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From The Experts: Best Summer Reads

Summer in Las Vegas is well underway, and so are triple digit temperatures. 

Outdoor activities are somewhat limited now, so every year we like to explore some indoor options. 

Of course, what better and easy way to enjoy the indoors than getting lost in a good book. 

But if you’ve been tuned out of the pages for awhile, where to begin? 

Some local book-ies weigh in. 

Drew Cohen, co-owner of the Writer's Block bookstore in Downtown Las Vegas 

Why do you like summer reading? I try to tackle books that seem too difficult or imposing during the normal year because you have more time. 

Pick No. 1: Augustown, by Kei MillerWhy I like it: The author, Kei Miller, is a poet, and you can really feel that with the way this novel is written. It’s musical, it has the texture of a poem and it’s quite beautiful and also deceptively simple. It’s a conglomeration of a bunch of different stories. The center of the novel is a fictionalization of a real-life incident involving a revivalist preacher named Alexander Bedward. He claimed that he and his fathers would literally ascend into heaven. They climbed into trees in preparation for their ascent... and they didn’t fly, they fell to the earth. 


Pick No. 2: "Standard Deviation," by Katherine HeinyWhy I like it: Katherine Heiny is a writer I’ve been keeping my eye on for a few years. This is her first novel. She is also has a deceptively simple and enjoyable prose style. It’s essentially a novel of manners, set in present day New York. It involves a married couple: Graham, the husband,

is very even tempered, while his wife Audra is a total force of nature. She’s a social explosion, she knows everyone, she’s employing her energy to shepherd their son who falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, into play dates and position him successfully in this setting. The tension comes from the reintroduction of Graham’s first wife, who is Audra’s total opposite.

Rebecca Colbert, collections and bibliographic services manager, Clark County-Las Vegas Library District

Why do you like summer reading? In the summer, I like to pick up authors I have not hear of or books that someone handed me over the last few months and just try something new. 

Pick No. 1: " The People We Hate At the Wedding," by Grant Ginder Why I like it: It looks fluffy at first glance. But it’s really a bittersweet story of family dysfunction. It is screamingly funny. There’s mother issues, father issues. Very sarcastic along the way. A story of: Are these siblings going to get it together or are they going to tear each other apart? 


Pick No. 2: " Sycamore" by Bryn Chancellor  Why I like it: "Sycamore" is a smaller, more intimate story by a lesser known author. The story takes place in two places: 20 years ago, a 16-year old girl disappeared from a small Arizona town. Half the book tells her story of how she ended up in that town, the other half tells the story of the town as bones are recently discovered. Do they belong to the girl who went missing? Who finds them? It moves very well to piece the mystery together at the end.


Scott Dickensheets, editor, Desert Companion Magazine 

Why do you like summer reading? I usually think of summer as the time to give my brain a break. It’s like if my kids don’t have homework, why should I have homework?  

Pick No. 1: " Priestdaddy: A Memoir" by Patricia Lockwood  Why I like it: By no means is this a daddy dearest book. It's very frothy, funny, profane and daring. It defies expectations. This is Patricia Lockwood's first book of prose. She’s most well known as a poet. Her work tends to be bold, provocative, funny, sexy and daring. The quality of the book doesn’t surprise me. 


Pick No. 2: " You're Welcome Cleveland," by Scott Raab Why I like it: Scott Raab is a huge Cleveland sports fan. He had a rough and dissolute childhood and clung to Cleveland sports as a lifeline. Cleveland is a sad-sack city in terms of its sports teams. Raab chronicles the first two seasons of Lebron James' return, but it’s about so much more than sports. Into this narrative of Lebron’s return, he talks about fathers and sons…his own father was a loose figure and not a good dad and he’s raising a son now. There’s civic issues, race ... don’t forget Cleveland is where Tamir Rice was shot and killed. It’s a very frank account of the team in that context, but it’s also pretty funny. 


Scott Dickensheets, editor, Desert Companion Magazine; Drew Cohen, co-owner, The Writers Block; Rebecca Colbert, collections and bibliographic services manager, Clark County-Las Vegas Library District 

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.