Enjoy reading for pleasure this summer

Usually for my last column of the year I try to write something poignant and thought provoking. But this semester I’ve tried to be a little calmer in my columns. So with a “call to relaxation,” this summer as opposed to my customary “call to action,” here is my list of Read-it-Again books for the summer.

These are five books (or series of books) worthy of your time to read, or reread, this summer.

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck: This is one of my all-time favorites. This book follows the Joad family on their journey from Oklahoma to California during the dustbowl era of the Great Depression.

Camping out in “Hoovervilles” along the way, then looking for fruit-picking jobs at any wage they could find, the Joads realize that America has changed in a fundamental way, a way they no longer recognize. Steinbeck is a brilliant writer and “Grapes” is his masterpiece.

“The Green Mile” by Stephen King: I have read a lot of King’s work, and I always seem to forget just how awesome this book is until I reread it again.

First released in 1996 as a serial of short stories, “The Green Mile” tells the story of Paul Edgecomb, the head guard on Death Row at a southern prison in 1932, and how he came to know John Coffey, the inmate that would change how Edgecomb viewed the world from then on.

“The Green Mile” is worth reading, anytime, because fundamentally it is just a great story.

“The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins: “The Hunger Games” books are probably among the newest I’ve read, and also amongst the best. I’m a sucker for a good series of books that tells an arching story, and “The Hunger Games” does just that.

In these books we walk through Katniss Everdeen’s futuristic world, where U.S. states are gone, replaced by districts. The 12 districts that survived the last war are forced by the Capitol to select two tributes, one male and one female, between the ages of 12-18 to compete in a “last one standing,” fight to the death, which is aired live on television to the whole country.

The actual “Games” is only the beginning of the story, as the books follow Katniss through the aftermath of having been in the “Games” and a country’s trip through rebellion. The first book was made into a movie in 2012, with the second installment due out in theaters November of this year.

“The Southern Vampire Mysteries” book series aka “The Sookie Stackhouse Novels” by Charlene Harris: “The Sookie Books” are the basis for the HBO original series “True Blood,” but like most television series based on a book series, the main resemblance is only seen in the first season of the show, and the first book of the series.

“The Sookie Books” follow Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a rural Louisiana Parish who has the gift of telepathy. Sookie can read other’s thoughts.

That is interesting in and of itself, but the books are also set in a fictitious time where vampires have just “come out of the closet,” because of a new type of synthetic blood from which they can gain sustenance without having to kill people anymore.

Sookie, over the course of 12 books, realizes that vampires aren’t the only mystical species that are, in fact, real.

These books are a bit like junk food for the brain, but it is summer so why not enjoy a little junk food?

“The Millennium Series” trilogy aka “The Girl” series by Stieg Larsson: “The Millennium Series” rounds out my list, and is an excellent series of three books titled “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.”

These books follow a Swedish journalist as he is involved with three mysteries that eventually are found to all be part of the same plot.

“The Millennium Series” introduces us to one of the most compelling characters that I’ve ever read about: Lisbeth Salander.

Lisbeth is complex, daring and ends up defying all of the usual damsel in distress stereotypes usually seen in women in fiction. In short, she kicks butt and doesn’t care about taking names.

This summer take some time for yourself, and do a little reading. Read what you want to instead of what you have to before classes start up again in the fall, and whether you take my reading suggestions or not, have a great summer everyone.

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