Summer reading: Books provide happy diversion

At last summer is upon us, and with the start of summer comes the ever-popular summer reading list.

On my list is a smattering of classics, novels I’ve been wanting to read for a while and a few non-fiction items that feel a bit like eating my vegetables at dinner – they’re good for me and I’m sure I’ll like them, but I’d still rather have a nice, juicy steak.

I’ve recently discovered an interest in American (as well as local) history so I’m hoping to tackle a few books authored by some of the famous names from way back when.

I began Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” some months ago and never finished it, so I’d like to read it all the way through this summer. I’d also like to read Ben Franklin’s autobiography, and if I’m feeling lucky I may crack open an award-winning biography of Paul Revere that’s been gathering dust on a shelf in my living room for some time.

Of course, no reading list of any sort would be complete without a book by Kurt Vonnegut, my absolute favorite author. I would have loved to have had dinner with the man.

He was an incredibly talented writer, the kind that makes you wish you would have thought of writing that book once you turn the final page. I just finished Vonnegut’s “Jaibird,” another great book to add to my collection.

This summer, I’m thinking I’ll read “Bluebeard” or “Deadeye Dick,” since I haven’t read those before. Although, re-reading a Vonnegut is a pleasure in its own right.

Also on my list for the summer are one or two classics. “Silas Marner” by George Eliot Shaw is one. Embarrassingly enough, I only recognize this book because Ralphie’s class is reading it in “A Christmas Story,” a film I’ve seen more times than I care to tell. I’d also like to read “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding, a book that kept getting bumped down the line in favor of other, flashier fare.

The big, juicy steak this summer is the Pulitzer prize winning “The Known World,” by Edward P. Jones. This is another book I started a few weeks ago but haven’t had time to finish. I discovered this book after reading “All Aunt Hagar’s Children,” a short story collection by Jones that I would highly recommend. I also picked up a “The Best American Short Stories” collection I haven’t read yet at a recent book sale, which I’ll likely read over the summer.

Jeanette Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle” is rounding out my list. I’ve been meaning to read this for years, but some other book always seemed to peak my interest a little more, edging it out.

It’s a sizable list for just a summer, but I’ve been trying to read a couple of books a month since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, I’ve only gotten through six or seven, but I’m rededicating myself to the combination of my bookshelves, my deck and a cool glass of iced tea.

I’m always open to suggestion when it comes to reading lists. Anyone out there with a book that knocked their socks off, send me an email.

I’d love to read it too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is