Summer reading guide 2019: staff picks

Need a book? Look no further: here are the 2019 summer reading guide recommendations from The Norwegian American staff!

The Ice
Laline Paull
The Ice

The Ice an eco-thriller set in Svalbard’s near future, asks what happens when the ice melts? Lilane Paull’s novel shows an all-too-plausible situation in which super powers wrestle over what the retreating ice reveals. Betrayals, lies, deceptions. What can one man do to save the place he loves?

Recommended by Elizabeth Bourne


The Woman Who Smashed Codes
Jason Fagone
summer reading guide

I don’t think I had ever put “thrilling” and “biography” in the same sentence until I picked up The Woman Who Smashed Codes. It’s the true story of Elizebeth Friedman, who played a critical role in decoding the secrets of Nazi spies. Her contributions weren’t recognized until this book.

Recommended by Christy Olsen Field


The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette Kowal
the calculating stars

This alternate history starts with a bang in 1952 when a meteor hits, setting in motion a climate disaster that will end life on earth. A “computer” (think Hidden Figures) in the space program, and  former WASP pilot must fight institutional and personal sexism to get “lady astronauts” into space.

Recommended by Emily C. Skaftun


The Boy at the Door
Alex Dahl
2019 summer reading guide
In the affluent town of Sandefjord, well-to-do Cecilia Wilborg is leading a perfect life until, when she brings a young boy into her home, life begins to spin out of control. The reader becomes swept up in Cecilia’s attempts to hide her past and maintain her privileged existence while dark forces work against her.

Recommended by Christine Foster Meloni


Henrik Ibsen

Brand is a play about a Lutheran Pastor who is intent on doing “the will of God.”  His child gets sick and the doctor recommends they move to a warmer climate, but he knows it is God’s will that he stay there. He is so focused on doing the will of God that he has forgotten about compassion and love for others.

Recommended by David Moe


Someone Else’s Soul
Meradeth Houston
2019 summer reading guide

What if you could be a “nerd,” with a twist—as in “intellectual badass”? Diana, in this sci-fi thriller, can intuit people’s characters and motives using her acute observations of body language and an arsenal of mind-bending actions to save her clones before they are eliminated by a secret agency.

Recommended by Margo Sorenson


The Blessing Way
Tony Hillerman
the blessing way

As in Nordic noir, setting is an additional character in the mysteries of Tony and Anne Hillerman. If you have not yet met Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, Bernadette Manuelito, and their southwest, read The Blessing Way. If you thought they died with author Tony, check out Anne’s Spider Woman’s Daughter. 

Recommended by Jim Dietz-Kilen


All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
2019 summer reading guide

One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Set in World War II occupied France, it centers on a blind girl sending out broadcasts, a German boy tasked with finding Allied transmissions, and a Nazi in search of a precious gem. Trials of war and mystery wrapped in one.

Recommended by Michael Kleiner


Saken mot Abelone
Bernt Rougthvedt

saken mot abelone

In the 1890s, the now-glitzy Oslo neighborhood of Vaterland was a center of poverty and depravity. Abelone eked out a living running a “restaurant”—until one of her customers shot and killed her husband. Bernt Rougthvedt’s nonfiction book (in Norwegian) paints a vivid picture of this world through one of the most infamous cases of the time.

Recommended by John Erik Stacy


Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home
Heather “Anish” Anderson
2019 summer reading guide

With the goal of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in record setting time, author Heather “Anish” Anderson uses the time and space to examine herself, her relationships, and her future.

Recommended by Deborah Stoner-Ma


Pictures of Longing
Sigrid Lien
pictures of longing

Pictures of Longing: Photography and the Norwegian-American Migration, by Sigrid Lien, is a photo collection depicting the history of Norwegian-American migration through the eyes of small-town photographers. The collections reveals the social reality of farm and small-town life and the context under which the photos were taken. Translated by Barbara Sjoholm.

Recommended by Eric Stavney


Walking: One Step at a Time
Erling Kagge
2019 summer reading guide

Walking is something that most of us take for granted, but Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge makes a convincing case for why we shouldn’t. In a society that has become increasingly sedentary, this is a relevant and enjoyable look at the physical and mental benefits of a good walk in a vibrant translation by Becky Crook.

Recommended by Lori Ann Reinhall


This article originally appeared in the July 12, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.