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Updated by Stephen Perry on Sep 05, 2018
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Summer 2018 Reading Suggestions

Recommended reads for Summer 2018; these books were all highly recommended from the following sources:

The Washington Post
The New York Times
Booklist Online: Book Review Site for Librarians in Public Libraries **
**The New York Public Library Blog

Kirkus Reviews

Additionally, I have read these books, and truly enjoyed them.

Any additional suggestions are always highly appreciated!

Remember to visit your friendly Public Library for additional suggestions.


The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory by Richard Powers

*The Overstory * by Richard Powers is one of those works of literature that grabs you and makes you see the world in a new light. Every sentence in this book is magisterially written, each paragraph a work of art. The characters will stay with you for a long time after reading the book, and, you will never see a tree in exactly the same way after finishing the book. Richard Powers is a National Book Award Winner; this is his 12th Novel, and I think his very best.


Directorate S: The CIA and America's Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll

Directorate S: The CIA and America's Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll

Coll offers a highly critical account of America's 17 years of war in Afghanistan, and the slowly-unfolding policy disaster in Pakistan, written by the Dean of Journalism at Columbia University. Steve Coll has traveled extensively in the region, and his research culminated in the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

This book picks up where Coll’s last book, *Ghost Wars *, left off -- in the aftermath of the US invasion in 2001.

A Reviewer from the Ralph Bunche Library, at the Department of State, summarizes the importance of Directorate S in her assessment:

"After 9/11, the US was trying to quell the threat of extremists, while Directorate S was covertly working to legitimize and support the Taliban, Kashmiri guerrillas, and other violent Islamic radicals. As the US and other countries deployed troops to Afghanistan to eliminate that threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, they found themselves on a collision course with Pakistan.

"The Directorate S was a cunning group that worked both sides manipulating the CIA as well as the Taliban. As Coll states in the book, the goal was to “keep the Afghan pot boiling, but not so hot that it scorch Pakistan.”

Coll attributes America’s failure in Afghanistan to the lack of understanding of the intent and motivation of Directorate S.

"His extensive research is supported by over five hundred interviews with US, Afghan, and Pakistani officials, including CIA station chiefs, US Army lieutenants, diplomats, and intelligence operatives.

Through his investigative journalism, Coll documents this fatal error and its lasting consequences on America’s foreign policy and history."

Not everyone will agree with Coll's conclusions, but his meticulous research does shed much needed light on a war often forgotten by the American public.


Sunburn by Laura Lippman,

Sunburn by Laura Lippman,

Inspired by The Postman Always Rings Twice, this novel offers up a superb psychological-suspense tale starring an enigmatic femme fatale.
Beach Reading at its very best!

Librarian Nancy Pearl picks 7 Books For Summer Reading : an NPR Special (2018 Summer Reading suggestions)

Pearl's under-the-radar recommendations include a children's fantasy, a murder mystery set in 1919 Kolkata and an entire book dedicated to the events of 1947.

SCIENCE MAGAZINE announces the best Science Books for 2018: excellent choices for Public and School Libraries

From an eye-opening tour of bioluminescence to an idiosyncratic history of energy to how we almost lost Einstein's Brain, this year's (2018) summer reading picks are chock full of thoughtful research and passionately argued perspectives.

The New York Public Library recommends 2018 Summer Reading for Adults: their selection is outstanding | Reading List ...

Check out the 2018 Summer Reading book list made for adults, from your friends at the New York Public Library.


The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by author Jack E. Davis represents the first, comprehensive scholarly monograph on the Gulf of Mexico.

This book is a sterling paean to a body of water that "empowered a growing nation," and depicts, in rich detail, the ecosystem of the Gulf, the biology, the fascinating prehistory and the indigenous tribes that once lived harmoniously along its shores.

*The Gulf *also discusses how Hollywood discovered this alluring body of water, giving rise to mass tourism, sport fishing, and much later, the offshore oil wells that presaged a growing environmental disaster.

Davis is a Professor of History and Sustainability Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville, with a deep personal connection to the Gulf. He writes powerfully --and persuasively --of how growing tourism, the development of petrochemical industries spewing toxic chemicals, catastrophic oil spills, along with climate change, further complicated by poor stewardship on the part of state, local and municipal governments, have changed the nature of the Gulf. Davis asserts that, over time, the Gulf became less and less a fisher's paradise and more and more industry's sea.

