I’ve taken summer reading to heart the last few months, devouring book after book (my selections to come in a bit). So … for August’s “Up Next!” we asked a panel of folks, including some published authors and expert book nerds, what made their summer reading list.

In July, we spotlighted what to do after the fourth of July firework celebrations were over. And we want to thank our contributors (they’re awesome people and do awesome things).

This month, most kids head back to school. So perhaps we adults can sneak in at least one more book on the summer reading list. We asked our contributors what books they’ve adored this summer. Want to know what to read this month? There’s a little of something for everyone.

He: And a quick summer reading shout out to past Up Next! guest Lauren C. Teffeau whose debut novel, Implanted, hits bookshelves this month.

Up Next! Sizzle

Q: Summer Is Clearly Upon Us … So What Summer Reading Do You Recommend?

This is what they said for “Up Next!” …

Alicia Backlund — Digital Strategist

Alicia Backlund is a content and intranet strategist at Level Five Solutions. She’s a KC native, Western Shawnee resident, and soccer mom. She’s also way too excited about the brand new fancy-pants Monticello Branch of the Johnson County Library, which opens this month RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM HER HOUSE! You can find her on Twitter @aliciajbacklund, as well as on LinkedIn.

The Jack Reacher series is my go-to recommendation for summer reading. However, author Lee Child has sold approximately one million gazillion Reacher books, so I don’t know if there’s anyone left to take my advice.

If you do happen to be one of the five people left who hasn’t read Reacher … you gotta. He’s the perfect antidote to a world full of injustice, too much noise, and too much stuff. He says little, owns even less, and doles out brutal but well-deserved ass-kickings to bad guys with satisfying regularity. Start with The Killing Floor and work your way through the series.

P.S. — there are two movies based on Reacher books. They’re perfectly fine. But they in no way compare to the books (said every book nerd ever).

Chris Bauer — Chicago-Based Software Exec, Author

Chris Bauer is a software executive by day and avid penmonkey by night. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, most recently Abandoned Places and Strangely Funny V. He lives in Chicago with his family, but secretly plans to return to KC where he lived for several years after graduating from KU.

First we have Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. This is a unique post-apocalyptic tale. In the future, humanity scavenges the ruins of civilization while evading abominations of our own creation. Incredibly rich with symbolism, Borne is a contemplative thriller with multiple stories unfolding simultaneously. And it has a mutant grizzly bear six stories tall, so there’s that.

If you’re a fan of fantasy but looking for something different, check out The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French. An action-packed mashup of Tolkien meets Sons of Anarchy, this novel turns fantasy tropes on their head and pile-drives them into the ground. Simply great fun to read.


Kristi Charish — Vancouver-Based Author

Kristi Charish is an author who loves adventure-heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. You can find both her KINCAID STRANGE and OWL (a modern-day Indiana Jane) series in the U.S. The Voodoo Killings is her more recent U.S.-based release. Catch up with Kristi on Facebook or Twitter.

Brent was kind enough to invite me to post a reading recommendation. Problem is, no one book fits everyone. We all have different tastes and interests. So, here are four books — one for the different readers in your family. Hopefully one will fit as a summer read!

For the beach read / humor fan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan — he’s south East Asia’s answer to Carl Hiaasen — humor, politics, and crazy families everyone can relate to.

For the epic adventure fan

The Greatcoats series by Sebastien de Castell — all the good parts of fantasy and the Musketeers rolled into one. Sebastien’s four-part series is adventure on an epic scale, heavy on well-crafted scenes. What Errol Flynn might have starred in if they did epic fantasy back then.


Paradox Bound by Peter Clines —An adventurous sci-fi chase through American history searching for the American dream. Fun and entertaining. I wasn’t able to put the audiobook down.

For the non-fiction fan

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. The story of Theranos — a blood-testing Silicon Valley startup that almost became to big to fail. Politics, dirty business, fraud. If you’ve ever wondered how bad a business can get, this answers it.

