The Good Life guide to summer reading
Seven selections to make your travel and beach time a little more enjoyable.
By Nadira A. Hira, FORTUNE writer-reporter

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Whether you're on a summer business trip or stealing a little time for a weekend getaway, chances are you'll be spending more than a few hours flying this season. And what better time to get in some good reading?

But instead of the usual airport paperbacks, we've got a few suggestions for cool summer reads that won't just keep you riveted, they'll excite your inner businessman, too.

Joseph Finder, author of the best-selling "Company Man," is back with a new biz thriller: "Killer Instinct." This one follows electronics salesman Jason Steadman as his unlikely friendship with a Special Forces soldier-turned-tow-truck driver turns deadly. The driver comes to work with Steadman, and it soon becomes evident that he hasn't left his killing days behind him. A bit over the top, yes, but in the spirit of "The Firm" and all those other unbelievable thrillers that we love to love, this one is a crowd pleaser. (St. Martin's Press, $24.95)

If you thought you had problems flying cross-country on business, a quick look at Jonathan Wright's "The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, the Men Who Introduced the World to Itself" should make you feel a whole lot better. This historical account spans over a thousand years of diplomatic journeying, from long voyages on the high seas to the familiar stories, like those of Charlemagne and the Crusades. Casual observers and political aficionados alike should find this most illuminating. (Harcourt, June 5, $26)

For a more focused look at one of the most interesting historical figures you've never heard of, John F. Wasik's "The Merchant of Power: Sam Insull, Thomas Edison, and the Creation of the Modern Metropolis" is more than worth a look. The story of Insull, Thomas Edison's right-hand man and one of the world's richest men in the early 20th century, is also a fascinating cautionary tale. The man who invented the power grid lost it all - including his place in history - in the Great Depression, at least until now. (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95)

If James P. Othmer can write "The Futurist: A Novel" - an excerpt of which was a National Magazine Award finalist - while keeping his day job as an ad executive at Young & Rubicam, what are the rest of us doing? This satire is both a hilarious - and frighteningly accurate - send-up of contemporary corporate culture, and an inspiration to anyone who's lost his creativity to the corporate grind. And J.P. Yates, Othmer's pundit protagonist, who travels around commenting on the "future" of things only to suffer an identity crisis of sorts, is a product of the consultant era that every corporate dweller will recognize. (Doubleday, June 6, $23.95)

If "The Futurist" is too abstract for you, try "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger" - a concrete story if ever there was one. Economist Marc Levinson explores the impact of the shipping container, which (for those of you who had no idea) has been pretty far-reaching. Whether you're a member of the "Guns, Germs, and Steel" crowd or just a curious shipping magnate, the unexpected story of this bit of technology will surprise, inform and entertain. (Princeton University Press, $24.95)

"Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the 1966 World Series That Stunned America" is the newest work from "Long Ball" author Tom Adelman, a gripping story of the Baltimore Orioles 1966 World Series upset over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's summer, it's suspense - well, sort of - and it's the kind of action that any business traveler worth his salt won't be able to resist. (Little, Brown, $24.95)

For anyone who remembers the crazy boom times, and the even crazier bust, Jonathan A. Knee's "The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street" is a must. This tell-all chronicles Knee's time at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, revealing a world that rivals "24" in intrigue and drama. It won't be out until Aug. 29, but this is one to put on the calendar. (Oxford University Press, Aug. 29, $25)

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