In what has become an annual LNP Opinion tradition, we asked local people for their summer reading recommendations — books they’ve already read, or plan to read this summer, or are reading now.
Summertime offers so many opportunities to settle down with a good book, whether on a beach, or by a lake, on a bench in a wooded park, or on your porch. We hope you enjoy these book suggestions from local folks who love to read.
Some provided only the titles of the books they’re recommending or reading; others offered more details. In both cases, we appreciated their input.
There are so many really great summer reads this year. “Dear Mrs. Bird: A Novel,” by AJ Pearce is simply intriguing to me. Set during World War II, it is about a woman who writes an advice column for the lovelorn. Sounds moving and funny — perfect for a sunny, summer afternoon.
For the beach: Dorothea Benton Frank’s “Lowcountry Summer.”
A book for sharing: “Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland,” by Keegan Allen.
To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes: “Manhattan Beach,” by Jennifer Egan.
To read aloud: “Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey,” by Stephen Kuusisto, memoir by a blind poet about his experience with his guide dog.
Alternate history: “The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington,” a novel by Charles Rosenberg.
Barbara J. Basile, director of Milanof-Schock Library
“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware is a gothic-inspired mystery. Best read in the goosebump-banishing light of the sun, Hal’s unexpected journey to visit the unknown “family” of her deceased mother and collect a much-needed inheritance— even if it’s not rightfully hers — leads to discoveries no one could see coming.
Crystal Clark, attorney and former vice chair of the Lancaster County GOP
— My all-time favorite, and nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s “The Great American Read”: “Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes.
— “The House on the Lagoon,” by Rosario Ferre, who’s been called “Puerto Rico’s greatest literary voice.”
— “The American Granddaughter,” by Iraqi author Inaam Kachachi.
— “Helping Teens Stop Violence, Build Community and Stand for Justice,” by Allan Creighton and Paul Kivel.
— “America on Suicide Watch: The Rise Of The Progressive Superstate And The Fall Of The American ‘Idea,’ ” by Richter Watkins.
Janet Diaz, member of the Lancaster City Council
“Paris Metro,” by Wendell Steavenson. Steavenson is a former war correspondent who has penned a well-received novel about terrorism in Paris.
“The Unnamed,” by Joshua Ferris. Ferris is a wonderful contemporary writer whose second novel is about a man who walks across America to reunite with his family.
“Veronica,” by Mary Gaitskill. Gaitskill is a brutally honest short story writer and novelist, and this novel is about the complex relationship between two women who meet in 1980s New York.
Richard Fellinger, Fellow in Elizabethtown College’s Writing Wing
“The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity,” by Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. This is a powerful book about the significance of childhood adversity on children’s physical and social/emotional health and well-being.
“Six Sisters,” by P.J. Lazos, a collection of novellas.
Robin L. Felty, superintendent of Manheim Township School District
Just about any food, wine, travel or design magazine means it is time to relax. I love the variety in magazine content.
I was a big fan of the Lisbeth Salander trilogy so I just loaded David Lagercrantz’s “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for An Eye,” onto my Kindle app along with the next book in Steve Berry’s “Cotton Malone” series, because they are full of intrigue, they make the time fly, and the hero always wins in the end.
I also downloaded Robert Rosenberger’s short and concise nonfiction “Callous Objects: Designs against the Homeless,” because it is a must-read, which I have not had time to finish in the paperback format, about the technology of architecture, public spaces and homelessness.
And do cookbooks count as summer reads? I purchased Ree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime” and Vivian Howard’s “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from my Corner of the South.” The storytelling is heartfelt and about family and the visuals are beautiful in both of these books. ... I don’t have much time to cook from them but they are fun to read. Maybe this summer will be different.
Stacey Irwin, professor of media and broadcasting at Millersville University
I just finished “The Perfect Nanny,” by Leila Slimani, and loved it. It’s not very long and is translated from French — it’s a psychological thriller that makes the outcome clear from the very beginning, yet is still suspenseful.
