful beaches, rolling green golf courses, Rodeo Drive-like shopping and generally being a, to quote the well-worn media trope, “playground for the rich and famous.” But there’s another Hamptons—the stark, grey, cold and often desolate place locals know well from October to March. This is the Hamptons in Marinovich’s sizzling thriller, The Winter Girl (Doubleday, January 2016), and his book is so much better for it. In it, Scott—a struggling photographer who is staying in Shinnecock Hills with his wife Elise to care for her terminally ill father—notices a bedroom light in the vacant home next door turn off at precisely 11 p.m. every night. With bills piling up and his marriage eroding, Scott’s curiosity about the light and the house becomes a welcome distraction and then obsession, even after it’s clear the light is on an automatic timer. Eventually, no longer able to resist, he breaks in. Then he brings his wife to the house and their naughty, voyeuristic adventure ignites a sexual passion the couple thought long gone between them. But in a moment, Scott and Elise make a sinister discovery that sets them along a much darker path. What follows is a page-turning, sexy and brutal ride that will linger and haunt readers well past reading the final poignant, vicious words.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This critically acclaimed novel by the author of Sag Harbor was an Oprah’s Book Club pick, a  #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of this year’s National Book Award! Published by Doubleday in August 2016, this “magnificent tour de force” chronicles a young slave named Cora’s adventures as she seeks out her freedom from a cotton plantation in Georgia through the Underground Railroad. Cora has a hellish life on the plantation, but Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, and they decide to take the risk and escape. What follows is an odyssey full of twists and turns, and different worlds throughout each phase of her perilous journey out of the Antebellum South.

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