In the return of our annual LNP Opinion tradition, we asked local people for their summer reading recommendations — books they’ve already read, plan to read this summer or are reading now.
Prepare to add to your own to-read lists, because some great suggestions follow:
I never look at bestseller lists to decide on a good book. I discover authors I like through friends or by chance. And if I do not enjoy the book within 20 pages, I stop reading it. There are too many good books to struggle through one that I am not enjoying.
— “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I have been re-reading this book every summer for the last five years. It keeps me personally empowered for the rest of the year. It serves as an effective reminder to disconnect from our ever-buzzing mind and really live in the “now.” It’s both powerful and peaceful.
— “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith. Any book from this series is a personal treat. I own them all. They are light adventure, based in southern Africa, featuring a female detective who has deep people connections.
— “The Moth Catcher” by Ann Cleeves. It’s a mystery series set in England, with a no-nonsense female detective who delves into the intricacies of peoples’ lives with equal parts compassion and saltiness.
— “The Coroner’s Lunch” by Colin Cotterrill. It’s a mystery series set in Laos in the 1970s. The investigator is a doctor who wants to retire but is “forced” to serve as the only coroner in the city. He also talks to the dead.
— “The Price of Time” by Tim Tigner. I am about to read this book, at least the first 20 pages...
Nazli Hardy, Millersville University associate professor
— “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain. I’ve already cracked this open, and I’m glad I did. This is a New York Times best-selling novel about the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. It’s smoothly written historical fiction that provides insight into what the emotional life of Hemingway and his first wife might have been like.
— “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. If you like McLain’s work, then it’s time to read, or in my case re-read, this classic novel. It’s a tale of the disillusioned post-World War I generation, tracking the lives of the fictional Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley during the 1920s in Paris and Spain.
— “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes. Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, this short novel has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while, so I want to dig into it when I take a Hemingway break. It’s the story of middle-aged Tony Webster trying to suddenly come to terms with the events of his childhood and the remainder of his life.
— “A Ticket to Ride” by Paula McLain. I might be on a Hemingway break, but not a McLain break. This is her debut novel, set in the summer of 1973, about a motherless teenage girl dealing with a pair of life’s tragedies.
Richard Fellinger, author and writing fellow at Elizabethtown College
Laura Bradford’s women’s fiction novel, “A Daughter's Truth,” is an ideal summer read. Bradford researches each of her Amish-themed books here in Lancaster County, and this book is set amongst the farms surrounding New Holland. In the book, young Emma Lapp is turning 22, but she has never had a celebratory birthday with her family because she was born the same day her Mam’s beloved sister died. As a child she discovered little trinkets left on her aunt’s grave, and she kept them hidden from her family. This year’s trinket leads her to uncover family secrets and a life outside her Amish community. It’s the kind of book that begs to be read sitting on a front porch with a cool glass of lemonade on a quiet summer evening.
Sam Droke-Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron’s Books in Lititz
Naomi Novik’s brilliant “Spinning Silver” is now in paperback. This fantasy novel, steeped in Russian mythology, is a standout for its worldbuilding and sense of place, its spotlight on anti-Semitism, its daring use of multiple narrators, and so much more.
If you haven’t noticed the wealth of talented writers currently in science fiction and fantasy, this summer is the perfect time to try one by Ann Leckie (her new fantasy “The Raven Tower” uses “Hamlet” as inspiration); N.K. Jemisin (who won three consecutive Hugo Awards for her “The Broken Earth” trilogy); or Deborah Harkness (the “A Discovery of Witches” author is back with a vampire story for the ages in “Time’s Convert”). Or maybe it’s time to revisit a classic; any fan of J.R.R. Tolkien should check out “Tales from the Perilous Realm,” a collection of his enchanting novellas. And if you’re a believer in the phrase “the book was better,” don’t miss the “The Umbrella Academy” graphic novels, by Gerard Way, that the Netflix series is based on.
Todd Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron’s Books in Lititz
This summer, I’m reading local author Jamie Beth Cohen’s debut novel, “Wasted Pretty.” As a father of daughters, I find it critically important to better understand challenges my daughters may experience during their formative years. As a man, I have a responsibility to expand beyond my privileged, male experience, which so heavily prescribes how men exist in the world through the socialized, patriarchal blinders of our historical structures.
On a more work-related note, we want to help our volunteers with barriers to attaining work. The other new book I’m excited to read is the newish cookbook, “We are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream,” about a non-profit doing job training.
I also find summer’s a great time to revisit old favorites. I’m rereading Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” a nearly 40-year-old book that seems almost written for this time in politics and societal transition. I’m also rereading a work inspired by Freire, “Theater of the Oppressed” by Augusto Boal.
