From The Experts: Best Summer Reads

Summer is here, the days are long and hot. 

To pass the time maybe you’ll go to a beach the mountains or Lake Mead. Or sit in your air-conditioned home ... and read a book. 

But what to read? 

Avid readers are with us today to talk about great summer reads. 

Rebecca Colbert is the head of collection and bibliographic services at the Clark County Library District;

"The Outsider" by Stephen King. This harkens so far back to his original novels. It is definitely worth the read. It is not like me to promote a book that is No. 1 on the Best Seller List because normally we like to tell you what you're missing but this is one that if you are like me who passed on mid-King - you'll want to pick it up.  

"The Merry Spinster" by Mallory Ortberg. This is a short-story collection. She takes 11 well-known, classic fairy tales and subverts them, telling them from the point of view of a different narrator or bringing to light different elements. I call them flippantly - fairy tales for the Me Too Movement. There is a lot of that in each of the stories. Where she talks about women's agency. Women being in charge of what's happening to them. 

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"The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder" by Sarah Harris. The narrator is a 13-year boy who is on the Autism Spectrum and he as the condition called synesthesia, which is when the stimulation of one sense triggers a secondary response from another sense. Where people normally have clear vision, he attaches colors to faces and sounds. He is convinced he has murdered his neighbor but he can't defend himself or help police get to the bottom of what happened because his memory is in color. It sounds really dark but it's really a traditional coming-of-age story.

Honorable Mentions:

"Kill the Farm Boy" by Delilah Dawson 

"Florida" by Lauren Groff

Drew Cohen is co-owner of the Writers Block.

"Fight No More: Stories" by Lydia Millet. Twelve interlocking stories set in Los Angeles describe a broken family through the homes they inhabit. The characters all intersect and connect through a realtor, who is showing some upper-market homes. We meet a wide array of characters - trophy wives and trophy girlfriends, disaffected teenage boys and some absolutely hideous, powerful men. 

"The Boatbuilder" by Daniel Gumbiner. It was a very uplifting book to read. A young man struggling with an opioid addiction apprentices himself to an enigmatic boatbuilder in a remote Northern California town that is populated with very affable, eccentric types that bring to mind "Twin Peaks" or "Northern Exposure." It is a fun place to inhabit and feels very summery as a consequence. 

"Heads of the Colored People: Stories" by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. This collection calls to mind the best works of Paul Beatty and Junot Díaz, this collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era. Unlike the Millet collection, this one feels more like a standard short-story collection where the stories display a lot of variety of styles and formats. She's a very playful and flexible writer.

Honorable Mentions:

"The Melody" by Jim Crace. From the Booker Prize-shortlisted author of "Harvest, Quarantine," and "Being Dead," a tender new novel about music, celebrity, local intrigue, and lost love—all set by the Mediterranean Sea

"I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer" by Michelle McNamara. A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

Scott Dickensheets is deputy editor of Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion Magazine. 

"Acid West" by Joshua Wheeler. It is a collection of wide-ranging essays set largely in Southern New Mexico, but with some interesting parallels to Las Vegas. There is a lot to like. What I like about it is as an essayist he goes through these big sprawling ambitious constructions. These aren't neat, tidy personal essays. 

"Look Alive Out There" by Sloan Crosley. A humorous self-portrait of a full-time writer hustling to build on success earlier in her career. It's breezy. It's funny. It's urban and kind of cosmopolitan. She gets off a lot really good one-liners. She has the occasional not-entirely-politically-correct thought, which is kind of brazen in its way. 

"American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin" poetry by Terrance Hayes. There was a study that came out by the National Endowment for the Arts that found the readership for poetry has doubled since 2012. I'm part of that doubling. A few years ago I would have said poetry is just writing that won't say what it means but then I started getting into it incrementally and now I'm really into it. 

Honorable Mentions:

"Pops" by Michael Chabon. The acclaimed novelist writes about fatherhood.

"Can You Tolerate This" by Ashleigh Young. Autobiographical essays by a fine young New Zealander

From NPR: Summer Reader Poll 2018


Rebecca Colbert, head of collection and bibliographic services at the Clark County Library District; Drew Cohen, co-owner, The Writers Block; Scott Dickensheets, Deputy Editor, Desert Companion Magazine 

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