What we’re reading this summer

May 27, 2011 by Brad McElhinny
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For some people, summer is a time for getting new swimsuits, catching the sun’s beautiful rays, sipping drinks with little umbrellas and so on and so forth.

We’re not those people. OK, well, maybe we are. Sometimes. On occasion. As long as our pale, pale skin doesn’t burst into flame.

Either way, we’re likely to have a book (or, excuse me: “reading device”) clutched in at least one hand. We’re the kind of people who think it’s exciting to crack open a new book (or, excuse me again: “push the download button.”) And, among other things, summer kicks off the summer reading season, which is differentiated from the fall, winter and spring reading seasons by the fact that it’s summer.

Nerd: me, Brad McElhinny

Books: The Year of the Hare, The Left Hand of Darkness

These have been sitting on the ol’ nightstand, ready to roll for a few weeks now. “The Year of the Hare,” by a guy named Arto Paasilinna,  is pretty skinny, 193 pages, and has a plot summary that really hits home for me: “While  out on assignment, a journalist hits a young hare with a car. He decides to spend a year wandering the wilds of Finland — with the bunny as his companion. What ensues is a series of comic misadventures, as everywhere they go — whether chased up a tree by dogs, or to a formal state dinner — they leave mayhem in their wake.” See, it’s already sounding semi-autobiographical!

I read about “The Year of the Hare” a few months ago in this post by NPR’s Monkey See blog, which I also recommend because it is weird, smart and covers a lot of geeky territory. Ironically, their version of the recommendation was called “Snowbound Reads.” Well, here I am posting it in a summer reading list. What the heck. It IS the year of the hare, not just one season.

The other book in my pile is “The Left Hand of Darkness” by classic fantasy writer Urusula K. Le Guin. A few years ago I read her Earthsea series about a wizard named Ged and the power of language. Since then, I’ve eyeballed Le Guin’s many other offerings but was intimidated by the many choices. Where to begin? It seems The Left Hand of Darkness might be the right choice. Here’s a little summary from the back of the book: “On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male or female during each mating cycle, and this is something that humans find incomprehensible.” Get it? Yeah, me neither. What the heck. I’m diving in.



Nerd: Zack Harold

Book: The Knowland Retribution

To me, summer reading means easy reading. Fast. Action-packed. So I’m recommending “The Knowland Retribution” by Richard Greener.

This is the first book in Greener’s “Locator Series,” which only features two books so far. The series focuses on Walter Sherman, a Vietnam vet with an uncanny knack for locating people. Sherman has made a career of finding runaway wives and wayward children but “The Knowland Retribution” finds him hunting down a self-trained sniper picking off the corporate types that killed his family.

Though this is Greener’s debut novel, his prose is tight and his plot is clever. But finding “The Knowland Retribution” might be an adventure in itself. It appears to be out of print and the cheapest used copy on Amazon is going for $39. Half.com’s cheapest copy is selling for $52.

I downloaded the book on my Kindle for $9.99, so snagging a copy will be easy if you have the e-reader or an iPad, iPhone, Droid or other device that will download the Kindle app.

I promise you one thing, this book is worth the hunt. And don’t just take my word for it: Fox is planning a Locator-inspired series, called “Finder.”


Nerd: Josh Work

Books: House of Leaves, Gravity’s Rainbow

This summer, I plan to take another shot at reading “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski, the story of a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Danielewski does a splendid job of shaping his narrative to reflect the chaotic and mind-boggling architecture of the place. I’ve tried to make my way through it in the past, but I always got hung up around the Five and a Half Minute Hallway. Johnny’s various asides strewn throughout the footnotes certainly don’t help.

Maybe I’ll listen to Poe’s album “Haunted” while I read. The singer, who is also the author’s sister, included several references to the book in various songs. If I manage to complete this book, perhaps I’ll have mustered enough literary fortitude to tackle the dense pages of “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon.

Nerd: Ashlee Maddy

Books: Flashpoint, Atlas Shrugged, The Hunger Games

My summer reading lists includes some nontraditional selections. I’ve fallen behind on my comic book series, so those definitely top my list.

Although I loved Blackest Night, I have yet to finish all of the issues of the follow-up Brightest Day. My husband has them all bagged and boarded in our collection, so I’ll have to be extra careful not to wrinkle them.

I also need to read the recently released War of the Green Lanterns and Flashpoint.

After going to the theater to see Atlas Shrugged on Tax Day, we went out and bought a value book set containing Ayn Rand’s novel, as well as The Fountainhead. I’ve started Atlas Shrugged, but it’s dense and not something that can be thumbed through quickly. It may take me more than the summer to finish it.

I generally re-read a particular Harry Potter book before watching the film version, but since I recently revisited The Deathly Hallows, that won’t be necessary.

I’ve considering reading The Hunger Games after reading good reviews of it, so I may add it to the pile. Any other input is appreciated!

What are YOU reading this summer?

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3 Responses to “What we’re reading this summer”

  1. Duane MaddyNo Gravatar says:

    Since I was late getting my Summer reading submitted, I will just comment. I just finished reading ‘Infinite Crisis: A Novel’ by Greg Cox. The followup is ’52′. It’s a more contemporary take on the heroes of the DC Universe. Superman, Batman and the rest of the major heroes are taking a break for crime fighting. Some of the minor characters have to step up and take charge.

    The bad thing is, this is right after one of the worst crisis the world has ever known. Booster Gold seems to be the star of this new book.

  2. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    Via Facebook, the Kanawha County Library had this to say about the Knowland Retribution:
    Kanawha County Public Library
    Zack Harold notes that his recommendation, “The Knowland Retribution”, is out of print and used copies vary in price from $39 to $52. However, your value-added library (that’s us!) has one copy of this in our collection as well as a copy of the second book, “The Lacy Confession”. Place your reserve today.

  3. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    By the way, the library will email suggested reads for anyone who wants to participate in its NextReads program: http://www.kanawhalibrary.org/advisory/nextreads.html

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