Summer books: Reader recommendations

  • Updated: May 31, 2013 - 2:34 PM

My ambitions are high this summer. On my list: “Matterhorn,” by Karl Marlantes (a novel of the Vietnam War), and “Great North Road,” by P.F. Hamilton (sci-fi and mystery all rolled into one). Looking forward to the summer reading guide.

Maria Fracchia, Richfield

 

I’ll re-read “Gone With the Wind.” The first time around was in high school, and after long days of raking hay, I would read until the wee morning hours upstairs in our farmhouse, which was steamy with summer heat and scenes of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. Now, there’ll be no creaking windmill in the background, but I’ll discuss this classic story with my 88-year-old dad, who adamantly declares that “Gone With the Wind” was the last good movie ever made.

Mary Lou Wilkes Jackson, Onamia, Minn.

 

I adore well-written short stories, and this year there were many gems: “Vladimir’s Moustache,” by Stephen Clark, draws you into every apartment and stricken heart in Russia when a knock comes at the door. “It Takes You Over,” by Nick Healy, a deserved finalist for a Minnesota Book Award with his heartfelt, hilarious tales. “Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain,” by Lucia Perillo, every one a raucous joy ride, and “Dear Life,” by Alice Munro, has you wishing none of them would end. And last, “The News From Spain” by Joan Wickersham, all delicious twists on love stories.

Then two magnificent novels to round out the list: “ The Round House” by Louise Erdrich — the National Book Award winner that jumps into your heart and stays — and “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter, a gorgeous, Dagwood sandwich of a book that has it all: great characters, humor and heartbreak.

Pam Kearney, Edina

 

I am planning to revisit the Snopes trilogy by William Faulkner. I bought the Modern Library’s edition of “Snopes: A Trilogy,” almost a year ago but haven’t had a chance to read them all together, though I have read the three novels previously at different points in time. The book contains all three novels in a single edition: “The Hamlet,” “The Mansion,” and “The Town.” Faulkner always wished to publish those three books together. I want to re-read them because they are an excellent example of Faulkner’s penetrating perception into history and human character and also his mercurial imagination that knew no bounds.

Aruni Kashyap, Mankato

 

I don’t know if it counts as a “big book,” but I’m rereading Norman Rush’s National Book Award-winning “Mating” while revving myself up for the release of “Subtle Bodies,” his first novel in 10 years. “Bodies” isn’t due till September, but I managed to snag an advance copy, and I can assure you that it is on par with his very strongest work, merging the relatively restrained language of “Whites” with the novelistic scope and intellectual heft of his other novels, showing that he is just as much at home in the Hudson Valley as in Botswana, and stirring up unseasonal chills in the revelation of its closing pages.

That and Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers,” a book obsessed with speed that makes one want to linger and drop one’s metabolic rate to draw out the experience.

Tim Horvath, Stratham, N.H.

 

I am going to recommend a book which I have read but which, if I had time, I would read all over again this summer and which I think Minnesotans especially would enjoy: “The Long Ships,” by Frans G. Bengtsson, first published in two parts in 1941 and 1945. Set from 980 to 1010 A.D., it’s an exciting, historically rich, very witty novel about the adventures of a Danish Viking.

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