The books I have planned for this summer include “Dragon Slippers,” by Jessica Day George. It’s the story of a farm girl who gets a peculiar pair of shoes from a dragon just before she sets out on a wild adventure filled with rude princesses and more dragons than you can count. I also have J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy stacked up next to my bed, ready for late-night tales of undead kings, rings of power, corruption and friendship conquering all. Other books I would recommend would be “The Glass Sentence” (from the Mapmakers Trilogy), written by S.E. Grove — a book set in America, if all parts of America were in different time periods from before historical record to hundreds of years in the future! The final series I would recommend would be “Fablehaven,” by Brandon Mull, a series chronicling the adventures of siblings who get pulled into the world of mystical creatures, tasked with saving Fablehaven from certain doom.
Sammi Bryant, Bloomington
I am very excited for early summer mornings, tucked under my covers with a book in hand. Reading was very important to me as a child and even such a simple act can bring waves of nostalgia. This summer I plan on devouring as many books as I can, preferably by the amazing award-winning author Stephen King. I have recently discovered his treasure trove of wonderful, suspense-filled reads. Horror books are a personal favorite of mine, and although terror is not something one usually wishes for during their vacation, terror in a book can be fun. “Asylum,” by Madeleine Roux, is a well-written thriller focusing on teenage Dan, a boy who spends his summer vacation at a college prep school. As he learns the history of the dorms in which he’s staying, he starts to wish that he had stayed home. “Asylum” is the first book in a series of three and all of the installments are worth a read. If you’d rather have a summer full of drama and mystery, “We Were Liars,” by E. Lockhart, might be the book for you. Cadence Sinclair Eastman travels to her family’s private island after a terrible accident, hoping the warm sun and fresh air might help her ringing headaches. But her family is too proud to speak the truth and this only makes Cadence more curious about the mystery surrounding the bump on her head.
With the book “Summerland,” by Michael Chabon, it’s all in the name. With a hero’s journey plotline, “Summerland” tells the story of Ethan Feld, who discovers the magic (and I mean magic) of baseball, and even though he is terrible at the game, he must play to save the world. Summer books tell the story of excitement and adventure, horror and thrills, mystery and drama, what one would expect from a summer devoid of plans. If you lack real adventure during your holiday, I recommend picking up a book and living through the pages.
Nadija Hunt, Robbinsdale
“A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” by David Foster Wallace. Wallace writes about his experience in an in-thought process of his trip on a cruise. He expands on every other detail in this book, and how it affects/intersects with his life. From playing tennis as a young child, to a cruise, to swimming as a child, the book will never get boring. A great summer read.
Jessica Sanders, New Hope
For the avid reader of historical fiction and fantasy, I can recommend an immensely entertaining series — the Destroyermen books by Taylor Anderson. Destroyermen is the story of a U.S. Navy destroyer, fleeing Japanese pursuit when it is pulled into a cyclone, emerging off the coast of a continent walked by dinosaurs. The crew of the U.S.S. Walker finds itself in the middle of a genocidal conflict between the reptilian Grik and the mammalian Lemurians. Encountering other humans brought here the same way, the American sailors throw in with the Lemurians and their New British allies, going to war with the Grik — who have recently come into possession of the Japanese battle cruiser IJN Amagi, whose mad captain has decided he will support the reptiles. Destroyermen is a 10-book epic, with an 11th installment, “Blood in the Water,” to be released this June.
Andrew Smith, South St. Paul
This summer I plan to read “Far From the Madding Crowd,” by Thomas Hardy. The book follows a young, independent woman in the 19th century who inherits her late uncle’s farm. She is faced with three suitors while trying to manage a farm in a man’s world. I will also be reading “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” by Mark Haddon. A teenager with autism discovers that his neighbor’s poodle has been murdered and he takes it upon himself to solve the crime. The play version of “Curious Incident” will be coming to Minneapolis later in the year, and reading the book will create a stronger understanding of the stage adaptation.
