Summer reading recommendations for kids and adults

"One Summer; America, 1927"

By Bill Bryson (2013, Doubleday)

An unforgettable cultural history book that reads like no other. Told in Bill Bryson’s giddy narrative, the roaring 20s come to life in this month by month romp through the summer of 1927. Relive the time of Al Capone, Charles Lindberg, Babe Ruth, Woodrow Wilson, and so many more. From boxing and music to crime sprees and hollywood pop-culture, this whirlwind tale will make you wish you were alive in one of our country’s most exciting decades. Those well-versed in history will learn some of the gritty and embarrassing details that school textbooks left out. If you want an introduction to the 1920s, start with this entertainingly fascinating book. (history)

"The Future of the Mind"

By Michio Kaku (2014, Doubleday)

The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. Brain matter is a current hot topic given that the US Government has a new initiative pouring billions of dollars into brain research. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku blends science fiction with neuroscience and physics research in a dizzying journey through the possibilities of the future. Telepathy won’t be limited to reading minds but also will make possible an “Internet of minds” where one could just think about another person and instantly communicate with them. These communications could involve sharing actual memories downloaded from a digitized brain signal. Working with digitized brain signals has numerous potential medical benefits. Paralysis victims could operate prosthetic limbs, dementia sufferers could have their memories restored, and with the help of nanobots in the bloodstream, a brain would know the biological status of its body. In the distant future the mind could be uploadable. These are the tip of the iceberg for what Kaku describes in great detail. Don’t be intimidated — he writes in easy-to-comprehend layman’s terms. (science)

"My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel"

By Ari Shavit (2013, Spiegel & Grau)

Why did Israel come to be? How did Israel come to be? Can it survive? Award-winning Israeli journalist Ari Shavit attempts to answer these questions by tracing back his own roots to his great-grandfather, a British Zionist who visited the Holy Land in 1897. The author examines historical events in accurate and objective detail with each chapter summarizing a different decade in Israeli history. Shavit’s final call to action is for the young generation to assume a national identity of peace and progressiveness, while skirting an ever-thinner line between religious orthodox rule and true western democracy. A must-read for anybody with any interest in Israel world politics, and religious affairs. Some have called this the best unbiased book about the state of Israel to come out in decades. (Middle East history)

"The Returned"

By Jason Mott (2013, Harlequin Mira)

One day the deceased start coming back to life. These aren’t Hollywood zombie types. In fact, they appear identical to their former living selves. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers begin returning to the front porches of the houses they had called home. For some, decades had passed, and for others, only a couple of weeks. They exhibit confusion as to why they died. An international organization called The Bureau is formed by world leaders to determine how to best handle the new influx of population. Nobody is certain what this means. The faithful are convinced it signals the end of times. Civil unrest grips the planet. In a small southern town, Harold and Lucille Hargraves are reunited with their eight-yearold son, who drowned in 1966. Written in smooth, dreamlike prose this work of contemporary fiction contains moments of wonder, sadness, and emotion. (fiction)

"The Witch of Belladonna Bay"

By Suzanne Palmieri (2014, St. Martin’s Griffin)

A magical story of family, tragedy and mystery. It unfolds when Bronwyn “BitsyWyn” Whalen visits her childhood home of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, to be greeted by her crazy father and outgoing eleven-year old niece Byrd. Bronwyn’s brother Patrick has been imprisoned for murdering her childhood best friend, but something very different may have happened. Suzanne Palmieri’s profound understanding of the bonds of family and descriptive accounts of rural Southern life will leave book clubs fully enchanted. (fiction)

"Natchez Burning"

By Greg Iles (2014, William Morrow)

Mayor Penn Cage of Natchez Mississippi is informed by the local district attorney that his physician father is accused of killing an elderly patient. The patient, Viola Turner, was once a beautiful young black nurse that had worked for his father in the tumultuous early 1960s. As Penn and a local reporter dig for the truth, they discover themselves caught in a bloody trail leading back to heinous crimes committed by an especially violent hate group, the Double Eagles. To make matters worse, living descendants of the group hold positions of high standing in the state police, big business, and a powerful international drug cartel. The most dangerous men will stop at nothing to guard their secrets. A shocking thriller full of dark historical truths, this novel has many scenes that will leave you reading past bedtime. The first volume of a planned trilogy, New York Times Bestselling author Greg Iles’ highly anticipated first book in five years is sure to please. (fiction)


"Playing Tyler"

By T.L. Costa (2013, Strange Chemistry)

A fast paced young adult novel by a terrific debut author with a keen eye for modern teenage attitudes. Tyler McCandless doesn’t just sit home and play video games all day. The troubled teen is hired by the US government to fly drone aircraft from the comfort of his own home. He believes he is testing simulators. The designer of the simulator happens to be another video game player; a teenage girl, a college prodigy, and Tyler’s secret crush. She has little interest in him romantically but is pressured to tell him the truth. What will happen when he discovers it is more than just a game? A solid book with a thrilling story and memorable characters. (young adult)

"The Day the Crayons Quit"

By Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jefers (2013, Philomel Books)

The crayons go on strike. They want better wages for the work they do. Gray is tired of coloring whales and not getting insurance. Green is tired of coloring grass and not getting a decent wage. A hilarious picture book adults will love reading to toddlers. (ages 0-8)

"Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures"

By Kate Dicamillo, Illustrated by K.G. Campbell (2013, Candlewick)

Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal. Welcome to the world of Ulysses the squirrel. After surviving the unfortunate accident of being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, he befriends an eccentric human named Flora. Ulysses finds himself capable of superpowers; he can fly, use super strength and communicate with people. The lough-out-loud tale is masterfully told accompanied by the brilliant black and white artwork of illustrator K.G. Campbell. (ages 8-12)

"Fortunately, The Milk"

By Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young (2013, HarperCollins)

When a father runs out to buy milk for his children’s breakfast cereal, the last thing he expects is to be abducted by aliens. He soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure, where the fate of the universe depends on him and the milk. But will his children believe his wild story?

(ages 8-12)

"Rocket’s Mighty Words"

By Tad Hills (2013, Schwartz & Wade)

Rocket is back in a sturdy big board book for new readers! Preschoolers watch the little yellow bird teach Rocket simple words, like n-e-s-t and m-u-d. And beginning readers will love practicing their new literacy skills alongside another brand-new reader. (ages 2-5)

"Dinosaur Kisses"

By David Ezra Stein (2013, Candlewick Press)

For newly hatched dinosaur Dina, the world is an exciting place. There is so much to see and do. She tries this STOMP! And she tries that CHOMP! Then she sees a kiss and knows what she wants to try next. Can she figure out how to give someone a kiss without whomping, chomping, or stomping them first? (ages 2-5)

Christopher Jones is event coordinator and co-owner of Monte Cristo Bookshop, 38 Green Street, in downtown New London.


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