Patch Staffers Recommend Top Pageturners

Looking for some enjoyable summer reading? Check out what Patch editors from around the region say are some of their favorite reads.

In Patch's ongoing committment to summer reading, Needham Patch Editor Becca Manning and other editors from around the region decided to team up and offer readers a list of some of our favorite books.

So take a look at the "Patch Bookshelf." You might find your next favorite book on it!

Patch Staffer Book Why We Recommend It Becca Manning, Needham Local Editor The Rook (Daniel O'Malley) It hooked me from the first line and kept me excited to read at a time when I was picking up a lot of books but having trouble staying with them. It's sci fi/fantasy but based in modern-day London, so it's very accessible to those who don't like to delve into the sometimes dense alien worlds of science fiction series. Fans of Christopher Moore (I am one) will probably like this book, which is O'Malley's first. "The Rook" tells the story of a sort of "Men in Black" agency for supernatural phenomena—dealing with everything from vampires to weird, man-eating mold, but it's also about a mysterious conspiracy within the agency, which you unravel through the POV of a strong, clever and very funny female character. Danielle Masterson, Woburn Patch Editor
Prince of Thieves (Chuck Hogan) Although it's more commonly known as "The Town"—the movie that was based on Chuck Hogan's novel—Prince of Thieves is even more riveting than the film. Anyone from the area will appreciate Hogan's accurate depiction of Charlestown, which is like driving over to the city yourself and spending the day there. The main character, Doug—the Prince of Thieves—will steal your heart. And maybe all the money in your bank.
  The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath) A story that's heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, Sylvia Plath takes you through her mental breakdown in the 1950s. Plath begins to unravel while interning in New York City, before returning home to Wellesley where she makes several attempts at suicide. As readers, we make these attempts with Plath and hope that she will survive the Bell Jar of depression.  
Rich Hosford, Burlington Patch Editor
Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars (David Sanger) A very interesting look behind the scenes in how the Obama administration has been handling foreign policy and an examination of potential future risks to U.S. national security.
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) Get started on J.R.R. Tolkien's great works on Middle Earth with this classic. Also a great time to read the book before the movie comes out this winter.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) This four-part 'trilogy" is a fun read perfect for summer.
Roberto Scalese, Associate Regional Editor
A Visit From the Good Squad (Jennifer Egan) It won the Pulitzer a couple of years ago so people should be familiar with it, but it's an amazing book about what it means to grow up and how that does or doesn't change fundamentally who we are.
Then We Came to the End (Joshua Ferris) One of the funniest books I've read in years, it's the story of an office's staff during a period of layoffs. Written in the first-person plural, it's pure joy to watch the herd peel sacrifice its weakest members in an effort to save itself. Charlie Breitrose, Watertown Local Editor
A Death in Belmont (Sebastian Junger)
It provided a great look into the Boston area in the early 60s when the Boston Strangler was killing women. A murder that occurred in Belmont (the town's first!) was blamed on an African-American man who had been working in town that day. Junger provided great details about the investigation, the suspects and the people involved, including his own mother and father. Ashley Troutman, North Reading-Reading Local Editor
The Life and Times of a Thunderbolt Kid (Bill Bryson) A light and funny summer read.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers) Looking for something to move you? This memoir will tug on your heart strings and make you laugh at the same time. Abby Jordan, Associate Regional Editor
Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)
I recommend this book because it transported me to a world I haven't been to before. The story is a unique one and a real page turner. As you follow the main characters through the pages of the book, your imagination is captivated by the scenic details, personal relationships and life's travails.
Brooklyn Lowery, Wayland Local Editor
The Prodigal God (Timothy Keller) I relish the imagination and freshness of a good novel, but I also like the challenge of rethinking a well-known story from time to time—hence, "The Prodigal God." It examines the parable of "The Prodigal Son"—which I've known for as long as I can remember—with a focus on what can be learned from the behavior of the two sons, rather than the response of the "Father." Karla Vallance, Regional Editor
Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3, Suzanne Collins)
Collins has clearly hit a nerve with first teens and now adults; she's nailed the zeitgeist. I started for that reason, and stayed, finding myself transported, as with every book, to another world. Not a world we want, but still.

Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy's Challenge to Materialism (Stephen Gottschalk)
I particularly liked the insightful (and heart-rending) comparison of how two people, author Mark Twain and founder of the Christian Science religion, Mary Baker Eddy, responded differently to difficulties and tragedy in their lives.

War & Peace (Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear translation)
Classics are classics for a reason, right? Tolstoy's tome is the first on my list of "classics I missed." Plus, I'm curious about early 19th-century Russia (and the power of Napoleon). I still don't get why we as Americans play the 1812 Overture on our Independence Day, when it's all about the Russians trying to beat back those French troops...
Andy Sylvia, Westford Local Editor On the Road (Jack Kerouac) My name in Chinese is "Heart of Road," which is kind of close to the title of this one. Plus he's from Lowell, which is right down the street from Westford.
Susan Manning, Regional Editor
The Next Big Thing (Jennifer Weiner)
Jennifer Weiner is an author with whom you can't go wrong. I'd call her chick lit, but she's so much more. Perhaps it's because she started out like me—a journalist—but I have a soft spot in my heart and on my bookshelves for her! My all-time favorite is still her first—Good in Bed. Cannie, replaced Holden Caufield as my favorite protagonist the minute I started the book. I just bought her latest—The Next Best Thing—and look forward to reading it this week and indulging in my favorite past time on the deck, with a cold drink and my dogs. As you can tell, I can't say enough about this Philly-based author. And how could I? She brings free cupcakes to all her book readings!
Ryan Grannan-Doll, Waltham Local Editor Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob (Donald Lehr) It's a great read for anybody wanting to checkup on the history of the Whitey Bulger case before the trial starts.
Big Russ & Me (Tim Russert)
This is a great book for anybody who wants to gain a deeper insight into why fathers are the way the are.
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else (Michael Gill) It's a great human story and way to have insight into keeping perspective on life when circumstances are against you. Grahame Turner, Brookline Local Editor The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability (Javier Grillo-marxuach and Les Mcclaine)
It's a graphic novel that is a love letter to nerd culture, and captures the 20-something mood. In it, Wendy Watson, a young artist turned temp, becomes a sidekick to a superhero known only as The Middleman, who solves "exotic" problems, ranging from super-intelligent gangster apes to a secret order of Mexican wrestlers

Now it's your turn! Tell us in the comments what you recommend and why!

Wendy Schapiro July 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Grahame, Javi is an old friend of mine! Thanks for recommending his work!


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