The Book Report: Washington Post critic Ron Charles (August 6)

By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles

Here are four titles that might help keep you cool this summer.


Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo is back with “Somebody’s Fool” (Knopf), his third, thoroughly charming novel about the folks in North Bath, New York.

But this time, the struggling town is finished – about to be swallowed up by its wealthier neighbors. In these final days, retiring police chief Douglas Raymer has got to solve a mysterious death, and Peter Sullivan has got to figure out if there’s still time to be a good dad. His own father, the famous Sully, may be dead, but he’s still hovering over this whole town, reassuring everybody that it’s never too late for a second chance.

Read an excerpt

“Somebody’s Fool” by Richard Russo (Knopf), in Hardcover, Large Print Paperback, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and


Simon & Schuster

The Mexican-American woman in Brando Skyhorse’s new novel, “My Name is Iris” (Simon & Schuster, a division of Paramount Global), is determined to follow all the rules, fit in and live the American dream.

But soon after buying a house, an enormous wall starts growing out of the ground in her front yard. In this dystopian social satire, Iris realizes that she’ll never be quite white enough for a country obsessed with stigmatizing and excluding immigrants.

Read an excerpt

“My Name Is Iris” by Brando Skyhorse (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and



If you’re on vacation, maybe you want a book that’s easy to dip in and out of. One of my favorite British novelists, Tessa Hadley, has just published a collection of short stories called “After the Funeral” (Knopf).

These pieces catch family members in ordinary moments, but the real action always takes place far beneath the surface with observations that Hadley draws with exquisite skill.

Read an excerpt

“After the Funeral and Other Stories” by Tessa Hadley (Knopf), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and


Simon & Schuster

After fighting in the Civil War as a Union general and serving almost 20 years in the House of Representatives, James Garfield became president of the United States in 1881. But just four months later, he was shot by an assassin, and after lingering for weeks, the president succumbed to his wounds.

In his sweeping new biography, “President Garfield: From Radical to Unifier” (Simon & Schuster, a division of Paramount Global), C.W. Goodyear moves beyond the tragic tale of Garfield’s assassination and illuminates the whole life of this remarkable man and his surprisingly consequential influence on the United States.

Read an excerpt

“President Garfield: From Radical to Unifier” by C.W. Goodyear (Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and

For more suggestions on what to read, contact your librarian or local bookseller. 

That’s it for the Book Report. I’m Ron Charles. Until next time, read on!

For more info: 

For more reading recommendations, check out these previous Book Report features from Ron Charles: 

Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Feeser.

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