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Published: Sunday, July 6, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Books for summer: Suggestions from Herald readers and staff

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Summer, because of thoughts of leisure time and warm lazy afternoons, seems well matched to reading books. But what to read? We asked Herald readers and staff to tell us what book or books they were looking forward to reading — or had already started reading — this summer and a little about how they like to read. Regardless of which genre you prefer, we think you'll find something of interest among these suggestions.
“Under the Wide and Starry Sky” by Nancy Horan and “One Time One Game” by Jeff Scurran
Why: Western Washington author Horan's “first novel a couple of years ago was ‘Loving Frank,' which was excellent and about Frank Lloyd Wright and her new book has Robert Louis Stevenson as the main male character, but she writes from the female side — so his wife, Fanny, is the main character as was Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress turned wife. Horan writes a fabulous story — and when I was walking down at the Everett Marina last weekend I stopped longer at the Equator to imagine the book's characters living on her in the 1800s.
“On a Kindle I am reading ‘One Time One Game,' which is brand new and maybe just out in paperback the past few weeks. It's about a Jr. College football team at Pima/Southern Arizona that defied the odds of college politics, a coach that had to give notice before the season began and their tenacious season and trip to a Texas Bowl game as 40-point underdogs. It reads like a movie. And for me — my son Curtis Williams (Jackson graduate) and JJ Butler (Cascade graduate) played that season with the team. To be reading about my son's freshman college football season, the fact that the coach wrote a book about it — I am on the phone to Curtis in Calgary every few evenings talking about what's happening in the book. It's a great story for sports fans.”
Carole Williams, Everett
* * *
“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd
Why: “Based on a true story, it's the fictionalized account of a young white woman in the old South who speaks out for abolition and a young black woman who was her slave companion.”
“The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
Why: “The true story of the 1936 University of Washington (rowing) crew that went to the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany and won the gold medal.”
“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman
Why: “A novel about a young Australian lighthouse keeper and his new wife who take in an infant girl who mysteriously washes ashore in a boat on their remote island in the years after World War I.”
“The English Girl” by Daniel Silva
Why: “The latest suspense novel from perhaps the best contemporary writer in his genre.”
How and where: “I read only bound books, usually in front of the fireplace in the winter, on my deck in the summer and in bed before I go to sleep.”
Rich Myhre, Herald writer
* * *
“The Sparrow,” its sequel, “Children of God,” and “Doc” by Mary Doria Russell
Why: “I've already read all three, but re-reading them is a delight. I'll probably start with ‘Doc,' then more to ‘The Sparrow.' ”
Kimbery Loomis, via Facebook
* * *
“The Guns of August” by Barbara W. Tuchman
Why: “Last week was the 100th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination at the hands of Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. The archduke's death sparked The Great War, or as we know it World War I, and ‘The Guns of August' is a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the entire war. I've wanted to read Barbara W. Tuchman's acclaimed book for a long time, so I thought what better time to do it than around the centenary anniversary.”
How and where: “I'll be reading an old hardback edition in my backyard (mostly).”
Aaron Swaney, Herald Features Editor
* * *
“Confronting Memories of World War II,” edited by Daniel Chirot, Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel Sneider
Why: This “is a fine summer read, and hot off the press from the University of Washington. Also, it is available through Sno-Isle Libraries.
“Chapters in the book review the impact of World War II on European and Asian countries and their relationships. The book shows how national history (and myth) construct an identity of a people, by emphasizing the country or people's uniqueness, innocence, and tenacity in the fight against an oppressor — and downplaying or ignoring their own guilty acts and collaboration with the occupiers.
“The essays deal with post-WWII relations between aggressor (Germany, Japan, the USSR) and victim nations (Poland, China, eastern Europe), and describe how blame can be apportioned on all sides, and how some nations have made true restitution for oppression and violence, and how some have performed on a scale from so-so to poor.
“The book is hugely informative, provocative, and highly recommended.”
M.J. Mates, Monroe
* * *
“Everest 1953” by Mick Conefrey
Why: “I've always been fascinated by the limits of human endurance. This year, after the tragedy that killed 16 Sherpas, I want to read more about the history of the mountain. I've already started the book, reading before bed each night. And although the story is long since history, and I already know how it ends, I keep finding myself reading past midnight, finally putting the book down when my eyes are too scratchy to go on.”
