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Poolside: Books To Read While Lounging at the Pool
This is the first in a series on how to best enjoy your swimming pool, from reading choices to lights and speakers.
To kick off this series we'll look at a few great books to read while lounging beside your swimming pool.
Looking For Alaska by John Green
A review in The Guardian states: “His debut novel, Looking For Alaska, is a showcase to the raw talent John Green has, the kind of talent that can make you close the crisp last page of a novel and come out as a different person. Many readers may have become aware of Green through his best-selling blockbuster novel The Fault In Our Stars, a book that resonates with readers from teens to adults. In his first novel, Green follows the story of “Pudge”, a young man who goes to Alabama to attend college. There he meets a female student named Alaska Young and quickly becomes infatuated with her. The novel reveals the beautiful and at times confounding experiences of two young people falling in love.
Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale
True crime can be engrossing, and this book, first released in 1980, is a page-turner. The author is Frank Abagnale Jr., a master con man who specialized in check fraud and impersonation. During his years as a master criminal, which started in the 1960s, Abagnale passed himself off as an airline pilot, an advertising executive, and even a surgeon. His exploits were legendary as he led the FBI on a global chase before being captured. This story includes intrigue, forgery, escape, and chicanery. You’ll find yourself amazed at how truth is stranger than fiction in this story. The book was later turned into a movie starring Leonardio DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken. You’ll want to read the book to learn even more about this fantastic tale of crime and redemption.
Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
How many books begin with an incredible ending? This novel by Emily St. John Mandel pulls it off. As the book opens a character undergoes an unfortunate event in a Shakespeare play and then the earth is stricken with a flu pandemic that wipes out much of the world population. Am I giving away too much? No, because that’s just the setup. Mandel takes the reader on a sweeping journey with a small group of survivors that examines humanity’s need for art in a time of great peril.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
A great read for younger people but this novel can also be enjoyed by people of any age. It’s the tale of Ponyboy, a teenager who finds himself embroiled in a gang and the violence that comes with that life. This gripping story was made into a movie that featured an ensemble cast of almost every young male actor of the early 1908s: Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze. Worth a read and easy to flip through.
Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
A 2013 National Book Award finalist, this collection of short stories from George Saunders is perfect for lounging by the pool. Read a story, take a dip, ready a story, take a dip, and repeat. Saunders is one of America’s most gifted storytellers, and this volume is perhaps his best. Known for his dry and sometimes dark humor, Saunders focuses his lens on several characters who are facing life-altering choices. In “Home,” an American soldier returns from the Middle East and grapples with feelings of inadequacy. In a story titled “Puppy,” a woman marries into wealth only to have her poor past haunt her. The title story follows an angst-riddled teenager who literally faces the harrowing prospect of falling through thin ice on a lake, a case of nature threatening to swallow him up. This collection from a master of the short story is a provocative and thoughtful read.
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
In her most recent book, Sarah Vowell turns her wry sense of humor and delightful unusual form of historical analysis to the islands of Hawaii. The popular NPR host and storyteller looks at the circumstances around the annexation of Hawaii by the United States and what it says about the people of that tropical kingdom and the people of America. It’s a quick and easy read but very thoughtful, as Vowell looks at the arrival of missionaries to the islands, the sad fate of the Hawaiian monarchy, sugar barons, con men, and whalers. Only Vowell can present history in a way that makes you laugh out loud and spark the fires of your curiosity.
The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson
The World’s Fair was held in Chicago in 1893 and during its six-month run it attracted a staggering 27 million visitors. People saw for the first time such things as electric street lamps, the zipper, Cracker Jack, the escalator, and the most popular invention --- the Ferris Wheel. Sound interesting? It really is. Author Larson masterfully explains the political intrigue behind the massive construction of “The White City” that hosted the fair. But that’s only half of the allure of this award-winning book. Larson also interweaves the tale of Dr. Henry H. Holmes, who at the same time had built a “castle” in Chicago where he lured young women who later mysteriously disappeared. Holmes was America’s first serial killer, and his tale is both troubling and riveting. Somehow Larson manages to make the reader yearn for both parts of the book to last forever, so that when the fair ends and the bad guy meets his fate, you almost feel a sense of disappointment. This book has been on the bestseller list for several years since its release in 2004.