“What I Read Over My Summer Vacation…”
There is a famous Norman Rockwell painting (entitled “Coming & Going”) that I’ve always liked which depicts both the beginning and end of a family vacation…
To me, the end of August often represents the bottom half of the above picture. School is cranking back into session, vacation season is in the rear-view mirror, the family lake cabin has likely been “boarded up” until next year, and even a little daylight slips away with each passing date.
There are two remedies for those late-summer doldrums: Looking forward to the fall season ahead (cool nights…changing leaves…football!) or reminiscing a bit about the summer just passed. I am choosing the latter in this post, recounting some of my favorite reads over the past 3-4 months that might be fun additions to a middle school or high school library collection. Much like a child writing the ubiquitous “what I did over my summer vacation” essay on the first day of school, here are the books I was reading over the summer months…
My favorite book this summer was probably:
I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back by Ben Blatt & Eric Brewster. 9780802122742. 2014.
-Ironically enough, my summer featured a baseball road trip as well (to Arlington & St. Louis), so this crazy romp brought back a lot of road trip nostalgia for me!
Pedro by Pedro Martinez & Michael Silverman. 9780544279339. 2015. Grade 9-Adult.
The Closer by Mariano Rivera & Wayne Coffey. 9780316400749. 2015.
Just Tell Me I Can’t by Jamie Moyer & Larry Platt. 9781455521579. 2014.
-Three bios of three uniquely incredible major league pitchers. Pedro Martinez just recently went into the Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera was the greatest closer in the history of the game, and the seemingly ageless wonder Jamie Moyer pitched in the major leagues until he was 49 years old!
Benchwarmer by Josh Wilker. 9781610394017. 2015. Grade 10-Adult.
The Chalmers Race by Rick Huhn. 9780803271821. 2014.
-A couple of eclectic baseball-themed titles. In the former, a new Dad describes the infancy of his son through sports situations and metaphors. In the latter, the Ty Cobb vs Napolean Lajoie batting title race of 1910 is examined, an event that not only produced an exciting displaying of athletic prowess, but also served as a turning point in baseball becoming a legitimate major league endeavor.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. 9780061944895. 2010. Grade 11-Adult.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 9780307588371. 2014. Grade 11-Adult.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. 9781101902882. 2014. Grade 11-Adult.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 9780307887443. 2012. Grade 10-Adult.
-There was more than a bit of irony in my fiction choices over the summer. After running out of Stephen King titles to enjoy, I gave his son’s (Joe Hill) works a try. Unfortunately, I found “Heart-Shaped Box” to be “just okay”. A bit later on, however, I became the last person on Earth (seemingly) to finally read “Gone Girl”, which immediately hooked me. I quickly moved on to “Dark Places” and liked that one even more! In Gillian Flynn, I may have found my “next Stephen King”. “Ready Player One” peaked my gamer instincts, contained an interesting quest story, and is slated to be a Steven Spielberg-directed film in the future.
The Most Dangerous Animal Of All by Gary L. Stewart & Susan Mustafa. 9780062313164. 2014.
-This one deserves a line of its own, as it was easily the most unique book I read over the summer. Gary Stewart, adopted as an infant, is thrilled to finally meet his biological mother, and after a number of conversations with her he can’t quite shake the notion of tracking down his father too. During that search, Stewart stumbles onto a very extraordinary set of circumstances that lead him to believe that his father just may have been the infamous Zodiac Killer that terrorized San Francisco in the 1960s. Though a bit light on cold, hard evidence (the case is 50+ years old now), Stewart makes a compelling and convincing case that the now-deceased Earl Van Best, Jr. was the Zodiac. Even if you don’t completely buy into the Zodiac being “case closed”, Stewart’s story of family discovery alone is compelling enough to make this a top title.
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