Here is a selection of top reads for the rest of your summer. There are four fiction and three nonfiction for your reading enjoyment.
Nonfiction“Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover, is a disturbing memoir about the author’s upbringing in a fundamentalist Mormon family in rural Idaho. Her mother began her education but her father put her to work in the family business at a young age. Despite not having any schooling outside her home, Westover won scholarships to Brigham Young University and earned a Ph.D. from Oxford in England. She is, not surprisingly, estranged from her parents and some of her siblings. She is an accomplished writer and lives in England. There are some people from the community where she was raised, including her parents’ attorney, who take exception to her portrayal of her upbringing. It is a compelling story.“Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero,” by Christopher McDougall, is a wonderful, feel good book about Sherman, who was kept by a hoarder and luckily came to be rescued by the McDougall family. When Sherman arrived at their farm in the heart of Amish country, there was no guarantee that he would even survive. McDougall is an excellent writer who has traveled the world and was raised in Philadelphia but now lives as far from city life as possible. Advised by a friend who knew about rescue animals and donkeys, she realized that Sherman needed a job, a purpose, to survive. So McDougall came up with a plan for himself and Sherman to run in the annual World Championship Burro Race in Fairplay, Colorado. Once McDougall takes on a project, it is all systems go. The book tells the story about the uneven, broken path to that race. “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” by Trevor Noah, is an incredible book. Noah, born to a Black mother and a Swiss father during Apartheid, was considered the evidence of a crime. For readers unfamiliar to the tenets of this vile system, the book will be an eye-opener. Noah’s childhood was filled with fierce love from his mother, attending three different churches every Sunday and almost life-threatening escapades of a very smart and mischievous youth. Noah’s autobiographical book combines the depiction of an upbringing filled with poverty, a threatening government, little opportunity and, surprisingly, great humor. This book should be read, absorbed and appreciated.Fiction“Writers & Lovers,” by Lily King, is about a young writer who is grieving the sudden loss of her mother. She is also flailing about trying to finish a novel that she’s been working on for six years, trying on relationships with two wildly different men and trying to grow up. Casey has traveled abroad and has lived in many places. She’s a moving target, it seems. She is now back where she was raised in Boston, working as a waitress, sporadically working on her book and living in a former potting shed. There is plenty of angst and humor in her story and some brilliant insights into the psyches of writers. This is a fascinating read.“Homegoing,” by Yaa Gyasi, is an amazing novel. It took Gyasi many years to do her extensive research both in Ghana and here in the U.S. This novel is a multigenerational historical saga that starts in the 1800s and follows two sisters who are unknown to each other from the Gold Coast area of Africa. One of the sisters is captured and taken as a slave to America while the other marries an English colonist. “Homegoing” focuses on eight generations born from the sisters. Each chapter is one character’s story. Gyasi weaves their stories back and forth between Ghana and the U.S. Her story spans 300 years and gives readers perspectives from both sides of the slave trade. Her writing allows readers to witness and share the experiences of the characters while not overtly pushing an agenda. This is a must-read because the historical events in each chapter that impact the main character’s life are real and based on fact.“City of Gold” by local author Will Hobbs will take young readers (and those young at heart) on a thrilling and challenging adventure in this his 22nd novel. Listed as historical fiction, “City of Gold” features Durango’s local surroundings and especially focuses on the booming mining town of Telluride in 1900. The action centers on the Hollowell family, who recently moved from Kansas to Hermosa, especially teenager Owen and his younger brother Till. After losing their mules, Peaches and Hercules, to a midnight rustler, Owen strikes out to get them back. Owen follows the rugged mountain trail to Telluride, where Till arrives soon after by train. In their quest to get their mules, the brothers experience disaster at the Smuggler-Union mine, deal with a less-than-honest town marshal and rub elbows with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Utah. The historical and geographical facts in this tale stand out, revealing extensive research by Hobbs. This is a great book to get into the hands of all readers hungry for adventure.To top off this list is this debut novel, “The Shame,” by Makenna Goodman. Alma lives in rural and lonely Vermont with her professor husband, Asa, and her two young children. Alma takes pride in their homestead lifestyle. They raise chickens, sheep and grow a large garden and even make their own maple syrup. Alma feels she has lost herself, and as the story opens, she has abandoned home and is on the road late at night heading for New York City. Prompting this wild action is Alma’s obsession with a woman named Celeste she found on a website for mothers. Goodman’s stream-of-consciousness narrative follows Alma through her journey as she strives to find her way in life. Leslie Doran is a retired teacher, freelance writer and former New Mexican who claims Durango as her forever home.