This book represents a triumph of research, covering the prehistory of the Gulf, to the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, and then to Hurricane Katrina, and beyond.

Due to the prodigious research that went into the book, every assertion is carefully footnoted, and the 592 pages reads like a masterpiece of writing.

*The Gulf *is accessible and riveting.

In fact, the writing style moved me, as in this passage of unscrupulous real estate developers selling housing along the Gulf, and in doing so, ruined the very Eden that attracted vacationers in the first place:

(from pages 388- 389) "...twenty-eight thousand homesites were sold, although many did not yet exist. The brothers needed all those twenty-dollar payments to keep the bulldozers and dredges running to carve them out. They invested in $100,000 of earth-moving equipment and forty tons of dynamite. The equipment filled in wetlands over here using refuse from borrow pits dynamited in the coral-rock substrate over there. Yellow machines on tank tracks pushed native palmettos, oaks, and pine trees out of the way, leaving hardly a vertical object of nature's own. This was the tropics, and they bulldozed the shade!"

Reading the above paragraph reminded me of Joni Mitchell's song: "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Although Davis does spend many pages on the slow-moving ecological disaster befalling the Gulf, he does see hopeful signs everywhere, mostly in the form of public protest over the convulsive growth and most especially protests (and anguish) over the callous industrial disregard for public health that was slowly destroying their paradise and their property values.

Over time, local environmental and a variety of public interest groups emerged, doing their best to protect the delicate ecology of the Gulf with proposed legislation, public protests, and multiple visits to State Assemblies and the Governor's Office to press their cause. These groups feared that the Gulf States were in conflict with nature -- a conflict of their own making-- and against the very thing people had come to love -- the beach.

This is an impressive tome, and very well regarded by reviewers.

One reviewer summed the book up nicely when he wrote:
"Like its subject, *The Gulf *is big, beautiful and beguiling. Meticulously researched, and sparklingly written, it is also a cautionary tale about a paradise ill-served by mankind." (William Souder)

Please read it: you will be amazed at the riches you will uncover.

THE GULF: 592 pages, with footnotes, additional selected sources, illustration credits and an index.

ADDENDUM: AUGUST 3, 2018 "The Toxic Algae Bloom along Florida's Southwestern Gulf Coast is killing Marine Life and decimating tourism:"

"Red tide, the build-up of a toxic algae in oceans that's harmful to humans and marine animals, isn't unusual in Florida—in fact, it happens every year. But this time it's different: Now stretching into its tenth month is the biggest and longest red tide since 2006, the Miami Herald reports, and it is leaving beaches littered with dead fish and devoid of tourists.

Affecting a popular stretch of beaches from Naples to Tampa, on the peninsula's Gulf of Mexico Coast, the red tide has killed hundreds of sea turtles, along with seabirds, fish, dolphins, and even a whale shark. The red tide is made up of a huge concentration of a type of algae, Karenia brevis, that turns the water a reddish-brown or green color and creates chemicals that attack the nervous system of marine life.

For humans, red tide can cause respiratory irritation to those on shore, itchy skin or a burning sensation in the eyes of swimmers.

Tourism on Florida's southwestern coast has slowed to a standstill, says the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, with the smell of dead fish lining beaches only adding to the problems.

A report from Visit Sarasota showed that some 75 percent of hotels in the county have seen cancellations due to red tide, local news channel ABC 7 reports.

Seaside restaurants in Fort Myers have been closing early with employees complaining of respiratory irritation and beachfront tables sitting empty, Southwest Florida news site Wink reports."

Complete report available via this link:

Toxic Algae Bloom is most certainly exacerbated by both Climate Change and Pollution, one of Davis's points in his book.
See this link for an example of the seriousness of the problem: Article in Tampa Bay Times

K-12 2018 Summer Reads from Brevard School, Florida with many useful links for students, Brevard K-12 Library Resources

Many links to online resources for students and parents, as well as reading suggestions from Kindergarten through High School from one of the biggest School Districts in Florida.

Make Me Laugh: The Epic Librarian List of Funny Books for Kids by Lynn Lobash, New York Public Library, July 10, 2018

From the New York Public Library Blog:

"When asked what they want from a book, parents most often say they want a book to build character or inspire goodness in their child. You know what kids want? Something to make them laugh. Let's give them what they want. Our staff name their young patrons' laugh-out-loud favorites."

