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Alex's Picks

     I’m writing this column in the early, misty weeks of the upcoming summer season.  The fireflies are still countable and yet to become unwanted intruders in your home.  The mosquitoes wobble about in a languid prance and are yet to be too formidable.  Grills are just being cleaned and refilled and the thunderstorms have yet to caution the potential daily tornado threat we’ve grown so accustomed to in our poor planet’s ever shifting atmosphere.

     Summer is here!  And once this goes to press we’ll be nearing Sirius’ return in the tail wagging, sweat inducing, intensely tropical dog days of summer.  July isn’t just any summer month, it’s the birth month of some great big united nation or something.  I suppose I should read more, perhaps there’s a book out there to remind me just who’s birthday occurs in July.

     Until then, here are 5 books I, Alex, recommend you dive into this July to get you in the mood for barbeques, sunburn blues and good tunes!  All of these books I should mention can be found at The Allen theater’s Salamander Books in what has recently been voted “America’s favorite small town that has 2 Pho Restaurants”, Annville, Pa.

1. The Great Gatsby - It’s wild to think Fitzgerald’s donation to World War 2 solder’s(look it up)and greatest commercial flop is now over 100 years old.  I doubt anyone reading this needs any introduction to the book but very few readers seem to remember(or know) the majority of the novel takes place in New York during the summer of 1922.  Judging by the numerous nightly fireworks displays I’d also presume most of the book occurs during July.  And if it doesn’t, it at least works for the sake of this column!  With numerous pool hangouts, nightly gazes into faraway green lights and weekly excursions to and fro from the city to the country, The Great Gatsby has all the sweltering summer cliches one needs to get in the summer mood.


2. The Travels Of Marco Polo - Summer is a great time for travel and exploration if for any reason people are in better moods than usual!  Just this past weekend the first person I asked jumped my car after I left my lights on while eating in a diner.  Usually it takes me a couple inquiries before someone is willing to help.  Thus, the power of elevated climate!  None of this really has to do with Marco Polo other than I found a great big book of his adventures and it was very inspiring for me to want to get out and see the world.  The Travels Of Marco Polo is straight from the man himself.  Have yourself a first hand look of what Italians think of Asia!

3. Samuel Adams(A Life) - If you’d like to brush up on your history look no further than Ira Stoll’s biography on the late Samuel Adams.  The man isn’t just an ugly mug on a pretty mid tier beer, he’s been called “The American Revolution’s Moral Compass” something I found out on page one.  Imagine what else I’ll learn when I get to the tenth and dare I say 37th page!  Pick up a copy for yourself and dig into this often overlooked American hero.  

4. The Portable John Adams - Furthering your history lesson, how about some love for America’s first Vice President?  John Patrick Diggins’ biography on our 2nd commander in chief features excerpts from his own personal diary, his saucy letters to his wife, Abigail and some of the man’s finest political writings including the crowd pleaser “Novanglus” and controversial but necessary “Discourses in Davila.” 

5. 1776 - Okay, so apparently all kinds of wild and impactful things happened in this year of our Lord Seventeen Thousand and Seventy Six or this book is a bunch of phooey!  Either way be the smartest person on the beach this summer and dive into David McCullough’s epic on the most famous leap year in history.

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"Alex Stanilla is a Lebanon based musician and writer who struggles from a lifelong obsession with pasta and hippos. His music can be found on all available streaming services but tidal pays the most."

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