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The Weekly Read: What’s New in Books

Hot releases, literary happenings and the latest from the publishing world

three book covers the change by kirsten miller and persuasion by jane austen and the old man by thomas perry

William Morrow / Mysterious Press

Book or movie. Which is better?

Books have long been fodder for the big screen, but they are increasingly the basis for TV series too — from Bridgerton (based on Julia Quinn’s Regency romance novels, which are as fun to read as the episodes are to watch) to Apple TV+’s Pachinko (a reimagining of the 2017 best seller by Min Jin Lee). New out on Hulu is The Old Man, a seven-episode series based on the fast-paced 2017 thriller by Thomas Perry. It stars Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges, 72, who plays an ex-CIA operative fleeing an assassin and living off the grid, and John Lithgow, 76, as his former colleague, now an FBI counterintelligence official. These two seasoned actors are a marvel to watch and, says our TV critic, elevate the plot.

Sanditon, Jane Austen’s final novel, is enjoying a second season on PBS while Austen fans await the Netflix movie adaptation of her 1817 classic Persuasion, airing July 15 and starring Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith and most notably the star of Fifty Shades of Grey. She plays Anne Elliot, who meets her onetime fiancé Captain Frederick Wentworth (American-British actor Cosmo Jarvis) years later and, both matured — he’s now wealthy and a military hero — a new relationship is sparked. This version will have a modern spin, with fourth-wall breaking, comic touches and contemporary language. (Check out the trailer.)

See an intriguing list of TV shows and movies adapted from books here.

the book cover of adrian mckintys the island featuring an illustration of a family running

Little, Brown and Company

What to read now

Here’s a novel I’ve been telling my friends to read since it was published in May: The Change by Kirsten Miller. Three middle-aged women in the (fictional) oceanfront town of Mattauk, N.Y., have newfound superpowers, including the ability to harness their body heat as a weapon. They embrace their menopausal badass-itude to uncover a serial killer, right some wrongs and shrug off assumptions about their gender and age. It’s fierce and funny, and a great vacation read.

Or, if you’re up for a thrill, try The Island by Adrian McKinty, author of 2019’s terrifying The Chain. In his latest, an American woman is vacationing in Australia with her new husband and his two kids, when, on a whim, they decide to take their car by ferry to explore a remote island. Soon after they arrive, they cause a deadly accident, and their holiday devolves into a nightmare. I was totally taken in by the tense tale.

And, guess what? Hulu has acquired it for a TV adaptation, according to Deadline.

the girlfriend book clubs new pick the one hundred years of lenni and margot by marianne cronin

Harper Perennial/The Girlfriend Staff

Read with others

Reading may be a solitary pleasure, but book clubs offer opportunity to discuss great reads, get suggestions for your TBR list and more. AARP’s The Girlfriend Book Club on Facebook, a private group nearly 42,000 members strong, has selected The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin as its July read. The 2021 novel, now in paperback, is a tender, often funny story set in Glasgow, Scotland. Its focus is 17-year-old Lenni, who’s facing a tough terminal illness, and Margot, a vibrant 83-year-old patient. Request to join here. Cronin will discuss the book with members live on the Facebook page on July 19 at 7:30 p.m.


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In case you missed it...Book news from June 21

paris skyline and eiffel tower in an orange sunset glow

Getty Images

Paris, anyone? These recent historical novels will take you there

Most people would read guidebooks before embarking on a visit to a new city. But fiction lover that I am, I prepared for my first-time visit to Paris this spring by diving into novels set in the city, a wildly popular backdrop for historical fiction.

See our story describing some top picks. And they just keep coming. Among the latest is The Ghosts of Paris by Tara Moss, which takes place in the city just after WWII and features Australian private investigator Billie Walker, whose search for answers to a few mysteries (among them what happened to her missing husband) takes her throughout the city, including Notre Dame and the catacombs below.

There’s another excellent historical novel out this summer that’s set more broadly in France — and about 600 years ago. Joan by Katherine J. Chen (available July 5) is a fictionalization of the remarkable life of the legendary Joan of Arc. Is it historically accurate? Loosely, but it’ll transport you to another time and place as you follow Joan’s rise from a vulnerable little girl with an abusive father to a fierce warrior who sent France’s enemies packing.

people reading in a bookstore and the cover of ulysses by james joyce

AARP/Vintage

Visitors take turns reading from Ulysses at Sweny’s in Dublin (May 2022).

Blooming fun in Dublin

On the same trip, I visited Dublin, where last week, on June 16, bookish revelers celebrated Bloomsday — marking the day in 1904 that James Joyce’s famous Ulysses takes place. In the novel, a satiric take on Homer’s The Odyssey that many consider to be a modernist masterpiece (full disclosure: I can’t get past the first pages of the chaotic saga), the main character, Leopold Bloom, wanders Dublin while offering stream-of-consciousness observations as he goes about his day.

