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     Summer reading: “One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” — Jeannette Walls, “The Glass Castle.”

My reading hammock, a gift of at least 25 years ago from my oldest daughter, has seen its last book.

It finally disintegrated under the weight of old age and its chief inhabitant.

Fortunately, its passing doesn’t spell the end of summer reading. Here are some recommendations:


— “Grant,” by Ron Chernow. If you came away from your history classes thinking Robert E. Lee was the genius general of the Civil War and that U.S. Grant won the war only because he had superior numbers and the industrialized North behind him, think again.


— “Sycamore Row,” by John Grisham, is escapism at its best, even if it is about lawyers. The book is, as they say, riveting. A man dies, leaving his $21 million estate to his housekeeper, who is black, cutting out his family completely. What’s behind this? Trust me, you’ll love it.


— “12 Rules for Life,” by Jordan B. Peterson. The author calls the book an “antidote to chaos” and am I the only one who feels like today’s world is more chaotic than ever? A glimpse: Face the world bravely, hang out with people you like and who care about you, don’t lie, and pursue what is meaningful for you.


— “The Outsider,” by Stephen King, is a return to the spooky genre that King made famous. There was a time when my kid brother and I had read just about every book King had written. “The Outsider” sets up a mystery leading with a horrific crime and an investigation that goes in circles. Don’t read it late at night.


— “Catch a Wave,” the rise, fall and redemption of the Beach Boys by Peter Ames Carlin. OK, I make no apology for adding this to the summer reading list. For those who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s during the dawning of rock and roll, the Beach Boys were an important chapter in that history. The book dissects the band’s successes and excesses, its music, and its boy genius, Brian Wilson.


— “The Year of Living Biblically,” by A.J. Jacobs is fascinating if only because of its premise: The author took a year off and tried to follow all the rules and guidelines of the Bible. It’s funny, sad, and educational. Plus, it’s easier reading than the Bible.


— “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates,” by Brian Kilmeade. If you thought the conflict between the United States and Muslim nations was fairly recent, Kilmeade’s book shows how even President Jefferson was vexed by Muslim powers. A slice of history that doesn’t get much attention these days.


Happy reading!

July 11, 2018