Yes, these books are very funny indeed! Many_ "giggly"_ moments are guaranteed for you and your children, and dare I say, your children will love to read in the process.

Back-to-School Books for Summer/Fall 2018 -- especially for the Elementary School Library -- from Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media editors choose fun and educational Back-to-School Books. Stories about everything from first-day jitters to socializing with classmates.


Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr.

Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr.

Amazon says this about this practical book for Women Entrepreneurs:

"A groundbreaking women’s leadership expert and popular conference speaker gives women the practical skills to voice and implement the changes they want to see—in themselves and in the world

In her coaching and programs for women, Tara Mohr saw how women were "playing small" in their lives and careers, were frustrated by it, and wanted to "*play bigger." *

"She has devised a proven way for them to achieve their dreams by playing big from the inside out. Mohr’s work helping women play bigger has earned acclaim ...and has been featured on the Today show, CNN, and a host of other media outlets."


Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

How has Social Media changed the landscape of dissent? How have today's protestors leveraged technology to expand their message? Has resistance been mechanized? Read this book to find out the ways that technology has changed dissent, for better or for worse.

Publisher's Weekly noted that "This comprehensive, thought-provoking work makes a valuable contribution to understanding recent political developments and provides a clear path by which grassroots organizers can improve future efforts."


The Devourers by Indra Das

The Devourers by Indra Das

Named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.

One review says this of the Devourers:

"On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins."

Shifting dreamlike between present and past, with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, *The Devourers *offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel."

The New York Times Book Review lavished praise upon the Devourers when it wrote:

"“A chilling, gorgeous saga that spans several centuries and many lands . . . The all-too-human characters—including the nonhuman ones—and the dreamlike, recursive plot serve to entrance the reader. . . . There’s no escaping The Devourers. Readers will savor every bite.”


Little Fires Everywhere, a Novel by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere, a Novel by Celeste Ng

A story of two families colliding. Celeste Ng asks an important question: what role does race play in post-racial America? How does privilege assert itself? What role do secrets play in the life of families?

*Goodreads * noted that:
"Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak."

Named a best book of the year by the Kirkus Reviews


THE MARRIAGE PACT by Michelle Richmond

THE MARRIAGE PACT by Michelle Richmond

Alice and Jake had almost the quintessentially perfect marriage; yet their marriage was tested to its limits when a total stranger appeared offering a gift too hard to resist. That gift upended their marriage, their lives, and their very conception of themselves. This fast-paced thriller by an award winning author was on the New York Times bestseller list for several months. I loved THE MARRIAGE PACT, ** and along with the **OVERSTORY by Richard Powers, these amazing novels by two very accomplished authors were my top favorites for 2018.

In The Marriage Pact, please pay close attention to the symbolism provided by the Turtles of the Ascension Islands; I confess that I almost missed it the first time around.


Grant by Ron Chernow

Grant by Ron Chernow

A masterful biography that will upend everything you know about our 18th U.S. President.

My College U.S. History Textbook wrote off the Grant Administration as being the most corrupt in U.S. History, and furthermore depicted Ulysses S. Grant as a hopeless alcoholic.

Author Ron Chernow's scholarly monograph resolutely rejects this approach.

Some Historians might be tempted to review this book as an example of revisionist history gone amuck, a whitewash; but I fervently disagree.

Chernow includes over 98 pages of scholarly footnotes, an exhaustive bibliography, and has performed 7 years of meticulous research in a variety of Archives all over the country, including the U.S. National Archives. Chernow has walked the Civil War battlefields where Grant fought, has visited all the places where Grant lived, and most importantly, has talked to leading Grant scholars, including the libraries -- and the librarians -- where Grant's papers and manuscripts are housed. Many of these Librarians are Grant scholars in their own right, and they (mostly) agree with Chernow's new assessment. So far, the reviews, with a few minor quibbles here and there, have been exemplary.

Award-Winning author Ron Chernow has written two other famous historical biographies: Hamilton (later made into a Broadway musical you may have heard about) and** Washington,** about our 1st President.