Jim Meeks-Johnson — Indianapolis-Based Author

 Jim Meeks-Johnson is a software developer for medical research in Indianapolis, where he writes science fiction, runs (slowly), and explores the local craft beers (enthusiastically). You can find him online at www.meeks-johnson.com or the Future Perfect Blog.

What to read is a very personal choice. In science fiction, I’m currently reading a wonderful collection of imaginative short stories called Humanity 2.0 by many well-known authors. I also recommend Ted Chiang’s classic collection Stories of Your Life and Otherswhich includes Arrival, recently made into a movie.

Or try some new authors in Six Worlds, which includes my own Thunderstone. If you want to escape into the vast and deep world of a good series, try Hugo-winning Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, or the tried and true Thunderbird, sequel to Ancient Shores, by Jack McDevitt, the British science fiction of The Player of Games (Culture series) by Ian Banks, or a new author like Jeff Tanyard in Clouds of Venus.

Rachel Kennedy — Purveyor of Best Damn Cuban Sandwich in Kansas City

Owner/operator of Plantain District since 2014. Co-Developer of Iron District, opening Fall 2018. You can follow the Plantain Districts’s whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter.

A good summer read I can suggest would be … All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot.

This book is the first in a series of five books that Herriot authored and I suggest them to anyone who is looking for a book to read. Mr. Herriot was a Veterinarian in 1920s England and the stories that he shares of his adventures are hilarious, heartbreaking, and just beautiful. His animal patients ranged from spoiled house dogs to wild horses. There are few of us that are able to find exactly what we were meant to do in this world, and Mr Herriot was lucky enough to not only be a fantastic animal vet but also an amazing author.

He: We’ve been long-time fans of the Plantain District, and we were super excited to hear of Rachel’s next adventure so we asked her to share. (And quite surprised she manages to have time to read.) Up Next for them …

The Next Adventure …

Excited to announce the opening of Iron District this Fall 2018 in North Kansas City! Iron District is a shipping container lot featuring eateries, micro-retailers, bar, and live music! Iron District will be open Monday-Friday lunch hours, happy hours on Friday/Saturday evenings as well as Saturday brunch! Any vendors (either food or retail) interested in leasing a spot, contact Rachel@plantaindistrict.com

Cath Schaff-Stump — Iowa-Based Author

Cath Schaff-Stump writes spooky gothic fiction and funny books about junior high monster hunters. Her website cathschaffstump.com talks about her books and writing historical fantasy. She is also one of four Unreliable Narrators from the Unreliable Narrators podcast (unreliablenarrators.net)

What am I reading right now? What every disaffected English professor should be reading Christopher Moore’s The Serpent of Venice. Rejoice, irreverent Shakespeare fans. Pocket from Fool  returns to show us what would happen in Merchant of Venice and Othello if there were a short smart jester involved. Once I finish this and Moore’s new book Noir, I’ll have read his current canon.

He: We’re also big fans of Christopher Moore … and me of Cath. She’s one of my Viable Paradise classmates and organizer of otherwise solitary souls. She just finished her second book in the Klaereon Scroll series. Before it comes out, you can still get caught up on the first one, The Vessel of Ra. Add it to your summer reading list, folks!

Kaite Stover — Kansas City’s Reading Resourceress

Kaite Stover is the Director of Readers’ Services for the Kansas City Public Library. She tweets @MarianLiberryan and ‘grams @KaiteStover regularly and sometimes you can hear her on KCUR 89.3 as one of the Bibliofiles. She loves to suggest reading. Fill out a Personalized Reading Profile if you’d like your own list. Kaite is excited to meet and interview Anne Boyd Rioux, Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why it Still Matters on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at the Central Library.

Some people call me a librarian, I prefer Reading Resourceress. Tell me what you’re in the mood for and I can give you something to read to match it.

Brent and Becca want to know what I’m suggesting for August. Think of this list like a beer flight: a taste from the wide spectrum of flavorful books out there.