I also love grabbing the Pulitzer Prize for Drama list as a guide to the life and times in America — from Jackie Sibblies Drury’s “Fairview,” about contemporary race issues, to Tennessee Williams’ perennially relevant “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” about the human struggles with relevance and everything in between.
All else? Just grab poetry when you only have minutes instead of hours. Enjoy!
Kevin Ressler, executive director, Meals on Wheels of Lancaster
For me, summer equates lighter reads for the grand pleasure of reading. Some of the titles I am most excited about include a personal favorite: “The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding” by Canadian author Jennifer Robson. This details the 1947 wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. This historical fiction novel interweaves the London recovering from World War II with present day London as it follows the intertwining lives of two embroiderers of the princess’ wedding gown and their grandchildren.
— “Ayesha at Last” by debut author Uzma Jalaluddin: discover how a young woman navigates life in and out of her Toronto Indian-Muslim community.
— “How Not to Die Alone” by Richard Roper: follow Andrew as he steps outside of his comfort zone.
— “The Satapur Moonstone” by Edgar Award finalist Sujata Massey: 1922 India is the backdrop for this whodunit.
— “Star-Crossed” by Minnie Darke: a delightfully fun love story.
— “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren: Olive Torres’ string of bad luck just may be about to change.
For something beachy, take shade with these new titles by well-loved authors: “Beach House Reunion” by Mary Alice Monroe; “Queen Bee” by Dorothea Benton Frank; “The Southern Side of Paradise” by Kristy Woodson Harvey; “The Summer Guests” by Mary Alice Monroe; “Summer of ’69” by Elin Hilderbrand; and “Summer of Sunshine and Margot” by Susan Mallery.
Lissa K. Holland, assistant director, Lancaster Public Library
I plan to read “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor and “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I enjoy books written by women leaders about women leaders. They inspire me.
Damaris Rau, superintendent, School District of Lancaster
Ever since I was in high school (and maybe even before that), I have been a dedicated fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. He introduced me to mysteries, and I’ve been addicted ever since. It’s fortunate that they’re not very long — once you start reading, you can’t put them down.
Jeffrey Archer is another author I’ve really enjoyed. He also is a master of the mystery story, and he writes both full-length novels and short stories.
The book I’ve read (and re-read) most recently is “A Day with Claude Monet in Giverny” by Adrien Goetz. Monet’s impressionist paintings are awe-inspiring. For a long time, I’ve wanted to visit his home and gardens in Giverny, France. I bought this book a few months before my recent trip and have been reliving the beauty I saw in this lovely village. The book presents a very personal view of Monet and his works, along with absolutely fabulous photographs to bring it all to life.
The next book I’ll be tackling is “American Empress” by Nancy Rubin. This is a biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post. I became intrigued with her life after visiting her home in Washington, D.C. (now open to the public with a display of the Russian art she collected during her marriage to a diplomat).
Evelyn Albert, former executive director of the Lancaster Bar Association and former member of LNP Editorial Board
I’d recommend Anne Fadiman’s “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” a compassionate, thoughtful, and well-written non-fiction book at the intersection of culture, disability, and getting by in America.
Tony Hoagland’s “What Narcissism Means to Me” interrogates the poet’s sense of self as well as the readers, though it’s better suited to adult readers.
“Some Sing, Some Cry” by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza, was really astounding to read. By virtue of the two playwrights who wrote it, it is an astounding engagement with African American life and family, characterized by incredible prose.
Ismail Smith-Wade-El, Lancaster city councilman
For summer/leisure reading I have chosen “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom. This story takes you down the path of asking yourself what would you say or share with a lost loved one if you had one more day with them. It highlights the love within a family and the chances we miss because of our day-to-day lives.
For a more serious read and important workforce related topic: “Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce” by David W. DeLong. We have been warned about the baby boomers hitting retirement age for a while now, but there is still much more to be done to capture those years of experience and infuse them into the future workforce.
Anna C. Ramos, Business Initiatives Director, Lancaster Chamber
— “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” by Lori Gottlieb.
— “The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West” by David McCullough
— “Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11” by Brian Floca
— “Summer of ’69” by Elin Hilderbrand.
— “Sunset Beach” by Mary Kay Andrews.
— “Someone Knows” by Lisa Scottoline.
— “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke.
— “The Likeness” by Tana French.
— “The Whiskey Rebels” by David Liss (historical thriller).
— “Lost Roses” by Martha Hall Kelly (World War II).
— “To The Bright Edge of the World” by Eowyn Ivey (exploring frontier Alaska).
— “The Wednesday Letters” by Jason F. Wright.
— “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Barbara J. Basile, director of Milanof-Schock Library, Mount Joy