One of my favorite things is introducing my friends to one another. That works with people, and it works with books. If you are creating a summer reading list, you could do worse than to spend time with these dear friends:
Its an appropriate year to read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She was an amazing woman. We will miss her and this is her story, well told and easy-to-read.
If you want a classic for a time-consuming beach read, my two favorite volumes from the past few years have been George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Some adults may need a reminder that classics are worth reading because they are superior in story, style and content, and not because they are boring. Reading about Russia during the Napoleonic Wars had no appeal to me as a teenager. But, I am no longer a child. Neither are you.
I became a huge fan of Wendell Berry a few years ago, and recommend Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter and Three Short Novels (Nathan Coulter, Remembering, A World Lost). His stories, set in rural and small town Kentucky, are warm, nurturing, honest, and fine. Do yourself a favor. Read Wendell Berry. His books are to be savored.
As a South Carolinian, I would be remiss not to mention Pat Conroy’s The Death of Santini, the non-fiction account of Conroy’s contentious and complex relationship with his dad. I don’t think you can get your passport stamped to get back into South Carolina without reading Conroy’s latest.