Summer Reads to Make You Feel Fine (and to go with the Jasmine in Your Mind)

Our House by Louise Candlish—Home is where the heart lies. And cheats. And steals. Fi comes home from a romantic weekend getaway with her new boyfriend and discovers her key no longer fits in the door to her upscale suburban London home. It’s been sold to strangers (who have proper keys, legally binding paperwork, and movers). Where is Fi’s estranged husband and her children who were supposed to be at home when she returned? Watch this suburban nightmare unfold with tension and precision from one of England’s mistresses of the psychological thriller. For fans of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty.

The Showrunner by Kim Moritsugu—No hoorays for Hollywood here, but this is the perfect beach read to sit back and watch the glitz and fur fly as three women scramble to keep their film and television production company on top. Ann is an established tv producer feeling her encroaching age (an entertainment crime in itself) and refuses to give control over the hit primetime show she created with protégé Stacey (hip and ambitious, LA’s favorite qualities). Then Ann hires Jenna, a failed starlet looking to reboot her career in a new direction (Hollywood’s other favorite story). Think Shonda Rimes remakes All About Eve. A breezy book with confident writing and characterization that won’t make you feel as if you ate the whole bag of chips.

Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine by Edward LeeThinking of taking a food-themed road trip? Do it from your poolside chaise lounge and let Ed do all the talking, driving, and eating. He goes beyond the food to ask about the people who make it, bake, their traditions, innovations, and inspirations. You’ll likely fire up the grill to make something new and think about your own culinary memories in the process and where your grandma got the idea for her spin on cheesy corn.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza—Get a jump on your book club with this literary debut novel about a Muslim American family’s very relatable emotional struggles. Rafiq and Layla are immigrants who have built a successful life in America. At the wedding of one of their daughters, their prodigal son returns, and all members of the family take turns telling the story of how a family falls apart and comes together. An engaging, thoughtful book for fans of Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club.

Emily Vakos — Wisconsin-Based Author

Emily Vakos is a strange lady whose odd little stories have appeared in Quantum Fairytales and Lamplight Magazine. She also explores her dark side in the lovingly crafted Dear Darkling. You can find her on Twitter @ervakos.

I love picking up quick reads for the summer. Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper is a young adult novel, but it’s told with more than enough heart and maturity for any age. It’s a really great work of urban fantasy to take to the beach. I also love graphic novels and I’m planning to use what’s left of summer to work through Saga, finally.

I’m really excited for the Zombie Orpheus production Strowlers. It’s a really amazing shared world project and I think it’s going to be amazing.



Your Proprietors — Devouring That Summer Reading List …

We’ll spare you the bio. You can read more at About Us, if you’re so inclined.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – this was a fun, easy read — which is perfect for summer. I really liked the main character even though he was a grumpy man that did not have patience for much. You learn about his past and it begins to makes sense why he is the way he is. The story is about him opening up and letting in some neighbors who end up needing his help. I’ll certainly read more books by this author.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson – this YA book is the best of summer books. I read this in three days, which is not normal for me. I had a hard time putting it down because I really connected with the protagonist who also has a healthy obsession with “murder porn.” This obsession of Stevie’s comes in handy when there is a mystery to solve at her remote academy in Vermont. It’s not the only mystery — one from the school’s opening in the 1930’s remains unsolved. As you read along, you discover the two may be connected. My only caveat is that this book is a series. When I started it, I had no idea. I was so upset to get to the end, just to read ….to be continued. The second book is due out in January 2019.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I am in the middle of reading this book and am immersed in German-occupied France during WWII following the contrasting lives of two sisters. This book drew me in right away. I am now a Kristin Hannah fan, and The Great Alone will be one of my future books of the month.

He: Whew. I’d better get a title in … I’m reading Mosquitoland by David Arnold. It’s a YA road trip, coming-of-age novel that’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Ladybird. While there’s a single plot line that holds everything together, it almost reads like an entertaining story collection of protagonist Mim Malone’s misadventures.


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