Corvallis’ Summer Reading List

summer readingSummer is here, and with that we Oregonians seemingly get that renewed itch to read. After all,  the warm weather and late sunsets provide ample time to dig into a good book. For readers who are anything like me, finding the perfect book is a chore, the shortcut for which is asking around for suggestions—and now let’s make that even easier. Here’s a who’s who of who is reading what this summer.

Ed Ray, OSU President

Presidential Courage by Michael Beschloss
I have always enjoyed reading early American history and Michael’s book covers the period from 1789-1989.

Poems Written by Rita Dove (1974-2004)
Rita Dove received the Stone Award at OSU for her lifetime literary achievements. She is a wonderful poet and a former National Poet Laureate.

Biff Traber, Corvallis Mayor

Most of my book reading is for entertainment; I get plenty of serious reading from city business. Most of my reading is suspense mystery novels with a little historical fiction thrown in. And I read what I can find perusing the library or used book sales.

Carolyn Rawles, Library Director, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Turn Right at Machu Picchu
by Marks Adams
This book is a combination of personal narrative of a trip to Machu Picchu with historical background on the site and its “rediscovery” by Hiram Bingham III. It’s supposed to be very funny.

Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni
I’m reading this book written by an Iranian American journalist. Earlier this year I read her previous book, Lipstick Jihad, about her life in Iran as a young single professional woman, and this second book follows her as she meets and marries an Iranian, becomes a mother, and decides to again leave Iran.

Andrew Hudgins, OSU Professor

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux
I’m moving to Tennessee and I’m interested in what Theroux, who is always engaging and thought-provoking, has to say about the rural South, especially since he interviews my old friend Randall Curb, who introduced him to the part of Alabama famously explored by James Agee in Now Let Us Praise Famous Men.

Reynard the Fox: A New Translation by James Simpson
I remember reading some of Reynard’s exploits when I was a kid and thinking, “Wow, they let kids read stuff where the bad guy always wins and the good guys lose! What’s up with that?” It was strange and awesome reading. So I’m eager to read them as an adult in a new and full translation so I can figure out what’s up with that.

Dr. Erin Prince, Superintendent

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Goldfinches by Donna Tartt
I am currently reading a number of professional books around educational policy and leadership, so those two Pulitzer Prize-winning books are a nice change of pace for the summer.

Rep. Dan Rayfield, State Legislator

Napoleon, A Life by Andrew Roberts
I greatly enjoy reading non-fiction about important figures who impacted US and world history. I recently finished reading two books about FDR.

Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo by Mercer Mayer
Our 4.5-year-old son often dictates which books we read and this is one of his favorites; I’m sure we’ll read it at least four or five times per week.

Bonnie Brzozowski, Reference Librarian, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
Roach’s humorous, engaging yet informative style can make any topic fascinating. She did it with corpses, the gut, sex, and space and now she tackles war. Roach has a talent for investigative reporting and goes straight to the action relaying stories that are often unbelievably hilarious and/or jaw-dropping. I’ve never read a Roach book I could put down and expect this one to be no different.

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi
A debut novel by a Ghana-born woman raised in Huntsville, Alabama about two sisters in 18th century Ghana leading two very different lives. The story follows one sister in Ghana and her descendants through years of warfare as well as the other sister who ends up in the American South. I love a generational saga set in history, so this is just right up my alley. I’ve heard this novel described as “visceral,” “magisterial,” and “stunning” and I can’t wait to tear through it.

Governor Kate Brown

Standing at the Water’s Edge: Bob Straub’s Battle for the Soul of Oregon by Charles K. Johnson

Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story by Brent Walth
I just finished Governor Barbara Roberts’ book, Up the Capitol Steps. Now I want to re-read Governor Straub’s bio by Chuck Johnson, and Fire at Eden’s Gate about Governor Tom McCall.

Sandy Smith, Grass Roots Bookstore

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
I am looking forward to reading Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain). It has been more than 10 years since Proulx has written a novel. This looks to be a masterpiece, 10 years in the writing: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over two centuries. The book will be released June 14.

Jack Wolcott, Grass Roots Bookstore

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
I can’t wait to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which publishes on July 31. Although written in script form rather than as a regular book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will provide the rare opportunity to return to the magical world of Hogwarts and revisit characters who feel like old friends. The eighth story in the series supposedly picks up with Harry as an overworked Ministry of Magic employee, husband, and father of three, the youngest of whom, Albus, struggles with the legacy of his father’s past.

Cynthia Spencer, Corvallis Arts Center

Being Mortal by Atul Gwande
Gwande is a compelling writer about the medical community, who is also a compassionate advocate for doing the best by his patients.

Avenue of Mysteries by
John Irving

I’ve been hooked on Irving since college and I’m always curious if he manages to toss in another bear or prostitute.

Allegedly Illiterate

Every year, there are folks that don’t respond to our invasion of their reading list privacy, so we fictionalize in sort of good fun:

Rumor has it Police Chief Sassaman will be writing instead of reading, a memoir on law enforcement in a university town with no donut shop: tears. Fellow enforcer Sheriff Scott Jackson said the only use he has for The Advocate comes in stacks that can be bundled into bricks to construct the new Grappo Correctional Facility in Central Park. Jimbo Ivy of Majestic Theatre fame only responded in eerie whispers: plays… plays… plays… plays… and then he fell over.

Advocate Publisher Steve Schultz scared the hell out of me, words imperceptibly oozed softer than a pin drop from his expressionless reddish face, I could only make out: imagery… interns… too many adjectives… every… year. He is now resting comfortably, possibly unaware of the office renovations going on around him.

By Liz Sterling