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Summer Reading Show

06/24/11 12:00PM By Mitch Wertlieb
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AP Photo/Jeorg Sarbach
Summertime leisure offers the opportunity to settle in with a good page turner; evocative historical fiction, riveting suspense, political thrillers perhaps a classic. 

We talk with Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick and Oceana Wilson, Director of Library and Information Services at Bennington College about what's been flying off their shelves and what they've been reading. (See picks below).


Linda Ramsdell's summer reading picks:

Bayou Trilogy - This trilogy by Daniel Woodrell was out of print until April and is here reprinted in
one volume. This is crime fiction at its best. The language and the characters are jaw-droppingly
good. The Los Angeles Times has called Woodrell “a backcountry Shakespeare” and I can’t really improve
on that.

Travels in Siberia  - If summer in Vermont seems a little too warm or the mosquitoes are getting you
down, ride along with Ian Frazier in this addictingly readable travelogue. Parts of this book were
first serialized in the New Yorker, and it is a treat to have Frazier as a guide for 529 pages.
Readers will have a hard time feeling too bad about a pesky mosquito or two after reading Frazier’s
description of his mosquito encounters.

The Lonely Polygamist - This book was recommended on the Winter reading show, very articulately by
Ana. I still haven’t found a good way to describe this book by Brady Udall, and the more I try the
worse it sounds (so there is a Mormon guy about my age, with four wives and twenty-eight children and
he is having a kind of midlife crisis, and the book is really funny...). This is just one I ask people
to trust me on. It is one of my very favorites.

Galore - This is another novel that is hard to describe (a man is found alive in the belly of a
whale...) In any case, it was unadulterated pleasure to have another book by Newfoundland author
Michael Crummey. Readers will likely have a hard time pulling themselves back into the 21st century
after spending time with King-Me Sellers, Devine’s Widow and their families in Paradise Deep of 100
years ago. Michael Crummey won the Commonwealth Prize for Canada for Galore.

Making Supper Safe
by Cabot author Ben Hewitt - As readers of The Town That Food Saved (just out in
paperback) already know, Ben has a way of making tough issues comprehensible, entertaining, and
compelling, often in the same sentence. If you want to know how the recent European e. coli outbreak
could happen, or what the bacteria in your own body might be up to, read this book. If you need
inspiration or more urgent reasons to participate in your food system, this is the book.

Oceana Wilson's summer reading choices: 

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.  In the swamps of the Florida Everglades twelve year old heroine Ava Bigtree works to save her family’s alligator theme park amid a crowd of eccentric and haunting characters.

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
by Jane Ziegelman. A culinary history spanning from 1863-1935 told through five different immigrant families in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson. The story of America ambassador William E. Dodd and his daughter Martha during the rise of Hitler's regime.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.. In this coming-of-age story Rose Edelstein struggles with the family secrets she learns after she discovers, on the eve of her ninth birthday, she can taste human emotion in food.
Cricket Radio: Tuning In the Night-Singing Insects by John Himmelman.  An exploration of why these insects sing and how their songs enrich our lives.


Listener recommendations: 

  • Continental Drift – Russell Banks
  • Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son – Michael Chabon
  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention – Manning Marable
  • Little Bee – Chris Cleave
  • The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
  • On the Justice of Roosting Chickens – Ward Churchill
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell
  • Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  • Come to the Edge – Christina Haag
  • Carolina Harmony – Marilyn Taylor McDowell
  • Charles Resnick Mysteries (series) – John Harvey
  • The Eichmann Trial – Deborah Lipstadt
  • My Name is Mary Sutter – Robin Oliveira
  • Night of the Living Trekkies – Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
  • The Lotus Eaters – Tatjana Soli
  • A Peculiar Grace – Jeffrey Lent
  • Hippie Chick – Joseph Monninger
  • Finding Somewhere – Joseph Monninger
  • Eternal on the Water Joseph Monninger
  • Juliet – Anne Fortier
  • Red Cavalry – Isaac Babel
  • The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls


We want to hear from you, too. Post your recommendations below for great vacation reads.


books, summer_books arts

Related Links

The Galaxy Bookshop NPR Summer Books & Summer Reading
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