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The Write Stuff: Our picks for Beach Best Books, Part One

En Vogue?
Author's Collection

This addictive tell-all The Vogue Factor: The Inside Story of Fashion’s Most Illustrious Magazine (Chronicle Books, $16.95) dissects the cutthroat culture of the world's most revered fashion masthead. Kirstie Clements started at the front desk answering phones for Vogue Australia. Years of determination and risk-taking landed her at editor in chief. This is the story of her rise to the top; of photo shoots in the jungles of Africa, clamoring for a spot at Fashion Week, celebrity interviews, betrayals, and the danger inherent in the relentless pursuit of beauty. At once a career success story and a raw expose on the international fashion world, The Vogue Factor glitters with personality and is an unputdownable read for the fashion-obsessed—and anyone who wants to know what really happens at Vogue. We heard Anna Wintour is reading it in the Hamptons.

A Possibility of Violence (Harper, $26.99) is the second in D.A. Mishani’s acclaimed literary crime series. This is the chilling sequel to 2013’s The Missing File which was shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association International Dagger Award. Inspector Avraham Avraham returns from vacation, recuperating from his last investigation and is immediately assigned to a case that will test his limitations. A witness sees a man with a limp abandon a suitcase near a suburban Tel Aviv daycare center. The explosive device it contains turns out to be a dud, but a few hours later a threat is received. The suitcase was only the beginning. The stakes are heightened when a person of interest, a father of two, suddenly disappears. Before vanishing, he claims his wife has recently left Tel Aviv for her native country–but her name cannot be found on the passenger list of any departing flights. Is this couple connected to the suitcase? Or are they fleeing a far more terrible crime that no one yet knows has been committed? Told from alternating perspectives, A Possibility of Violence is the heart-pounding story of one man’s race to save innocent lives–and, in doing so, exorcise his demons. Untangling this complex web of deceit offers Avi a chance to atone for the trauma and failure of his first investigation. But when the only answers lie with a father on the run, desperately trying to save his children from something he dares not reveal, redemption may not be possible for Avraham. Not when the truth is more abominable than anything he’s ever faced.

A classic ’57 Chevy, in wretched shape: Its few patches of surviving paint are sun-bleached and salt-pocked and cracked like a dry lakebed. Its interior is stripped to bare and rotting steel, floorboards chewed away, the whole layered in a thick carpet of grime and flaking metal. Birds have nested in its driver’s seat. Its engine, or what’s left of it, hasn’t turned over in years. Slumped among hundreds of other rusting hulks on a treeless, windswept patch of eastern North Carolina, the Chevy evokes none of the Jet Age optimism that made it the most beloved and instantly recognizable car to ever roll off an assembly line. It’s thrashed. A goner. There seems little left to scrap, let alone save.
In Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream (It Books, $26.99), award-winning journalist Earl Swift tells the story of how it got this way, of its decline from showroom beauty to abandoned beater—and of its unlikely rescuer, a grade-school dropout and rounder, a felon arrested seventy-odd times, a former strip club impresario and a man who’s been written off as a ruin himself.
A brilliant blend of Shop Class As Soulcraft and The Orchid Thief, Earl Swift’s wise, funny, and captivating book charts the shifting dreams and fortunes of the people who’ve gripped the wagon’s steering wheel—among them a retired boilermaker, a cash-strapped single mother, a gay couple and a born-again Christian garbage man—and in the process creates a portrait of middle-class America from the mid-fifties to the present.
Written for both gearheads and Sunday drivers, Auto Biography captures the sturdy resilience of the American Dream and our strange and abiding relationship with the automobile, through the most iconic model in history and an improbable, unforgettable hero.

Fifty years ago, our country was jolted by tragedy: our 35th President was brutally murdered on an American street in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses. In End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy (William Morrow, $15.99), bestselling author James L. Swanson, offers a comprehensive understanding of this historic day, lending edge-of-your seat, storyteller’s mastery to the subject. With fascinating, colorful detail culled from vast historic resources, Swanson sets the stage for his central drama: the unfolding of the private final hours of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald as their destinies converge in a rifle’s crosshairs—one man bound for infamy, the other for myth. Told in Swanson’s signature, thrilling, ticking clock narrative style, the book tracks the seemingly inevitable, and equally improbable, collision course between two men that would change history, devastate a hopeful generation, and spur one of our country’s greatest national mysteries. Readers who take this journey with him may discover facts they never knew; but that is not Swanson’s claim or his purpose. With narrative mastery, he goes much further to draw readers into a point-by-point drama, juxtaposing two men’s lives in vivid detail, layering scenes, drawing connections, and recounting the story of their final days as it’s never been told before.

Star Wars: Book of Sith: Secrets From the Dark Side (Chronicle Books, $19.95)
In his quest for total domination, Darth Sidious compiled six legendary dark side texts detailing Sith history and philosophy by Sorzus Syn, Darth Malgus, Darth Bane, Mother Talzin, Darth Plagueis, and himself. Together these documents form the Book of Sith. Over the centuries, the texts were passed among Force users who left handwritten notes and annotations in the margins, including Darth Vader, Yoda, Mace Windu, and Luke Skywalker, among others. For years the collection was the subject of legend, remaining hidden, until recently brought to light. Collected by acclaimed Star Wars writer Daniel Wallace and embellished by numerous esteemed Star Wars illustrators, this volume introduces new characters and history, and delves deeper into understanding the philosophies and methods behind the dark side of the Force. Passed down from Master to apprentice, The Jedi Path is an ancient training manual that has educated and enlightened generations of Jedi. Within its pages, the Jedi-in-training will discover the history and lore of the Jedi Order, the ways of the Force and how to wield it, the subtle nuances of lightsaber combat and the dangers of the Dark Side. The only remaining copy in existence, this hallowed tome features handwritten notes by Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Count Dooku and Darth Sidious, among others. Created in collaboration with Lucasfilm—along with an acclaimed Star Wars author and revered Star Wars illustrators— this volume introduces never-before-seen ships, creatures, characters, and details about the Star Wars galaxy.

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