May the summer sun shine on the pages you choose

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL Pam Shafer With her sons Grant and Reece


Summer officially blew in yesterday with balmy promises of picnics, camping trips and naps in the hammock. Finally past the hustle and bustle of the school year and holidays, it’s easier to carve out reading time in the longer, sun-dappled days of summer.

My family recently enjoyed a week together where books were tucked into suitcases alongside swimsuits. In between active adventures, I read three books. My reading choices often are driven by this column, which exposes me to a rich range of local literature, but I also choose books based on what my kids are reading, books about writing and, after that, what my friends recommend or what intrigues me from reviews.

Suffice it to say, by the time I get around to my own free reading, “New York Times Bestseller” often is already emblazed on the cover, so I’m not exactly an early adopter.

For a broader range of summer reading suggestions, I asked a couple of local super-readers to both recommend three books they’ve recently read and to list the next three books on their reading list.

Pam Shafer teaches kindergarten at Scenic Elementary School. She is a super-reader year-round, but in the summertime she really digs into the titles. She’s a discerning reader and one of the friends I rely on for book suggestions. Our standard greeting is, “What are you reading now?”

Pam recommends:

■ “The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon

I have read other books written by this author and enjoyed them. This story proved to be quite a page-turner and is told by several characters during two time periods: 1908 and present day. It has all the elements of a great summer read: mystery, drama, family tragedy and, surprisingly, even paranormal. This is a hard one to give a synopsis of without giving too much of the story away. Just trust me that it is good.

■ “City of Thieves” by David Benioff

I’ve had this on my virtual bookshelf for a while, always bypassing it for some “lighter” read. The main character is a 17-year-old boy in Leningrad during World War II. He is forced on a mission with a young man accused of deserting the Russian army, and an unlikely friendship develops. What struck me about this story is how life goes on even during horrible situations. Humor, love and loyalty existed even when people didn’t know where or when their next meal would be. I couldn’t even begin to put myself in the character’s place without thinking, “I would have been dead weeks ago.”

■ “For Every Solution, A Problem” by Kirsten Gier

Gerri has planned her suicide to the last detail, except that it doesn’t happen. In her preparations, she wrote several brutally honest letters to friends and family. Gerri got my sympathy right away as she related stories of her life that led up to her decision to be done with it all. The book is interspersed with the letters (often fueled by alcohol) she has written — letters that made me cringe for her. You wouldn’t expect a book with suicide as its theme to be funny, but I laughed out loud with this one.

Pam plans to read:

■ “The Painter” by Peter Heller

I heard about this on NPR and the fact that it is about an artist in a local area (Paonia, I think) sparked my interest.

■ “Deeply Odd” by Dean Koontz

I have read the books leading up to this one. As with most series, the beginning books were better, but once I commit to a series I follow through to the end.

■ Classics

I always think I should shoot for well-read and not just widely read. In that pursuit, I have read a lot of really bad books — really, really bad books. This summer, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde showed up as a free Kindle book and made my list. I’ll admit that I have started it, but am having a hard time keeping with it.

High school junior Sarah Mahon is a striving young author, marching band member, thespian and cosplayer, and she’s taking college courses. With all this going on, the super-reader tries to squeeze in one book a semester, just of her own interest, while accomplishing the bulk of her reading over summer.

Sarah recommends:

■ “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

This is a great teen read for those teens who like adventure and fantasy. This series concludes with its sixth book, which was released May 27. Cassandra Clare always keeps you on your feet with this series because there’s always a new twist or turn in it.

■ “Fishtailing” by Wendy Phillips

For a nonfiction book, this is quite a page-turner. It shows the reality of what happens when students get bullied. The book is mostly written in free-form poetry, but it includes emails between teachers in schools and what happens when students are forced into dangerous situations.

■ “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

The prequel to the Mortal Instruments series is much more unique. Set in the 19th century where women wear full skirts and are not allowed to fight, we have our shadowhunters who break all the rules to help out a warlock struggling with emotional issues after being trapped for some time.

Sarah plans to read:

■ “The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I want to read this book because I love watching the television program “Sherlock,” and the books provided the inspiration for the TV show.

■ “City of Heavenly Fire” by Cassandra Clare

I was told this book would be even better than the previous books in the series. I’m excited to see how Clare closes off the series.

■ “Under the Dome” by Stephen King

The second season of the show starts in July, and while my dad insists it’s so different from the book it isn’t even funny, I decided to read for myself and see how it’s going to turn out.

Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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