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Susan Fales-Hill clearly knows what makes a good read. Tuesday night, at a party to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, “One Flight Up,” which follows four Manhattan friends questioning their romantic relationships, the evening’s host, Isaac Mizrahi, gave Fales-Hill a rousing endorsement.

This story first appeared in the August 5, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We have so much in common, like the ballet. And then I read her book and realized we have even more in common: She has a very racy side to her,” he said to the cocktail crowd gathered in his boutique, including actress Diahann Carroll, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia and Thelma Golden.

“Yes, Isaac, I come out to you as a closeted hoochie,” shot back Fales-Hill.

Here, the author shares her personal summer-reading list with WWD. Break out your Kindles.


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1. Let’s begin with the heady and weighty, the brilliant historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed’s “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” I’m obsessed with the tale of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to his slave mistress, Sally Hemings, and his (now DNA-verified) slave son. It’s the quintessential emblem of the dysfunctional, incestuous black-white family that is America, and Gordon-Reed’s research is exhaustive and meticulous.

2. “Wench,” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. The debut novel of another gifted historian explores the lives of slave mistresses on their annual holiday in what was once a lakeside resort and is now Wilberforce University in Ohio. Like “The Hemingses,” this book movingly delves into the tangled history of the so-called races.

3. I cannot wait to read Alexandra Lebenthal’s “The Recessionistas.” Given Alexandra’s profound knowledge of high finance and the high life, it’s bound to be a winner. Besides, how can we not love a book with Judith Leiber bags on its cover?

4. On Sunday afternoons, I’m traveling to Buenos Aires and Tuscany and exploring Manhattan with shoemaker Valentine Roncalli, heroine of “Brava, Valentine,” the sequel to Adriana Trigiani’s bestseller, “Very Valentine.” No one spins a tale of love and family with the humor and heart of this Italian-American author raised in Big Stone Gap, Va. Instead of going into therapy, Trigiani has blessed the world with literature that restores our faith in the possibilities of love.

5. When my family and I go off on holiday at the end of summer, I’ll be packing Isabel Allende’s “Island Beneath the Sea,” a love story set in 18th-century Haiti before and during its war of independence against France.

Is there a theme building here? Yes! I love books that either help me escape or help me understand how we got where we are today. As the saying goes, “A people without a knowledge of its past is like a tree without its roots.” For me, the only roots I don’t want to explore are my gray hair roots!

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