What I Read for Summer Reading

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I’m a terrible summer reader. Despite the wonderful events that got my attention this summer, I managed to reach my goal of five books. Yes, children’s books and graphic novels definitely count. There’s still two weeks left to sign up for summer reading, so take a break from all the outdoor fun and let’s see just how much Pittsburgh reads.

Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories

From the bestselling author of Fight Club and Diary, a collection of essays and journalistic pieces that prove that real life has imagination beaten cold in the strangeness and wonder departments. Chuck Palahniuk’s world has always been, well, different from yours and mine. The pieces that comprise Stranger Than Fiction, his first nonfiction collection, prove just how different, in ways both highly entertaining and deeply unsettling. Encounters with alternative culture heroes Marilyn Manson and Juliette Lewis; the peculiar wages of fame attendant on the big budget film production of the movie Fight Club; life as an assembly-line drive train installer by day, hospice volunteer driver by night; the really peculiar lives of submariners; the really violent world (and mangled ears) of college wrestlers; the underground world of iron-pumping anabolic steroid gobblers; the immensely upsetting circumstances of his father’s murder and the trial of his killer–each essay or vignette offers a unique facet of existence as lived in and/or observed by one of our most flagrantly daring and original literary talents.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures

Caldecott Honor artist Brian Selznick’s lavishly illustrated debut novel is a cinematic tour de force not to be missed! ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan

This New York Times Bestselling series continues with Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley as they take on everything that goes bump in the night. From scary stories to magical portals that lead to a land untouched by time, it’s definitely not your average summer. Written by awesome all-star Noelle Stevenson (Nimona, ADVENTURE TIME) and brilliant newcomer Grace Ellis, and illustrated by the tremendously talented Brooke Allen (A Home for Mr. Easter).

Detroit Disassembled

No longer the Motor City of boom-time industry, the city of Detroit has fallen into an incredible state of dilapidation since the decline of the American auto industry after the Second World War. Today, whole sections of the city resemble a war zone, its once-spectacular architectural grandeur reduced to vacant ruins. In Detroit Disassembled, photographer Andrew Moore records a territory in which the ordinary flow of time—or the forward march of the assembly line—appears to have been thrown spectacularly into reverse. For Moore, who throughout his career has been drawn to all that contradicts or seems to threaten America’s postwar self-image (his previous projects include portraits of Cuba and Soviet Russia), Detroit’s decline affirms the carnivorousness of our earth, as it seeps into and overruns the buildings of a city that once epitomized humankind’s supposed supremacy. In Detroit Disassembled, Moore locates both dignity and tragedy in the city’s decline, among postapocalyptic landscapes of windowless grand hotels, vast barren factory floors, collapsing churches, offices carpeted in velvety moss and entire blocks reclaimed by prairie grass. Beyond their jawdropping content, Moore’s photographs inevitably raise the uneasy question of the long-term future of a country in which such extreme degradation can exist unchecked.

Robot Dreams

This moving, charming graphic novel about a dog and a robot shows us in poignant detail how powerful and fragile relationships are. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves the robot rusted, immobilized in the sand, the dog must return alone to the life they shared. But the memory of their friendship lingers, and as the seasons pass, the dog tries to fill the emotional void left by the loss of his closest friend, making and losing a series of friends, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters. But for the robot, lying rusting on the beach, the only relief from loneliness is in dreams.