Summer reads

Local readers and writers recommend new titles and perennial favorites

Summer book picks from some of Reno’s notable readers and writers.

Summer book picks from some of Reno’s notable readers and writers.

For some, summer means it’s time to lay a beach towel out by the Truckee River. For others, it’s time to crank the AC and lounge on the couch. Those are both great places to read. Now you just need a summer book list that suits your taste.

We turned to a few of the city’s notable readers and writers for their seasonal picks, both new titles and perennial favorites, in a wide range of genres. Happy reading!

Fantasy/Mythology
Ashley Warren
Writer, Researcher and RN&R contributor

When the RN&R needs someone who’s in the know about fantasy worlds and the like, we call Warren. Two of her summer picks are officially YA titles, and she advised that any of these are suitable for teens and adults alike.

Circe, Madeline Miller, 2018

A story about the Greek mythological figure Circe, a notable figure in Homer’s The Odyssey, spans more than 1,000 years and is written in stunningly gorgeous prose.

Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman, 2017

Odin, Thor and Loki appear in this simple but beautifully written anthology of the most popular Norse myths.

Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente, 2011

A weird and hauntingly beautiful retelling of the Russian myth, “Koschei the Deathless,” set in a fantastical version of World War II, is Warren’s favorite book of all time.

The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh, 2015

This retelling of the “1001 Arabian Nights” legend, with a fierce female protagonist, racked up awards from the likes of the New York Public Library and Seventeen magazine.

Love in the Time of Global Warming, Francesca Lia Block, 2013

This YA title is a modern retelling of The Odyssey with plenty of fantastical elements.

Poetry
Jared Stanley
Poet

Stanley’s own anthology, Ears, came out in 2017. (See “To hear with,” RN&R, April 13, 2017.) Here are a few books by other poets he said he can’t put down.

Dear Angel of Death, Simone White, 2018

In a book filed as both “poetry” and “criticism,” the author meditates on black music, black poetry and black critical theory.

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier, 2017

This debut by a Lakota woman takes on the coercive language that the U.S. government has used in treaties and apologies to Native Americans. Buzzfeed called it “Elegant, innovative, and necessary.”

On Time: Poems 2005-2014, Joanne Kyger, 2015

This anthology meanders through a decade, addressing the Bush administration, Zen Buddhism and environmentalism.

Memoirs
Stephanie Lauer

Lauer’s memoir picks are in stock at Sundance.

We Made a Garden, Margery Fish, 1956 This gardening classic, still in print, is both a feminist manifesto and a chatty tale about making a world-class cottage garden out of empty fields.

The Art of the Wasted Day, Patricia Hampl, 2018NPR’s Maureen Corrigan called this new book sharp and unconventional, “a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history’s champion day-dreamers.”

Vacationland, by John Hodgman, 2018 This “seriously funny” memoir by the former contributor to The Daily Show is new in paperback this summer.

Children’s books
Melisa Garcia
Book Buyer, Sundance Books & Music

Garcia has a good vantage point on what’s new and notable in kid lit and teen lit this season.

Misunderstood Shark, Ame Dyckman, 2018 Are sharks really terrifying—or just misunderstood? Adorable squids with recording equipment help tell the story for preschoolers and kindergartners.

From Hero to Zero, James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, 2018

A middle-schooler contends with a bully as a roommate on a class trip to London—and that’s just the beginning of the indignities.

Someday, Somewhere, by Lindsay Champion, 2018

Life looks much different to Dom, a high school junior from a tough New Jersey neighborhood, than it does to Ben, a musical prodigy from New York City. Their story has plenty of suspense, romance and heartbreak.

Grand Canyon, Jason Chin, 2017

This story—part narrative, part nature guide, part armchair travel—will appeal to natural history fans and hikers in the 7-12 age range. The animal drawings are especially irresistible.

Food books
Amanda Burden
Publisher of Edible Reno-Tahoe magazine

Burden—whose magazine covers local dining, drinking, farming and all things related—has a few recent and new favorites.

Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, Michael Solomonov, 2015

The chef of Philadelphia restaurant Zahav wrote this book, and the reviews include a lot of words like “honesty,” “heart” and “joy.” Maybe that’s how it won a James Beard award. Or perhaps it was the extremely detailed look at how ingredients such as tahini are produced and used.

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley, 2017

Sherman and his colleagues bring traditional indigenous food into the present in a discovery of what will be, for most of us, new ingredients and techniques.

Hippie Food, Jonathan Kauffman, 2018

Burden said that the culinary press has been paying attention to this book, described as “an entertaining fusion of Tom Wolfe and Michael Pollan.” Its subhead says a lot: “How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat.”

The Third Plate, Dan Barber, 2014

Sometimes, books that advise on how we should farm and eat come off as high-handed, but this one earned a long list of glowing reviews. Here’s Burden’s: “I bought several cases of them to give away because I loved it so much.”

Music books
Brad Bynum
RN&R editor

Here’s a book list that’ll also probably expand your album list.

Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon, 2015

This candid memoir by the former Sonic Youth bassist and vocalist is especially good for summer because its early parts focus on Gordon’s teenage years in 1960s Southern California, the land of forever summer.

Miles: The Autobiography, Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, 1989

Davis is one of the central figures of postwar American music. He talks a lot of trash, and it’s full of hilarious anecdotes.

Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, Simon Reynolds, 1998 [updated in 2008 and 2013]

This one’s a great historical examination of dance music by one of the best music journalists around.

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Lester Bangs, 1987

This great collection of essays by the quintessential rock writer, edited by the critic Greil Marcus, is good for staying up late and listening to garage rock 45s, an essential summer pastime.

Novels
Christopher Coake
Author and Creative Writing Professor, University of Nevada, Reno

Coake shared some recent favorites and some new titles he’s looking forward to diving into.

Bluff, Michael Kardos, 2018

This is an elegantly constructed, literary suspense novel about a magician pulled into an elaborate poker-game con.

Summerland, by Hannu Rajaniemi, 2018

The forthcoming novel is by an author Coake called “one of the world’s most inventive and mind-bending writers of speculative fiction.”

Jade City, by Fonda Lee, 2017

Coake called this one a “terrific novel set in a fantastical version of our own world, rife with gangsters, martial arts and magical powers fueled by precious jade.”

A Lucky Man, by Jamel Brinkley, 2018

This collection of nine stories is a heartbreaking, thoughtful examination of masculinity from a place of damage and regret.

Dog Boy, by Eva Hornung, 2010

Coake deemed this book “an under-read masterpiece,” and he’s prone to evangelizing about it. It’s about a young boy in contemporary Moscow, abandoned by his family and taken in by a pack of feral dogs. Ω