If you want to learn a trick or two: Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Penguin Press) is not only fascinating but also practical: his unexpected role in the world of “mental athletes” as the U.S. Memory Champion will make even the brightest curious enough to try out some of his techniques. I’m still working on how to memorize my grocery lists…
If you’re looking for a laugh: Stand-up comedian and Time Out New York editor Jane Borden’s I Totally Meant To Do That (Broadway) tracks the native North Carolinian’s transition into a bona fide New Yorker. Borden nails the tone, combining laugh-out-loud anecdotes with genuine affection for both her Southern upbringing and newfound home away from home. As a Southerner myself, Borden feels like a fast friend.
If you’re a sports fan: James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’s Those Guys Have All the Fun (Little, Brown and Company) is the perfect Labor Day time out, with 600-plus pages that will last you throughout the weekend. When the book hit my desk, nearly every male came a flockin’. Miller and Shales (who’ve also co-authored Live From New York: An Uncensored History of “Saturday Night Live”) get the inside scoop on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” hooking avid ESPNers from the get-go.
If you’re dreaming of far-off places: Elisabeth Eaves’s Wanderlust (Seal Press) and Gully Wells’s The House in France (Knopf) will transport you in a heartbeat, even if you’re just on your front porch. Eaves’s love for travel—from the Middle East to the South Pacific to Europe—is deep-rooted and infectious. And Wells’s wordly adventures and encounters with everyone from Iris Murdoch to Christopher Hitchens will make you want to pack a bag pronto.
If you want to be inspired: In Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth (Weinstein Books), journalist and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzeezinski—along with some of the country’s most successful career women from the likes of Nora Ephron and Valerie Jarrett—give pointers on how to put your best foot forward career-wise. From salary negotiations to equal pay, their words of wisdom are definitely worth the read.
If you’re in the mood to crack a case: In his new book, The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter (Viking), Vanity Fair writer Mark Seal unravels the ins and outs of conman Clark Rockefeller’s 30-years as a serial imposter, from his German immigration to the U.S. to his newfound social circles with America’s elite to his recent indictment in March. Spawned from his national Magazine Award-winning article for Vanity Fair, the lengthier treatment satisfies anyone wanting to know more about the man with so many names.
If you’re looking for love: In Sex on the Moon (Doubleday), Ben Mezrich—author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires (from which the films 21 and The Social Network were adapted)—charts how NASA intern Thad Roberts aims high (literally stealing lunar rock for his girlfriend) only to land low (in federal prison). This real-life romance gone awry gives new meaning to promising someone the moon.
If you can’t get enough of Murdoch mania: Check out Vanity Fair’s second eBook, Rupert Murdoch—The Master Mogul of Fleet Street: 20 Tales from the Pages of Vanity Fair, featuring 20 behind-the-scenes stories about the embattled News Corp. chairman. After reading this plethora of articles from the magazine’s archive, by the likes of contributing editors Bryan Burrough, James Wolcott, and Michael Wolff, among others, you’ll want to follow every twist and turn of the current scandal.
If you want to know what will be in my bag: Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Trade), per several recommendations from friends. They promise the 2008 award-winning novel won’t disappoint.