Summer Reading: Recommendations from KCRW listeners

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It’s summer in Los Angeles. And while some might be excited about the L.A. Film Festival or hitting the beach, many are just eager to have some extra time to read a good book. At least many of our readers are. We got  summer reading recommendations from indie book store owners, and several readers posted suggestions of books old and new on our Facebook page .

“Awesome.” That’s how Whitney Ross Gray describes The Art of Fielding (2011), a novel by Chad Harbach about a baseball star and his cohorts at a small college near Lake Michigan.

From a review in The New York Times by Gregory Cowles:

If it seems a stretch for a baseball novel to hold truth and beauty and the entire human condition in its mitt, well, “The Art of Fielding” isn’t really a baseball novel at all, or not only. It’s also a campus novel and a bromance (and for that matter a full-fledged gay romance), a comedy of manners and a tragicomedy of errors — the baseball kind as well as the other kind, which as Alexander Pope pointed out also has something to do with the human condition.

Gray also suggested Shantaram (2003), an autobiographical novel by Gregory David Roberts about a white-collar fugitive and heroin addict who escapes prison and lives in India for 10 years.

From a review in The New York Times:

Shantaram, mangrove-scented prose and all, is nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward. And there’s always the next installment.

If you are in the mood for some non-fiction, Farshid Rahimi recommends Imagine: How Creativity Works (2012) by Jonah Lehrer. Ever wonder what’s going on in Bob Dylan’s right hemisphere? That’s just one subject Lehrer covers in this book.

From a review in The Guardian by Alexander Linklater:

With as much inventiveness as he reveals in his subjects, he turns up examples of risk-taking, innovation, connectivity, recombination, disinhibition, migration, urban and cultural density and distractibility competing with concentration.

Erin Kathleen Picone recommended Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel The Night Circus (2011). It’s about a competition between two young magicians in the context of a circus open only at night.

From a review on NPR’s website by Rachel Syme:

Morgenstern is both a writer and a visual artist, and the world of The Night Circus is elaborately designed, fantastically imagined and instantly intoxicating — as if the reader had downed a glass of absinthe and leapt into a hallucination.

And here’s one that Fling Girl L.A. said on our Facebook page “is worth reading and re-reading.” She recommends John Irving’s The World According to Garp (1978) about the life of its protagonist T. S. Garp.

From a 1978 review in The New York Times by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt:

 It is a novel about a writer writing novels–or, more precisely, about the way a sensitive human being communicates his response to reality through the stories he makes up. And though extreme and violent things do seem to be happening around Garp, they can be read as the objective correlatives of Garp’s rather fervid imagination.

In the mood for some science fiction? Then Shane D Shaffer recommended you read some Isaac Asimov. Here’s a long bibliography of books and stories to choose from.

Still looking for that perfect book? Check out this detailed  summer reading flowchart from