“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver
Why: “I've loved everything of Kingsolver's. Yet, somehow, I've been holding off. ‘Prodigal Summer,' also by Kingsolver, is one of my top two favorite books. I've read it endlessly and love it in every detail. ‘Flight Behavior' returns to Appalachia, the same setting as ‘Prodigal Summer.' I think I'm nervous that, somehow, I'm giving this book too high of a standard to live up to. I have the audiobook, though, and it's all ready to load on my phone. I think I'll save it for my next vacation, to savor.
How: “I'm choosing specifically to listen to, rather than read, this book because it's read by Barbara Kingsolver. She also read ‘Prodigal Summer' and she's a talented narrator. Hearing a book read by the author adds an extra depth and richness to the story.”
Jessi Loerch, Herald Writer
* * *
“How to Think Like a Freak” by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
Why: “I like books that make me think about the way I think. (And the authors write with irreverent and self-deprecating wit.)”
How: “Dead trees.”
Where: “Wherever I can steal a few minutes to read during the day and in bed before I go to sleep.”
Dan Catchpole, Herald Writer
* * *
“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford, “The Shoemaker's Wife” by Adriana Trigiani, “Molokai & Honolulu” by Alan Brennert, “The Glass Castle” and “Half Broke Horses” by Jeanette Walls, “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty
Why: “Reading is so relaxing — it helps me unwind and go to sleep. There's not much time in the day to read but sometimes when the yard work is pretty much caught up my husband and I sit outside (on a nice day) with a glass of wine and read our books.
How: “I read paperbacks or hardbound books. I don't have a Kindle yet.”
Ilene Engebretsen, Granite Falls
* * *
“Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World” by Matthew Goodman
Why: “I found this book while browsing in a bookstore. I knew of the trip of Nellie Bly but didn't know of the second competing trip that the editors of Cosmopolitan magazine organized for a second journalist, Elizabeth Bisland. In addition, the author paints the historic era so nicely with all sorts of additional information, trends and happenings in American history that are easily forgotten. You certainly don't have to be a journalist to enjoy this book.”
Others: “One of the books by a favorite author I like to re-read every year, anything by Harriet Doerr. These include: ‘Stones for Ibarra,' ‘Consider This, Senora,' ‘The Tiger in the Grass.' There is not a more elegant writer around, who makes every single word have purpose.”
How: “Generally paperback or bound books. I spend some much time in front of a screen every day, it's nice to hold a book in your hands. I do read books on occasion on a tablet.”
Where: “Generally at home. A chair, the couch.”
Sharon Salyer, Herald Writer
* * *
“Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon
“Even though Michael Chabon wrote one of my all-time favorite novels, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,' his latest, which came out in 2012, was completely off my radar until a friend asked me if I'd heard of it. ‘Telegraph Avenue' loosely centers around a record shop in Oakland and features plenty of musical esoterica — famous sidemen and b-sides — but mostly promises a strong story filled with humor and action.”
How: “I don't own an e-reader, opting for a nice paperback. Really, I'll read whatever someone lets me borrow, including the library.”
When and where: “Well, either before bed on the futon or, like anyone else when it really comes down to it, in the ‘library' — and by ‘library,' I mean the place where we keep all of our magazines — and by that place I of course mean the bathroom.”
Mark Mulligan, Herald Chief Photographer
* * *
“Plant Lover's Guide to Dahlias” by Andy Vernon
Why: “For many years I've admired the beautiful dahlia garden at Legion Park that the Snohomish County Dahlia Society creates. This spring the society didn't plant the dahlias, perhaps because of the upcoming arsenic removal project.
“So I decided to grow some dahlias at home and bought two starts at Sorticulture. I hope that the book will provide helpful tips since I don't have a green thumb. If I fail — something has already eaten most of one of the plants — I can at least enjoy the many color photos.
How and where: “I prefer to read books on paper rather than on a screen. My favorite place to read is outside in a lawn chair on a warm day.”
