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Get Lost in a Book

Here’s what we’re reading this summer. What about you?

Ashley Brotherton of Calvert County and now Baltimore is moving on after a year as Bay Weekly calendar editor and staff writer
    Looking at my nightstand, you wouldn’t know it, but there are piles and piles of books. The piles are condensed into my Nook, the Barnes and Nobel eReader.
    Not everyone agrees, but I think eReaders are a great evolution for the book world.
    For example, while packing for my summer vacation a few weeks ago, I realized I had no book to help pass the time on the beach. I turned to my Nook and downloaded the first of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, books I had always wanted to read but couldn’t find the time.
    I finished the first book in between a boogie board session and a game of bocce ball. But the cliffhanger was killing me. I had to know what happened in the next book. So sitting on the beach, I downloaded it, then the third.
    Instant gratification at its best.


Dotty Holcomb Doherty of Annapolis, a writer, birder, outdoor enthusiast
    Novels and poetry are my usual fare, but several well-written nonfiction books have captured me this summer. As a birder, I relished Sy Montgomerys’ Birdology as she delved into the compelling lives of seven avian species. Taken with her writing, I then read The Good Good Pig, the story of her 750-pound pet that stole everyone’s heart.
    Two local authors also drew me. Having learned that a young friend was homeless, I turned for added insight to Barbara Morrison’s Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother. The book I am telling everyone about, though, is Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life. She, like me and many of my friends, deals with chronic illness. Nakazawa’s page-turner, based on scientific research, uses her story to ­present doable mind-body therapies that can make an enormous difference in our health and well-being.


Richard Due of Huntingtown owns Second Looks Books
    “I cut my teeth on the classics, authors like Agatha Christie and Robert Louis Stevenson,” said bookstore owner Richard Due.
    “I’ll pick up non-fiction once in a while, like the autobiography of Steve Jobs, but I write fantasy adventure, so I stick to that for reading, too.”
    A small sampling of authors that Due enjoys include: J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and Robert A. Heinlein.
    “I was gravitating away from the fantasy adventure kind of stuff when J.K. Rowling hit the scene.
    “When Harry Potter arrived, I was just like a kid again.
    “I generally read two to three books at a time. Currently, I’m reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan and The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket. The book on deck is Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers.”
    –as told to Michelle Steel


Sarah Jane Dunaway of Annapolis blogs on etiquette
    “A variety of women writers and a few classics fill this reader’s summer list: Obsessed by Mika Brzezinski; I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron; The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg; and Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck.
    “I try to read at least a few classics every couple of months,” she says.
    As a fan of Morning Joe, Silverman thinks that Mika Brzezinski is “brilliant.”
    “When I heard about Obsessed I just had to run out and get it. Mika did an amazing job researching and composing her findings into a book that is interesting and easy to understand.”
    On her other choices: “I’m a huge fan of Nora Ephron. How can you not be?”
    As for Berg’s collection of short stories, Dunaway says, “I have yet to read anything by her that I did not immediately fall in love with.”
    –as told to Heidi Schmidt


Tucker Grube-O’Brien of Ridge is Slack ­Winery’s vintner
    I’ve taken to comic books as a good medium in between novels and film. I’m reading a gruesomely violent, politically incorrect comic book called Scalped, Vol. 1: Indian Country, written by Jason Aaron with art by R.M. Guerra.
    I’m also reading The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil. I learned about it from a favorite band, The Lower Dens. It’s a fun read with numerous graphs of social and technological data and indications of what the future holds. The book presents a compelling argument for the fate of the relationship between humans and technology — that humans will soon be outpaced by certain technologies, which will have more intelligence as well as the human characteristic of self-awareness.




Betsy Kehne of Shady Side is Bay Weekly’s ­production manager
    It’s confession time. The book on my nightstand is Charlaine Harris’ Dead Ever After, the last of a 13-book series featuring fictional waitress Sookie Stackhouse. For HBO fans, these are the stories behind Trueblood, though the television and literary story lines have greatly diverged. In both, vampires have come out in modern society, the ramifications of which we experience through the eyes of Sookie, a small-town Louisiana waitress. With supernatural abilities of her own, Sookie is familiar with prejudice, so she’s an advocate for carnivorous characters wanting to blend into society — even though they sometimes want to kill her. Harris’ books are fun summer reading with an independent, easy-to-like heroine in the midst of murder and mayhem in the deep south. The best part? The line between good and bad isn’t always simple.


Elsa Knoll of Annapolis is a rising sixth-grader at Severn River Middle School
    I am reading Erin Hunter’s Warrior Cats Saga for a second time.
    The Warrior Cats are a group of clans that live in the forest and have to survive treacherous weather, ferocious predators and long journeys.
    I like the books because they have adventure with a twist on what you think of a common cat: Most of them are good, but some are evil. There are many battles over territory and prey.
    The first series of six books is about how Firestar goes from a kitty pet housecat into the Thunderclan leader and a hero for all of the clans.
    So far I’ve read 27 of the more than 50 books written by the five authors who go by the pen name Erin Hunter. I’ll probably read them all summer.


