Local bookworms let us in on what they’re reading this summer
Nestled under the shadow of the downtown post office, beneath the snapping American flag at the south end of the City Plaza, Lyon Books embodies the spirit of the independent bookstore.
Lyon Books was opened by Bay Area ex-pat Heather Lyon in 2003 in response to the closing of independent book store Pink Cadillac, the third downtown bookstore to shut since she and her family moved to town in 1995.
Lyon keeps company downtown with used seller The Bookstore—both cozy, local alternatives to the retail giant off East 20th Street with the initials B&N.
“The value of an independent bookstore is that of a community gathering place, where readers and writers come together,” Lyon said.
The store has become a hub where local and national writers discuss their latest works. Whether searching for a hot new author to explore while soaking up the rays or as the first stop on a road trip to the beach for a little quiet time, the bookstore is the ideal gateway to a world of words.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m reading about books more than I’m actually reading them,” admitted Lyon. “I get hundreds of catalogs from publishers of their upcoming publications. I read book reviews from dozens of sources. And I talk about books with nearly everyone. Lucky for me, I have always loved books, so mine is a dream job.”
As we needed informed tour guides on our pathway to adventure, the CN&R asked Lyon and staffers Karen Allen, Tracey Sloane and Mary MacMahon for a look at hot summer reads.
Currently reading: When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
I’m just back from vacation to Southern California, so I had a chance to listen to some audio books for a change. I highly recommend David Sedaris’ new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and the audio is especially fun because it is read by him. He’s a great reader—you may have heard him before on NPR. These essays are funny, bitter, hopeful and crude in turns. Some essays you probably would not want to let your kids hear, but others are fun to share. Track listings with titles are helpfully printed on the CDs, so it’s easy to go back and find favorites again.
Currently reading: My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead, edited by Jeffrey Eugenides
I am not a fan of romance novels, probably because they are so far from real life. But I am interested in reading My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead, edited by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book is a collection of stories about the true agony and ecstasy of love written by some of the greatest authors of all time, including Anton Chekhov, William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov and Raymond Carver.
Another good reason to buy the book is that the proceeds go directly to fund the free youth writing programs offered by 826 Chicago. 826 is a nonprofit dedicated to students ages 6 to 18 with their creative writing skills.
Currently reading: The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Place in the World, by Eric Weiner
I love books that tell me strange facts about other countries and peoples, and this one is full of them. I have learned which countries to visit (Iceland—they are happy because they accept failure) and which to avoid (Moldova—no smiles there for any reason).
In Bhutan the king has made “Gross National Happiness” a national priority. For the Danish, the key to happiness is low expectations—I have been trying this and it works. Eric Weiner is a longtime foreign correspondent for NPR and has a great journalist’s eye for noticing what makes each place and its inhabitants unique. I have had so much fun reading this book—perfect for summer.
Also recommended: The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek.
Currently reading: Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich
This summer I am planning on reading anything I have not already read by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich is of Chippewa and German descent, and her novels center around at least one, and sometimes both, of those cultures. She is especially fond of writing about the Ojibwe people in North Dakota and she apparently portrays a very accurate description of reservation life. There are recurring encounters with the same characters and/or their descendents in most of her books, and all are written largely in first person, each chapter devoted to a single person’s account. She just published a new novel, Plague of Dove’s which is about the Chippewa, but does not incorporate the familiar characters from previous stories. Erdrich’s writing is clever and sometimes humorous, and always unlike anything I have read before.
More Lyon lists
Summer reading for kids and young adults: (in order of age of interest)
Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz. Babies learn about counting and parts of the body as they tickle their way through this cute board book.
Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet. Each letter is illustrated with animals in this sturdy interactive book with things to feel and do on every page.
Horse by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi. This lushly illustrated picture book celebrates the first year in the life of a horse.
The Fairies of Bidwell Park by Amaji Fox. Read about the fairies, animals and plants that live in Bidwell Park and color the sweet drawings.
Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner. Learn what you never knew about the women and girls of the American Revolution in this fun and funny book for middle-school kids.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney. A hilarious middle-school novel with goofy illustrations on every page.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. The 2008 Caldecott award winner is a sure bet for its mysterious and engaging story told through pictures and words.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Four clever and heroic 12-year-olds solve a mystery amid perilous adventure.
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. The third book in the Twilight Saga, a tale of vampires, romance and adventure for teens.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion, a modern 1984 for teens.
Summer reading for adults: (in no particular order)
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Read the book everyone’s talking about before the author’s visit to Chico State in April.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. Here’s your chance to find out more about the Democratic presidential candidate before the November election.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. Sedaris treats us to another sharply funny collection of essays about his life and observations.
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatdje. Be transported by this poetic novel of family divides set in modern California and early 20th-century France.
Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan. This is the sensitively novelized account of the true story of the famously tragic love affair between Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria. A stimulating and mostly optimistic look at where the 21st century is heading by the Newsweek editor and popular pundit.
Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken. How the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice and beauty to the world.
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. A brain scientist’s personal journey through a stroke, nirvana, insight and recovery.
Saga of a Mountain Meadow by Scott Lawson. A history of Bucks Ranch and Bucks Lake told through photos and narrative by a local author.
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. A Norwegian Western novel unfolds as an elderly man explores memories of his wild youth during wartime.