Grab a book and read: PWW summer reading picks

PWW readers and correspondents sent in their favorite summer reading suggestions to share with you. Enjoy!

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Penguin). A great novel set in the Dominican Republic, based on the true story of three sisters who join the underground resistance to the Trujillo dictatorship. Clara Webb

A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf). A very moving elegy describing the frailty of being after losing those closest. While critics might point out that her external circumstantial choices were mitigated by class privilege, the interior map of anguish is universal. Marguerite Horberg

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D. (Avery). The story of the first successful reversal of heart disease — a 20-year study of 24 patients the Cleveland Clinic Cardiology Department had given up on. Also has more than 150 vegan recipes. Rick Nagin

Cronies: How Texas Business Became American Policy and Brought Bush to Power by Robert Bryce (Public Affairs/Perseus Books Group). If you think that you know everything bad about George Bush, his background and his financial friends, read Robert Bryce’s very readable work of progressive journalism. Norman Markowitz

Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Knopf). Cord MacGuire

Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter (Simon & Schuster). Judith Le Blanc

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Picador). This book is elegant in its use of language and stirring in its accounts of the struggles of Jews in World War II. It follows the “rise” of two fictional comic book writers and their “amazing adventures” in New York. Joel Wendland

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (Atlantic Monthly Press). A beautiful novel whose theme is the lingering effects of colonialism. Susan Webb

Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill (Nation Books). It won’t make you feel warm and fuzzy but this is an important book. Jeremy Scahill has done the research and presents in a very readable fashion the story of Blackwater mercenaries, who showed up on the streets of New Orleans after Katrina, and who are involved big-time in Iraq and elsewhere. Nick Bart

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas (Agate Publishers). A 2005 novel of the Civil Rights Summer of 1964 by former SNCC worker and actress (“Room 222,” “In the Heat of the Night”) Denise Nicholas. Nicholas left the Univ. of Michigan as an undergraduate to register voters in Mississippi that fateful and fatal summer, and she captures the mood — the bravery in the face of terror and hate — that the young Black and white volunteers showed in the segregated South. This book has been recognized as one of the finest ever written about the modern civil rights movement, and it ought to be assigned in as many American classrooms as such novels as “Silas Marner” or “Great Expectations” have been. John Woodford

Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future by Jeff Goodell (Houghton Mifflin). It is not a tome, but is highly accessible and reads like a thriller. Denise Winebrenner Edwards

Revolution in Texas by Dr. Benjamin Heber Johnson (Yale University Press). Tells how big corporations managed to get all the Rio Grande Valley away from the rancheros. Jim Lane

Push by Sapphire (Random House). It’s a shocking read, but might be for those who want to become familiar with a dark depth of human pain and the struggle to become literate and whole. The language is very explicit and in some instances it took my breath away. Dee Myles

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea (Back Bay Books). Through this tragic story of a group of immigrants who become lost in an unforgiving stretch of desert on the U.S./Mexico border, the reader gains insights into the realities that have characterized the mix of poverty, immigration, politics and bureaucracy. It’s a very human story. Roberto Botello

Marvelous World, Book 1: The Marvelous Effect by Troy Cle (Simon & Schuster). Set in East Orange, N.J., this fantasy-adventure features young protagonist Louis Proof who listens to hip-hop, races radio-controlled cars, and spends time poking around the local junkyard. Barbara Russum

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Scholastic). No summer reading list would be complete without this suggestion. Teresa Albano