Beach reading: “Calypso,” by David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors. He’s been recently writing stories about his (wildly entertaining) family on vacation at his beach house in North Carolina; and “L’Appart,” by David Lebovitz, a well-known pastry chef and author who has a spectacular blog and a great sense of humor and wry writing style that I love.
More serious books I plan to complete during the school board break in July: Jack Schneider’s “Beyond Test Scores,” and Christopher Emdin’s book “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood ... and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education”; and “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy,” by Tressie McMillian Cottom.
Mara Creswell McGrann, School District of Lancaster board member
I recommend “Dancing on Blades: Rare and Exquisite Folktales from the Carpathian Mountains,” by Csenge Virag Zalka. I grew up on folk and fairy tales, especially those by Ruth Manning-Sanders, and I still seek them out at age 47. This is a collection of traditional tales unearthed by a young Hungarian storyteller.
“Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” by Edward Humes. This insightful book by Humes, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, will educate you on the depths of how much waste (and plastic!) society generates, but it also offers hopeful paths and ideas toward sustainability and shepherding of the environment.
“The Only Harmless Great Thing,” by Brooke Bolander. You can polish off this novella, which is less than 100 pages, in an afternoon. But the alternate-history tale of elephants, electricity and atoms might stick with you much longer than that.
“Time is the Simplest Thing,” by Clifford D. Simak. A newspaper journalist who wrote novels and short stories on the side, Simak is best known for his “pastoral sci-fi.” This tale isn’t so much in that vein, but is a thought-provoking romp involving witches, space travel, superstitions and an all-powerful commerce-and-innovation corporation that might seem very familiar to today’s readers.
Chris Otto, LNP Sports editor
Summer read: “The President is Missing,” a new book by James Patterson and former President Bill Clinton. It’s a political thriller.
Damaris Rau, superintendent of the School District of Lancaster
I recommend “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann. This nonfiction book is a fascinating look into a series of murders and the early days of the FBI — a truly devastating episode in American history.
I’m currently reading “City of Thieves,” by David Benioff. My son recently read this novel and highly recommended it. I’m a few chapters in and so far it’s a compelling adventure.
I plan to read “The House of Broken Angels,” by Luis Alberto Urrea. Urrea recently visited Lancaster as part of the library’s Big Read for his novel “Into the Beautiful North.” His new novel has been receiving rave reviews so I hope to read it soon.
Heather Sharpe, executive director of the Lancaster Public Library
— “A Murder in Time,” by Julie McElwain. Summer is the perfect time to read cheesy books. This one has time travel, a tough FBI agent, men in cravats, and murder — perfect for by the pool.
— “Happiness for Humans,” by P.Z. Reizin. Books involving artificial intelligence usually end in chaos and fire — this one is about when AI plays cupid. A cute read that will make you look at your technology in a whole new light.
— “Artemis,” by Andy Weir. If your vacation is feeling lackluster, Weir’s lunar adventure will take you on an exciting ride through Artemis, the first city on the moon.
— "The Broken Girls,” by Simone St. James. Good thing it gets dark later in summer because this novel about a haunted boarding school is going to keep you up all night.
— “My Last Continent" by Midge Raymond. This half-romance/half-thriller set on a cruise ship in Antarctica will keep you cool while the temperatures rise outside.
— “Crazy Rich Asians,” by Kevin Kwan. This novel (soon to hit the big screen) is fun, breezy, full of laughs, and with captivating detail, describes the luxurious lives of Singapore’s elite.
Recommendations from the reference librarians at the Lancaster Public Library
A friend has recommended “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” by Jesmyn Ward, so I’m adding that to my reading list for summer.
I’m also hoping to read “In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History,” by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. In May 2017, Mayor Landrieu gave a speech about the removal of confederate statues and this book is an extension of the history of that city and his own history.