Connie Veldink, Everett
* * *
“A Summer to Die” by Lois Lowry
Why: “I first snagged this off a library shelf more than 20 years ago. Even then, I didn't care for the title; it captures none of the grace of the story itself, about a teenage girl whose life is upended by her family's move to rural New England and her older sister's slow death from leukemia. It's a quiet book about youth and age, love and grief. It puts me in mind of that first twilight near summer's end when you feel fall in the air and can no longer pretend the days aren't growing short.
“A few months ago, I found my well-loved copy in a box I'd set aside for safekeeping, and when I turned to the first page, the words were still familiar. Re-reading a book you loved as a kid can be a dicey business; should the story disappoint, it's ruined forever. But in this case, I have no qualms; I'm only eager to see what this book will say to me now that it didn't when I was younger. It's a slender volume, only 120 pages, and so I'm saving it for the right moment. Some warm evening in late summer, I think, as the season is starting to turn.”
Katie Mayer, Herald Visuals Editor
* * *
“Act One” by Moss Hart
Why: “I'm looking forward to re-reading Moss Hart's memoir “Act One,” which I read when it was first published many years ago.”
How: “I'll be reading it on my Kindle.”
Judy Kessinger, Mill Creek
* * *
“Where'd You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple, “Second Watch” by J.P. Beaumont, and “The Forgotten” and “The Whole Truth” by David Baldacci
Why: “Yes, I do sometimes read two books at one time. One light and one intense. I have no idea where I acquired (“Bernadette”) but it looks light and fun. And who does not love reading about Seattle (“Second Watch”) and J. P. Beaumont. I also will read “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks, whose books I cherish.”
Lorraine Koch
* * *
“Border Songs” by Jim Lynch, “Tibetan Peach Pie,” by Tom Robbins, “Still Life With Bread Crumbs,” by Anna Quindlen
“I gave a paperback copy of ‘Border Songs' to my father-in-law. He was so enthused about this funny novel that he passed it on to somebody else before I could borrow it. The reviews say it's a witty and tender story about Brandon Vanderkool, a big guy from a Dutch dairy family, who works as a member of the Border Patrol between Whatcom County and British Columbia. Vanderkool likes to watch birds and yet he seems to stumble upon every illegal deal going on between Blaine and Sumas. Lynch's style has been compared to that of Ken Kesey and Tom Robbins. That's a good thing.
Where: “I will read it in bed.”
“I hope Robbins' new book comes out in paperback soon. Robbins lives a few miles from me. I interviewed him in college about being a newspaper art critic and have read most of his books, such as ‘Another Roadside Attraction,' ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues' and ‘Still Life with Woodpecker.' This memoir is sure to be fun. He may be 82, but Robbins is still hip.”
Where: “I probably will read this sitting outside in the garden.”
“A hardbound copy of Quindlen's novel was given to me late last year by my husband, who knows I love this former newspaperwoman's fiction. It's a love story set later in the life of protagonist Rebecca Winter, a photographer.
Where: “I keep trying to read it in bed, but it's not working. Hardbacks are difficult to hold in bed. I think I am going to have to make a habit of reading a few minutes at the breakfast table.”
Gale Fiege, Herald Writer
* * *
“Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese
Why: “Recently I finished this. This came out five years ago, but since I get a lot of my books from used sources, I'm often behind the curve. The novel begins on a note of high drama and excitement — a young nun is in crisis, giving birth to twin boys in an Ethiopian hospital in 1954, and it's hard to maintain that level throughout a 600-plus-page book, but he just about does it. The language is lyrical and the characters and story close to mystical at times. It spans 60 years, though most of it takes place in Ethiopia in the '50s and '60s and New York City in the '70s and '80s. There are a lot of graphic descriptions of operations, diseases, etc., so the squeamish are warned.
Other books: “I'm also just about done with ‘Breaking Night' by Liz Murray, an Everett Public Library book. I had heard Murray's story ‘Homeless to Harvard' on a TV newsmagazine show years ago and always wanted to read her inspirational memoir. It is remarkably free of bitterness, even though Liz and her sister had a childhood marked by grinding poverty, frequently actually going hungry. I also think that it would be suitable for readers as young as 12 because she manages to keep the language pretty clean and drug and sexual activities are not described explicitly.