I highly recommend “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi. The graphic novel explores the author’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is a quick read, partly due to the graphic novel format and partly because you will never put it down. Also, read “Five Quarters of the Orange,” by Joanne Harris. This historical novel is filled with food imagery that will inspire your summer dishes.
Nina Afremov, St. Louis Park
We all look forward to summer, but honestly, once we get there we realize how incredibly boring it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love the free time but eventually it gets to be a little too much, which makes reading a viable option. I used to read all the time in school, to the point where it would be a problem. Fortunately, this past year school has been more interesting to me but sadly this has led to a decline in my reading. Now, I’m counting on the lazy hours of a Minnesota summer to get myself caught up on my ever-growing To Read list that contains titles such as “The Mountain Story,” by Lori Lansens, and “Undermajordomo Minor,” by Patrick deWitt. I have gotten through a few books this year that I really enjoyed, including “After Alice.” If you liked “Wicked” but could do without the sex, go for Gregory Maguire’s newest twisted fairy tale. The language is intensely Victorian and witty, making it an interesting read. It definitely makes you look at “Alice in Wonderland” in a different light.
Currently I’m reading the book “Ruby,” by Cynthia Bond. It’s historical fiction with a hint of fantasy and a sprinkling of Southern ghost stories. A 1960s small town in Texas is not a fun place to be, but the whole story is about survival and the beauty of inner strength. It’s a bit more of an adult read, but if you bear that in mind, you’ll love it. I usually save more classic books for the summer but that’s not a hard and fast rule. “The Country of Ice Cream Star,” by Sandra Newman, has been on my list for a while. I can’t give it an authentic review, seeing as I haven’t read it yet, but I do know it’s dystopia without all of the angst and hormones. I could keep going like this, especially considering I have 30-plus titles to read, but I’ll stop here. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you read, if you read anything you get an A-plus in my book. At the least, do it to keep the boredom at bay.
Omena Giles, Plymouth
“Rosalie Lightning” by Tom Hart is a great graphic novel. It broke my heart but in the most loving way possible. “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” by Fredrik Backman, is another book I’d recommend. It’s about growing up and learning to forgive. I hope to read “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel, this summer. I’ve been told it’s about a post-flu epidemic breakout and it follows a traveling theater group.
Sophie Peterson, Minneapolis
“Rules of Engagement,” by Amor Towles. A masterpiece. Beautiful prose. Takes place in the 1920s and involves the “haves” and the “have-nots,” love and betrayal. “Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger. A different sort of murder mystery involving a young girl in rural Minnesota. Her disappointed mother and disappointing father and her two surviving brothers are left to grieve and confront their own dysfunctions while the search goes on for her killer in the small town, where there are many suspects.
Suzanne Olson, Bloomington
A great new title for your summer reading list is “Africa’s Child,” by Maria Nhambu, a memoir about growing up in a German orphanage for mixed-race children in what then was Tanganyika and coming to Minnesota to St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Fascinating. This first book of a trilogy ends with her getting on the plane to come to the U.S.
Catherine Mamer, Golden Valley
“Raceboss: Big Emma’s Boy,” by Albert Race Sample, is a very thought-provoking autobiography on the human condition and of the times it reflects as well as a reflection of today. As a teacher I found it relevant, and I feel so would people working in mental health, corrections, social service and child welfare — even today, 30 years after it was originally published. I could not put it down, wanting to know what happens to the character next.
Karen Loe, Minneapolis
This summer I’ll be rereading Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety,” a book I’ve read more times than I can count. On the surface it’s a book about deep friendship, marriage, academia and writing. Ambitious young writer Larry Morgan and his wife, Sally, move to Madison, Wis., where Larry begins his academic career as professor and aspiring author. There are struggles — financial, health, social and employment among them — and Stegner illustrates the strength of lifelong friendship as well as the healing power of a walk in the woods. In “Crossing to Safety” Stegner’s underlying wisdom and luminous prose explore how it feels to be young and starting out, how hope and optimism are powerful yet often redirected, and the restorative power of nature and summers at the lake.
