Detail from the cover of Saving Milly by Morton Kondracke.
Whether it's the indulgent hours or lighter genres, summer reading is characterized by its reverie. In My Summer Books, NPR hosts and reporters share their memories of summer reading and books. Today, award winning investigative reporter, Danny Zwerdling.
When you think about summer reading is there a place or time that is special to you?
I read anywhere: on the subway, planes, in cafes. I finished one of the most painful books I've ever read in one of the loveliest spots I've ever been -- Saving Milly by Morton Kondracke. I was in Sicily with my wife a few years ago. We were sitting in a cafe in a piazza in this little village by the sea, Scopello, drinking espresso. We had both known Mort and his wife Milly for years in a causual way, and it's a very, very upsetting book. He talks about how her life has been taken over by Parkinson's disease and how her family's life has tragically changed with hers. But it's so beautifully written and so honest. In this slim little volume, my wife and I learned so much about this person we thought we knew.
We were sitting in this cafe, and my wife and I looked up at each other as I finished the last page -- she had just finished the book too -- and it was a beautiful day, and we both burst into tears. You know how you can never find a pay phone anymore. Well, amazingly, we saw these two little glass booths, and amazingly, the phone worked, and amazingly, Mort was at home. I don't know if he believed we were calling from Italy, but we just had to tell him what a beautiful story he had told.
Are you drawn to different books in the summer?
I guess I like summer reading all year long. I love wonderful poetic writing, and I also love a great plot, something to keep me going, hooked. I like really well-written thrillers, but they're hard to find.
One of my favorites recently is Protect and Defend by Richard North Patterson. He was a lawyer for many years. He worked in a tangential way with the Watergate Committee, and so he knows Washington. He's not the most poetic novelist, but in some ways, this book is brilliant.
It's the single best thing I've read about the dilemma of abortion. It's totally gripping, and it's fairhanded. He captures the people who are horrified that abortion is the taking of a life and believe that it's murder. He gets the people who exploit those feelings for political ends, on both the left and the right, and he understands the people who genuinely feel it's a moral choice. It's just an amazing book.
I also love John le Carre and am always eagerly awaiting his books. I love Scott Turow. And everyone once in a while I love -- I deserve to get a People magazine.