Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008
Memorial Day is in the rear view mirror, and that means summer has unofficially begun...and THAT means, it's time to start thinking about what books you want to read this summer. We've lined up an All Star panel of professional readers and purveyors of the written word to help us generate a list of the perfect books to accompany whatever your summer plans may hold. Be sure to tune in and give us a call with your suggestions Thursday morning at nine, on 90.3
Arts and Culture, Community/Human Interest
The Boffo Book List
From Dave DeOreo, producer, Around Noon
Barter Island by Peter Scott
Local writer’s ode to the 60’s and a small island community off the coast of Maine
Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffsby Chuck Klosterman
Former ABJ writer’s collection of articles for Spin Magazine on pop culture
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Author of “No Country for Old Men” looks into an apocalyptic world through father and son’s journey
Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
Pulitzer winner for Empire Falls (also a great read) tells interweaving tales of man’s life as child and adult in small town America
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
OSU MFA student’s highly acclaimed debut collection of short stories about rural Appalachian Ohio town
From David Molpus, Executive Editor, ideastream
For light entertainment: Robert Palmer’s The First Patient, an over the top medical/political thriller.
To understand the greed and lax regulation behind the subprime mortgage mess: The Trillion Dollar Meltdown by Charles R. Morris, highly readable for an economics primer.
And America’s economic prowess is not so much declining as is the ascendancy of economic clout of the rest of the world, according to Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria in The Post American World.
From Jill Zimon, who blogs like she writes and talks
Madame President: Shattering the Glass Ceiling and War Without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics, both by Eleanor Clift speakand her late husband and PD writer, Tom Brazaitis.
From Dan Bobkoff, politics reporter and temporary SOI producer
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
From Eric Wellman, your Morning Edition host
This isn’t light beach reading, but an excellent book nonetheless: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Better Beach Reading: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
From Dan Moulthrop, your SOI host
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, because sometimes, science fiction is a religious experience
It’s Superman!by Tom de Haven. A thoroughly enjoyable and playful imagining of Clark Kent, the lost years, from Smallville to Metropolis, as directed by the Coen brothers.
And, for younger readers: The Pet of the Met by Lydia and Don Freeman. Recently rediscovered classic from my childhood.
From Mary Doria Russell, the above-mentioned author
I get asked to blurb a lot of books, but very rarely get past page three, because I’m kind of a hard ass about this kind of thing. So you know I mean it when I recommend these two:
The German Bride by Joanna Hershon, Ballantine Books NY 2008 An immigrant tale and a Western, without the Lower East Side or cowboys.
It’s a frontier story unlike any other, and Hershon has told it with grace and skill. Loved it.
The King of Corsica by Michael Kleeberg, Other Press NY 2008 The first few pages are a little confusing—persevere. This is a grand historical novel, sad and funny and beautifully told.
From Jewel Moulthrop, mother of your humble host
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer because these books will open the eyes and the mind.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri because the writing is beautiful, the characters are authentic, and the stories are deeply moving.
From Bridget Whelan, Producer of The Sound of Ideas
The most recent book I read was Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster. It was a quick, fun read about a woman who steals from bums (a Coach bag) and one day finds herself being evicted from an apartment she thought was beneath her in the first place. I particularly liked the comical observations about her fellow neighbors.
The last really great book I read was The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. It’s a twisty book that flips between 2 stories, how Chicago was built into such a glorious city during the World’s Fair and a madman who commits heinous crimes that went unnoticed during such a changing time and environment.
Another book I really enjoyed was Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It’s about a saintly father who does the unexpected to help save his oldest son. Beautiful story told his young daughter’s eyes.
I really enjoy Augusten Burrough’s sense of humor. My favorite book by him was Running with Scissors, and I just picked up his new one, A Wolf at the Dinner Table: A Memoir of my Father.
As far as timeless classics, my favorites are Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
From George Nemeth, who blogs fresh daily
Paper Cities, an anthology of Urban Fantasy.
Rewired, an anthology of post-cyberpunk stories.
