Dip into the summer reading pool with these hot book picks
By ASHLEY SANDERS & MATTHEW DANELO
May 27, 2009"Frankly my dear ... " it's time you get a new summer read.
Posted: May 27, 2009, 5:15 PM CDT Last updated: May 27, 2009, 10:39 PM CDT
Beach season and long lazy days have arrived! In anticipation of future family road trips and days spent sea side, we asked some familiar names to share their favorite summer literary picks.
Patsy Herrington, director of the W.H. Stark House in Orange
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan -- "Horan's first novel - a fictional story based on the lives of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney."
Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother by Meg Federico. "A timely story about the last years of a parent's life."
Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum. "Excellent account of lives before and after Katrina in New Orleans."
A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems. "First published in late 1950s, the story of the 1900 Storm in Galveston."
David Sorrells, associate professor of English at Lamar State College-Port Arthur
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Following the tragic death of his wife and best friend, Shadow meets and starts a relationship with Mr. Wednesday, a trickster and a con. In the end, it will be up to Shadow to find his way out of the dark to redemption.
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. An entertaining novel set in North London, where the Greek gods have been living in obscurity since the seventeenth century.
Just After Sunset by Stephen King. Call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you.
-"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling
"Now, I'm rereading 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' before the movie comes out! This new installment presents parents and kids with yet another opportunity to read and enjoy a well-crafted story together, both in print and on the screen."
Carol Boettcher, education coordinator at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur
-"Shopaholic" series by Sophie Kinsella.
"They are light, funny and easy to read - in my mind they are the perfect weekend at the beach kind of book. Plus, the movie 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' comes out on DVD in June.
-"Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. "Bees" was Boettcher's favorite summer read of 2008.
-"Always Looking Up" By Michael J. Fox.
Fox's autobiography is on Boettcher's list for this summer.
-"Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell.
Boettcher, who describes herself as an avid reader, said she wants to catch up with Gladwell's lasted book this summer. "I read Gladwell's 'Blink' and 'Tipping Point' last summer/fall and loved them both."
Molli Hall, Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library in Nederland
- "Spiderwick Chronicles" by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
"For the younger grade schooler we suggest 'The Spiderwick Chronicles,' the Judy Moody series and the Stink series (he is Judy Moody's brother and is just right for boys)."
- "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling.
"For middle school students we suggest the Harry Potter series and the Eragon series. But for some of the kids who would be less likely to read, there is a wide range of graphic novels that are popular and fun to read."
-"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Jane Austen Seth Grahame-Smith
"High schoolers are now moving into the adult fiction and even some of the classic titles to get ready for school. But for the ones that are not really sure. a new title has come out called 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. And yes, there are zombies in it as it follows the classic story."
- "Last Cato" by Matilde Asensi.
"Last Cato" blends Christian scholarship with a thrilling adventure into Vera Cruz as holy relics begin disappearing from the Vatican.
- "Promises in Death" by J.D. Robb.
A fictional investigation into the death of a New York City cop who was gunned down with her own weapon just steps from her home.
Cindy Giglio, Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Beaumont
"Katherine" by Anya Seaton.
"It's a classic romance novel that tells the true story of a love affair during the War of the Roses. It was my mother's favorite. I read it after she passed away and now my daughter loves it."
Patsy Gage, Beaumont Public Library
"Michelle," by Liza Mundy
"It's a great biography that tells you about our First Lady, where she came from, and why she has the views that she has."
Brook Doss, Orange Community Players
"Wicked" by Gregory McGuire.
"Is a great Broadway musical based on the book. It is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good witch- BEFORE Dorothy and company make it into Oz. A LOT of fun!"
Marquelia Hartman, Beaumont Public Library
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley. It's a redemption story and murder mystery wrapped into one as the protagonist tries to solve a crime while making up for his past mistakes. "It makes you want to keep reading it - you can't put it down."
Shannon Harris, director of the Museum of the Gulf Coast
I have so many favs but here are a few:
"Jackdaws" by Ken Follett.
"A nail-biting novel."
"Life on the Color Line" by Gregory Howard Williams.
"Is a gut-wrenching autobiography."
"Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.
"An inspirational memoir."
