Summer Reading Lists
Our listeners share their favorite hot-weather tomes
Summer 2001 -- What's on America's summer reading list? All Things Considered asked listeners around the country -- including a rancher, a nuclear engineer, a retiree and an elementary school student -- what they’re reading this summer. Their choices range from best-selling fiction to the history of Egyptian mythology.
Here, the summer reading lists of those listeners, along with their comments.
Nichelle's reading list is full of authors who have inspired her writing.
Los Angeles, California
Listen to Nichelle's reading list
The final part to our summer reading series comes from a writer. Nichelle Tramble is the author of a mystery novel, The Dying Ground. This summer, she has started writing a new book, as well as doing some reading of her own.
Swimming Sweet Arrow by Maureen Gibbon
"That was wonderful. Her voice is very authentic. She writes about working class characters and there's no wink in her eye at the reader about their lives. She allows them to be themselves, mistakes and all."
Bitterroot by James Lee Burke
"It's his second mystery novel featuring Billy Bob Holland, an ex-Texas Ranger who is now a lawyer. James Lee Burke is one of my favorites. He is always consistent."
Justin Rood is publisher of Maryland-based Robin's Lane Press.
Listen to Justin's reading list
As the publisher of a family-owned publishing company, it's his job to review dozens of manuscripts every week. But that doesn't stop him from buying more books for his own pleasure. He's using the summer to catch up on his personal backlist.
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Greeley
"She came home when she was nine years old with a toothache, and they took her to a doctor and it turned out to be cancer. So it's the story of her month-long visits to the doctor and getting chemotherapy treatments. What would otherwise simply be a litany of tragedies, she really makes sparkle with a tremendous intellect and a really great streak of dark Irish humor."
A Collection of Essays by George Orwell
"I had to read an essay of his on writing when I was a freshman in college. Since I have been doing so much editing on my own now professionally, I wanted to go back to read that essay."
Speaking with the Angel edited by Nick Hornby
"I picked this one up actually because I really liked the cover. And that's probably the worst admission a publisher could make."
Gunnery Sergeant Walter Benefield is already through his first two books of the summer but hasn't decided what to read next.
Camp Lajeune, North Carolina
Listen to Walter's reading list
Walter Benefield, a Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, also reviews books by African-American authors for the Web site Suite101.com.
Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
"Middle Passage refers to that passage in the Atlantic that slave ships rode through. Charles Johnson is a great story teller… so it's something I can always go back to. And I enjoy it every time."
Gabriel's Story by David Anthony Durham
"It's a coming-of-age tale and it kind of reminded me of my youth. It basically tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who's kind of uprooted from his life in the city. Thrust into the plains… he sees an opportunity among the cowboys and gets more than he bargained for. But he learns something about himself, his family and the important things in life in the process."
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
"a collection of short stories described as mean and funny at the same time."
Chandler is six years old and starts first grade in the fall.
Listen to Chandler's reading list
His summer project is to get through all 10 books in the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit series. With six of them already under his belt, he's well on his way.
The longest book Chandler has read so far is The Wizard of Oz, though he does admit to a little help from his dad.
Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter
"I thought it was a very good story and it turned out to be a good story... because when you read it, it sounds happy."
Paige Donner is a writer and director living in Malibu, California. Her reading list reflects her California lifestyle.
Listen to Paige's reading list
The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson
"There are twins and they're growing up in Palos Verdes. They've moved over here from the Midwest and it's about how surfing becomes their claim on life as they make the transition to being accepted by the other surfers of Palos Verdes, which is a very upscale neighborhood just south of Manhattan Beach here."
Einstein's Dreams by Alan P. Lightman
"It's his exploration into what kinds of dreams Einstein was having before he came upon his theory of relativity, so it's an exploration on time-space relationships."
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
"The heroine is overweight so you hear a lot about the life of people who are overweight. She almost starts off the novel saying it's the last accepted prejudice. She's a journalist too; she's an entertainment journalist so you get a lot of Hollywood, which always seems to sell."
Brandon Blackburn is busy writing his Ph.D. thesis at MIT, but he still manages a few reading projects.
Listen to Brandon's reading list
At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon William Prange
"It is a seminal work on Pearl Harbor. The book actually goes through a lot of the buildup and the political situations not only in this country but in Japan. I really like the military history part of things."
The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan
"It's kind of a historical study of the time immediately after the death of Christ…kind of the build up and the first couple of decades of Christianity."
The Gods of the Egyptians by Sir E.A. Wallis Budge
"E.A. Wallace Budge was the curator of the British Museum in the late 1800's. This book was first published in 1904... so it's interesting to compare it to some of the views held by current Egyptologists."
When Doug Cooper isn't working on his ranch, he's often out fighting forest fires.
Listen to Doug's reading list
Touching the Void and
This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson
"Simpson had several very bad falls while climbing and had some amazing survival abilities.... One of the things I think is important about summer reading is that it better be a little more exciting than winter reading -- it's gotta hold your attention."
Year of the Fires by Stephen J. Pyne
"A book about the catastrophic 1910 fires all across the United States."
Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andrei Makine
"A book about a boy who's part French and part Russian growing up in the Soviet Union. It tells about his grandmother living through the revolution and World War II and it's a historical account of his own family."
Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns by Ian McIntyre
"The latest book about the poet from Scotland."
Mary Ellen says: "When I go up to mountains, I have a favorite chair that looks out over the valley. That's my favorite place to read."
Mary Ellen Danley
Sun City, Arizona
Listen to Mary Ellen's reading list
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
"This is quite popular at my library. Supposedly this is Binchy's last book."
Wild Decembers by Edna O'Brien
"It's really gloomy but beautifully written. It's kind of like Wuthering Heights in a more contemporary setting."
Twelve Days of Terror: A Definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks by Richard Fernicola
"A shark attack in New Jersey.... It looks facinating -- it has pictures and everything."
The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
"I loved it. It's about Ojibwe Indian tribe in North Dakota and a catholic priest. It's sort of a prequel to Erdrich's other books."
Other Reading Lists from All Things Considered
Alan Cheuse's Summer Reading List
The Top 100 Books Since 1900