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07.31.09 6:57 AM ET

Dog Day Reading List

Nancy Bass Wyden, third-generation owner of New York City's legendary Strand Book Store, recommends some last-chance summer books—and a few fall ones she’s already got her eye on.

Last-Chance Summer Reads

Rogues' Gallery [available now]
by Michael Gross

Who doesn't love the Met, and who wouldn't want to read tantalizing gossip about the upper echelon of social climbers, philanthropists, and curators who have warred for prestige and control over the storied museum since its beginning? Completely unauthorized, this irresistible read exposes the dirty money and politics behind the Met's rise. Plundered relics, millionaires' meddling, and ambition disguised as social philanthropy are revealed thanks to Gross' muckraking, producing one of the year's most entertaining books. Take it to the beach (but not the museum).

Indie Publishing [available now]
edited by Ellen Lupton

Whenever I tell people what I do, they tell me about their book ideas. So if you find yourself with extra time in August, here is the perfect nuts-and-bolts guide to designing your own book. Intelligently laid out and visually inspiring, whether you're making a children’s book, a ‘zine, or a monograph for distribution, Lupton's how-to steps offer clear instructions on all aspects of bookmaking. She even managed to write a design book that's enjoyable to read. And when you've completed your tome, hopefully it will show up on the bestseller table at the Strand.

Fordlandia [available now]
by Greg Grandin

This story took me completely by surprise, and it defines the old cliché that the truth is stranger than fiction. Grandin has unearthed the tale of Henry Ford's ill-fated attempt to convert a stretch of the Brazilian Amazon into idyllic small-town America. Originally intended to save money on rubber, Ford's development turned into a grander and more twisted ambition, fueled by his position (and ego) as the richest man in the world. It is a masterful portrayal of capitalism and social paternalism unleashed to disastrous effect.

Tender Is the Night [available now]
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When the Strand gave our customers a chance to vote on their favorite classics, this mesmerizing Fitzgerald novel was among the most popular. Writing from experience, he depicts the marriage of the glamorous couple Dick and Nicole Diver, living among the idle rich of the French Riviera. As the tale turns dark, it may no longer feel like a light summer read, but you'll be so enamored with Fitzgerald's heart-wrenching psychological depictions that you won't be able to put it down. It becomes even more moving as you realize the resemblance between Nicole Diver and Zelda.

The Senator's Wife [available now]
by Sue Miller

The title appealed to me, I admit, because I am a senator's wife (my husband is Sen. Ron Wyden), although my experience bears no resemblance to the central character’s. The book centers on the marriage between a wayward senator and his loyal spouse, and what sacrifices are required in such a life. While the plot offers plenty of fascination, it is Miller's accomplishment in writing such recognizable female characters that makes this such a worthwhile read.

Three Fall Books to Save Room for on Your Nightstand

The Original of Laura
by Vladimir Nabokov

No one was ever sure they'd see Nabokov's final work, guarded by his family for decades. I am especially thrilled because he is my favorite writer. Some 138 handwritten index cards were assembled into book form by the amazing designer Chip Kidd.

Chronic City
by Jonathan Lethem

What Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude did for Brooklyn, this fantastical journey through the streets of an off-kilter New York will do for Manhattan.

The Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver 

Her first novel since Prodigal Summer. Need I say more?

And Tip of the Iceberg for Fall 2009

Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving

Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Humbling, by Philip Roth

Invisible, by Paul Auster

Homer & Langley, by E.L. Doctorow

The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers

New York, by Edward Rutherford

Look at the Birdie, by Kurt Vonnegut

The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.

Nancy Bass Wyden is the owner of the Strand Book Store in New York City.