The warm weather is here, and we want to help you get an early start on your summer reading. Here’s a sneak peek at our “25 Summer Books” reading list, which will appear in the July/August issue of NWLawyer. Whether you’re heading out of town or just relaxing at home, we’ve got some literary fiction, short stories, and even a page-turning science fiction novel for your extra daylight hours.
Time-traveling puzzler: Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
What if you could live your life again and again, until you got it right? That’s the intriguing question posed by Life After Life. On a snowy winter’s night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an upper-class English family, but asphyxiates before she can draw her first breath. On the second try, Ursula’s mother cuts the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, and she survives…for now. Ursula lives again and again, suffering some impressively grisly deaths before finally making it to adolescence and a new, more adult range of possible futures. WWI and WWII shape Ursula’s character and circumstances, but no more so than her own choices and personal relationships. It’s a dazzling, complicated portrait of 20th-century England and an engaging thought experiment into the alternate lives we all might have led.
Coming-of-age tale: The Round House, Louise Erdrich
Critically acclaimed author Louise Erdrich’s latest novel takes place on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. In the spring of 1988, Geraldine Coutts is sexually assaulted. Deeply depressed, Geraldine is reluctant to discuss what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and 13-year-old son Joe. But details of the crime are exactly what’s needed to sort out some crucial legal issues: whether the crime occurred on tribal lands (and therefore in tribal jurisdiction) or not, whether the suspect is white (and therefore cannot be judged in tribal court) or not. While Bazil, who is a tribal judge, struggles to obtain justice, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with three friends to get some answers of his own. A morally complex and beautifully written coming-of-age story that will please long-time fans and new readers alike.
Magical short stories: Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell
The critically acclaimed author of 2011’s Swamplandia! returns with a new short-story collection, heavily sprinkled with magic and whimsy. A depressed teen discovers that the universe is communicating with him through objects left behind in a seagull’s nest. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by touching the tattoos on a war veteran’s body. And in the collection’s title story, two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try desperately to quench their thirst for blood.
Book club favorite: And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
And the Mountains Echoed is the third novel by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Set in Afghanistan, the story begins as an impoverished father gives away his daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul, setting in motion a chain of events that spans 60 years and crosses continents. Separated by circumstance, war, betrayal, and death, the family is nevertheless bound together by love, and readers everywhere will recognize the common themes that unite the human experience.
Guilty pleasure: The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey
Fair warning: this apocalypse-survival science-fiction novel is technically for young adults, although it’s threatening to become a crossover hit like The Hunger Games. A catastrophic alien invasion shatters life as we know it in a series of “waves”: the 1st Wave is an electromagnetic pulse that destroys our technology, the 2nd Wave demolishes the coastlines and their populations, and a horrific plague kills most of humanity in the 3rd Wave. In the 4th wave, the aliens disguise themselves as humans, hiding in plain sight. Sixteen-year-old Cassie Sullivan lost her little brother in the chaos of the 4th Wave, and is trying to find him on her own — until she runs into Evan Walker, a handsome but mysterious boy who seems just a little too perfect. This book may be the one that the whole family will squabble over!
What book would you add to the summer reading list?