J. Alex Knoll of Annapolis is Bay Weekly co-founder and general manager
    Over the course of months, my bedside table becomes a resting place for the books I’ve read as well as those I’m reading.
    At the bottom of the pile but tops on my list is H.W. Brands’ The Man Who Saved the Union, Ulysses Grant in War and Peace. For nearly 100 years, America’s 18th president has been overshadowed by Abraham Lincoln and clouded by Reconstruction, labeled a drunkard and a butcher. In truth, Grant was one of history’s greatest military minds and perhaps America’s most humane and humble president.
    Gatherings, Memoir of a Seed Saver is Diane Ott Whealy’s autobiography of Seed Savers Exchange, which she and then-husband Kent Whealy founded in the ’70s. A coming-of-age story with a twist, Gatherings plots the growth of Seed Savers Exchange from a basement endeavor to an endowed corporation that helped ignite interest in preserving heirloom varietals.
    I’m currently in the middle of Chesapeake Legends and Lore from the War of 1812 by Ralph E. Eshelman and Scott S. Sheads, which seeks to prove or disprove the myths surrounding America’s second battle for independence. While their narrative at times denudes their subject matter, it is still fascinating, as in the explanation of how one of the four forts protecting Annapolis at the time, Fort Nonsense, got its name.


Lisa Knoll of Annapolis is Bay Weekly’s director of sales and marketing
    My bedside table tends to lean a lot. I stack layers of books and magazines, and what lies beneath the crust is hidden and often forgotten until boredom sets in or purging takes place. The top is reserved for the current read. Bag of Bones by Stephen King holds this position right now. It has proven to be a perfect summer read but should be returned to the library any day.
    There are about four months of Vanity Fair magazines folded below, as well as a wonderful bargain book titled Wallace about a shelter dog — a pit bull mix — who is considered unadoptable yet finds love and becomes a champion Frisbee dog. I haven’t finished that one yet, mostly because I keep crying at Jim Gorant’s tale; I have to stop and hug my own pit rescue. I have tried tossing the Frisbee, but he chews them up. At the very bottom of the pile is Stealing Mona Lisa, a period art heist tale set in early 20th century Paris. I finished that book some time ago and keep meaning to give it to my mom to read — but out of sight, out of mind.


Betty Lane, a retired New York City second-grade teacher, lives on Broomes Island. She started a book club in 2001.
    “We, the book club, read one book per month for discussion at our monthly meetings. However, I read anywhere from three to six or seven books each month in addition to the book club book. All of the Book Club girls do. We call the other books Interim Books and share titles and books with everyone.
    “We take turns as host, one each month, and the host chooses a book and tells us what it is two or three months ahead so we can order or reserve it at the library. The host serves lunch (and wine) and leads the discussion.
    “We always plan the summer meetings to be at the homes of members who have swimming pools. We have all become very good friends, men too.
    “Our variegated list for 2013: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal; The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson; Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks; Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano; Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts; The Alienist by Caleb Carr; Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls; and Blue Coyote Motel by Dianne Harman.”
    –as told to Elisavietta Ritchie


Jane Margaret O’Brien of Ridge is proprietor of Slack Winery, former chemistry professor and St. Mary’s College president
    I went into Fenwick Street Used Books and Music in Leonardtown looking for a biography for a friend’s 80th birthday. I came out with a real cache: Keith Richard’s Life; Robert St. John’s Ben-Gurion; Richard Layman’s edition of the Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett and Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers.
    I read the first, decided against sending it (great autobiography for fans) and am reading the rest. I sent my friend chocolates (exceptional, every one of them).


Phillip Olaleye of Atlanta, is a summer intern  in Annapolis at the Chesapeake Bay Program and a 2007 Duke graduate and former Peace Corps volunteer
    While living in the Philippines, Olaleye, a self-described history buff, read Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going by Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. Now he is reading The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David Landes; Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond; and The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.
    “Guns, Germs and Steel is fascinating: heavy at points and scientific, but also light in terms of stories and how people and civilizations co-mingled and what that has meant in terms of development of our modern world.
    “One fiction author I love, Jim Dodge, wrote Stone Junction, a roller coaster ride of modern-day folklore mixed with fantasy that takes you on this crazy journey. It’s fun and light and jarring and sensual; it’s one of my favorite books.”
    –as told to Dotty Doherty


Marilyn Lee Recknor of Arnold is a retired teacher who substitutes and is a book club leader
    I don’t usually read mysteries, but eavesdropping on a conversation about Scandinavian writers at the Broadneck library led me to Norway’s Jo Nesbo and his alcoholic detective Harry Hole, nemesis of the police department and its greatest asset.
    Hole’s encounters with the criminal element are not for the squeamish, but anyone who liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will no doubt stay up nights following Norway’s most celebrated detective as he encounters the country’s most diabolical masterminds and the darkness of his own self-destructive soul.
    I had to watch a movie about how American eating habits and food production has changed in the last 60 years for a course I’m taking. The movie I chose, Food, Inc., was a shocker. So next on my list is Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.
    I have to mention Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tim Franklin. Set in Mississippi, the book is about two boys, one black and one white, and a night that changes both their lives forever. The lyrical writing, strong characterization and plot twists make this a great read.


