Summer Reading Picks
The long and lovely days of summer are here, and with them they bring a cavalcade of activities, festivities, impromptu cookouts and happy hours. After so many long and dreary months in the Midwest, we Milwaukeeans like to squeeze every last drop of blissful goodness out of the summer months, and great as it is, we here at TCD like to take a little break from the g0-go madness every now and then. And what better way to kick back than with a good book?
Feast your eyes!
Original photos by Andy Tisdel and Brian Jacobson
Andy Tisdel, contribtor
Michael Crichton (HarperCollins, 2002)
This is my favorite of the late Michael Crichton’s famous thrillers. In a tale of nanotechnology run amok, a family man and computer programmer named Jack is called out to fix a problem with his wife’s company. A swarm of nanobots has been released into the outside world. Jack must find a way to destroy the swarm while trying to fix his relationship with his wife, Julia. Crichton’s pacing is tight, his characters are fully realized and the threat of the ominous, buzzing swarm is every bit as menacing as the T. Rex from Jurassic Park.
A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL
Stefan Fatsis (Penguin Press, 2008)
During the summer of 2006, a writer named Stefan Fatsis was granted unprecedented access to the Denver Broncos’ training camp. Not content to act as a journalist, Fatsis attended camp as an actual kicker on the Broncos’ roster. He interviewed dozens of Broncos players, coaches and front office staff. He then combined this material with the record of his own experiences at the camp. With its nuanced, human portrayal of men the general public sometimes views as robots, A Few Seconds of Panic ranks among the best football books ever written. A must-have for any NFL fan.
Around the World in Eighty Days
Phileas Fogg, Esq. is a wholly unremarkable Briton of the 19th century. He leads a completely ordered life with no surprises or distractions… that is until he accepts a twenty thousand-pound bet to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. By steamship, railway, horse, carriage, ice-sled or elephant, Fogg and his companions must brave all odds to meet the deadline. But will he be in time? With a memorable cast of characters and a great portrait of 19th-century life, Jules Verne here penned the best of his many adventure stories.
Brian Jacobson, Visual Editor
The author who penned music-bound tales High Fidelty and About a Boy brings us another tale of music and life colliding. The story opens on an English couple on vacation across America. Duncan has dragged along his longtime girfriend Annie on a pilgrimage to visit significant sites in the life of cult famous rock singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe. Imagine Bob Dylan crossed with Nick Drake, Bruce Springsteen, and Warren Zevon — and you get this fictional legend. His life and failed relationships are also legendary, expounded by the fact he’s been missing for 15 years. When a demo reel of Crowe’s ground-breaking album is found, it literally splits the English couple as both write opposite reviews online. Then the reclusive legend sends an email to Annie, and the real story begins.
The story ends with the cancer death of a twin sister named Ellspeth. Out of spite to her other half, she wills her London flat and possessions to her own identical twin’s “symmetrical” nieces — who live in America and whom Ellspeth had only met once before when they were babies. A stipulation in the will states that the 21-year-olds live in the flat for a year before they sell it.
The twins see an adventure ahead but suffer from the fear of being separated. Around them are men left behind — the dead aunt’s grieving husband, an OCD suffering neighbor upstairs, and even the ghost of Ellspeth tinkering in their lives. A great story about complicated love, loss of identity and how boring life after death could be.