Molly Hill, Minnetonka
This summer I plan to read “Carnie’s Child,” by Lois Rafferty (a teacher and writer from Minneapolis). I am a teacher with Stillwater Schools. This book was recommended to me by Kathy Klassen, who was also an educator and worked with kids with special needs. She told me that the character in the book was also a special education teacher. She enjoyed how the book dealt with various subjects and emotions of the characters: love, grief, forgiveness, etc.
Amy Randrup, Cottage Grove
“Francis Bacon in Your Blood,” by Michael Peppiatt. Tipsy summer reading because so much of it takes place in pubs in London and Paris as the author tries to keep up with the Champagne-swilling painter who has a thing for rough men and expensive restaurants and doesn’t care if his wads of cash sometimes float to the barroom floor, unretrieved. Lucian Freud and Bacon’s lover, an East End ruffian named George, are on the periphery in this readable memoir.
Todd Melby, Minneapolis
I’m looking forward to reading “The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape,” by Cheri Register, author of the award-winning “Packinghouse Daughter.” Minnesota’s environmental history has faded into the past, and this book is both a memoir and an examination of how we lost our wetlands. Cheri Register is a steady, clear and brilliant writer — it should be a great book.
Kathryn Kysar, St. Paul
1. “Pothole Confidential, My Life as Mayor of Minneapolis,” by R.T. Rybak. He was a great writer before he was a mayor and this book is an easy and amazing read.
2. “The Invention of Wings,” by Sue Monk Kidd. A story of slavery.
3. “Career of Evil,” by Robert Galbraith. Another great mystery that I have yet to read.
Joan Wicklund, New Brighton.
Every summer I plan out my books. I typically don’t write during the summer, just to enjoy a good book in my hands while resting on my deck. Oh, and I don’t like to think too hard during my summer of enjoyment.
This summer I will be reading “I Am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai.
I have a passion for memoir and this girl has accomplished more in her 18 years on this Earth than most of us can hope to accomplish in a lifetime. Plus, she is an advocate for educating women, and how better to celebrate than to read?
Laureen Peltier, St. Paul
This summer I am reading Christine Fournier’s five-book Gypsy series. I read the first book, “Gypsy Nights,” and absolutely fell in love with it. I knew right away these were my books for summer and purchased the remaining four books. In the summer I look for books that are fun reads and incorporate great plots with interesting characters. These books abound with both. Fournier is a master at mixing in a little romance and sizzling heat. You won’t find better books for the beach, cabin, backyard or snuggled up on the couch late at night.
Patty Lefaive, Minneapolis
“Snowplow Polka” by Ambrose McGuine is my vote because the authors are local and have written a fun book about life in the rural Midwest. Also, reading about winter is easier to take in the summer.
Mary Fredenburg, Brooklyn Park
I love historical novels, especially Eugenia Price and her many series about early southeastern America. All events are true and many of the people are real, also — some of whose graves you can visit.
I recently discovered the Williamsburg Series of Elswyth Thane, especially enjoying what it was like to live in Europe during the Revolutionary War.
Another favorite author is Rosamunde Pilcher and her stories of the Scottish Highlands and London life — her signature book is “The Shell Seekers.”
I am eagerly anticipating the suggestions you will bring from your readers. I buy many used books from Better World Books so I can build my own library of my favorites.
Marcy Madson, Westbrook, Minn.
As I always do when I first go to the cabin for the summer, I will read Helen Hoover’s “A Place in the Woods,” which chronicles living with her husband in a cabin in remote northern Minnesota in the 1950s. And then I will read her book “The Gift of the Deer,” which was a bestseller 50 years ago.