Geri Roberts, Library Director, Beaumont Public Library
The Diary by Eileen Goudge. Two sisters unravel the story of who their mother's true love was when they find her old diary after her death.
Louise Wood, communications at Lamar University in Beaumont
For light, escapist summer reads, I recommend any of several offerings from the detective/crime genre:
-Raymond Chandler's "Phillip Marlow" series, just read #1, The Big Sleep
-John D. MacDonald's "Travis McGee" series-John Sandford's "Lucas Davenport" -- Rules Of Prey (Lucas Davenport, #1)
-James Lee Burke's "Dave Robicheaux" -- The Neon Rain (#1)
-Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" -- The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, Book 1)
-Jeffert Deaver's "Lincoln Rhyme" -- The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme, #1)
-Michael Connelly's "Harry Bosch" -- The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, #1)
"And, my most recent discovery, Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie series, about a cat (Midnight Louie) and a PR woman (Temple Barr) who solve crimes in Vegas - very light and escapist. I read the fourth in the series and am now starting from the first. The 21st is due out in August. I happen to have a list because the first read piqued my interest."
"For serious reading, my all-time favorite is Lawrence Durrell's 'Alexandria Quartet' - 'Justine,' 'Balthazar,' 'Mountolive' and 'Clea.' The quartet features different vantage points on the same story, plus amazingly drawn characters in exotic settings, pure poetry."
Robin Smith, children's librarian, Beaumont Public Library
"The Graveyard Book," by Neil GaimanThe most recent winner of the Newbery Medal follows the story of a boy who's raised by a family of ghosts after his family is killed by a stranger.
Jerome Dick, Neches River Festival chairperson
"I'm currently reading 'Garden Spells' by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a whimsical, romantic, and light summer read. The characters are intriguing, and the plot is engaging. No heavy lifting required. The overall tone of the book is Southern and charming like sipping on iced tea with fresh mint and honey on a shady wooden porch with a porch swing. You can smell the jasmine and gardenias as the sisters of this eclectic family slowly unwind a few family snarls from years gone by. I haven't finished it, but it definitely gets me in the mood for the slower rhythms of summer."
Yvonne Sutherlin, Port Arthur historian
-"Love Janis", by Laura Joplin (her sister.)
"By far the best written documentation of the real Janis Joplin - a MUST summer read. Laura presents the REAL story of Janis as shown by the letters Janis wrote to her family - it is at times funny, heartbreaking, and fascinating.
Janis' lifestyle, her choice of language, and her attempts to cook and make her own costumes, et al, leave an impression - that yes, Janis was different - then aren't we all different from one another? Forget what you have heard and/or read - read 'Love Janis' and form your own opinion."
BE columnists share their summer reading picks
The Gator (BeaumontEnterprise.com/bayou):
Any guy that pens a trifecta like this, is a-ok with us.
-Neil Strauss, author of "How to make love like a porn star," "Motley Crue: The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band," and "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists" (imitation leather edition, no less), has released an uber-manly survival guide. His latest, "Emergency," explains how to get out of almost any jam - terrorist attack, wars, riots and - yes - even hurricanes. Being manly is one thing, living to tell the tale in another.
- A new edition of this Texas tale came out late last summer, and we're fixin' to finally dig in. If you're from Texas, you obviously love football. Jim Dent, who wrote about Bear Bryant's 1954 Aggies in The Junction Boys, is at it again with "Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football." Like a good underdog story? This is it.
- Released just in time for sun, sand and surf is a book we plan on reading to our lil' gators: "Mr. Gator goes to the Beach." Watch your back!
"Writers tend to read, and I usually keep three or four books going at once, currently --
-Barbershop while waiting for a trim: "Fitness For Dummies." A little off the sides, please.
-Bathroom while waiting: "The King and His Court." Yet another biography on Henry VIII. Started reading it in December and am on Page 33.
-Beach lit while hoping to tan: "Leading With My Chin" by Jay Leno, his life story. The soon-to-be-retired host of "The Tonight Show" provides enough one-liners to keep the dimmest wits guffawing.
-Bedroom late at night during a thunderstorm: Anything by historical mystery writer Anne Perry.
