Homegrown Summer Reading List: Locals Speak Out

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book-stackWhat are you going to be reading this summer? If you’re not sure, maybe you could take a cue from some local writers, academics, and leaders.

Mayor Biff Traber intends to read Enough Is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill (concerning sustainable development), and when he’s had enough of that, whatever the library has on hand by David Baldacci or Jo Nesbo.

Corvallis Police Chief John Sassaman hopes to get to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

OSU President Ed Ray says he intends to read In Pharaoh’s Army and Old School, both by Tobias Wolf, Washington by Ron Chernow, and When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys by Thomas Maier.

Local writer Tom Birdseye (author of Attack of the Mutant Underwear and other young adult titles) says he has “a pile — no piles of ‘to read’ books,” including All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Pulitzer Prize winner), The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (young adult novel), and Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan (middle grade novel). He’s also going to read the script of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as research for his next book, as well as From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler because “writers should always be studying the craft.”

Wendy Madar, associate director of OSU’s Center for the Humanities (also the author of Burying Betty Lee Berto under her own name and Death Pans Out as Ashna Graves), hopes to read The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante,The Reivers by William Faulkner, and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.

Debra Brown, author of historical fiction such as The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, plans to honor the memory of the late M.M. Bennetts by reading not only Bennetts’ own May 1812 and Of Honest Fame, but also the finalists for the 2015 M.M. Bennets Award for Historical Fiction, This Old World by Steve Wiegenstein, Lusitania R.E.X by Greg Taylor, and The Prince’s Doom by David Blixt. She will also read Walk to Paradise Garden by John Campbell.

Alison Clement, author of Pretty Is as Pretty Does, will be reading Scream Queens of the Dead Sea by Gilad Elbom, Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6 by Susan Rodgers, The Uncanny Reader, Stories from the Shadows by Marjorie Sandor, and The Jaguar Tree by John Adiego, each of whom are also Corvallis authors. She also hopes to get to The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark, The World of Mystery Fiction by Elliot L. Gilbert, Paris, the Biography of a City by Colin Jones, An Introduction to Fiction by X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish (A friend gave it to her and her husband and he asked if she shouldn’t be insulted by that, but Clement doesn’t think so) and Burning Down the House, Essays on Fiction by Charles Baxter. She’s also halfway through The Free by Portlander Willy Vlautin.

Poet Jennifer Richter will read or reread Bluets and the Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso, Red Doc by Anne Carson, and Dandarians by Lee Ann Roripaugh.

Jose-Antonio Orosco, author of Cesar Chaves and the Common Sense of Nonviolence, will be reading The Politics of Liberation by Enrique Dussel and Octavia¹s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Brown.

Marjorie Sandor, editor of The Uncanny Reader, will be reading a lot of biographies: Penelope Fitzgerald by Hermione Lee, Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War by Brandon Brown, and The Last Love Song (a biography of Joan Didion) by Tracy Daugherty. She’ll also be reading Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm, Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins, and The People of the Sea by David Thomson.

Keith Scribner will be reading Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germaine, The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, edited by Marjorie Sandor, The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma, and Aquarium by David Vann.

Poet Larina Warnock will be reading two books by McMinnville writers Barb and JC Hendee: The Mist-Torn Witches and The Noble Dead. She’s also planning to read Ronda Rousey’s memoir My Fight, Your Fight and other memoirs as she finds them as she prepares to write her own.

Scott Givens, manager of Browsers’ Bookstore, will be finishing The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, reading about a dozen books on Oregon history, and the third series of Warriors by Erin Hunter.

Matt Ashland, owner of Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics, Cards & Collectibles, says he will be reading this summer because he reads every day: comic books (The Simpsons, Futurama, Chew), novels (Monster Hunters International, Camel Club, Reacher), and on the road he likes audio books of the Deathlands series.

Some People Didn’t Return My Emails or Calls

I’m just going to guess, but it’s all in good fun. Jeff Merkley will be reading Lord of the Flies and Maus. Sarah Gelser is probably reading Ann Coulter’s Invasion USA as she is secretly pining for Coulter’s long, sexy neck.

I’m not sure if Ron Wyden actually reads, but he might be watching Mall Cop 2 and Super Troopers.

Finally, the Corvallis Advocate’s publisher Steve Schultz, when asked what he will be reading this summer, breathed out a hauntingly sad, faint “intern submissions,” and then trailed off into almost imperceptible gargles of words about buried leads, always the same mistakes, and something about prepositions, but it was hard to make out with him all curled in a fetal position and C-Span droning in the background of his bedroom. He seemed shaken.

By John M. Burt

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