Domenica’s Summer Reading List

By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books

feather thief cover

I used to think I was unusual, with a huge stack of books on my bedside table that never goes down and invariably reading more than one book at a time. But the more readers I talk to, the more I realize it’s something people do. And it’s liberating to know you can jump from book to book depending on your mood or energy level or level of enthusiasm on any given day.

This is the time of year when summer reading lists pop up. Locally, Kerri Miller does her annual Big Summer Book Show at about this time on Minnesota Public Radio. You can check out her list of recommendations for fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, children’s literature, autobiographies, and more for summer 2018. There’s a wide range of great books to choose from.

line becomes a river

I’m intrigued by a book one of Miller’s call-ins recommended: Francisco Cantu’s The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border. This memoir, new this year, takes a brutally honest and evocative look at our militarized border with Mexico from the point of view of Cantu, who was himself a border patrol agent. Mother Jones interviewed Cantu earlier this year and says the book is the best you’ll read this year about immigration. No matter one’s opinion on President Trump’s proposed border wall, the book is a timely read, and I just ordered it.

hidden figures cover

While I wait for that book, I’ve started Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly. I really enjoyed the film last year–especially the scene about solving modern technology problems with ancient math! So I wanted to learn more about the math and the sociopolitical backdrop of the story. This is the book for that.

shoot like a girl cover

Given the amazing number of women veterans running for political office this fall, I’m eager to read Mary Jennings Hegar’s Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front. She’s running as a Texas Democrat for a seat in the US House of Representatives. In an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air last March, Hegar talked about her experience co-piloting a medevac helicopter under fire in Afghanistan. And she’s an amazing, strong advocate for principles she believes in, having been a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit against the US Department of Defense, arguing that excluding women from combat was unconstitutional–and ineffective. In December 2015, the DoD lifted the ban, opening all military positions to women who qualify. If elected to the US Congress, Hegar will be just fine.

And what about the book at the top of this entry?

I just finished The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson last week. It’s a page turner and a fascinating story of the intersection between fly fishing, fly tieing, natural science, and the compulsion to own beauty. If you liked Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, you’ll love this book.

Let us know what you’re reading this summer!

Want more? Here are other posts by Domenica.

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