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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Summer Reads (Make Me Feel Fine)

Summer is perfectly suited for reading. Lazy days on a beach towel, in a hammock, or in an overstuffed chair at the lake are the perfect venues to curl up with that novel you've been putting off reading. Or it's an ideal time to read a non-fiction, graphic novel, young adult fiction, or even try some recipes from that cookbook you received as a gift.

That's why we make sure to always host our Summer Book Show.

Claire Benedict, co-owner of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Amy Howlett, director of the Springfield Town Library, and Ana McDaniel, manager of Bartleby's Books in Wilmington, are on hand to tempt you with the latest reads and will reach back for other books you might have missed out on.

Vermont Book Award Finalists:

Miciah Bay Gault, director of the MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, announced the following nine finalists for this year's Vermont Book Award on our show.

Children's literature:

  • Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
  • Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

Creative nonfiction:

  • Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave by Sean Prentiss


  • Devil in the Valley by Castle Freeman Jr.
  • A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent
  • The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon


  • Dream Sender by David Huddle
  • Roll Deep by Major Jackson
  • The Academy of Hay by Julia Shipley

From these finalists, one winner will be selected by the judges and announced at the Vermont Book Award Gala on September 24.
Summer Reading Suggestions:

Claire Benedict's picks:

  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Ana McDaniel's picks:

  • American Housewife by Helen Ellis
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
  • The Haters by Jesse Andrews

Amy Howlett's picks:

  • Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

Listener Recommendations:

We heard many book suggestions from listeners on the show. Feel free to continue adding more to the comments section.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Searching for Memory: The Brain, The Mind, And The Past by Daniel L. Schacter

The Mind's Past by Michael S. Gazzaniga

A few titles by Adam Hochschild: Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves; King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa; and To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

It's. Nice. Outside. By Jim Kokoris

God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

Caught in the Rain by Ursula Joseph

A few classics (particularly for audiobook listening): The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Ulysses by James Joyce

Etched in Granite: A Historical Novel by Mj Pettengill

Kill 'Em And Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith (one of the 2016 Vermont Book Award finalists)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr. by Jeffrey L. Amestoy

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (particularly the third book, The Waste Lands)

And we love to hear your suggestions! Post them here or email them to

Broadcast live on Thursday, June 30, 2016, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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