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Looking for a good summer read ...

Original post made by Jocelyn Dong, associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, on Jun 2, 2006

What books have made your list of all-time favorites? I'd be interested in hearing recommendations of both fiction and nonfiction.

One of my favorites is "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (2003). It's a captivating story of two young Afghan boys, their friendship and the life-altering consequences of one's actions. Set partly in Afghanistan, it offered a fascinating look at a history and culture that I knew very little about.

Comments (14)

Posted by Tom Pencek
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2006 at 11:04 am

For summer reading I like short stories, with a light theme. I just finished a great "first book" from local humor writer, Mary Hanna that I recommend to all, "You May Already Be a Wiener! and Other Midlife Wake-up Calls". It's available on Amazon, and direct from the publisher ( It is a collection of Mary's writing, previously published in the San Mateo Times. Very entertaining.

Posted by Natalie Fisher
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2006 at 2:36 pm

I recommend the book "This Much I Know Is True" by Wally Lamb. It is 900 pages long, but I got hooked on it. I can't summarize it, check the library's catalogue or for a summary.

Posted by Elizabeth Lorenz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2006 at 3:14 pm

One of my all-time favorite fiction books is "Girl with A Pearl Earring," by Tracy Chevalier. It's the story of a girl depicted in a Vermeer painting. Also, I just finished "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe," by Katrina Ferlik, a funny, down-to-earth book about being a neurosurgeon.

Posted by Carolyn Serebreny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2006 at 6:03 pm

T.C. Boyle's Tortilla Curtain is my favorite of his; our book group also liked his Riven Rock.

Posted by Ronboh
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2006 at 4:15 pm

This summer I am devouring "Acts of Faith" by Philip Caputo. Elightening, insightful and empathetic. We're all in here and we're all trying to do our best as we stumble, bumble and run headon into each other. Our drummer boy belief systems pull us along, keeping us busy until the coroner comes. Caputo holds his "mirror up to nature" so that we all may see our reflections. Pass it on.

Posted by mike naar
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2006 at 5:51 pm

While it's been out for a number of years, "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien is one of the best-written books I've read (thanks Men of Letters Book Club!) However, it's not exactly John Grisham "lite" summer fare. Rather it's an oxy-moronic war novel, or collection of war stories, that is at once replete with black, gallows humor while making no pretense of understanding the incomprehensible horrors of war. If you're at all interested in paradoxes such as learning the "truth" from a factually false war story, or believing human spirit mired in despair can rise above tree level, check it out.

Posted by Name hidden
digital editor of Palo Alto Online

on Jun 6, 2006 at 10:21 am

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Posted by Marc Burkhardt
editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Jun 6, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Marc Burkhardt is a registered user.

I'd like to recommend "Men Of Tomorrow: Geek, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book" by Gerard Jones. Although it does deal with the birth of the super-hero comic, a uniquely American creation, it mostly serves as a fascinating look at Jewish immigrants at the turn of the 20th century and how their experiences helped shape a mythology that now makes millions of dollars for multi-national corporations.

A must for any fan of Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay."

Posted by Donna Berryhill
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 6, 2006 at 3:56 pm

I recently stumbled on "The Rescue" by Nicholas Sparks. I liked it so much I went ahead and read two more by him, "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember." I think any or all of them might do well for you this summer while you are lazing around the pool. Enjoy!

Posted by Bill D'Agostino
Palo Alto Weekly reporter
on Jun 6, 2006 at 4:56 pm

Bill D'Agostino is a registered user.

I read "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith last summer and enjoyed it immensely. It takes place in England and at an American university modeled on Harvard. It's funny and sad, deals with big issues like race and gender, and is extremely well written.

Posted by Bill D'Agostino
Palo Alto Weekly reporter
on Jun 6, 2006 at 9:46 pm

Bill D'Agostino is a registered user.

Posted by Jocelyn Dong
associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Jun 7, 2006 at 4:10 pm

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

What a great variety of recommendations so far, from short stories to a 900 pager - thanks! Any more out there?

FYI, this announcement (below) has come in from the Friends of the Library about their book sale this weekend. Note that several titles that made the New York Times "Best American Fiction" list will be available.


Saturday, June 10
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Room opens at 11 am

Sunday, June 11
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

These sales are at 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, at the northwest corner of the Cubberley Community Center. For a map showing how to get to Cubberley, see Web Link For a map of where our sale room is at Cubberley, and more information on the sale, see Web Link

--- Best American Fiction in Last 25 Years ---

The New York Times Book Review recently asked several hundred writers, critics, and others to name the "single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years." The winner was Toni Morrison's Beloved, and runner-ups were Don DeLillo's Underworld, John Updike's four Rabbit Angstrom novels, and Phillip Roth's American Pastoral. You'll find copies of these books and others that received multiple votes along with additional titles by the same authors in a special section on the west wall in the Main Room at this month's sale. See the full New York Times list at Web Link

Posted by Kathy Shields, Reference Librarian
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 9, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Palo Alto City Library is now offering Novelist, a fiction database that helps you answer the question “What shall I read next?”
Novelist includes:
* Read-alikes
* Book Discussion Guides
* Book Talks
* Annotated Book Lists and more!
This is a great tool for book groups!

To learn more about Novelist join the reference staff for a free introduction -

Tues. June 27 7:00—8:00pm @ Main Library 1213 Newell Rd.
Thurs. June 29 Noon-1:00pm @ Mitchell Park 3700 Middlefield Rd.
Reserve a spot—call 329-2436 or e-mail

We hope you can come and enrich your summer reading.

Posted by Allen Podell
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 19, 2006 at 10:21 pm

Allen Podell is a registered user.

How about "Stranger in a Strange Land?" Fast reading, and appropriate for our times.

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