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Culture » Book Talk

Summer Reads

Curl up in a hammock with one—or many—of these books this season



No big Russian classics here. No political books or self-improvement titles, either. It's summer reading time and that means all of these books are just plain fun.You've earned it.

"American Eclipse: A Nation's Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World" by David Baron

With eclipse madness ready to descend on Central Oregon, what better way to get in the mood? This is the story of the scientists (including Thomas Edison) who risked their lives to cross the frontier to view the 1878 eclipse that passed over the Rockies. If you like your unknown history served up in the vein of Nathaniel Philbrick or Timothy Egan, this one should be at the top of your list.

"Alone on the Wall" by Alex Honnold

Honnold famously just completed the first free solo climb of El Capitan. In four hours. No ropes, no gear, just a man, a chalk bag, and a really big wall. Now in paperback, this collection of essays about other world-class climbs Honnold has pulled off is perfect for every rock junkie.

"The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O" by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

What if magic used to exist until 1851? What if some boot-strapped government organization decided to travel back in time to bring it back? What are the odds they'll get it right? Odds are poor but the telling of it all makes for the perfect sort of summer read: fast-paced and humorous with that, "I'll just read one more chapter" feel. Stephenson has written some modern sci-fi classics ("Snow Crash", "Cryptonomicon," "Seveneves") but having a co-writer should make this mix of quantum physics, history, and witchcraft appeal to just about everyone.

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

A pitch-perfect homage to the Golden Age of crime stories, this mystery within a mystery is one of the best whodunnits to come around in a long time. When an editor receives the manuscript for the next in a series of mystery novels, she lets you know right in chapter one that her life was changed because of it. From there you get to read the book she's editing- a 1950s, Agatha Christie-esque English countryside murder mystery. Horowitz, who also writes for the BBC on "Midsomer Murders" and "Foyle's War," intertwines the past and present flawlessly and I'm willing to bet you won't solve it before the big reveal. It's as clever as can be and you'll see it on bestseller lists all Summer long.

"The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History" by Paul Hutton

We're suckers for great, narrative Western history at Dudley's and it doesn't get much better than this. The title says it all, so if you enjoyed "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher," "Empire of the Summer Moon," or "Blood and Thunder," you're in for a treat.

"But What If We're Wrong?" by Chuck Klosterman

Through interviews with a wide range of experts, Klosterman manages to challenge our assumptions about, well, everything. From science to sports, music to literature, there are countless cases of widely held beliefs that eventually were proven wrong. The examples are fascinating and it makes you wonder what we're getting wrong right now. A real mind-bender of a book that'll stick with you.

Quick Picks


The three queens of modern literary fiction, Ann Patchett, Louise Erdrich, Annie Proulx — all have new titles in paperback. Each book is an award winner and deservedly so. Don Winslow's newest novel, "The Force," just hit shelves and the reviews are fantastic. If you like your cops dirty, this one's for you. Elizabeth Strout returns to Lucy Barton's hometown in her latest collection of short stories, "Anything Is Possible." Arundhati Roy is back with her first book in over 20 years, "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness."


Adventure Journal #5 just arrived and it's as good as ever. A great read to take along on your weekend camping trip. Neil deGrasse Tyson, everyone's favorite scientist, is back with his perfect brand of mind-expanding, big-picture questions about the universe. "Astrophysics For People in a Hurry" brings those ideas down to earth in short, succinct, and oh-so-interesting chapters. Dan White's "Under The Stars" takes a look at how our love of camping came to be such a big part of the summer experience.

If all else fails, shove an old paperback from Abbey, Thoreau, Whitman, or Stegner in your pack, hit the trail, and be grateful we live where we do.

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