David Hakensen, Minnetonka
“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” by Gabrielle Zevin, is a must-read (odd title, like the lovely “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”). A modest book about second chances that is engaging but not sentimental. You will love the world as viewed through young Maya’s eyes in the early part of the novel. Two other World War II choices, “All the Light We Cannot See” (Anthony Doerr) and “The Nightingale” (Kristin Hannah), are also outstanding.
Mary Pulkrabek, Crookston, Minn.
The 1,200-plus-page unabridged version of the classic novel “The Count of Monte Cristo,” by Alexandre Dumas, is high on my reading list this summer. My bucket list is to finish reading all 20 of Anne Tyler’s novels; therefore, reading “A Spool of Blue Thread” and “Vinegar Girl” coming out in June will be a wonderful treat. Tyler’s novels never disappoint me. Since I teach English at a middle school, I’m also going to tackle as many YA novels as I can — is 20 too lofty a goal?
Greg Kriefall, Coon Rapids
A couple of books I’d recommend: “The Blasphemer,” by Nigel Farndale, and “Top Producer,” by Norb Vonnegut. I finished reading the first a while ago and am now 80 percent through the second. Both are my kind of books. I purchased them from the cull shelf at the Merriam Park Library. Give them a try.
Ross G. Kiihn, St. Paul.
I’d like to suggest two evocative memoirs by young women who show remarkable grit. Both are drawn back to their homelands to re-examine their younger days and to reconcile these experiences with their adult selves. “Americanah,” by Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author, unfulfilled in her American life and drawn back to Nigeria; and “Girl at War,” by Sara Novic, who barely escaped the Serbo-Croatian conflict and now teaches writing at Columbia University.
These two memoirs aptly capture the thoughts of poet Nathaniel Bellows: “Across oceans … ghosts will beckon.”
Pam Kearney, Edina
I plan to read Nora Roberts’ Irish Born Trilogy this summer: “Born in Fire,” “Born in Ice” and “Born in Shame.” I recently purchased the trilogy at our local library book sale. My cost for the donated books was about one-third of the suggested retail price so I view it as a small donation and many hours of entertainment.
Home or away this summer, I look forward each day to my armchair or patio chair travels to Ireland. I highly recommend Nora Roberts’ trilogy.
Barb Chlan, Montgomery, Minn.
I plan to read Peggy Orenstein’s new book, “Girls & Sex.” The year was 1961 and I was 16 and pregnant. A marriage followed, a son was born and 10 years later a daughter. I finished my senior year at home as one of the first “home schooled” students. When I told my mother I was pregnant, she replied, “Didn’t your sister tell you about sex?” My sister was five years older than me and we never discussed sex and neither did anyone else. Young women, including my own granddaughters, need us to be aware of what sexual challenges they face. We need to support them as they navigate the complicated new “landscape” as presented in Orenstein’s book. I have granddaughters from age 4 through 27 and I want to be more aware of the current sexuality challenges that they will face, similar but yet so different from the 1960s, so I can have open, needed discussions with them about women and sex in 2016 and beyond.
Patricia Mohn, New Prague
I’m going to read “The Bonding Spell,” the first of an urban fantasy series by Mary Doyle. It’s about a black female veteran who picks up an ancient coin while in Iraq, and is now back home in Minneapolis and has to deal with demigods, demons and goddesses all the while trying to solve a murder mystery. The second book, “The Vow,” will be published at the end of summer. (Vine Hill Road Press) Can’t wait!
Susanne Aspley, Excelsior
Summer is for sagas and sunshine for the mind!
Recommended: “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrud Undset — a classic that I reread every few years
Recommended: “Some Luck,” “Early Warning,” and “Golden Age” — a riveting trilogy by Jane Smiley.
Recommended: “The Invention of Nature,” by Andrea Wulf — a biography of the “Shakespeare of Sciences” (Alexander Humboldt), whom you should know about if you don’t already.
