The motliest month of the year, at least in terms of genre and theme, July still proves it’s possible to escape the hell of the “beach read,” that virus of literary culture that spreads to every listicle-making curatorial space on the internet. Why not instead wonder about the contradictions of the unknown universe or nuclear proliferation? Or read a noirish novel about violence in Mexico? Or a deceptively lighthearted one about sexual freedom and cultural tourism in Jamaica? It turns out you can read whatever you want on the beach.
The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space, and Modern Cosmology, Stuart Clark (Pegasus Books, July 1)
I haven’t gone to church regularly since childhood, but for as long as I can remember I’ve reflexively Googled terms like “dark matter” and “Large Hadron Collider” on Sundays. But I’m not guided by some vague wonderment about the future of the universe; I’ve found it’s the tension between the knowable and the unknowable that drives modern cosmology more than anything else. You won’t find a better guide to it all than Stuart Clark’s timely new book.