From Ben Stark, ace phone screener and cub reporter
Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions . If aliens came to Earth and asked me to give them the one work of art that most accurately represented our culture, this would be it. Hands down, no contest.
The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde . Short, easily-digestible fantasy stories with for both kids and adults, sporting the dark humor of the Brothers Grimm, a pristine sense of childlike wonder, unsettling honesty and sincerity, and a healthy dose of Victorian wit.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales . The best pieces written by the first great American Gothic novelist. Lovecraft singlehandedly invented the contemporary psychological horror story, and without him, better-known masters like Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King never would have existed.
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead. Everybody hears about Rand and her radical individualist philosophy sometime in high school, and most dismiss it as long-winded academic drivel without even bothering to crack one of her books. Surprise! This is an accessible masterwork of a novel, full of romance, political intrigue, beautifully-rendered heroes and villains, and plenty of post-war social commentary.
Dave Barry, Big Trouble. The famous syndicated humor columnist’s first swing at the world of long fiction hits it out of the park. The chronicle of one ridiculous weekend in Miami and prominently featuring pantyhose-clad bandits, an overturned truckload of goats, and a hallucinogenic toad, this is the single funniest book I have ever read.
From the foreclosure desk, aka, ideastream’s Mhari Saito
The Shadow of the Wind by Carl Ruiz Zafon. “I thought this book was going to stink,” says Saito. “I read it for my book club. It was great. A book about a book. With lots of Spanish melodrama. It’s a summer read with brains.”
From Rick Jackson, reporter/host/utility infielder
In the Crime and Detective category, I’ve just cracked James Patterson’s Double Cross, another of the Alex Cross series.
Loving the Biography section of our virtual library, and being a native and true Pittsburgher, I’m also in the midst of Pulitzer winner David Maraniss’ Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.
Over the last year or so, I’ve read several of the Laurell K. Hamilton books about her heroine Anita Blake, the Necromancer and vampire executioner. Don’t ask how I got there, but once I read one – I just had to have more. So, in the Violent Romance category: Guilty Pleasures (her first in the series) and Incubus Dreams.
And though I haven’t finished reading it, I enjoyed, and think NPR listeners would appreciate This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.
From Dave Kanzeg, Director of Programming
Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror. It’s an on-the-ground exploration of the 14th century (AD 1300-1399), which was a worst-of-times/best-of-times moment in world history—the century of the Black Plague, Crusades, Church schism and the Hundred Years War as well as Chartres Cathedral, Italian banking, the rise of universities and the beginnings of the Renaissance. The parallels with our own tortured time are striking.
From Charles Michener, a good friend of SOI
...the new novel Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. It’s not light, but it’s a great read and a totally absorbing picture of a man - a Dutch banker - adrift in post 9/11 New York City. Extraordinarily well-written, multi-layered, not like any other novel I’ve read in a long time.
From Jerry D’Antonio, ideastream Web architect
Carly Fiorina’s memoir Tough Choices, and it was fascinating. Even though she was a technology CEO the book is very accessibly to non-tech readers. The chapters detailing her early career and the hurdles she had to overcome as a woman in business are inspiring.... Since she has started stumping for McCain and there are rumors of a place in his administration if he wins the book may be timely.
From Joe Sheppa, ideastream Web carpenter
The 21 Balloons by William Pene du Bois, Originally a high adventure tale for kids, 21 Balloons offers enough great entertainment for the adult crowd.
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, A different type of outing for the normally verbose horror author, Eyes tells the tale of two brothers and their multi-year struggle over the throne of a faraway kingdom.
And now, YOUR suggestions…
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
God’s Politics: Why the Right Get It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis
You Don’t Know Me by Lori A. Mathews, a mystery crime thriller set in New York City.
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay, a luminous tale centered around a small radio station in Yellowknife, with aptly stark depiction of summer in the barrens of Canada’s far north
Swim to Me by Betty Carter, a girl from New York becomes a mermaid in Florida’s aging tourist attraction, Weeki Wachee Springs. Interesting exploration of the meaning of family and wonderful capture of an era on its way out.
