2015 Summer Reading List

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The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown    

An Irresistible Depression era story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times-the improbable, intimate account of how nine working class boys on the University of Washington crew team showed the world at the 1936 Olympics what true grit really meant. You don’t have to be a Husky to love it! Recommended by Gary Smart, Kim Hansen and Gary Furukawa

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak      

It is a very beautiful, compelling story set in Nazi Germany in 1939, involving a young foster girl who discovers a love for reading with the help of her foster father. The book details her journey of sharing her stolen books with those around her, including a Jewish man who they have hidden in their basement. The story is really about friendship, family, loss and the strength of the human spirit. The books are the things that bring the people together, but it is the bonds they forge that see them through. It made me laugh and cry, and is a haunting, inspiring book that I plan to make sure both of my children read, and which I will read again and again through the years. Though it is technically fiction, it contains a lot of historical facts surrounding that period in history, and brings to life the experience of the people who lived through it. Recommended by Angela Carpenter

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson      

The summer of 1927 began with Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was closing in on the home run record. A very easy reading account of some amazing historical events that all occurred in a very short period of time in the late 1920’s. There are a number of stories in this book all woven together: Many of which will have you saying “things really aren’t so different now.” Recommended by Andrew Erisman

Pilgrim’s Wilderness by Tom Krizzia                                  

The story of a madman and his family on the fringes of civilization in Alaska.  Beautiful descriptions of the Alaskan frontier intertwined with a very human struggle with fanaticism. Recommended by Jason Mann

Connections by James Burke                  

How did the arrival of the cannon lead eventually to the development of movies, you ask? All generations stand on the shoulders of all preceding generations – oftentimes by accident and happenstance. Burke lays out for us in great detail the intertwined history of invention and human civilization. He also reminds us that, “however carefully you plan for the future, someone else’s actions will inevitably modify the way your plans turn out.” A great read for understanding the uncertainties that in reality govern much more of our lives than we as humans are ever going to want to admit. Recommended by Nick Cicero

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins                                                      

Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t. This is a book to be devoured. (Neal Thompson Summary) Recommended by Anna McDonald

Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko                          

Rogue Warrior is an autobiography of the guy who created seal team 6, the counterterrorist unit.  It’s a heart-pounding view of elite navy Seals through searing adventures.  Warning: The profanity is on par for the military.  I loved this book as it’s not too technical, reads like fiction at times.  Recommended by Michael Schneider

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer               

This is a fascinating book about the history of memorization and the ways in which our brains do and don’t allow us to recall memories. The author trained for a year before entering the U.S. memory championships and shares the techniques that he learned along the way. It turns out that having a dirty mind and vivid memories of one’s childhood home can be very helpful in becoming a proficient memory athlete. Recommended by Ned Doubleday

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr                                      

2015 Pulitzer Prize winning fiction book set in occupied France during World War II. The story centers on a blind French girl and the challenges brought on by the ravages of war during that era. This is one of those books that you absolutely cannot put down as the author weaves together a number of independent and complex stories that all come together at the end. Recommended by Anna McDonald and Gary Furukawa

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