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Fragments and Shrapnel – Summer Reading

If the Summer Beach Book Lists are to be believed, Americans have lots and lots of leisure time to hang out at the beach reading. We read by the pool, at the beach, and on our lawn chairs in the backyard while we look at the grass and make promises to mow it eventually. Now that my commute to work is longer, I have more time to read and have plowed through many a good book.

In this edition of Fragments and Shrapnel, I will keep up with every other blog and book site and give you MY summer reading list recommendations.

When it’s too hot to read heavy tomes, I often crave a bit of fluff or good edge-of-your-eat thrillers. Books I can read and then give away or donate to the library. Recently a co-worker loaned me Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book, The Strain. The first chapter of the book came free with my new E-Reader and completely sucked me in. The book opens with the arrival of a Boeing 777 to JFK airport. Communication is normal until the plane just stops. The shades of the airplane are drawn and flight staff does not respond to the tower’s communication and passengers don’t answer their cell phones. Only two doctors from the CDC and a holocaust survivor turned Harlem pawnshop owner know what to do next. This book will keep you up past your bedtime and make you miss your subway or bus stops because it’s so engrossing. The next book in the trilogy, The Fall, comes out September 2010. To hear Guillermo Del Toro talk about The Strain and his childhood, click here: http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2009/06/19.

If The Strain makes you thirsty (har!) for more, I highly recommend Douglas Preston’s true crime book The Monster of Florence. In 2000 Preston fulfilled a life-long dream and moved his family to Florence. In true Douglas Preston style, he learned the olive grove near his villa was the scene of one the country’s most horrific double murders. He teamed up with journalist Mario Spezi to chronicle the murders and the investigation into killings byThe Monster of Florence. There’s murder, corruption and mayhem and Preston and Spezi find themselves caught in the middle of it all.

If blood and pandemics aren’t your style, I recently finished two books on creativity and writing that are keeping my Muse busy. The first is The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Gregory worked in the advertising business for too many years and ignored his inner artist. He found a part of him was dying and it was time to start drawing. His book helps you bring out your inner artists whether you medium is in chain saw art, words, or on a canvass. It has inspired me to create art journals and I have a few short stories rattling around in my brain because of it. His phrase “windows in my soul to wash” really stuck with me. If you’re a writer need a little help every now and then, buy Bonnie Neubauer’s book The Write Brain Workbook. There are 366 exercises to “liberate” your writing and get you out of your creative writing rut. Each exercise has a topic with instructions and then ways on which you can expand on that topic. I LOVE this book and use it often to kick start my “write brain.”

So, you’ve read all the books I suggested and want more. Check out NPR’s list of Summer Books and Summer Reading Guide. The editors who created this list certainly earned their pledge dollars this thorough not your usual list of summer fluff and beach reads. There’s The Best Summer Science books, Best Zombie and Giant Squid Books, Fiction for Long and Short Term Summer Getaways and more lists that will help deplete your pocketbook.

Salon.com leaves no page unturned with their Summer Reading Guide. While you’re there, read the article on guilt-free ways to enjoy War and Peace and other classic tomes.

The NY Times Summer Beach Reading list is full of guilt-free fluff that will keep you planted in your beach chair.

And of course, Oprah chimes in with her list of summer literature.

And last, The Millions.Com has a list of summer book releases that are sure to keep you wallet empty. Who needs food when there are so many books to read?!

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About Anna Alexander

I am a freelance writer and producer living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I live with our cat Grendel who lets us pay his mortgage.

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