Professor Eric Foner, celebrated Historian of the Reconstruction era, and the Dewitt Clinton Distinguished Professor of History at Columbia University, writes persuasively of the varying interpretations of Grant over the years in this review


Owning Up: Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice by Rosalind Wiseman

Owning Up: Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice by Rosalind Wiseman

The Review from *Common Sense Education *(Summer 2018):

"The best-selling author of *Queen Bees *and *Wannabees *and founder of Cultures of Dignity Rosalind Wiseman has spent her career listening to young people and helping parents and educators support kids' social and emotional well-being.

In this curriculum for tweens and teens, teachers, counselors, and other professionals can guide students' exploration of tough topics, including gender, sexual harassment, racism, bullying, self-image, and more.

The ensuing discussion prompting games, activities, handouts, and other materials would be a great addition to any digital citizenship or SEL program."

This is an especially useful book for any Parent with a child -- studies show that almost all children will suffer some form of bullying in their school years.


Digital Marketing for Dummies by Ryan Deiss

Digital Marketing for Dummies by Ryan Deiss

This book is purportedly about how digital marketers go about doing their work, with lots of technical detail on how Google Analytics, and other Social Media tools actually work in the field of Digital Marketing. But see it from the other way around: this technical field manual goes into great depth into how Marketers and Businesses (yes!, that includes Facebook!) find and track you, and eventually learn all your consumer-driven fantasies, and then relentlessly focus on those things you can't do without, based on your purchasing behavior. I found this field guide scary, yet, illuminating. Can you perhaps figure out a way to avoid those marketers by reading this book? (I began to think so...)


Memoir: A Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu

Memoir: A Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu

A man who worked for the Border Patrol for four years describes his efforts to stop and help people coming into the United States. Sad, illuminating, powerful.


The Heavens Might Crack The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Jason Sokol

The Heavens Might Crack The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Jason Sokol

This is a meticulously researched and dramatic account of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. years after his assassination and how the nation reacted to his death .

Goodread's review of this book notes:

"A vivid portrait of how Americans grappled with King's death and legacy in the days, weeks, and months after his assassination."

What was MLK's overall legacy to the Civil Rights Movement? This book attempts an answer.


SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY/SPACE: The Space Barons Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos by Christian D...

SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY/SPACE: The Space Barons Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos by Christian D...

A History of the commercial Space industry, from the first flight of SpaceShipOne --to escaping Earth's Orbit as a venue for tourism and recreation in Space.

Will Humankind eventually be successful in commercializing space?


CINEMA: Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson

CINEMA: Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson

*The New Yorker Magazine * recently published an article about the making of __2001: A Space Odyssey _ and I was so intrigued that I decided to read the book. The book goes into far more detail about the intense artistic collaboration, and the cinematic breakthroughs that went into the making of this iconic film, a film that seemed destined to define our future. One interesting revelation centers on Kubrick's inspiration for HAL -- the computer that talks back, resists human control, and ultimately charts its own course. HAL made many fear the not-so-distant future where machines might be in charge. Could that future eventually happen?


SOCIAL SCIENCE: Text Me When You Get Home The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer,

SOCIAL SCIENCE: Text Me When You Get Home The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer,

A celebration of female friendships that rejects the popular notion that women’s relationships with each other are fundamentally flawed.

*GOODREADS *offers the following review:

"From Girls to Parks and Recreation to Bridesmaids, the female friendship has taken an undeniable front seat in pop culture. Text Me When You Get Home is a personal and sociological perspective - and ultimately a celebration - of the evolution of the modern female friendship.

"Kayleen Schaefer has experienced (and occasionally, narrowly survived) most every iteration of the modern female friendship. First there was the mean girl cliques of the '90s; then the teenage friendships that revolved around constant discussion of romantic interests and which slowly morphed into Sex and the City spin-offs; the disheartening loneliness of "I'm not like other girls" friendships with only men; the discovery of a platonic soul mate; and finally, the overwhelming love of a supportive female squad (#squad).

"And over the course of these friendships, Schaefer made a startling discovery: girls make the best friends. And she isn't the only one to realize this. Through interviews with friends, mothers, authors, celebrities, businesswomen, doctors, screenwriters, and historians (a list that includes Judy Blume, Megan Abbott, The Fug Girls, and Kay Cannon), Schaefer shows a remarkable portrait of what female friendships can help modern women accomplish in their social, personal, and work lives."

from Buzzfeed: this is their 2018 list of (in their opinion) the *best *Audio Books; audiobooks read by the authors themselves -- a fascinating list, and I plan to purchase a few of these.
Link to the list is available here :