By Leslie Dinaberg
Summer is the perfect time to pull up a lounge chair, a hammock, or a perfect spot in the sand and dig into one of these great reads by local authors.
From contemporary novels and memoirs, to playfully illustrated children’s books, to juicy airplane reads, and delicious cookbooks, to lurid crime and intriguing real lives, there’s something here for every reader to dig into this summer.
What are you waiting for?
Armchair Travels & Adventures
Neal Rabin’s “23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether,” courtesy photo
Set in the beautiful yet nefarious paradise of Brazil, Neal Rabin’s debut action-adventure novel, 23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether, is a laugh-out-loud escapade through South America as 20-something childhood friends Hart and Simon find themselves far from their comfortable California homes in the favelas and jungles of Brazil. The summer Olympics, Maytag appliances, plane crashes, a priest named Lazarus, rainforest cults and Carmen Miranda all play pivotal roles in this quirky novel. Rabin—the founder of Miramar Systems, a Santa Barbara-based global software company, of which he was CEO for 15 years—writes in a style that evokes comedic elements of Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins, with an original eccentricity that is uniquely his own.
Family Feuds & Fun
Jenna McCarthy’s “Everything’s Relative,” courtesy photo
Three estranged sisters breathe a collective sigh of relief when their controlling mother dies, but that’s just the beginning of the roller- coaster ride of Everything’s Relative, the latest page- turner from funny lady (and former KTYD personality) Jenna McCarthy. The sisters are shocked to discover that their spendthrift mother was hiding a massive fortune—millions of dollars that they can only get their hands on if they work together to transform their lives and carry out their mom’s last wishes.
Chef Pascale Beale’s “Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet,” courtesy photo
Chef Pascale Beale’s latest book is perfect for the summer season, with 240 mouth-watering pages and 100 new recipes that are all about fruit. Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet celebrates fruit in all of its many forms and features a multitude of delicious salads such as apple, fennel and watermelon radish, citrus salad with avocado vinaigrette; main courses like apricot and lamb shank tagine and citrus salmon; and desserts such as an Eton Mess, pear and pomegranate Pavlova, and apple and pear strudel, among other yummy delights.
Camping out under the stars is one of summer’s most sublime pleasures, and local “gourmet girls” Gail Kearns, Lindsey Moran and Denise Woolery have a new camping cookbook, Gourmet Girls on Fire, to help make your outdoor adventures even more delectable. Filled with 140 gourmet meals that can be made straight from your campfire, useful tips and recommendations, full-color images, retro-inspired graphics, and recipes that are sure to please a crowd.
Twin sisters Judi and Shari Zucker, also known as the “Double Energy Twins,” became vegetarians at age 11 and wrote their first book, How to Survive Snack Attacks—Naturally!, when they were just 16. Since then, they have written six best-selling health books, in addition to their latest, The Memory Diet, which introduces a powerful, plant-based diet of leafy greens, vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, and whole grains that can slow down or even eliminate cognitive decline.
Award-winning Hollywood writer, producer and director John Wilder (who adapted James Michener’s Centennial and Larry McMurtry’s Return To Lonesome Dove, as well as top-rated television series Spenser: For Hire and The Streets of San Francisco) marks his novel fiction debut with the contemporary murder mystery Nobody Dies In Hollywood. Wilder’s private investigator character Michael Drayton is hired by the father of an aspiring actor who was brutally slain alongside a world-renowned movie star in a horrific and seemingly senseless attack. Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Wilder’s novel connects contemporary culture, over-the-top personalities and timeless personal demons, creating a character that embodies the grit of yesterday and the diversity of today.
Part memoir and part inspiration, Aging in High Heels by Beverlye Hyman Fead, deals with the subjects of health, deaths of loved ones, forgetfulness, doctors’ appointments, travel, exercise, nutrition and aging. After being diagnosed with stage IV cancer, Fead found a passion talking to cancer patients, giving back inspiration and writing books. At 81, she shows us how we can live a life with passion, hope and laughter.
Dick Jorgensen’s “O Tomodachi (Friend),” courtesy photo
In 1954, as a 29-year-old grad student, Dick Jorgensen was selected to be one of four “ambassador” teachers in a first-ever exchange program with Japan. Jorgensen would spend the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, founded in the wake of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city in 1945. Thus began an incredible journey for a kid from the Midwest. As a work of history, his book O Tomodachi (Friend) provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both historical and accessible. As memoir, O Tomodachi gives readers a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land.
Tara Jones’ “100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die,” courtesy photo
Tara Jones, owner of the super- fun Eat This, Shoot That! food and photo tour company, has written an excellent guidebook for tourists and locals alike. 100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die is a great guide for going off the beaten path and experiencing Santa Barbara like a local. Find one of the best burritos in town inside a liquor store, float over the Santa Ynez Valley in a hot air balloon, knock back a cold brew with the animals at the zoo, or get a massage in a salt cave to discover just how diverse Santa Barbara can be. From kids to adults and luxurious to inexpensive, this book is a great way to explore your own little piece of paradise.
Young & Young-at-Heart
Alana Clumeck’s “The Extraordinary Pony,” courtesy photo
Written and illustrated by Santa Ynez resident Alana Clumeck, The Extraordinary Pony is a vibrantly illustrated life-lesson tale that reminds every child to dream big and that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.
Kisha Gianni’s “My Pet Cloud,” courtesy photo
A sweet and magical story about a little boy and his pet cloud, My Pet Cloud is written by local interior designer Kisha Gianni and illustrated by her mother, Lyn Gianni. It speaks to a child’s sense of wonder, imagination, friendship and the ability to trust.
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle’s The Mellow Yellow Global Umbrella is a fanciful collection of poems by the City of Santa Barbara’s poet laureate, captivatingly illustrated by artist Karen Folsom.
This story was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.