Summer Reads

By Leslie Zemeckis   |   June 11, 2024

‘When Women Ran Fifth Avenue’

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue is a fascinating look at the rise of the department store in America. It will make local readers long for the days when we had department stores in Santa Barbara. Julie Satow takes a deep dive into the culture and rise of the female executive and shopgirl at legendary stores such as Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, and Henri Bendel. I bet you didn’t know department stores used to have dentists and medical staff in the building just for the shop girls (all employees actually) who worked very long hours. I hope this book inspires someone to bring back reimagined department stores!

‘The Wild Road Home’

Two strangers both attempting to save someone they love is the premise in Melissa Payne’s The Wild Road Home. Mack is an old man with one arm, and a wife that will die if he cannot get money to help her. Brandi is fresh out of juvie and returns to find her five-year-old brother Sy quivering with a gun in his hand while their drug addicted mother and her abusive boyfriend fight. Brandi steals the boyfriend’s car (which unbeknownst to her is loaded with meth) and takes Sy away. They cross paths with Mack in the wilds of Wyoming, which makes for an emotional, heartfelt book about what we are willing to do for those we love. 


Think of all those pop princesses that flooded the tabloids during the 1990s and 2000s; Paris, Brittney, and their counterpart boy bands. In Honey, Isabel Banta gives voice to one such rising star. Amber Young navigates fame, romance, and an exploitive industry determined to shame and label her for both her clothing choices and bedmates. Poignantly written, this remarkable coming-of-age story is sexy, funny and complicated.

‘The Housemaid is Watching’

There are plenty of plot twists in The Housemaid is Watching, Freida McFadden’s latest thriller. When Millie and her family move into a dream neighborhood, she is excited to meet her two new neighbors – until she discovers someone is spying on her and her family. Paradise might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. As a former housemaid, Millie is uncomfortable now that she has her own maid, one who might be stealing from her. Meanwhile Millie’s husband Enzo is growing close to the glamorous neighbor next door, and all eyes are on him when the neighbor’s husband turns up dead. A fun read for your beach bag.

‘The Unforgettable Loretta Darling’

Pick up Katherine Blake’s The Unforgettable Loretta Darling and step back in time to Hollywood during the 1950s. Loretta is an aspiring makeup artist who talks her way into a job at one of the major studios. After a wild orgy of a party she barely escapes in one piece, Loretta sets about crafting her rise in the industry; and her revenge. This is a witty, delicious read. 

‘Swift River’

Friendship, family secrets, and grief abound in Essie ChambersSwift River. This is a gorgeous and poignant story about the ways family history often keeps us trapped. Diamond is a bullied young teen, with the wrong color skin and the wrong body type, living in a small New England town. When her father disappears, Diamond is left as the only Black person in town. Her white mother turns to a variety of pills she calls “tic tacs” to help her cope. Set in a “sundown town”, the book is inspired by a disturbing piece of real history, where some towns in “predominantly white communities systematically excluded Black people.”

‘Perfect Eloquence’

Dodger fans grab Perfect Eloquence: An Appreciation of Vin Scully by Tom Hoffarth and Ron Rapoport. One of the 67 essays is written by Paul Vercammen, a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and communications director for our local-based ShelterBox. Vercammen’s essay is a moving tribute to Scully, a man who inspired many to become journalists, broadcasters, and just all-around better human beings. The young Vercammen – son of two Belgian-born parents – learns to master his adoptive second language by tuning his radio dial to the legendary and loquacious sportscaster. 


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