THE LUCK OF THE BUTTONS, by Anne Ylvisaker
When I finished reading "Dear Papa," Anne Ylvisaker's first fiction book for young readers, I couldn't wait for what she might write next. I haven't been disappointed. My recommendation for summer reading is her third and latest book, "The Luck of the Buttons." No matter your age (I have an AARP card), this book is a delight. Tugs Button, the protagonist, will take you on a wonderful romp. Ylvisaker's prose reads like poetry as she creates beautiful images that never feel contrived or self-conscious. If I could afford it, I would buy this book for everyone I know who knows how to read.
- Eunice Jensen, Anoka
A TRIO OF IDEAS
Good summertime reads: "Water for Elephants" (Sara Gruen), "The Help" (Kathryn Stockett) and "Prayers and Lies" (Sherry Wood Emmons). Great dialogue, complex characters, engaging plots. Who could ask for more?
- Carrie Magnuson, Minneapolis
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, by Mark Twain
It has been on my nightstand since Christmas. I think summer will be a great time to travel into the past with an excellent narrator.
- Donna Ruud, Andover
CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese
"Cutting for Stone" is my hands-down, highly recommended book for summer reading this year. The first page captured me and held me prisoner until the story ended. Honestly, until I finished it, I didn't want to do a single other thing except read this book! It is the book I offer to customers in our bookstore who are looking for an engaging, well-written story. (Of course, Chris Cleave's "Little Bee" is pretty terrific, also.)
- Susie Fruncillo, White Bear Lake
THE LAKE OF DREAMS, by Kim Edwards
I have been an avid reader since I was a young girl, 10 or so (now 84), so I feel well qualified to recommend a book or three for summer reading at any time. First choice: "The Lake of Dreams," by Kim Edwards (the gal who wrote "Memory Keeper's Daughter," which I also loved). Second choice: "A Reliable Wife," by Robert Goolrick. You can't go wrong on any of these. Keep you page-turning!
- Shirlee Heinz, Minnetonka
SUDDENLY, SOME IDEAS
Summer is catch-up and on-the-go reading for me. Camping. Beach. Travel. Fast and light. Into my book bag goes "Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories," "New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories," "Sudden Fiction International: 60 Short Stories," and "Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories." These books contain a variety of stories by familiar and new authors. All quick reads. "Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories" has a marvelous afterword with brief essays by the authors about the traditional short story and the new form.
- Carol Cochran, Minneapolis
THE LOON LAKE FISHING MYSTERIES, by Victoria Houston
Great summer reading. The characters, retired dentist Paul Osborne and police chief Lewellen Ferris, solve murders and do a little fishing when time allows. The setting is northern Wisconsin. I have read the first 10 books. Another should be available soon. The first one was "Dead Angler." The following "Deads" are very entertaining. As a mystery lover, I am hooked.
- Sue Hanson, Bloomington
WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT, by Amy Bloom
If you like Raymond Carver, Amy Bloom's "Where the God of Love Hangs Out" is terrific.
- Orval Lund, Winona
SARAH'S KEY, by Tatiana de Rosnay
A favorite summer read is "Sarah's Key." You will not forget this well-written, compelling masterpiece. So profound it is hard to put down. You deserve to read this.
- Fran Simonson, Edina
COMING OF AGE
A couple of my favorite summer novels are "Summer of '42" by Herman Raucher, and "City Boy" by Herman Wouk. Both are hilarious coming-of-age guy-centric love stories. Unfortunately these gems seem to go in and out of print, but they're both easy to find used.
- Kurtis Scaletta, Minneapolis
COMING OF AGE, PART TWO
For the summer I am recommending two coming of age books: "The Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore -- honest evocation of someone going off to a new world in college; and "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibín -- heartfelt story of the time after World War II when young people all were trying to find their way in a world so changed. For short story, "Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It" by Maile Meloy, and for historical novel "The Great House" by Nicole Krauss took my breath away.
- Pam Kearney, Edina
DANDELION WINE, by Ray Bradbury
It takes place in the summer of 1928 in a small town in the Midwest: thought-provoking, slightly magical stories of the people who live there as seen through the eyes of 10- and 12-year-old brothers.
- Karen Kandik, Minneapolis
THE GARDEN OF EDEN, by Ernest Hemingway
His best work, IMHO. Yes, it was unfinished when Hemingway died, but it doesn't read that way. For my money, it brilliantly captures writing, an unstable partner, and a mutual decision to invite a third party into the relationship -- and how these three elements ricochet off each other toward catastrophe. As for why in the summer, "Eden" is set in the French Riviera during summertime, and every aspect of the story feels soaked with the heat and the sunshine and the ocean air.
- Matthew Tiffany, Brunswick, Maine
Big Wheat, by Rich Thompson
Though set in the fall harvest season, local writer Rich Thompson's mystery, "Big Wheat," is a very satisfying read. Taking place in the early 20th century at the advent of mechanized threshing, the book has a tight plot, great characters, and is well-researched.
Barbara DaCosta, Minneapolis
A MOVABLE FEAST, by Ernest Hemingway
Wine, sun, Europe. Tough to beat.
- Jeff O'Neal, Brooklyn, N.Y.
LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave
Unputdownable. Also, "Incendiary," by the same author, which I've just picked up. Seriously good writing; but topics are anything but light. Perfect for that summer afternoon at the lake.
- Julie Muehlberg, Minneapolis
ENCHANTED APRIL, ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN, by Elizabeth von Arnim
I re-read these books every summer. The latter is perhaps my favorite: Her daughters are named April, May, June, her husband is never referred to by name but is always called "the man of wrath." Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men and a Boat" is also a fun summer read.
- Betsy Vinz, Moorhead
THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love re-reading Gatsby in summer. And I'm a big Raymond Carver fan, as well as a Raymond Chandler (Phillip Marlowe) fan.
- Chuck Leddy, Boston
GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell
The Civil War began 150 years ago, and this year is the 75th anniversary of the publication of "Gone With the Wind." Our book club is taking the entire summer to read it.
- Barbara Wright Carlson, Mounds View
HARRY POTTER, START TO FINISH
I'm going to be reading all the Harry Potter books (for an All-Harry Potter Books & Bars meeting in July). And they definitely make me think of summer. They all begin and end in summer, and I had to dodge spoilers for two weeks after I bought book seven so I could take it up to the lake for the week and read it nonstop.
- Linda White, Maplewood
RIVETHEAD: TALES FROM THE ASSEMBLY LINE, by Ben Hamper
You'll laugh and cry, and in today's economy you could be next!
- Danny Klecko, St. Paul
ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini
I read it and its sequel, "Eldest," during the summer when I worked at my school dining commons. It still brings memories of sitting by the school swimming pool on hot days.
- Wathira Nganga, Haledon, N.J.