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Likely Stories: Summer of 2017 Reading List for Bibliophiles

A selection of books for everyone’s tastes.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Summer is prime reading time in my life.  I recall an old rhyme from my elementary school days which – with a minor alteration – went something like this, “No more papers, no more books, no more student’s dirty looks.”  Following is a list of titles on my TBR pile.

The Little French Bistro by Nina George.  George was a recent discovery of mine, and this is the second of her novels translated into English.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop, and I am sure this one will please.  While we are on the subject of French Literature, Lydia Davis has produced a new translation of one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, Madame Bovary.  And, before we leave Europe, Skylight by Jose Saramago, who always delights.  His peculiar characters and situations are wonderful.  If you haven’t read him yet, try Stone Raft, in which the Iberian Peninsula breaks away from France and floats into the Atlantic.  Another worthwhile read of his is All the NamesFor some fun reads, Carl Hiaasen has a recent novel, Razor Girl, the story of a reporter/detective in Miami dodging his editor and the police.  The tremendously funny Tina Fey has Bossy Pants.

Colm Tóibín is among the masters of literary fiction today.  His recent novel is Nora Webster, the story of a woman widowed in her 40s with four children.  Richard Ford has Let Me Be Frank with You.  His novels are always interesting and well-written.  Speaking of Literary fiction, Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch, has been squealing for my attention for what I am sure will be a intimate look at one of the best writers of the 20th century.

On the more serious side is Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening.  This one has been around for quite a few years, and I have read it a couple of times, but this is one relaxing read.  Laurence M. Krauss, the noted physicist and author of A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, is a great read for the amateur scientists in many of us.

When I spent a year at a boarding school back in 1962-63, I was severely limited in the range of available reading material.  So I thought I would time-travel back, and reconnect with G.K. Chesterton in The Flying Inn.  My next foray into the work of the outstanding writer, Kent Haruf, is Benediction.  Underestimated, un-hyped, all of his books are wonderful reads.  I have a Lily King novel I hope to get to this summer: Father of the Rain, and a novel by Lisa King, Death in a Wine Dark Sea from the excellent independent publisher, Permanent Press. 

I also want to get to the recent Nobel Prize winning author, Patrick Modiano and, what some call his masterpiece, The Occupation Trilogy.  Another important Nobel winner is J.M. Coetzee.  I have read a number of his works, and they are all absorbing, interesting, and they will not let you quit until the last page.  Two of his works are on my radar:  The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus.  All five stars – I hope!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories.


Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.