I recommend “Personal History,” by Katharine Graham. I recently watched the movie “The Post,” based on Graham’s life at the time of The Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers, and was reminded of the strides women have made in the workplace, as well as the work that remains.
Danene Sorace, mayor of the City of Lancaster
This summer I’m reading — and learning a lot from — “Stamped From the Beginning,” by Ibram X. Kendi, a well-written, unsettling and important history of racist thought in America and Western Europe. I highly recommend it.
I am also reading “Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country,” by Sen. Tim Scott and Rep.Trey Gowdy, both members of Congress from South Carolina. Despite many differences, they have a good friendship and I think it says a lot about the possibility of civility. Both books were Father’s Day gifts.
I am also working away on “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman, which is a fascinating book about how the mind works in the process of making decisions and choices. It is a slow read for me and I come and go from it, but it’s very, very interesting.
The Hon. Lawrence F. Stengel, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
I don’t read many books that people would enjoy on the beach. There is one exception, which is “The Book of Joy,” which offers the Dali Lama’s and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s perspectives on a living a joyful life.
I’m about to read “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us,” by Jean Twenge, and “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Noah Harari.
Bryan Stinchfield, associate professor, Franklin & Marshall College
This summer, I’m reading “The Hero’s Journey” and “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” both by Joseph Campbell. I think everyone should read Joseph Campbell. I had a spring course called “The Theology of Star Wars and Harry Potter,” and Joseph Campbell was a name that came up often.
These two books in particular examine how every culture around the world has similar themes of how one goes from ordinary to extraordinary, not by birth, but by way of their process — their journey.
I’m also reading “Black,” by Kwanza Osajyefo. I’ve always been exposed to white graphic novelists, so I want to be intentional about reading from novelists from across racial, ethnic, theological and identification spectrums. It is about a world where only black people have superpowers, but the superpowers were only discovered after a catastrophic event. They must decide whether to share their superpowers or to keep them secret — either way, it means life or death.
Also on my list: “Norse Mythology,” by Neil Gaiman, because I love Neil Gaiman and am interested in Norse Mythology; and “Religion and Science Fiction,” by James F. McGrath, who writes about the intersectionality of faith and fiction. In looking at these alternate universes, humanity gets observe itself through a different lens.
Shayna Watson, chaplain
I’m reading two books right now. The first is “What’s a Parent to Do? How to Help Your Child Select the Right College” by Anne D. Neal. It offers some very useful information about how to approach college visits.
And — I set this tome down last summer and am now picking up where I left off — the classic “Kristin Lavransdatter,” by Sigrid Undset. It’s a mighty and timeless tale of the arc of a woman’s life, from youth through motherhood and the unfolding of all the human dimensions of love and tragedy. Set in the Middle Ages in Scandinavia, it’s not what you’d expect from a book with so much that can still speak to us today.
Ann Womble, Millersville University trustee
I thoroughly enjoy reading military history and this summer I have completed two books on the subject.
“Patriot Battles, How the War of Independence Was Fought,” by Michael Stephenson, is a outstanding account of day-to-day life among the ranks of the men who fought in America’s War of independence. The book’s description of British, Hessian and American soldiery, along with accounts of the various battle campaigns, brings great insight to this pivotal time of our history.
“Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution,” by Nathaniel Philbrick, is an exciting read that chronicles both the heroism and treachery of Benedict Arnold and his relationship with George Washington. It’s an outstanding historical account that tells the rise and ultimate fall of Arnold, set against the backdrop of Colonial society and the American struggle for independence.
U.S. Army National Guard Brig. Gen. David E. Wood, director of the Pennsylvania National Guard Joint Staff
Currently reading “Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World,” by Ramesh Srinivasan, and planning to read “Why the West Rules — For Now,” by Ian Morris.
Daniel Wubah, president of Millersville University
“Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.
Judith Wubah, former university biology professor