Summer Reading List: The Best of 2004

Book Critics and Callers on Reading Picks for Vacation

Cover of 'My California'

The San Francisco Chronicle's David Kipen likes the literary mix of My California: Journeys by Great Writers. hide caption

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Most of us only get a couple of weeks of freedom during the summer, and it's important not to waste those summer idylls on less than terrific books. NPR's Neal Conan and guests consider a wide range of genres in assembling Talk of the Nation's summer reading list. We'll look at mysteries, modern fiction, history, books on politics and ones that will take us to far flung locations.

Here are some of our guests' recommendations for the best of summer 2004:

David Kipen, Book Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle

My California: Journeys by Great Writers

Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me by Craig Seligman

Dante's Inferno, Sandow Birk

Murdered by Capitalism: A Memoir of 150 Years of Life and Death on the American Left by John Ross

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in The World, Chris Ware

Laura Miller, book critic for Salon

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Ghost Writer, John Harwood

Kings of Infinite Space, James Hynes

The Queen of the South, Arturo Perez-Reverte

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Steve Coll

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies, James Bamford

My Life, Bill Clinton

Audio Books Suggested by Don Katz, Founder of Audible, Inc.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris

Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them, Al Franken

Bag of Bones, Stephen King

My Life, Bill Clinton

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Steve Brumfield, co-owner, Manteo Booksellers, in Manteo, N.C.

How to Read a North Carolina Beach, Orrin Pilkey

Billy Bluefish & Crabby & Nabby of the Suzanne Tate Nature Series

NPR's Neal Conan

Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Dan Okrent

It's A Bird, Steven Seagle

Caller Suggestions

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon

A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Palomar, Hugo Hernandez

Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and '60s

How to Ruin Your Financial Life, Ben Stein

The Birth of the Chess Queen, Marilyn Yalom

The Pleasure of My Company, Steve Martin

Eragon, Christopher Paolini

Zoo Gang Girls, Joan Arndt

The Damp Chamber and Other Bad Places, Frank Chigas

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall

Cork Boat, John Pollack

My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult

Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson

Angels & Demons, Dan Brown

Terminal Point, Dan Brown

Digital Fortress, Dan Brown

Web Resources

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