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Aug. 1, 2013 at 11:50am Adult Summer Reading

August 1st! Can you believe that the summer is more than half over? So many great books still to read… What’s the best book you’ve read so far?

Among my many summer reads, I have three standouts that I can heartily recommend.

One is nonfiction, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South by Bruce Levine. The library has an excellent collection of Civil War books and so many of them focus on the military battles or famous historic figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant or Robert E. Lee. The Fall of the House of Dixie is refreshingly different. Levine focuses on the social and economic aspects of the War Between the States and it’s a real eye opener. Told in a narrative nonfiction style that is absorbing, this book will appeal to fiction readers as well as those who consider themselves Civil War aficionados.

On the historical fiction side, I just finished the The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Influenced by his personal Armenian heritage, Bohjalian offers a powerful story of love and survival set in Syria during the Armenian genocide of 1915. The story crosses over to contemporary times as a young woman tries to discover a mystery deeply hidden in her own family heritage. Her search takes her right back to the love story set in 1915. This book gives us many of the elements historical fiction readers love; a compelling story line, a historical era and setting that is perhaps unfamiliar, and a set of characters that are brave, engaging and true.

Shhh….it’s a secret. We snuck into the Young Adult fiction collection and snapped up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Some of today’s best contemporary fiction is being published as literature for the young adult audience so if you are looking for something new to read this summer, you might check out the YA shelf. John Green is recognized as a superstar author in YA and The Fault in Our Stars is one of his best. Hazel Grace, a teen girl with a doomed diagnosis of terminal cancer meets the spectacularly charming Augustus Waters in a Teen Cancer Support group and the ensuing relationship rocks both of their worlds. Sounds a bit hokey or depressing but this book is really so much more. Hazel and Augustus are endlessly enchanting and the family dynamics and surrounding cast of characters are so real it’s almost uncomfortable. And did we mention funny? The dialogue is pitch perfect. The lines are sharp, memorable and often hilarious-stuff that only those facing grave events can create without turning everything into a cliché. This is a novel to laugh and cry through and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

here is one, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson seemed outset a juicy island mystery plot, turns it into an insightful saga then into social commentary

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