Woman reading on the beach.

Woman reading on the beach. (Jupiterimages / www.jupiterimages.com / June 30, 2012)

Outdoor concerts, movies in the park and a festival for everything from ribs to blues to craft beer. Summer in Chicago is so action-packed, it's easy to forget that the season is also about slowing down and enjoying some R&R. Our thinking: Why face the crowds to hear yet another cover band or wait in a long line for an overpriced pretzel, when you could carve out some solitude and read?

We rounded up some just-released and forthcoming books that offer the same benefits as a summer outing: entertainment, discovery and a much-needed escape. Whether it's a light read, a chilling mystery or an absorbing debut novel, the following selections prove that you don't have to leave your armchair — or beach chair — to get away from it all.


This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.


As spine-tingling as a night stroll through Graceland Cemetery

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Available now, Grand Central, 544 pages, $25.99

Rife with political symbolism, this genre-bending thriller imagines an alternate world where humans and werewolves (or lycans) coexist — albeit not peacefully. For centuries the lycans have been treated as second-class citizens, until a growing number of them initiate an uprising. Terrifying and tense.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

June 4, Mulholland, 384 pages, $26

If you like your crime fiction with a side of history and some paranormal activity, then you'll want to pick up this much-buzzed-about novel of a time-traveling serial killer from Depression-era Chicago. Then you'll want to put it down for a sec, because it's utterly chilling, but you won't be able to. The carefully plotted page-turner holds you in its icy grip.

Joyland by Stephen King

June 4, Hard Case Crime, 288 pages, $12.95

King sets his latest thriller in a small-town amusement park. (How's that for summery?) There, a college-kid-turned-carny must confront a horrific murder. (How's that for scary?) This is the writer's second book for the pulp-style crime imprint.

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

July 9, Dennis Lehane/Ecco, 320 pages, $25.99

After taking a raft out on the bay with a friend, a semi-conscious 15-year-old girl is found washed up in the weeds along the waterfront in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Pochoda ("The Art of Disappearing") uses this event and resulting investigation to explore community members' hopes, fears and biases. The novel is buoyed by well-fleshed-out characters and eerie atmosphere.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Aug 20, Random House, 624 pages, $28

Pessl's first book since the wildly popular "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" is a psychological suspense thriller. An investigative journalist examines the apparent suicide of a young woman whom he discovers is the daughter of a cult-horror film director: the reclusive (and brilliantly named) Stanislas Cordova.

As funny as the Just for Laughs festival