Hot picks for hot months

Summer reading for grown-ups

The sun is shining, the mercury's rising and the time is right for diving into a good book.

From absorbing new novels to sci-fi, thrillers, short stories and memoir, read on for the Weekly's top recommendations for summer reading, 2015.

"The Water Knife," by Paolo Bacigalupi; $25.95; Knopf; 386 pages.

Bacigalupi delivers a near-future excursion through a water-depleted southwest, where Las Vegas blooms, Phoenix shrivels and a hired-gun known as a "water knife" makes the cuts that keep the fluids flowing in the right direction. Scarily apropos in California Drought Year Four, "The Water Knife" rings with echoes of "Chinatown" and "The Maltese Falcon" but manages to sound its own, singular alarm.

"In the Unlikely Event," by Judy Blume; $27.95; Knopf; 416 pages.

The beloved author of "Superfudge," "Forever" and other titles for discerning kids and teens turns her hand to fiction for adults. This time she devises a 1950s family saga with a real-life hook from her own past: three airplane crashes that occurred near the same New Jersey town within the span of two months.

"Book of Numbers," by Joshua Cohen; $28; Random House; 592 pages.

In this latest attempt at The Great American Internet Novel, a failed writer named Josh Cohen is hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of a Silicon Valley billionaire, known as "Principal." As Cohen researches his subject, he's led on a Pynchonesque tour through the heart of the world's most powerful tech company.

"Black Glass: Short Fictions," by Karen Joy Fowler; $27.95; Marian Wood Books/Putnam; 304 pages.

Sometimes you want fiction that can be read during a single, sunny lunch break. Re-issued in the wake of Fowler's 2014 PEN/Faulkner win and Man Booker nomination, this collection gathers 15 allusive and elusive tales, populated by the likes of Carrie Nation, Tonto and Mrs. Lemuel Gulliver.

"Crooked," by Austin Grossman; Mulholland Books; $26; 368 pages.

What if Richard Nixon was the secret hero of an occult war between humanity and monstrous entities from beyond space and time? That's the unnerving premise of the latest novel by the author of "You" and "Soon I Will Be Invincible."

"Aurora," by Kim Stanley Robinson; Orbit; $26; 480 pages.

Interstellar travel is anything but easy, as the author of "2312" and "Shaman" demonstrates in this chronicle of a spaceship's seven-generation journey from Earth to Tau Ceti. Small errors can have gigantic consequences, as anyone who's ever packed for a week's vacation knows.

"Ordinary Light: A Memoir," by Tracy K. Smith; $25.95; Knopf; 368 pages.

The Pulitzer-winning poet reflects on her '70s childhood and her relationship with her deeply religious mother. With grace and compassion, Smith addresses what it was like to grow up as a black girl in Fairfield, the youngest child of Alabama-born parents who recalled the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.

"The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty," by Vendela Vida; $25.99; Ecco; 224 pages.

Founding editor of The Believer magazine and author of "Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name" and "The Lovers," Vendela Vida devises a literary thriller about intercontinental travel gone awry. A woman who has her money and passport stolen in Casablanca discovers she now has the freedom -- and the burden -- to be anyone she chooses.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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