“I also got interested in reading ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones' by Ann Head, borrowed from the Everett Public Library. I worked in the library in high school and noticed that this book, published in 1967, was getting checked out a lot, but didn't read it myself at the time. It's what we would probably call YA now, the story of July Greher and Boswell Johnson Jones, a middle-class teenage couple in a small southern town in the early 1960s. They decide to elope when she becomes pregnant and the novel deals with the ensuing complications, mostly with parents. Head's matter-of-fact, first person 16-year-old girl voice feels very natural and I'm sure that's the reason it's continued to resonate with readers after almost 50 years. It is still heavily reviewed on Amazon.”
Della Scott, Everett
* * *
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series
Why: “I'm re-reading the 20-book Aubrey/Maturin series, dealing with the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. Yes, a project, but a rewarding one if you're a reader of history, a maritime buff or a fan of swashbuckling adventure. This is the series from which the movie ‘Master and Commander' was made, starring Russell Crowe. Each book can stand alone, but they're best in series and read quickly. O'Brian has written arguably the best fiction extant on wooden ships and iron men.”
Wayne Kruse, Herald Writer
* * *
“Never Say Goodbye: A Love Story of Life After Death” by Mary M. Fern
Why: “This newly released book has sold out once already on Amazon in paperback, but is also offered as a Kindle download. Fern is a nationally recognized Western Washington author. A fabulous summertime, or anytime read, this book tells the true story of your average family next door that suffers life's greatest loss but proves that love is stronger than any derailment that is thrown at them.
“I know it will entertain, provide laughs, tears, and thoughtful insight to all and best yet, is certain to touch someone out there who can relate personally. A perfect summertime book is one that evokes all emotions.”
Melisa Cameron, Everett
* * *
“Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter
Why: “Spokane author Walter just made Time magazine's top beach books with the paperback version of his best-seller. Sweet-but-simple Italian innkeeper falls in love with a young actress who has been impregnated by Richard Burton during the filming of ‘Cleopatra.' Story stretches out over 40 years, from the coast of Italy to Hollywood to Northern Idaho.”
Neal Pattison, Herald Executive Editor
* * *
“The Cutting Season” by Attica Locke
Why: “The Cutting Season is a historical murder mystery that takes place on Belle Vie a Louisiana plantation. Swinging back and forth between slavery days and present time, it examines Louisiana economics, the shifting definition of family and the power of love. I couldn't put it down.
How and where: “I enjoy reading both hardback and paperback books, ANYWHERE.”
Colleen Casler, South Everett
* * *
“Birds Without Wings” by Louis de Bernieres
Why: “A friendly recommended it recently. Currently I'm reading “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham. I'm fascinated by the characters and events. I recently read “Sara's Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay and couldn't put it down, as it reminded me of Anne Frank's story.”
Rosa Barringer
* * *
“The Complete Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson
Why: “My girlfriend had never read Calvin and Hobbes comic strips before, so I decided I needed to fix that. But before I lent it to her, I started reading them myself. Now I'm almost halfway through the four-volume, 1,440-page journey for about the 1,769th time. (It goes by fast.)
“In a great sign for our relationship, she has loved Calvin and Hobbes, too.”
How: “Bound book. I'm old school.”
Where: “Wherever it's safe to laugh out loud.”
David Krueger, Herald Writer
* * *
“Wait Till Next Year” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and “My Life in France” by Julia Child
Why: “These are books I had started earlier before life got in the way. So I've resolved to finish them this summer. Fortunately, neither is of ‘War and Peace' girth. I bought the Kearns Goodwin memoir because I've admired her work, even as an unread ‘Team of Rivals' weighs on my conscience and my nightstand. And because it's about a storied era of baseball when the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants all still played in New York.
“Child's memoir has intrigued me since I learned she worked for the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, during World War II. The work obviously rubbed off on her, as copies of her recipes for her iconic book on French cooking are marked ‘Top Secret.' ”
How: “I prefer bound books, as I've conked myself in the face when falling asleep reading my iPad.”
Jon Bauer, Herald Writer
Story tags » Books

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