Monique Batson (BeaumontEnterprise.com/momspot)
My favorite summer reads are the "Mr. Men and Little Miss" books by Roger Hargreaves, started in 1971. There's 48 books - "Mr. Happy," "Mr. Nosey," "Little Miss Scatterbrain," etc. They were my favorites when I was my kids' age(s). These are for younger children - toddlers and early elementary.
- Next in line is "It's Raining Pigs and Noodles" by James Steverson. A collection of fun poems Shel Silverstein style. This is for kids of all ages.
- My son Bryce loves the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. I've read "Junie B. Jones has a monster under her bed" and must say it was quite funny. (Bryce knows I like to read, so he brings home his library books and wants to share them with me. It's sweet, but I often end up reading some really silly stuff - like "Gorillas in the Wild," or something like that.) These are geared towards older elementary school children.
- And then, of course, there is my son Riley's favorite: "My First Taggie's Pat-A-Cake." It's Pat-a-cake, which he loves to do, but the Taggie's books have cloth tags sticking out for babies to pull and chew on. What more could a baby want. I would recommend the entire Taggie's series for babies 6 months to 2 years, not just this particular book. We have "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" too, and it is just as fascinating.
- "Love you forever" by Robert Munsch is another great book. This one I would recommend parents read to themselves several times until they get used to it. It will make them cry the first time or two, and no one wants to ruin bedtime stories with waterworks.
Matthew Danelo (BeaumontEnterprise.com/meversustheblog)
For me, "summer reading" as well be called "random reading." It's the time of year when I come down with a serious case of topical ADD and flirt with a number of different books at the same time.
If you're the same, and want to spend this season reading all types of things that entertain you, check out these three titles.
-"I Was Told There'd Be Cake," by Sloan Crosley is a great collection of comic essays. They strike a chord with anyone in 20s or 30s.
In it, Crosley writes, "Nuptials. Sounds like something you get a case ofâ€¦I felt a case of the nuptials coming on so I had a full-body fiancÃ©."
Laughing out loud will most likely ensue.
- For a bit of Indiana Jones-ish adventure that doesn't require you to maintain a strong logistical mindset, pick up "The Last Templar," by Raymond Kouhry. It's been out four years, but the paperback version is perfect for those interested in discovering the medieval mysteries of the Catholic church while eating a sno-cone.
- Finally, a staple I turn to when all else fails is Patricia Schultz's "1,000 Places to See Before You Die."
It's useful for pretending to be a mental jet-setter when lying by your neighborhood pool. And, it will remind you that there's a whole world rife for exploration outside Southeast Texasâ€¦which will probably only exacerbate that topical ADD problem.
Jane McBride (BeaumontEnterprise.com/Dig-It)
Whenever I'm looking for something to read, I usually dip into both ends of the reading pool - literary fiction that I can immerse myself in and pleasurable non-fiction that I can wade through at leisure.
For the literary works, I turn to one of my favorite publishers, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. I can pick most anything from their catalog and find reading fulfillment.
This year, that means "Mudbound," by Hillary Jordan, set in the Mississippi Delta in 1946. Two families, one white, one black, each with its own struggles, encounter tragedy as they try to find their way through life,
On the non-fiction side, I invariably find myself in the kitchen or the garden.
Right now, I'm reading "One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World," a book that celebrates the importance of being able to find true natural silence, which is vanishing, even in deeply forested areas.
Author Gordon Hempton, an Emmy-winning acoustic ecologist, writes with heartbreaking beauty of a world where natural silence is almost impossible to find. Even in the deepest wilderness, for example, jets fly overhead, disrupting utter stillness and peace.
Find out more about a book that launched a movement at http://onesquareinch.org
For the kitchen, Frank Stitt's "Bottega Favorita" looks interesting. How can you go wrong with a cookbook that "pulls together Southern ingredients and sensibilities with Italian techniques?" Examples? Potato ravioli with crawfish and candied lemon, charred onion dip, and warm cream cheese tart with cinnamon and almonds.
For the garden, I'll turn to "Wicked Plants: A Book of Botanical Atrocities," by Amy Stewart.
Stewart details the "sordid lives of plants behaving badly - an A to Z list of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend."