GR Reads: 10 Great Summer Reads

Once again, the GR Reads Committee has picked out ten fabulous titles for your summer reading enjoyment!  Some are beach reads, some are autobiographical, some are nonfiction, some are local, and others are a great fiction read.  We hope you enjoy these books and have an opportunity to attend some of the programs.

Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel By S.J. Watson

“As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me.” Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.


Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and The Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen By Christopher McDougall

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every minute of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence.

Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, McDougall sets off to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara, and in the process shows us everything we knew about running is wrong. With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, he takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and finally, to the climatic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run will not only engage your mind but also inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that all of us were born to run.


Decoded By Jay-Z

A note from Jay-Z: When you’re famous and say you’re writing a book, people assume that it’s an autobiography–I was born here, raised there, suffered this, loved that, lost it all, got it back, the end. But that’s not what this is. I’ve never been a linear thinker, which is something you can see in my rhymes. They follow the jumpy logic of poetry and emotion, not the straight line of careful prose. My book is like that, too.

The magic of rap is in the way it can take the most specific experience, from individual lives in unlikely places, and turn them into art that can be embraced by the whole world.

Decoded is a book about one of those specific lives–mine–and will show you how the things I’ve experienced and observed have made their way into the art I’ve created. It’s also about how my work is sometimes not about my life at all, but about pushing the boundaries of what I can express through the poetry of rap–trying to use words to find fresh angles into emotions that we all share, which is the hidden mission in even the hardest hip-hop.


Ghost Writers Edited by Keith Taylor and Laura Kasischke

For Ghost Writers, editors Taylor and Kasischke asked twelve celebrated Michigan writers to submit new stories on one subject: ghosts. The resulting collection is a satisfying mix of tales by some of the state’s most well-known and award-winning writers. Some of the pieces are true stories written by non-believers, while others are clearly fiction and can be funny, bittersweet, spooky or sinister. All share Michigan as a setting, bringing history and a sense of place to the eerie collection.


Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life By Michael Moore

Breaking from the autobiographical mode, Moore presents twenty-four far-ranging, irreverent, and stranger-than-fiction vignettes from his own early life. One moment he’s an eleven-year-old boy lost in the Senate and found by Bobby Kennedy; and in the next, he’s inside the Bitburg Cemetery with a dazed and confused Ronald Reagan. Fast-forward to 2003, when he stuns the world by uttering the words, “We live in fictitious times… with a fictitious president” in place of the expected “I’d like to thank the Academy.” And none of that even comes close to the night the friendly priest at the seminary decides to show him how to perform his own exorcism.

Capturing the zeitgeist of the past fifty years, yet deeply personal and unflinchingly honest, Here Comes Trouble takes readers on an unforgettable, take-no-prisoners ride through the life and times of Michael Moore. No one will come away from this book without a sense of surprise about the Michael Moore most of us didn’t know. Alternately funny, eye-opening, and moving, it’s a book he has been writing–and living–his entire life.
The Magic Room: A Story about Love We Wish for Our Daughters By Jeffrey Zaslow

Illuminating the poignant aspects of a woman’s journey to the altar, The Magic Room tells the stories of remarkable women on the brink of commitment. Thousands of women have stepped inside Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, Michigan, to try on their dream dresses in the “magic room,” complete with soft church lighting, a circular pedestal, and mirrors that make lifelong dreams come true. Housed in a former bank building and run by the same family for years, Becker’s has witnessed transformations in how America views the institution of marriage. The book looks at a handful of brides (and their parents): some who are getting married for the first time, some who are becoming stepmothers, and some who are starting married life for the second time. Zaslow turns his perceptive eye to weddings and uses the tradition to explore the hopes and dreams we have for our daughters.

Ready Player One By Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044 and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. Somewhere inside the OASIS, creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whomever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled to attain the prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late 20th century.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first prize.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt By Caroline Preston

For her 1920 high school graduation, Frankie receives a scrapbook and her father’s old Corona typewriter. She has a goal to become a writer and attends Vassar College. There she meets Edna St. Vincent Millay, who encourages her to move to Greenwich Village and pursue her goal. Pulling from her own extraordinary collection of vintage ephemera and memorabilia, the author has created the first-ever scrapbook novel. Travel with Frankie from New England to New York and Paris in this visually stunning, full-color novel told in the form of a scrapbook filled with flapper-era postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more. This story transports the reader to the vibrant, burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s and introduces us to an unforgettable heroine: the spirited, ambitious, and lovely Frankie Pratt.

The Swan Thieves By Elizabeth Kostova

Robert Oliver, a painter of some renown, has been admitted to the psychiatric care of Andrew Marlow. Oliver has been committed after attempting to damage a painting at the National Gallery of Art and now will speak to no one about the incident. Investigating the source of Oliver’s derangement sends Marlow down a path cluttered with meaningful paintings and even more meaningful encounters with the women who litter Oliver’s past. The novel travels back in time to 19th-century France and pivots on a series of love letters from the late 1800s between Olivier Vignot, an elderly painter, and his muse, Beatrice de Clerval. Once The Swan Thieves gets fully underway, it becomes a braid of three narratives set in the present, the recent past and the late 1870s.

Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip by Jaye Beeler with photographs by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip looks behind the scenes of small farm operations in Michigan exposing the dedicated and hardworking farmers and families throughout the state. The slow food movement has reduced the need to transport food and has increased awareness about eating local, caring about flavor, supporting the small farmer, and marketing and championing Michigan’s unique foods. Through the stunning photography of Burdick, paired with the narrative of author and food writer Beeler, the reader takes a look at the raw, cultivated and sheer beauty of Michigan’s farmland, pastures, and their products.


One Response to “GR Reads: 10 Great Summer Reads”

  1. June 1, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Thank you to Grand Rapids for always being so supportive in patronage and recognition of Becker's Bridal!