6 Books for Your Summer Reading List

Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
This is my fourth summer here at the mighty Seattle Weekly. We have journeyed together through a whole stack of books by this point. But the book list columns are still some of my most favorite to write -- if only because we all get to share some great insight into other literary areas that we may have otherwise overlooked.

...I'll go first.

The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald): I guess there is a reason they call books like this 'classics'. This is perfect fiction, and I never got a chance to read Gatsby during my hyphenated high school career. A pure joy to read, and totally interesting in that I got to go to New York last week and sort of nerd out on the places that the characters in this book lived and visited. West and East Egg will be on my 'next places to go' list when I next visit NY. (Factoid about The Great Gatsby: Hunter S. Thompson typed every word in this book 4 different times, just to get the "feel" of writing perfect fiction).

Down the Great Unknown (Edward Dolnick): This is the epic true story of adventurer John Wesley Powell and his nine mountain-men cohorts' journey down the Colorado River. 1862 saw the end of the Civil War, and gave birth to a whole slew of young men who wanted to see the beauty in life after so much horror in that war. A Brit friend suggested this book, and sometimes it takes that outside fascination with your own countries' history to light a spark.

Outer Dark (Cormac McCarthy): Yep. Another dark and twisted look into the American soul. Poverty. Misery. Suffering. Loss. Nothing like a little Cormac fiction to put a little spring in your step! Genius.

The Power Broker: A Novel (Stephen Frey): This book was suggested to me by a CBGB's friend while I was in New York last week. I was asking all of my Gatsby-related questions, and I got a book-recommend in the deal. If you like the stories of what makes the world turn 'round from a behind-the-scenes, power-player vantage point, The Power Broker is thus far, a very strong story.

An aside: Has anyone noticed that you can't yet get all that you might want by certain authors on the Kindle yet? For instance, you can get The Jungle and Oil and a few others by Upton Sinclair, but there is something like 30 pieces of his work that are yet to be available on e-Books. I certainly like to have a real book in my hands, but take notice, that this is one area where our convenience-based lives are under-served. These times will be remembered as archaic in about 5 years. Again, just an aside.

On deck: My ultra-cool book editor, and NYU professor Tim Mohr brought me a couple of books from his local independent bookstore in Brooklyn. His recommend's are ALWAYS stellar. They are...

A Visit From the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan): This 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning piece of fiction promises punk rock, self-destruction, and redemption. Wait...I know that story.

A Thousand Saints (Eleanor Henderson): Again, New York City, 1980s, graffiti, etc... I'm IN!

So, chime-in with what you've got. I'll let you all take it from here.

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