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Add to Your Summer Reading List

 
Time to enjoy a good book.

 

There’s nothing like enjoying a good book under a shade tree with a nice breeze blowing or on a warm sandy beach with the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline. Summer reading runs the gamut from bodice rippers and murder mysteries to non-fiction accounts of our times and classics from long ago. We asked our employees to share some of their recommendations to add to your summer reading list.

Sheri at the Home Office has two recommendations. The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a book of historical fiction. The story revolves around the question of who invented the light bulb? You’ll recognize many of the characters – Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, J.P. Morgan, and George Westinghouse among them. Paul Cravath is a young lawyer who takes on the daunting case of the light bulb. From the first pages where Moore describes seeing a man being electrocuted as he travels to work to the highly unusual and brilliant personage of Tesla, it is an interesting look-into the inventiveness and greed that built America.

Her second recommendation is actually a series of books by Bobby Adair. The first installment is Slow Burn: Zero Day. You’ll meet Zed, a young man who has some relationship issues with his parents. While on the way over to ask for some money, he walks in on a disturbing scene. His parents are infected with a virus that turns them into zombies. His father is already dead and his mom turns on him. He suffers a bite and begins the transformation, but somehow, he develops an immunity to the full effects. “When people first started reading the zombie genre, I just didn’t understand it,” said Sheri. “But when I picked up this series, I couldn’t put it down. When I finished one book, I couldn’t wait for the release of the next.” The series has nine books, and the author may write more in the future. “I have my fingers crossed!” said Sheri.

Suzanne, also at the Home Office, recommends The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch. This book is the first in a series set in Bavaria and is based on historical events involving murder, mystery, witchcraft, and a hangman. Potzsch actually uses family ties as a basis for his story. He is related to his main character, Jakob Kuisl, who is a village executioner.

Chiming in from across the mountain, Amber in the Knoxville store recommends Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly-True Memoir by Jenny Lawson. “This is one of the best books I have read in a while,” said Amber. “It is the author's own translation of her life events in a way that makes us all relate to her. I just picked up her new book, Furiously Happy, as another new Summer Read.” We’ll await hearing back on how this one goes.

Julie in Marketing is in the process of re-reading the Outlander time-travel series by Diana Gabaldon, part of which is set in western North Carolina. Claire is her favorite character … her uses of healing herbs and old-fashioned cures are particularly fascinating and some are even in use today. There are nine books in the series so far, and Julie is particularly anxious for the next one to come out to see what happens next. 

Chafin at the Asheville Store offers up a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the presidency of President Grant. Written by Ron Chernow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Grant was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017. Chafin said that the story is equal to the Holocaust with its effect on African Americans. “It’s an uncomfortable view of the South and post-war efforts by whites to create a new version of slavery.”

The Hidden Life of Trees is more interesting than one might think, according to Joy at the Knoxville Store. Written by Peter Wohlleben and translated by Jane Billingshurst, this book takes a look at trees as social beings. Wohlleben worked for 20 years as an arborist in Germany and studied with many tree enthusiasts. “I was fascinated by how trees depend on many other organisms and thrive because of their ability to connect with minute organisms,” said Joy. “There is an illustrated book that was released after I discovered it.” (As a side note, if you think you might enjoy this book, give this podcast episode a listen. It is from Radiolab and is titled From Tree to Shining Tree.) 

Cindy from the Home Office said, “This book reads like a song.” The Sweet Everlasting by Judson Mitcham is about the South in the mid-1900s with its double standards and segregation. Its main character is in his mid-70s and moves back and forth across his lifetime. “It’s one of three or four books I’ve read in my lifetime that made me cry.”

If you enjoy audio books, this one comes highly recommended by Emily, who works in the Pricing department at the Home Office. Still Life by Louise Penny is the first in a murder-mystery series. “Still Life introduces us to a handful of wonderfully-mixed characters in a small Canadian town. Each book tackles a new crime to solve, but all characters have their shining moments while trying to keep their community quaint and quiet. If you listen to audiobooks, I doubly suggest this series - the narrator is my absolute favorite!”

It looks like most of us enjoy a good series where you get to know the characters and follow them in many situations. Chris, a buyer at the Home Office, recommends The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. “It's a thoughtful, yet hilarious, fantasy tale told for the most part in the style of flashback memoir,” said Chris. “It is a very entertaining story.” This is the first book in a trilogy – the second book is out, and a side story novella is also available, but Chris said the third book is nowhere in sight, so he says, “Read slowly.”

Joy in Knoxville has one more recommendation – well, more of a reminder. Our libraries are wonderful resources for recommendations on all kinds of books to read for fun, for research, for knowledge, and more. Visit your local library’s website or drop by the front desk. If you haven’t been in a while, we think you’ll find libraries have changed a lot from the ones you may remember from high school or college. Joy said, “I have found many other books and look forward to suggestions from these book-loving people.” Your local bookstores are also treasure troves of reading ideas.