So summer is technically upon us and, as a bibliophile, that means that I hopefully get some time to read something that isn’t a textbook or journal article. But what do I recommend for fellow book lovers in search for a summer read? Well, I’m glad you asked:
1. Snow Falling on Cedars- David Guterson
This first recommendation is for those who enjoy a slow-burn murder mystery. The book is set on San Piedro Island, a fictional island off the coast of Washington State, in 1954 and revolves around the death of a local fisherman. An investigation gets underway and suspicions soon turn towards the island’s small Japanese-American community.
Guterson’s book is beautifully paced and detailed, with character’s slowly revealed through exposition and flashbacks. The book reflects on the relations between Americans of European descent and Japanese-Americans in the wake of the Second World War without becoming a sermon on racial tolerance and the dangers of judging a book by its cover. The descriptions are nothing short of lush and, as an American with fond memories of Washington State, it feels me with a warm sense of home as I read the descriptions of the temperature forests of San Piedro.
Snow Falling on Cedars is a modern classic that not only delivers an engaging mystery, but presents a quiet reflection of what it means to be human and how something as small as someone’s race can greatly affect our perception of them.
2. Friday Night Lights: A town, a team and a dream- HG Bissinger
For those who enjoy something a little more grounded in reality, my next recommendation is right up reality avenue. In 1988, journalist Buzz Bissinger travelled to Odessa, Texas to follow the Permian High School Panthers during their football season. His intention was to write a book in the spirit of Hoosiers– the story of how one high school football team can bring a town together. However, as the books reveals chapter by chapter, the town is little more than jaded and arrogant Texans put their hopes, dreams and expectations on the shoulders of high-schoolers.
For those of you who switched off when I mentioned sports, the book is so much more than that as it explores the lives of these young sportsmen on and off the field. In short, Friday Night Lights is a brutally honest take on America’s most hallowed sport (don’t even start baseball fans, I will end you) with a refreshingly negative take on the game from a genuine fan.
3. Lake Wobegon Days- Garrison Kellior
In 1974, American author Garrison Kellior began a weekly two-hour radio show called A Prairie Home Companion, it was a tongue in cheek live variety show that blended satire and folk music. However, the stand-out highlight of every show was Kellior’s storytelling segment, ‘News from Lake Wobegon’, in which he would talk about the fictional Minnesotan town on Lake Wobegon, his fictional childhood home, and he would tell stories about his youth and what all the residents were up to week by week.
In 1985, Kellior published Lake Wobegon Days, a collection of stories and tales from Lake Wobegon. If you are a fan of things like the Archers, Lake Wobegon is right up your alley as you make your way through an easy-going book which is filled with stories that could very much have happened in a small rural town in the middle of Minnesota.
There is no real plot, except watching the town get older. It is very easily something you could stretch out to help fill out a whole summer. But it isn’t just fluff as you see the theme of relationships and community playing central roles in many of the stories.Another piece of casual Americana which is well worth your time.
What do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!