When asking a bibliophile to recommend a summer read be prepared with a pencil, paper and lots of time. I’ve been casually surveying CRA volunteers and Branigan, Munson and Sage librarians for just a few weeks and have garnered enough tantalizing suggestions to keep a nightstand stacked for a year.

Quite a few of those surveyed are using their free time to make sense of current events, especially, what other people are thinking and why so I’ll start with those.

Reading Strangers in Their Own Land and Waking up White, two vastly different books provides interesting perspectives on why many Americans view current events through dissimilar lenses. Sociologist Arlie Russel Hochschild spent five years connecting with people in Louisiana to uncover roots of the Tea Party before she wrote Strangers In Their Own Land. Her insights are powerful.  In Waking Up White, Debby Irving takes a deeply introspective journey and invites readers to unpack their own beliefs and “well-intended mindset about being a good person.”

Marcus Crawford suggests The Way of the Knife by Mark Mazzeti. “It’s basically about how the CIA has shifted its focus from collecting intelligence to carrying out targeted killings in order to advance the Global War on Terror.”

Blake Kimsara recommends reading Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer for a view of the mindset of, both, the criminal and victims. This non-fiction selection discusses the rape epidemic on college campuses through several witness accounts and actual cases at the University of Montana. Of the hundreds of rape crimes reported, only a handful of them are prosecuted.

Sometimes it is necessary to balance out heavy subjects with lighter fare. A friend loaned me her copy of The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Happiness by Paula Poundstone which I have found to be a great buffer between watching the nightly news and going to bed.

Tracee Waters recommends I’ve Got This Round by YouTube sensation, Mamrie Harta which she says is “Hilarious, candid, and full of shenanigans.”

Loni Todoroki is devoted to a particular author, “I love Jodi Picoult novels as most are written in very unique ways which have twists that I do not expect.  Based in reality, the research she does is phenomenal and I have learned so much.  For example, her discovery of the hidden archives on eugenics and living amongst the Abenaki culture in writing Second Glance.  For Lone Wolf she located a man in England who lived among wolves and became part of the pack. I learned a lot about my dog from this novel!  I have read 16 of her 30 novels and my favorite ones are:  The Storyteller, Leaving Time, Handle With Care, and Second Glance.”

Books are great for transporting us to new places or taking us home. Claudia Billings enjoys visiting her home state through Joe Pickett Mysteries by C.J. Box which are set in Wyoming.

Lifelong New Mexican Brenda Van Dyke is enjoying reading Walking with Herb which is written by Joe Bullock and features Herb Wimberly, both Las Crucens and golfers. 

Charlotte Zimmerman follows the continuing adventures of Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and personal favorite heroine, Bernie Manuelito in Anne Hillerman’s fourth book Cave of Bones set in the Four Corners area.

A novel that Mark Mumper recommends for “deep enjoyment” is Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist” about a solitary fruit orchardist in the Wenatchee country of Washington state in the early twentieth century. Unexpectedly his life changes as he takes in two fugitive teenage girls to protect them. “This gives the basis of a beautifully realized, deep story of human relations, family emotion and the strong effects of events.”

For arm chair travelers to exotic locales Gloria Sabo reminds us that there is nothing more compelling than National Geographic.  These magazines pack a lot of information about the world into each magazine and the pictures are often breathtaking.

No matter how old we are, sometimes we just want to be read to. Audio books read by professional actors are a special treat. While listening to the dark comedy The Humans by Matt Haig, I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the playful exploration of our own species through the eyes of an extraterrestrial or the melodious voice of Mark Meadows who reads all of the parts.

I am already out of space and there are so many more titles I’d like to share with you. My apologies to all of you who have suggested books that I don’t have room enough to include this month. For now, keep telling your friends about the books you enjoy and don’t forget to ask them, “Read any good books lately?”