Summer is traditionally the slowest season in the book publishing industry — the time when many readers prefer lightweight titles that can be read while at the beach or on vacation. But this summer Pasadena booksellers and publishers plan to introduce some titles that defy the easy-reading category.
One of the more serious new books is “Becoming Earth,” scheduled to be released in May by Red Hen Press, a Pasadena-based independent publisher. Essayist, poet and marine biologist Eva Saulitis recounts how two years of living with metastatic cancer led her to mediate on the nature of wildness. Saulitis says she eventually recognized that “living is not separate from dying. It is not yet time to dig a grave, but time to wander the woods, seeking a good site.”
Red Hen plans to release four other books this summer: “LA Fiction Anthology” is a collection of short stories written by Southern California authors, including T.C. Boyle, Ron Carlson, Judith Freeman and Percival Everett. Lori Tobias’ novel “Wander,” set in a fictional rural community in Alaska in the 1980s, tells the story of Patrice “Pete” Nash, a young journalist who becomes friendly with another man when she spends the winter without her husband.
“Six” is Julie Marie Wade’s collection of six interconnected poems that, according to the publisher’s catalog, plumb “six essential aspects of human experience that have shaped us all: art, language, desire, vocation, faith, and life-changing love.” Wade has written several other books, including “Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures,” which won the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Memoir. Another poetry collection, Kathleen Driskell’s “Blue Etiquette,” was inspired by Emily Post’s 1922 edition of book “Etiquette” and focuses on the interactions between wealthy members of society and their servants.
Prospect Park Books, another Pasadena-based publisher, this summer will release three new books by local authors. “This Side of Providence” is the second novel by Rachel M. Harper, an Altadena writer. Publisher Colleen Dunn Bates describes the book as a “heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful story of a Puerto Rican immigrant family in Providence, R.I.” Restauranteur and baker Christine Moore, who owns the Little Flower Candy Co. and Lincoln eateries in Pasadena, and her pastry chef Cecilia Leung share their recipes for cookies, cakes, breads and other baked goods in “Little Flower Baking.”
In addition, Prospect Park will launch “Sayonara Slam” at Vroman’s Bookstore on May 2 at 7 p.m. The novel is the sixth in a planned series of seven mysteries written by Pasadena writer Naomi Hirahara, who grew up in Altadena. That city is the home of her fictional sleuth Mas Arai, an elderly semi-retired gardener, who in the new book solves the mysterious death of a sportswriter who drops dead during a baseball game at Dodger Stadium.
Jennifer Ramos, Vroman’s promotional director, says the store’s book buyer is especially excited about two summer releases: “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” by Dominic Smith and “The Sport of Kings” by C.E. Morgan. Smith’s novel combines the story of Sara de Vos, a 17th- century Dutch artist, with the tale of a 1950s art historian who painted a forgery of one of de Vos’ paintings. “The Sport of Kings,” Morgan’s debut novel, tells the story of thoroughbred horse owners Henry Forge and his daughter Henrietta, who team with Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, to breed a Triple Crown-winning filly.
Numerous authors will be discussing and signing their new books at Vroman’s this summer. Journalist Sebastian Junger, best known for his book “The Perfect Storm” and his documentary films about the war in Afghanistan, will preview “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” at noon on June 5. Best-selling science writer Mary Roach will talk about “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War” at a ticketed event to be held at All Saints Church on June 17 at 7 p.m.
Among the other authors set to appear at Vroman’s are Justin Cronin, “City of Mirrors” (June 5 at 4 p.m.); Emma Straub, “Modern Lovers” (June 6 at 7p.m.); Susan Branch, “Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams,” the second book in a three-part memoir (June 8 at 6:30 p.m.); actor and chef Freddie Prinze Jr., “Back to the Kitchen” (June 11 at 3 p.m.); Janet Evanovich, “The Pursuit” (signing only, June 22 at 7 p.m.) and Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., “Mastery of Self” (July 20 at 7 p.m.).