Now that’s what I call summer reading!
From Lord of the Flies to The Unabomber Manifesto, Sacramentans tell us how they plan to get lit this summer
Now, as is often the case with reading surveys, one book seems to find its way onto more than a few lists. This time, that book was Dan Brown’s best-selling thriller The Da Vinci Code. But what’s interesting is just how intellectualized some of these lists get when it comes down to naming names. Is Sacramento really as book-smart as it lets on? You be the judge.
Well-known for his sharp tongue, Jack Armstrong is one-half of the early-morning Armstrong & Getty Show on KSTE AM. When he’s not chatting it up on the airwaves, Armstrong enjoys curling up with the classics.
I try to read one big fiction book every summer. The last two summers, I read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. I also try to check out the reading lists from major universities and try to read some of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners.
On the Nobel Prize front, I highly recommend Jose Saramago’s Blindness. It portrays the thin line between civilization and barbarism. I also just read J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, which is about post-apartheid South Africa. But my big read, which I’m starting this week, is Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March. It’s out in a 50th-anniversary print, and it looks like it will keep me busy for a month or so. It’s hard to find time for pleasure reading when real life is always getting in the way.
For book suggestions, anybody who hasn’t read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five should certainly start there. The best nonfiction book I’ve ever read to help me understand the Middle East is Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem. It’s a decade or so old, but nothing has changed anyway.
Given Jodi deVries is co-owner of an art gallery called the Exploding Head Gallery, located at 924 12th Street in downtown Sacramento, you’d think she’d have a penchant for horror. Well, if you find the Catholic Church macabre, then you just might be right.
I’m looking forward to reading World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance—Portrait of an Age by William Manchester. It’s something that I’ve read once before, but I really want to read it again this summer. I just love Manchester’s books. He’s written about the rise and fall of civilization. He’s written about the Vatican during the 1400s to the 1700s and about how members of the Catholic Church, at that point in time, had mistresses and kids. His books are great.
As far as a reading suggestion goes, I just got done reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and that was very good. I would recommend it to anyone for summer reading material. It’s a real page-turner that really pulls you in. It’s one of those books that you’re reading until 2 in the morning, and it’s like, “Oh, I have to get to bed.” It’s a great combination of fiction and nonfiction; it’s got some art; and it takes place in Paris, where I love to visit. It’s just an excellent book that I would recommend to anybody.
A longtime staple of Sacramento’s music scene, DJ Larry Rodriguez has been filling dance floors for years. His latest incarnation, “Lala Land,” summons Sacramento’s quick-footed to strut on over to the Blue Lamp on Thursday nights.
I’m looking forward to re-reading The Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society & Its Future. I remember reading it over breakfast the morning it originally came out in the newspapers. I found that he had some of the most articulate and brilliant views on how humanity should live. He really feels that this whole system is going to break down, and he has recommendations on ways that humanity could live with each other. I’ve never had the chance to read it the whole way through, and I’m looking forward to sitting down with it.
As far as recommendations go, I think people should read Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. It’s an oral history of the punk scene from the late 1960s through the late 1970s, kind of from the Velvet Underground, MC5 and the Stooges through to the New York Dolls, the Ramones and Dead Boys. It’s pretty amazing. Another book I’d recommend is Manson in His Own Words, by Charles Manson. I picked it up because I wanted to hear his side of the story. It’s interesting to learn how he grew up, what his family was like and what really made him who he is today. And there’s no better person to tell the story than Manson himself.
Considering he’s stretched between three jobs, it’s a wonder Aaron Sikes finds time to eat, let alone read. But with an evening gig at Davis’ Bogey’s Books, Sikes has found a nice, quiet spot and more than enough reading material to choose from.
I’m looking forward to finally sitting down with John Steinbeck’s work. I’m relocating to Monterey in June for grad school and figure now’s as good a time as any. I’ve started East of Eden, but it’s on hold until I’m moved into my new place. Two books by Anthony Bourdain, A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines and Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, have been on my list for a couple of years.
For suggestions, mystery lovers should check out John Lescroart’s Son of Holmes and Rasputin’s Revenge. And for nonfiction, I’d recommend Anthony Swofford’s book Jarhead. I’m a veteran myself and found reading this book profoundly heartwarming, healing, inspiring and, above all, honest in its portrayal of military life.
Co-owner of the N Street Cafe, located at 2022 N Street, Erin Frey is usually found supplying caffeine to those in need of a pick-me-up. But when she’s not behind the counter, you’ll find her with a good book and a cold glass of iced tea.
If I can find the time this summer, I’d like to go back and read some of the classics I read as a kid to see if they catch me in the same way as they did back then. I just read Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King a few months ago, and, in that book, he constantly mentions Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which has renewed my interest in that book. I’d also like to re-read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. My father used to read it to me as a kid at bedtime, and it’s one that’s always stuck with me.
For a book suggestion, I’d really recommend The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, which I just read with my book group. It was phenomenal. I couldn’t put it down. I was actually reading it at stoplights. When he was describing the Louvre in Paris, it took me back to when I was there. He’s so descriptive in his writing that you can really visualize everything so well. It was also one of those books that I wanted to go check out whether what he was describing was really true.
Spotting university student Kristen King without a book in her hands is about as easy as finding weapons of mass destruction. An aspiring opera singer, King hopes to take her books to Italy and study opera one day.
