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Originally published May 13, 2013 at 5:00 AM | Page modified May 13, 2013 at 7:47 AM

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8 great paperbacks to tote this summer

A list of new-in-paperback books to delight Northwest readers — and others.

Seattle Times book editor

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Lit Life

There’s a reason for every season in the publishing cycle. In late spring, publishers often issue some of their best books in paperback so you, dear reader, will buy them and tote them to the beach or the backyard.

This spring has seen an embarrassment of riches in the new-in-paperback fiction department. Clip this list — you can’t go wrong with any of these books:


“The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin (HarperPerennial, $15.99). If you live in the Northwest, read this book! It’s a beautifully written novel set in Eastern Washington in the era before electricity and irrigation. A solitary man takes in two runaway girls, and life is never the same. You can practically smell the sun-drenched hills as you read — author Coplin grew up near Wenatchee.

“Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter (HarperPerennial, $15.99). Spokane’s Walter has finally and deservedly hit the big time — “Beautiful Ruins” was the No. 1 best-selling paperback in the country last week (New York Times). It involves unrequited love, Italy, the movie Cleopatra, the actor Richard Burton and the sleaziest Hollywood producer you will ever hopefully not meet.

“The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin Paperbacks, $14.95). Bainbridge Island author Evison hit his stride in this hilarious, sad and affecting story of a bereaved young father who takes a job as caregiver to a teenager with muscular dystrophy. There’s even a road trip.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple (Back Bay Books, $14.99). Is there anyone left in Seattle who hasn’t read this sendup of the city’s new elite? If you’re one of the lucky few, prepare to experience shivers of schadenfreude as Semple takes down private schools, Microsoft and blackberry eradication specialists. Among other things.


“Capital” by John Lanchester (Norton, $15.95). Lanchester is a “screamingly good writer” wrote Seattle Times reviewer (and reporter) Ken Armstrong in his review of this book. I concur. This is the story of the residents of Pepys Road in London on the cusp of the economic collapse, from a wealthy banker and his shopaholic wife to a dying elderly woman and her graffiti-artist grandson. Astute, unforgiving and compassionate, all at once.

“Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel (Picador, $16). I only wish I could wipe my memory clean and enjoy this book and its prequel, “Wolf Hall,” again for the first time. The story of Henry VIII’s fixer and right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, as he orchestrates the undoing of Anne Boleyn (if you haven’t read either, read “Wolf Hall” first).

“Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, $16.99). This is the only book on this list I haven’t read, but I’m including it on the recommendation of mysteries reviewer Adam Woog. A sweeping tale of gangsters, illegal booze and corrupt cops that unfolds from the streets of 1926 Boston to the grand avenues and squalid back alleys of Cuba.

“My Antonia” by Willa Cather (numerous editions available). I had never read this 1918 classic, the story of settlers on Nebraska’s frontier in the early 20th century, and of one woman in particular who sets a benchmark for courage and persistence. The publication this year of Cather’s letters impelled me to pick it up. The writing is luminous, like a dream unfolding.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's “Well Read,” discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.

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