So Brave, Young and Handsome, by Leif Enger (who worked for Minnesota Public Radio for 20 years)--Enger’s first book, Peace Like a River is one of the most beautifully written novels ever.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Dianne Ackerman
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (the new release)
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest by Ellen Meloy
The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard’s Pulitzer prize-winner
The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio--a Memoir by John Gorman (Author), Tom Feran (Adapter)
For people who like fantasy and British humor...any of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. He’s got 36 of them from The Color of Magic in 1985 to Making Money in 2007.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
Blind Fall by Christopher Rice
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Homo Politicus by Dana Milbanks
The Best American Travel Writing 2007 by Susan Orlean
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Bring on the Empty Horses by David Niven
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, the Golden Apple, Leviathan by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
The Attack on Reason by Al Gore
Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker
Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella
The German Bride by Joanna Hershon
The King of Corsica by Michael Kleeberg and David Dollenmayer
One Drop: My Father’s Secret Life – A Story of Race and Family Secrets by Bliss Broyard
Living in Love by Alexandra Stoddard
In the Night Garden by Catherine M. Valente
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and John Scherrill
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilky
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel
Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch
All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House by David Giffels
The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner
Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by Lee Iococca
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
A Triple Shot of Spenser by Robert D. Parker
Industrial Valley by Ruth McKenney
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson
The Rock Pool: A Novel by Cyril Connolly and Peter Quennell
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Pick-Up by Charles Ray Willeford
Into Temptation by Penny Vincenzi
Watermelon by Marian Keyes
The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Netherland: A Novel by Joseph O’Neill
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
Personal History by Katharine Graham
Borges: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
Civilization by Gore Vidal
Lincoln: A Novel by Gore Vidal
The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 by David McCullough
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
The August Wilson Century Cycle by August Wilson
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Dubliners by James Joyce
In the Woods by Tana French
The Likeness: A Novel by Tana French
Dreams From My Father - A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Eleanor vs. Ike: A Novel by Robin Gerber
American Soldier by General Tommy Franks and Malcolm McConnell
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Harriet Logan’s Personal Recommendations:
Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever, Voyage of the Narwhal, Air We Breathe
Adriana Trigiani, Big Stone Gap
Audrey Niffenegger, Time Traveler’s Wife
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
A.S. Byatt, Possession
Kingsolver, Poisonwood Bible
Kostova, The Historian
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday
Charles Chesnutt, Marrow of Tradition, House Behind the Cedars, Conjure Woman
George Elliot, Middlemarch
Yasmina Khadra, The Attack [Israeli Arab]
Michael Chabon, Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind
Santa Montefiore, Sea of Lost Love
Selden Edwards, The Little Book [Vienna, 1897]
Kathryn Davis, The Thin Place
Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book
Bathsheba Monk, Now You See It: Stories From Cokesville, PA
Michael Perry, Truck: A Love Story
Noel Perrin, Reader’s Delight
Nancy Pearl, Book Lust
Bryan Talbot, Alice in Sunderland
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Dave Kellett, Sheldon
Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, Unshelved
Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization
Dalai Lama, The Universe in a Single Atom
Lewis Buzbee, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop
Sara Wheeler, Too Close to the Sun
Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Eidelberg, Gray, Hofer, New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls
Kris Holloway, Monique and the Mango Rains
Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Craig Child, Animal Dialogues: Encounters With Animals in the Wild
Jerome Groopman, How Doctors Think
Bill McKibben, Deep Economy
Ted Steinberg, American Green
Melanie Watt, Chester
Franny Billingsley, Big Bad Bunny
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Adam Rex, The True Meaning of Smekday
Elizabeth Knox, Dreamhunter & Dreamquake
Conn&Hal Iggulden, Dangerous Book for Boys
Andrea Buchanan, Daring Book for Girls
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Helen Wells, Cherry Ames series
Helen Dore Bolyston, Sue Barton series
Rosemary Wells, Voyage to the Bunny Planet
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