Is reading really different in June, July, and August?  Isn’t this just an excuse to read featherweight novels?  Page turners?  Beach books?

Okay, that’s out of the way.  Now here’s The Attic’s second annual Summer Reading List, eight short books about America.  Page turners?  Some. Beach books?  Only if it's really cold on that beach.  Books you'll remember?  Every last one.

1.  Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Robert F. Kennedy (188 pages) — Much has been learned about the Cuban Missile Crisis since RFK penned this classic, but no book has taken readers closer to the brink.

2. News of the World, by Paulette Giles — (213 Pages) — An eloquent but powerful Western that examines the curious phenomenon of a “captive” taken by Kiowa natives and rescued by a lone drifter.  He’s also a Civil War vet!  What could be more American, except a National Book Award nomination.

3.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass — (82 pages) — Seems the freed slave could write like the wind.

4.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote (127 pages) — Along with the classic title story of fading innocence in Manhattan (not the vapid romance of the movie), this collection includes “A Christmas Memory” and others.


5.  The Toughest Indian in the World, by Sherman Alexie (235 pages) — Funny, sad, and moving short stories about Native American life in our own times, by the author of the classic The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

6.  An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard (255 pages) — Before memoirs became steeped in dysfunction, Dillard wrote this charming and clever account of her happy childhood in Pittsburgh.  Her eccentric parents alone are worth the time.

7. Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck (250 pages) — Traveling with Steinbeck and his dog, you are in the hands (and in the camper) of a great American storyteller looking a bit askance at the country as it was "back in the day."

8.  The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward, (225 pages) — Ward, a National Book Award winning novelist, gathers poems, essays, and fiction from young writers saying what we still can’t say about race in America.  

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