Going to read: “Empire of Cotton,” by Sven Beckert. How an innocent plant made the world better and worse. Gives insight into the real origins of the concept of capitalism that we revere.
Nancy Sansone, Bloomington
Top of the list: Emily Barton’s “The Book of Esther,” Anna Solomon’s “Leaving Lucy Pear” and Stephen O’Connor’s “Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings.” All historical novels, sort of. Very excited about these.
I’d add Christopher Boucher’s “Golden Delicious,” but I’d be lying: I’ll be reading it this month (pre-publication) because I’m discussing it with him at his launch; I already know it’ll be terrific!
Rachel Cantor, Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Red: A Crayon’s Story,” by Michael Hall. I have NEVER crushed so hard on a children’s book in my life. Red’s insides don’t match his label. He tries so hard to draw red fire trucks and strawberries, but he just can’t get it right. If you have kids or grandkids, what a terrific story about being who you really are.
Rachel Coyne, Lindstrom, Minn.
I hope to finish the Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante; I have Book One under my belt and three to go! I need to find out what happens to Lila and Elena’s friendship.
Jan Lysen, Minneapolis
My goal this summer (and whole year) is to read all 66 Agatha Christie mystery novels! She is “The Queen of the Mystery,” after all. I want to read and enjoy everything she has written. I have six read so far, and have enjoyed them all. My summer reading list is very full!
Angela Langner, Ramsey
I have begun reading, very slowly, and expect to be still reading this summer, a wonderful American Book Award finalist from 1978, “The Seven Mysteries of Life,” by Guy Murchie. Murchie, a polymath, journalist and Baha’i follower, spent 17 years trying to understand everything from genetics to astrophysics. Taken a few pages at a time, this encyclopedic volume can restore a flagging sense of the sheer wonder of existence. The philosopher Jacob Needleman called it a “great classic of deep, warm science.” That it is.
Thomas R. Smith, River Falls, Wis.
On both my bedside table and my list of books to complete this summer is “Alexander Hamilton,” by Ron Chernow, the biography upon which the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is based. I’ve read only nine pages of the 700-plus-page book, but find both the subject matter and the writing style very compelling. At my teenage son’s request, we are going to New York City for spring break to see “Hamilton.” Alexander Hamilton, the man, the politician and the historical figure, is a common topic of conversation in our household and I look forward to enhancing the dialogue with the knowledge I gain from reading Chernow’s book.
Cindy Lutz, Eagan
“Dodgers,” by Bill Beverly. A terrific first novel, part Huck Finn road trip (only from SoCal to the Midwest), part coming-of-age of Los Angeles ghetto gangbangers, and all just plain great writing in action.
Bruce Jacobs, Milwaukee
I was recently in Palm Springs and quickly grabbed two Robert Parkers from the library shelf and devoured them while on vacation. These were both part of the Spenser series and both written in the mid-1960s before cellphones and Google. They’re smart, well-crafted, humorous and page-turners — perfect for a summer day either in town or at the cabin. I’d recommend any of these from, what, 50 years ago?
Paul Waytz, Minneapolis
As volunteer communications adviser to three of Minnesota’s leading climate organizations, I am duty-bound to read and review for their online and print newsletters books by native Minnesotans, such as “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” by Mark Hertsgaard, and several by Robert William Jensen, North Dakota-born, Minnesota-educated, who teaches at the University of Texas in Austin. In addition, I have several others of the same genre stacked on my bedside table. Any way you look at it, I’m in for a long, hot summer.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
An avid reader, my list is long and summer too short. These books will travel with me outdoors to quiet, shady and sunny niches I find for R & R. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” by Brené Brown; “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics,” by Carlo Rovelli; “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout; “The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically,” by Peter Singer; “Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking,” by M. Neil Browne; and two oldies I think important for me to read: “Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education,” by Peter Senge, and “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. This presidential election year has made a few of these required reading for me.
Carol Cochran, Minneapolis