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Time left for some good summer reads
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
2016-08-09

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There's still lots of summer left.

Time for one last dip in the lake. A few weekends left for romantic getaways. Time to say goodbye to your new college freshman or senior. And time left for a good book—so why not try one of these?

Fiction

Action-minded sunbathers and fans of historical novels will want Champion of the World, by Chad Dundas, by their side this summer. It's the story of a husband-and-wife duo, a down-and-out former wrestler, and second chances, set in the early years of the Great Depression.

Take a cool jump on the winter season with the latest Monkeewrench mystery, The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy. There've been a series of murders and disappearances near Minneapolis, and they might all be linked. But the answers don't lie in the present—they're found in the past and a horror that Grace, Annie, Roadrunner, Gino, Leo and Harley Davidson don't want to think about…

Have you ever dreamed of up and disappearing? Then read I Am No One, by Patrick Flanery. It's a novel of memories, real or imagined, and what happens when the past catches up with you before you're fully ready for it.

Non-fiction

How many times have you fallen in love this summer? Maybe more than you think, and you can find out by reading Happily Ever After… and 39 Other Myths about Love, by Linea & Charlie Bloom. This book could enhance your relationship. It could make you lucky in love. It could make you fall in love with your spouse a time or two before summer's over… Pair it up with The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing, a look at loneliness, and the goodness that comes with being by yourself.

Vacation home, home away from home, new home, or staycation—which did you have this year? In Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, by John S. Allen, you'll see why we even have homes and why our living situations have made us who we are. Pair it up with Security Mom by Juliette Kayyem, and see how protecting that home and everything in it is possible now.

If part of your summer has been spent lakeside, then look for The House by the Lake, by Thomas Harding. It's a story of families, history, murder, war, and a house that you'll almost wish could really talk. While you're looking for that book, also find The Long Weekend, by Adrian Tinniswood. It's the tale of what life was like in an English country house nearly a century ago.

No doubt, you've enjoyed a lot of good things to eat this summer. BBQs and cookouts re too irresistible, but did you ever wonder what your ancestors might have enjoyed under the stars? If you ever considered it, then read 100 Million Years of Food, by Stephen Le, and see how food has evolved, how palates have changed, and why we should care.

Did you have your dose of adventure yet this summer? If not, then grab Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story, by Mollie Gregory, and hang on to your seat. It's the story of Hollywood stunt doubles, the dangers they undertake, and their fight for recognition.

If this summer has brought a new teenager to your house, then American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales might be something to read. It explains a whole lot about being a girl in today's world; in fact, you might want it before school even starts.

So books are your thing. ( You're reading this, aren't you? ) That's why you need to find The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer, the story of a group of librarians who brazenly ( and bravely ) squirreled and snuck away 350,000 volumes of ancient Islamic works, right beneath the Taliban's noses! Go find it. Now.

Music and summer seem to go together, and a book about it is just icing on the cake, right? So why not read Your Song Changed My Life, by Bob Boilen. It's an anthology of stories from musicians and artists who explain which song most influenced their lives and careers.

The historian in you will want to read Infamy by Richard Reeves this summer. It's the story of the Japanese internment in America during World War II—the losses, the fears, individual stories, villains, and the legal battle for restitution. A good companion to it, if you want something lighter, is The Handy State-by-State Answer Book, by Samuel Willard Crompton. It's the perfect book to browse when you've only got a few minutes to spare.

Summertime is always the best time to get out and dig in the dirt, and Gardening on a Shoestring, by Alex Mitchell, is what you'll want to do it up differently. This book is filled with unique ideas and ways to plant without plunking down a lot of cash, and even if you don't use it now, it's never too late to think about next summer's garden. While you're looking for that, grab Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons. With those two books, you'll never be bored again!

African-American authors

Needing little inspiration this summer? Then you'll want Soul Sisters, by Suzan Johnson Cook, a book filled with devotions. No matter what you're praying about, this book can only help.

With politics on everyone's mind ( including yours! ), you owe it to yourself this summer to read something that will make you think before you vote. In Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy, by Dr. Julianne Malveaux, you'll be asked a lot of questions that will require you to think deeply. Are you better off than you were eight years ago? Read this book and see what you think…

Health

If summertime's got you down, then you might feel a little better with Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants, by Peter D. Kramer. It's a look at depression, the pills prescribed to fix it and if they're a good idea.

Biographies

If there's been a definite lack of excitement in your summer, then put some into it with A Different Kind of Daughter by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein. This is the story of a girl who wanted to play sports more than anything in the world—and she did. Oh, did I say she lives in Pakistan , and the Taliban wanted her gone? True story. If your desire for excitement leans toward adventure, though, grab Braving It by James Campbell, the story of a father-daughter trip to the Alaskan wild.

LGBT studies

If a wedding was in your summer plans this year, you'll still want to read Love Wins, by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell. It's the story of the people—lawyers and otherwise—who fought for marriage equality and won. Pair it up with Then Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey, a book about United States v. Windsor and the end of DOMA.

For the reader who's spent the summer looking for a spiritual home, Queer Virtue, by The Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman, could be what you need. This is a book about how the church needs LGBTQ worshippers to strengthen their core and to return the church to a true Christian faith.

Sometimes, all you need for the end of summer is a good romp in the paper, right? So look for Fun with Dick and James, by Rich Barnett, and buckle your seatbelt. It's a story of a rich Delaware man with an ex-wife and other assorted problems, who is plagued by a malicious dentist nemesis. How does he extricate himself from trouble? All it takes is a good boyfriend…

Animals

Here's something for animal lovers to take to the beach: Smoke the Donkey, by Cate Folsom, the story of a small stray donkey found by soldiers in Fallujah. Who could resist a friendly animal like that? No soldier could, which is why Smoke became mascot, pet, friend, and ultimately, a new U.S. resident. You can't resist, either.

Filled with quirk, Goat Man, by Thomas Thwaites, is the story of a man who decides that it would be fun to be an animal for awhile. Seriously, so he becomes a goat and, in the meantime, learns a little about animals and himself. Pair it up with Pound for Pound, by Shannon Kopp, you'll read how one woman found several BFFs in an animal shelter in California. But who saved whom here?


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