Summer is a season when people get hypersocial — with barbecues and neighborhood fairs, graduations and pool parties. In short, it's an especially trying time for those of us who'd rather stay indoors and read a book. My early summer reading list, therefore, takes the form of a loner's survival guide.
The nonfiction books on this list are filled with such marvelous facts and anecdotes; they'll arm you with a supply of handy conversational tidbits should you have to socialize. The letter collection and novels I'm recommending are so absorbing they'll give you the moral courage to draw the curtains, crank up the air conditioning and ignore all unwelcome invitations.