Elisavietta Ritchie of Brooms Island is a writer, editor, teacher, mentor
    If I were to tell you what is piled up among my livres de chevet!
    So many half-read Smithsonians, New Yorkers, Atlantics, literary journals. And other writers’ manuscripts sent to Washington Writers’ Publishing House. I print at least the first chapters — books and manuscripts are easier to read in bed than lugging in a PC.
    I do more writing than sustained reading, though like Keats’ magpie, I am always reading some article.
    Bay Weekly I tend to read at World Gym when I’m on a bike, often only skimming as the print has shrunk. Then I read the articles that most interest me at home online where I can enlarge the font.


Michael Sanderson of Severna Park is the Executive Director of Maryland Association of Counties
    “As a reader I try to alternate fiction and nonfiction. My pile is about 50/50. I prefer fiction but think nonfiction is good for the soul.
    “I’m reading a book about time travel, which I find a fascinating topic. Somewhere there is a really great book about time travel, but I haven’t found it yet. The best so far is Ken Grimwood’s Replay. Right now I’m reading Jack Finney’s Time after Time.
    “Next is James Lee Burke’s The Tin Roof Downtown. Burke’s a gifted writer. His books have complicated plots about Louisiana detective Dave Robicheau. I like reading about the sweaty South’s seedy underbelly.
    “For nonfiction, I’ve been reading a lot about nutrition and health. I’ve recently changed my diet. I recommend Eat for Health by Joel Fuhrman, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and C. Colin Campbell’s The China Study.
    “I like behavioral economics and psychology: Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Outliers, Dave Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.
    “I like to read books that have almost nothing to do with my professional life. I’m a person who likes to understand things, and I love finding a concept I can’t understand, so I read quantum physics and nutrition.”
    –as told to Marilyn Recknor


Heidi Schmidt of Annapolis is a writer and a new mom
    In my effort to escape on the vacation I won’t be taking this year, I’ve been enjoying The Best of Us by D.C.-area author Sarah Pekkanen. This beachy chick-lit has been transporting me to Jamaica nightly. I don’t want the book to end, for it’ll be like coming home after a blissful trip to paradise.
    Next on my stack is Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF, a book club pick. It’s likely I’ll renew this one from the library at least twice. Since baby hit the scene in March, it takes me twice as long to get through my reading list.
    Finally, others that I vow to finish by Labor Day include The Honest Life by Jessica Alba and I Just Want to Pee Alone by a group of mom bloggers — because laughter cures everything, apparently even sleep deprivation.


Michelle Steel of Huntingtown is a regular Bay Weekly writer and a substitute teacher
    I travel any chance I can, so the travel section is always the first place I head to at the library. It’s also the first section I read in Sunday’s Washington Post.
    The books I’m now reading help satisfy a little corner of my travel wants and needs.
    Bill Bryson’s Into the Woods takes me along his journey, hiking the Appalachian Trial — an endeavor I’m looking forward to accomplishing this fall.
    Paul Theroux’s The Last Train to Zona Verde is the world’s most celebrated travel writer’s ode to the last African journey. It’s a long-time dream of mine to visit and safari in Africa.
    Jerry Eicher’s My Amish Childhood shows me the simple but never boring life of an Amish family — a world fascinating and mysterious to me — as they embark on an adventure of living in Honduras and starting a mission in a land simpler and more primitive than their own.
    Finally, William Least Heat-Moon’s Here, There, Elsewhere sends me back in time to Loyola College and my favorite professor, Dr. Judith Dobler, who taught my favorite writing class, travel writing. Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways was the first book I read in the class, and it stoked my passion.


Dani Thompson of Annapolis is a graduate ­student at University of Maryland and a Bay Weekly contributor
    As a May-start graduate student in journalism at the University of Maryland, my summer reading list is more requisite than relaxing. Obligated as I am, I approach the texts assigned to me with hope that I might discover a small nugget of inspiration or humor in a stream of “do this” and “don’t do that”.
    The 2012 AP Style Guide is a hopelessly boring but very necessary text for any journalist. Words listed that make me laugh include unfriend, pooh-pooh and babydoll (as in the tank top).
    In Aim for the Heart, Al Tompkins writes using lots of pop culture references, like “avoid writing what I call Fred Flintstone leads. Don’t allow your leads to run in place. Get right to the point …”
    On Writing Well, William Zinsser is deceivingly inspirational. I think about Chapter Three on avoiding clutter at least once a day.


Katie Thompson of Arnold is a Barista at City Dock Coffee and LSU first year student