Hometown, Alaska: Good Summertime Reads

Let Hometown Alaska help you develop your summer reading list. Authors Dana Stabenow and Heather Lende, and poet and bookstore owner David Cheezem, will join host Kathleen McCoy to recommend books that will whet your page-turning appetite.

Notable Alaskans have weighed in with their book recommendations, listed below. We’ll touch on Loussac Library’s innovative programs designed to grow a community of readers right here in Anchorage. And if you’ve got a book to recommend, you are invited to call in and share it with the Hometown Alaska audience.

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Please read more in order to see a great list of recommended books

BOOK LIST: What are Alaskans reading?

Julia O’Malley, Anchorage Daily News columnist
The Good Soldier, by David Finkel
“The writing is spare and vivid. The narrative pulls you right along.”

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
“The mayor said he ‘devoured’ it. He called it “the most original work of fiction to emerge in years.“ (via the mayor’s Communications Director, Sarah Erkmann)

David Cheezem, poet and owner of Fireside Books, Palmer
Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, by Jane Hirshfield
“I can’t think of a better introduction to the practice of reading poetry.”

Camille Conte, longtime Anchorage radio personality
Spiritual Economics: The Principles and Process of True Prosperity, by Erik Butterworth

Andromeda Romano-Lax, Alaska author
Legend of a Suicide, by David Vann
“Vann was born on Adak, now lives in California. The book is set mostly in Southeast Alaska. What I loved about it was not only its haunting themes and precise language, but its organization and form. The ‘novel’ is actually one main novel with shorter stories before and after that frame the way the main story is understood. There are some intriguing point-of-view shifts and one very surprising revelation in the middle. When I reached the middle, I was already looking forward to reading it all over again, and I’ve heard the same from other readers.”

Jim Kerr, Alaska juggler, via Facebook
Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis De Bernieres
“This is one of my all-time favorites. The movie was terrible. Unlike the movie, the book’s story line goes beyond its epic events in WW2 and unfolds the lives of the characters for another generation.”

Clint Swett, former Anchorage Daily News copyeditor, via Facebook
The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
“This new novel is written as a series of interconnected short stories about the lives of staffers at an English language daily in Rome. Beautifully done, and I don’t even like short stories. Also a bittersweet take on the current state of the newspaper industry.”

Andrew Halcro, Anchorage businessman, former Alaska state legislator
Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, by Steve Dublanica
“A wickedly funny, laugh-out-loud look into the real life of a New York bistro waiter. It will change the way you look at the people who deliver the hot plates to your table.”

From Tracy Leithauser, UAA/APU Consortium Library, Librarian to the English & Literary Arts Programs:

Feeling lost on Amazon.com? Get lost in the Amazon:
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (non-fiction) by David Grann
A staff writer for the New Yorker retraces the steps of a 1920’s explorer, in search of a fabled ancient civilization. You’ll be surprised what he finds. If you love archaeology, you’ll love this.

Stranger than Fiction:
The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century  (non-fiction) by Edward Dolnick
Reads like a novel but also explores the mind and techniques of an art forger, Han van Meegeran.

Slice of life in New York City, circa 1974:
Let the Great World Spin: A Novel by Colum McCann
Accompany a diverse group of individuals whose lives intersect on a fated day in New York City.

Travel Bug?
Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (non-fiction) by J. Maarten Troost
Light and funny read about living for two years in Tarawa (Marshall Islands).

Take a float through Alaskan History:
A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage Along the Yukon River (non-fiction) by Dan O’Neill
Winner of the 2006 Outstanding Alaskana Award from the Alaska Library Association.

Feeling short?
Olive Kitteridge (short stories) by Elizabeth Stout
Short stories about a colorful character with a short temper.

Visit Haiti, pre-earthquake:
Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (short stories) by Ben Fountain
Short story collection focusing on Americans abroad in developing countries.

The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss
A mysterious, touching, and unusual love story.

Puzzling mystery story on an Ojibwe Reservation.
Plague of Doves by Louis Erdrich
Fans of this gifted storyteller will love her most recent work.

Magical realism interwoven with real family history:
The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
This truly magical tale taking place in 1873 pre-Revolutionary Mexico will positively enchant you.

From Alaska Innovation and Entrepreneurs Support Group “What are you reading?” discussion thread, via LinkedIn–

Tom Pearson, professional and life coach in Anchorage
The Talent Code, by Dan Coyle (of Homer, Alaska)
“I highly, highly recommend reading it this summer. It will change your view of how you look at unlocking your potential . . . getting good at something. . . anything. He grew up in Anchorage, lives in Homer and writes for the New York Times Magazine and Outside Magazine. “

Tyler Arnold, CEO at Tyler Systems, 17-year-old Anchorage entrepreneur
No One Would Listen, by Harry Markopolos, the Madoff whistleblower.
“He does a good job of keeping the finances simple, and he gives a great glimpse into an insider world.”

Ken Jones, a local consultant and former quality improvement director in the Air Force
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian scholar
Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, by Joe Studwell

Ken Jones also wrote two books about the military while volunteer counseling at the Anchorage Vet Center and recommends them because of the current issues with our troops.  They are free e-books.

Life After Combat

When Our Troops Come Home

 Anchorage Public Library Hottest Books List

Adult Fiction:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
Innocent by Scott Turow
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Matterhorn: A Novel of Vietnam by Karl Marlantes

Adult Nonfiction:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

Young People, including Teens:
Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games series
Melissa De La Cruz, Blue Bloods series
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight series

HOST: Kathleen McCoy, independent journalist 


  • David Cheezem , poet, owner of Fireside Books
  • Dana Stabenow, author
  • Heather Lende, essayist


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometownalaska@kska.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)

LIVE: Wed, June 16, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.

REPEAT: Wed, June 16, 2010 at 10:00 p.m.


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