Best Summer Reading: Richmond Heights Librarians Share Picks

Here's a look at six books that staff at the Richmond Heights Memorial Library recommend you pick up before heading out on that vacation.

Summer reading programs are in full swing in and . So Patch asked local experts—staff at the —to weigh in on some of their top picks this season.

Readers may also peruse the Richmond Heights library catalog online.

In no particular order, here are six book recommendations:

Book: Call for the Dead
Author: John LeCarre
Recommended By: Scott Bonner, adult services librarian
LeCarre has long been renowned as a master of spy fiction, with a recent resurgence in popularity from the new movie adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That book features George Smiley, a pudgy, balding, middle-aged, frustrated, utterly forgettable man who happens to be a brilliant master of espionage. He's the antidote to James Bond, and the Smiley books are exquisite because they bring depth and meaning to the spy genre. 

It's not about shooting and dry martinis. It's about careful thought, asking tough questions about loyalty and purpose, and struggling with lonliness. Plus there's some shooting. They are, after all, spy novels. 

If, like me, you have to read a loose series in order, then start with Call for the Dead; Smiley's routine check on a man anonymously accused of working for the enemy turns into something much larger and deadlier. The series improves as it goes on; follow up with the quiet but excellent A Murder of Quality, LeCarre's vicious and breathtaking indictment of the English boarding school. 

LeCarre's breakthrough book was the modern classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which features Smiley as a minor character. After that comes the perennial classic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and by then you'll be too hooked on LeCarre's thoughtful spymaster to stop there.

Comics/Graphic Novels: Irredeemable and Incorruptible (intended for an adult audience)
Author: Mark Waid 
Recommended By: Scott Bonner, adult services librarian
Description: There are many graphic novel stories about what happens when a mega-powerful hero like Superman goes bad. Some are very good, and some not-so-good, but two titles stand out for me as the absolute best -- Watchmen, the 1980's classic by Alan Moore that incorporated this theme into its deconstruction of the superhero genre, and Irredeemable, a comic series by Mark Waid that just finished its limited run.  Irredeemable is a very dark series, not at all for kids, but easily one of the best comic stories of recent decades. 

The Superman-analogue hero, the Plutonian, has seemingly gone mad.  He now has the world cowering in terror, destroying whole cities in fits of anger, resentful that the normal people of the world expect so much of him without thanking him enough.  There's a whole Justice League-like cast of superheroes who are now running for their lives, hiding, desperate to find some weakness, some way to stop the Plutonian. 

There are levels of  mystery, levels of deceit, levels of depth to the characters, levels of horror in their actions, and, throughout, a desperate search for some kind of hope.  This series is a marvel.  It has been published in 8 graphic novels.  

A companion series, Incorruptible, started a bit later, but is also finishing its limited run at the same time, and is available in a series of 6 graphic novels. One of the heavy-hitter supervillains, Max Damage, a man who is stronger and more invulnerable the longer he stays awake, underwent a profound moral change the day the Plutonian finally snapped. 

Max recognized the world needs a hero to save them, and he is determined to become that hero. Heavy with action and fraught with moral quandries, this series is the equal, and some say the better, to its companion series, and dovetails beautifully to give a street-level countermelody to Irredeemable's earth-shattering scope.  

Book: Texas Gothic (young adult)
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Recommended By: Betsy Simmons, youth services librarian
This quirky gem combines witchcraft, runaway goats, cowboys, haunted pastures, and squabbles with family and neighbors in a quick read by turns hilarious and nightmare-inducing. 

Amy Goodnight considers herself the relatively “normal” Goodnight; however, ranch-sitting her Aunt Hyacinth’s escape-artist livestock, hiding her magical abilities from the arrogant cowboy next door, and involuntary rendezvous with ghosts in the middle of the night all add up to more stress than Goodnight Farm’s Clear Your Head Shampoo can soothe.  (Recommended for Reader in grade 7+)  

Book: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey (available in print and audio CD)
Recommended By: Ronya McCool, library assistant
Description: Bossypants isn’t your typical celebrity memoir. It’s a howlingly funny, zinger-filled account of Tina Fey’s life and career. Fey provides tidbits on everything from her college dating experiences to impersonating former Alaska governor Sarah Palin on SNL.

She comes across as a down-to-earth Everyperson who just happens to work on one of the most critically-acclaimed shows on television. The audiobook, read by Tina Fey herself and therefore complete with her self-deprecating tone, will have you snickering and laughing all the way to the end.

Book: Death and the Penguin
Author: Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird)
Recommended By: Ronya McCool, library assistant
Description: In this Russian black comedy, Viktor is a down-on-his-luck writer and owner of a King Penguin named Mischa. Viktor writes obituaries for a Moscow newspaper, only to discover the editor is part of the Russian Mafia, the “paper” doesn’t exist, and his obituaries are used as a hit-list.

The Mafia takes an interest in Misha, paying Viktor to use the penguin as a mascot at their events. But Misha turns out to be ill, and Viktor must find a way to get him away from the Mafia and find someone who can care for him, even as Viktor discovers someone has written his obituary. Concluded in Penguin Lost.

Comics/Graphic Novels: Fables (intended for an adult audience)
Author: Bill Willingham
Recommended By: Ronya McCool, library assistant
Description: Fairy tales are a hot commodity on television right now, but Bill Willingham has been writing the Eisner-award-winning, Hugo-nominated Fables since 2002. Fables is the chronicle of all those immortal story book characters we grew up with and their travails in present-day New York. 

Snow White, responsible for the day-by-day running of Fabletown, is divorced from the womanizing Prince Charming, the Big Bad Wolf serves as sheriff, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) is a get-rich-quick schemer, and Goldilocks has become a communist organizer. 

They have all fled to earth from their fableland homes, running from The Adversary, a darker threat who has gained power in the Fables’ old homeland—and who wants more.

More reading recommendations from the Richmond Heights Memorial Library:


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