This year, the 100th anniversary of the novel’s publication, events in Dublin included Joyce fans dressing up in period costumes, Ulysses readings, and reenactments of scenes from the book.

At any time of year, visitors to Dublin should head to Sweny’s Pharmacy, a few blocks from Trinity College. Featured in Ulysses back when it was a pharmacy (Bloom bought his lemon soap here), it’s now a cool, book-cluttered James Joyce Heritage Visitor Centre. You’ll likely find Joyce scholar P.J. Murphy behind the counter, welcoming volunteers who show up to read aloud from Ulysses throughout the day; if you’re lucky, Murphy might break out his guitar and sing you an old Gaelic tune. (We stopped there on this fun city tour.)

a creative curved outdoor little free library bookshelf structure

Courtesy of Little Free Library

Charter #42851, Rachael Showerman, South Lyon, MI

Find free books in your neighborhood

It can feel like luck to run into a Little Free Library (LFL) — those often whimsically decorated boxes bibliophiles like to plant on their front lawns, inviting passersby to take or leave a free book. Now the nonprofit behind the concept has an app that allows users to find most of the 150,000 LFLs around the world, read their backstories and save their faves. Download the app for free on iOS and Android devices, or search online. It found the six LFLs within a few blocks of my home in Northwest Washington, D.C., missing just one. (Some stewards, as the owners of the libraries are called, opt not to register them with the LFL organization, according to director of communications Margret Aldrich.)

Here’s how to start your own Little Free Library.

author elin hilderbrand and a group of her fans at a weekend retreat

Courtesy of Little Gem Resorts

Hilderbrand and her fans gather on Nantucket for a Bucket List Weekend.

Beach bound? Try the latest Hilderbrand

It’s beach-read time, people! And few writers are more beachy than the beloved Elin Hilderbrand, who’s been writing her Nantucket-set novels for more than 20 years. Her new one is The Hotel Nantucket — next on my TBR list, it’s about the renovation of a storied hotel on the Massachusetts island that’s haunted by the ghost of a 19-year-old chambermaid who died there in a fire decades before. It strikes a personal chord: At age 18 I spent a summer working as a chambermaid at a different Nantucket hotel. Thankfully, the experience was far from tragic, but the book evokes some fond memories of those golden (minus the toilet-cleaning) few months.

If you’re one of the world’s countless big-time Hilderbrand fans, incidentally, consider joining her for her annual Elin Hilderbrand’s Bucket List Weekend, which has been held every January on Nantucket for seven years. But the author has announced that 2023 will be the last year for this festive gathering (usually about 150 fans attend), so she’s planning two: Jan. 5–9 and Jan. 12–16. Both are full, but there’s a wait list. And while the itineraries haven’t been confirmed, last year’s gathering was packed with activities led by the author, including a beach walk, cocktail party, yoga and a gala dinner at the Nantucket Hotel (not to be confused with the aforementioned chambermaid-haunted Hotel Nantucket).

paul newman in a film still from the sixties as a young man and the cover of his memoir

Bettmann/Getty Images; Knopf

Still image of Paul Newman from the 1962 film Sweet Bird of Youth; cover of his memoir Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man.

Coming attractions

Entertainment fans can look forward to a particularly tall stack of celebrity memoirs coming out this October, including Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder by Trekkie William Shatner, 90, writing with Joshua Brandon; Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me by Ralph Macchio; and Geena Davis’s Dying of Politeness. And on Nov. 1, we’ll get books from Bono (Surrender) and Friends star Matthew Perry, who gets frank about his battles with addiction in Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. (Read our interview with Jennifer Grey, the Dirty Dancing actress whose memoir Out of the Corner hit shelves this spring.)

But the biggest, most surprising October release of all may be the posthumous book from acting legend Paul Newman. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, edited by David Rosenthal. The project began 20 years before the actor’s death, when Newman asked his close friend screenwriter Stewart Stern to create an oral history of his life, says Peter Gethers, the book’s editor at Knopf. Stern interviewed Newman’s friends and family members, along with Newman himself, while Newman also wrote many pages of his own memories.

His family eventually wrote a book proposal, based on over 10,000 pages of transcripts. “The material was extraordinary” and Knopf snapped it up in a heated auction, says Gethers.

What surprised Gethers most about the memoir/biography? “What a brilliant writer he was, how extraordinarily honest and insightful he was, how insecure he was.”

Please share your own favorite new (or old) books, upcoming releases you’re excited about, or anything book related in the comments section.

Christina Ianzito is the travel and books editor for aarp.org and AARP The Magazine, and also edits and writes health, entertainment and other stories for aarp.org. She received a 2020 Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing.

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