Edna O'Brien tells 11 tales of sex, love and death, and Steve Stern romps through 20th century Jewish history. Rebecca Traister surveys how the 2008 election changed politics for women, Darin Strauss absorbs a classmate's death, and Hilary Spurling resurrects Pearl S. Buck's life and fiction.
Read these books at the beach, and people two towels over will wonder why you're chortling. There are plenty of books that will make you laugh, but critic Heller McAlpin separates the mere giggles from the all-out gut-busters.
Martin Amis' newest is part Decameron, part Big Chill, as twenty-somethings in an Italian castle navigate the sexual revolution. Laura Bush navigates her way from Midland, Texas, to a life in the White House. A miraculously preserved 18th-century rabbi reanimates (oy gevalt!) in Memphis. And civil rights legend Andrew Young passes life lessons to his godson.