I love to read. I read all the time. I just got done reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and now I’m looking forward to reading his book Angels & Demons, which has the same main character. The Da Vinci Code was great. It kind of creeped me out for a few days, and I found myself questioning everything, but it really made me think. I couldn’t put it down. I think I read it in two days. I would recommend it to anyone.
I also read a lot of biographies. Right now, I’m reading a biography of Geronimo Pratt called Last Man Standing by Jack Olsen. I’ve only read the first few chapters so far, but it’s really good. I’d really like to go back and read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and I couldn’t stand it. But everybody always talks about how good it is, so I’d like to re-read it with a more-critical mind.
A highly skilled construction worker known for his steady hands, Ron Steele’s appetite for John Waters is matched only by his fantastic hair.
I just got done reading Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, which was really good. It’s a bunch of essays written by Waters that have been published before in Rolling Stone and a bunch of other magazines. In the book, he writes about all kinds of things. He writes about why he has a subscription to the National Enquirer. He writes about a trip he made to Los Angeles, and he talks about how everything is so kitschy. He writes about strippers and burlesque dancers and the David Lee Roth impersonators walking around on the Sunset Strip. It’s great. I’d recommend Crackpot to anyone. This summer, I hope to read more of his stuff.
Rumor has it that Senator and voracious reader Rico Oller’s office shelves are dotted with books about Winston Churchill. Interesting. But where are the muscle magazines?
I plan on reading a number of books this summer and will probably start
with Genghis Khan or the Emperor of All Men by Harold Lamb, because I’ve always been interested in history. I also plan on reading about the life of William E. Simon and the autobiography A Time for Reflection. Simon’s son, Bill Simon, is a very good friend of mine and has always spoken with a deep respect and fondness for his father. It’s easy to tell that the two shared a deep, personal relationship, and Bill has made his father very interesting to me.
I also plan to read Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel. I’m not a Catholic myself, but I’m very much interested in the historical impact Catholics have had in this world. And, if I have the time, I hope to re-read the Bounty trilogy: Mutiny on the Bounty, Pitcairn’s Island and Men Against the Sea.
Time Tested Books owner Peter Keat enjoys, among other things, a good French mystery. But what’s a real mystery is why the owner of an American bookstore would read French novels. Freedom fries, anyone?
I recently read one of Georges Simenon’s mystery novels, enjoyed it and, now, would like to read a couple more of those. They’re kind of atmospheric books about a detective living in Paris during the 1940s and 1950s. I’m also hoping to finish a biography of one of my heroes, Langston Hughes. I’ve also read his autobiography, but I’m finding that the biography gives you a little more insight into some of his friends, the relationships between the friends and things like that. I’m also finishing up Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and enjoying that a lot. And, in an off moment, I picked up and read the first few pages of Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody, and that really caught me. That’s one of the hazards and good things of the book business: getting to read the first 10 pages of a lot of books.
As far as reading suggestions go, I think people should read a balance of a variety of different things. Not just current books but going back and reading some of the classics. About a year ago, I went back and read East of Eden by Steinbeck, one of his that I missed, and I really enjoyed that.
You can always depend on Good Day Sacramento’s Tina Macuha for a report on our city’s morning commute. But who knew you could count on her for a good reading suggestion?
I highly recommend The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I love his style of writing and how he relates to those we miss. I lost my mom and dad, so this book hit home. Right now, I’m trying various recipes from The South Beach Diet Cookbook by Arthur Agatston. I love eating healthy food! I haven’t had any headaches with this plan. I get migraines occasionally, and I didn’t realize sugar played such a big role.
I’d like to read Queen Bees & Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. I have an 11-year-old daughter, and we saw the movie Mean Girls, which was based on the book. The teenage years are tough, so I’m sure we’ll benefit from this book.
Anne Marie Gold
Anne Marie Gold has the biggest collection of books in Sacramento. Well, actually, she’s the director of the Sacramento Public Library—but hey, I’ll bet she doesn’t have to pay any late fees.
What books are on my bedside table waiting for a lazy summer afternoon or a long vacation for me to dive into and enjoy? I pile up those books that I want to pay attention to, or have a good long escape with, for my self-indulgent time in the summer to just relax, read and enjoy.
No surprise that a librarian is reading a book about books and reading, namely Azar Nafisi’s brilliant Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Actually, I couldn’t wait for summer, as this is the May selection of my book group. The author weaves the books and characters into the story of revolutionary Iran in a manner that will engage the reader and leave you with admiration for the indomitable spirit of Azar Nafisi. After that, I’m going to take some time out to revisit one of my favorite historical periods, 14th-century England, and the love story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, retold brilliantly in Anya Seton’s novel Katherine. I’m a sucker for good historical writing, and this is one of the best from one of the best. Having fed my mind, now I’m interested in what’s feeding—or shouldn’t be feeding—my body. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation has been waiting for me for a couple of months, and I need a time to delve into it when I’m not rushed—and eating fast food. From what I hear, once you read it, you’ll never indulge again. And finally, a journey back to my time in Robert Dallek’s spacious new biography of John F. Kennedy, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. For a life that has been written all too much about, this book provides new insights that even The New Yorker lauds as “riveting and well-documented.”
So, a bit of everything for my downtime this summer. And, yes, inevitably some other good reads will slip in, either from my weekly perusal of The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review or from my dash past an airport bookshop when I just can’t resist the latest bit of brain candy.