Some Great Summer Reading

by Erika Weisensee, book lover

Finally!  At last! Some good weather. . . time for walks and runs and hikes. Time for yard work and gardening. Time for barbecues. Time for one of my favorite pastimes — reading a great book on the back deck with a deliciously cold beverage by my side. But, what to read? There are so many choices, and I don’t like to waste my time.

In my opinion, the best book suggestions come by word of mouth. These three books, all recommended to me by avid readers, were excellent!

* Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin (a Pacific Northwest author)

The latest novel by Scappoose resident Willy Vlautin includes Portland in its settings, and readers familiar with North Portland in particular will be nostalgic when reading Vlautin’s descriptions of Portland Meadows and other locales. This book follows the life of 15-year-old Charley, who experiences a tragedy and then sets out on his own. Vlautin’s writing style, strong yet sparse at times, has been compared to Raymond Carver and John Steinbeck.

* Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Now in paperback, this non-fiction book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, a former Times reporter, shares the harrowing stories of oppressed women around the globe. The authors lay out a case for educating and empowering women and girls. This powerful book has become a movement that you can read about at

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson

Be warned, this book is graphic and violent at times. Yet, once you’re about a hundred pages in (lots of background information at first), you will know why this book is an international bestseller. The novel is bolstered by a fascinating character — Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but troubled computer hacker and investigator. The book is the first of a trilogy; Part 2 (The Girl Who Played With Fire) and part 3 (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest) are also bestsellers. Larson died shortly after submitting all three manuscripts. If you like smart thrillers, consider these must-reads.



Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.

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