Looking for a good book to read on the beach or pool side? Here are the books I read in June:
Sooley by John Grisham
It is a mistake to pigeonhole Grisham as a legal thriller author. Some of his best books are sports-themed. Calico Joe and Bleachers come to mind — they are about baseball and football, respectively. When I saw he was writing a book about basketball I was intrigued. I love John Grisham — have read every book he’s ever written and own them all for purposes of re-reading. I also love basketball, having played it my entire life. So how could this go wrong? The good news is, it didn’t. Some of the basketball play-by-play got clunky, but the story still advanced at a good pace and, typical of Grisham, came with a bit of a twist. The truth is, this isn’t a book about basketball — it’s a book about how we view, treat, and take advantage of the “other.” Definitely worth a read, Grisham fan (or basketball fan) or not.
My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers
Sellers was the youngest member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and is a provocative and insightful political commentator on cable news. His work is one with which I’ve been vaguely familiar, but I really enjoyed this deep dive into the “why” of his life. It was part memoir, part cultural commentary, and it was very well written and readable. Even if you don’t care for Sellers’ politics I think you would really enjoy the book. One fun fact: he married basketball legend Vince Carter’s ex. Who knew?
Native by Kaitlin Curtice
This book was so beautifully written. Curtice is another author I’ve watched work — mostly in online spaces — but never fully appreciated or known her whole story. As it turns out she spent a good bit of time in my home state in her childhood, lived not far from where my grandmother lived as a girl in Oklahoma, and has (like many approximately our age) struggled to shed the harmful impact her ultra-conservative, narrow upbringing brought on her. But this woman loves Jesus and tells the truth and even though this book is extraordinarily challenging she is graceful in her arguments and brings you along to realize things you probably hadn’t thought about before. And again — she’s a great author, which doesn’t hurt when you’re tackling a tough topic.
On The House by John Boehner
Not quite a Washington tell-all, the former Speaker of the House weaves some great stories into this very readable, usually compelling book. Look, this one smelled ghost-written, but it still smacked of authenticity in most places. Like most memoirs, it made me really like the author. Maybe it was his midwestern sensibilities, or his sense of humor or fairness, or maybe it was just well-crafted PR that I fell for. No matter — this book is not substantive or sensational but it is enjoyable just the same. If you like politics, you’ll like it — regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on.
BUT THE BEST BOOK I READ THIS MONTH WAS:
Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel
Forsthoefel wrote my favorite book I read in June. Tracing his trek across America, the author remembers encounters with folks from every cross section of America. Like he felt at the end of his long journey, I did not want the book to end. It was terrific. He’s a good storyteller — honest and authentic — and he manages to make you feel like you’re slogging through the south in the late winter right alongside him — wondering where to sleep that night, dependent upon the kindness of strangers, feet blistered and muscles weary. It was a terrific book and it was a timely one. Forsthoefel really did walk in order to listen. And he did so. Something we could all manage to do a little better. Read this book this summer.