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What we’ve been reading this summer

As Labor Day winds to an end and the rigors of school and work start to gather speed once again, we here at the PBS NewsHour thought it would be nice to share some of the books that we’ve been reading this summer.

And we want to know what you’re reading. Leave your comments below. And in the meantime, check out these titles, hand picked by the NewsHour staff:

From our anchors:

“Family Life” by Akhil Sharma
“I was drawn to this gripping work of fiction, based on Sharma’s own life, after I heard him talking about it in an interview. It’s the story of a family of Indian immigrants and how they coped after the older son suffered a terrible accident. I was curious to see how his family managed compared to my own, after a different sort of tragic incident. Sharma spares no one in describing how lives and relationships were altered in unexpected ways that transcend culture. By the end of the book, I felt as if I too were part of his family.”
— Judy Woodruff, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor


“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“The book splits the story between the U.S. and Nigeria, but chronicles the same cultural divide and conflict that I recognize from my childhood growing up as the child of immigrants.”
— Gwen Ifill, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor


From the rest of the staff:

“The Directive” by Matthew Quirk
“It’s the follow-up to his debut thriller, ‘The 500.’ The main character, Mike Ford, tries to shed his small-time crook past, but discovers respectable people in Washington, D.C.’s power circles can be violently deceitful. This time, Quirk, a former reporter for The Atlantic, blends suspense with well researched facts about the Federal Reserve.”
— Mike Melia, Senior Broadcast Producer

allthebirdssinging“All the Birds, Singing” by Evie Wyld
“Set on a remote island off the coast of England, Wyld tells the story of Jake Whyte, a rugged woman whose journey from the Australian outback lands with her sheering sheep (a job dominated by men) and fleeing a violent past.” — Mike Melia, Senior Broadcast Producer


71Pae2HrUVL“Elizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey
“An elderly woman, slipping into dementia, discovers a note in her pocket that her friend Elizabeth is missing … it’s dark but rings true especially for those of us who are taking care of elderly parents and relatives.”
— Peggy Robinson, Senior Producer


gone-girl-book-cover-med“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
“It’s a psychological thriller that takes place in Missouri during the summertime about a ‘marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.’ Read it before it hits theaters this October.”
— Colleen Shalby, Social Media Editor


“The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood” by Irving Finkel
“The book details recent discoveries of Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform tablets that served as the origin for the Hebrew story of Noah’s ark and the flood. It provides a great historical insight into the time period and the culture that produced many legendary stories. Also, you’d be surprised to find that the original ark story features a round, thatch vessel closely tied to another Assyrian myth concerning Sargon the First who was floated into a river by his mother in a basket.”
— Brian Ragle, IT Support Specialist


51RDfuIApZL“The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan
This book was published back in 2006 and much of the material later found its way into the 2012 Ken Burns documentary “The Dust Bowl.” Nevertheless, I only came to it recently and was captivated by the vivid portraits of individuals living through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and the agricultural and economic policies that led to both. Particularly with the extreme heat, drought and floods that now arrive annually with summer, this book is a reminder of the way people impact the earth and the earth, in turn, impacts us.
— Frank Carlson, Reporter/Producer, Culture Desk


5183RyDfNFL“Special Topics In Calamity Physics” by Marisha Pessl
“Named one of ‘The 10 Best Books of 2006’ by the New York Times, ‘Special Topics in Calamity’ is an enjoyable, intelligent read that truly has something for everyone — a coming-of-age tale filled with romance, dark comedy, mystery and murder. It’s one of my favorite novels and I highly recommend it!”
— Sarah Corapi, Production Assistant


“The Burgess Boys” by Elizabeth Strout
Pulitzer Prize winning-author Elizabeth Strout animates a web of family and societal drama that runs from trendy Park Slope up I-95 to a fictionalized version of the Maine mill town where she (and I) went to college. The landmarks are unmistakable, as is the tension between the longtime Franco-American settlers and the recently resettled Somali refugees, which comes to the fore when the protagonist’s nephew tosses a pig head through the door of the local mosque. It’s a story about the pain family members, particularly siblings, inflict on each other and one town’s efforts at coexistence.
— Simone Pathe, Web Producer



“Up Front” by Bill Mauldin
“This book provides a unique perspective of World War II by the way of editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin, who, while serving as a U.S. infantryman, drew cartoons for the army newspaper about the war as seen through the eyes of regular soldiers. The book features many of Mauldin’s original wartime cartoons — which can be both dark and humorous — alongside his own personal recollections of World War II.”
— Justin Scuiletti, Digital Production Manager


51kzYFPB4JL“On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan
“This is probably my favorite book and I read it almost every summer. It’s the beautifully written tale of an English couple, Edward and Florence, on their wedding night in the 1960s. Though utterly in love they find themselves burdened by marital duties. McEwan takes the reader through flashbacks of their loving relationship while also describing the painful present. It’s a short novel — you could finished it in a weekend, but you will think about it all summer long.”
— Sarah McHaney, Reporter/Producer, National Affairs


51o-JQnLkiL“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon“This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. Chabon writes about two Jewish cousins — Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay — before, after, and during World War II. They become cartoonists as the comics industry enters its ‘Golden Age.’ The novel weaves in and out of the stories they create about ‘the Escapist’ and the story they are living themselves. It’s an intense, entertaining and insightful look at Jews in New York City during World War II and the many ways we try to escape the present.”
— Sarah McHaney, Reporter/Producer, National Affairs


71uz03MbHBL“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
“Read it if you have even a passing interest in religion, mythology, tall tales or Americana. If you like all that stuff and also looking at pictures, check out Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel series.”
— Zachary Treu, Script Production Assistant/Desk Assistant Coordinator

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