Vegas notables share their summer reading lists

Summer is a great time to do lots of things, from lazing in the sun to, in Las Vegas, doing whatever it is we can to avoid the sun and torrid temps it brings.

All of which means that, if you’re inclined toward reading, it makes summer a good time to pick up a good book.

For some readers, summer reads even make up a specific literary genre. So, always in search of a good book to read whatever the season, we asked a few notable Southern Nevadans about the books they’re planning to check out this summer.

Entertainer Terry Fator, who performs at The Mirage, has noticed that, during the fall, winter and spring, “I’ll read more biographies.”

Then, he says, “I’ll read my fantasy and other things during the summer.”

His literary plans for this summer include rereading the entire Harry Potter series to “get ready for the new Harry Potter book that comes out in July.”

Fator discovered Harry Potter around the time the third book in the seven-book original series was released. “I read them and I loved them,” says Fator, who then became a regular at the midnight book-release parties where each new volume was celebrated.

Fator — who says he’s a fast reader who usually finishes a book in just a few days — also plans to include on his summer reading itinerary volumes in the multivolume “Xanth” series by Piers Anthony and rereading a few favorite books by C.S. Lewis.

Author Laura McBride — whose debut novel, “We Are Called to Rise,” was an award-winning critical success — is looking forward to a busy summer of reading.

“I just finished my second novel,” McBride says. “Now, all I’m going to do this summer is read other people’s books.”

One book on McBride’s summer reading list is “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger and “Opening Belle” by Maureen Sherry, the latter a novel based on the author’s own experiences “as a young woman working on Wall Street,” McBride says.

Also on the list: Eleanor Brown’s “The Light of Paris” and “American Copper” by Shann Ray, which McBride says is set in Butte, Montana, a locale familiar to her family.

During a trip to Missouri, a friend recommended “Bettyville,” a memoir by George Hodgman. “It’s gotten a lot of press, about a gay writer in New York City who goes back to a little town in Missouri,” McBride says.

“And then I’m really excited about ‘Stoner’ by John Williams,” McBride says, a novel first released in 1965 that chronicles the pedestrian life of a Midwestern college professor.

Paula Francis hasn’t given too much thought to this year’s summer reads. That, the recently retired Las Vegas news anchor says, is because “I’m in endless summer now, which is great.”

But she does plan to begin Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, “Purity,” after reading a magazine article about it.

Francis enjoys books in all of their forms — she and her husband listened to the audiobook version of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson, during a cross-country trip — and says her biggest reading challenge in retirement is collecting too many books.

“I’ll hear someone on ‘Fresh Air’ and I’ll think, ‘My god, I have to read that.’ That’s how I found ‘The Warmth of Other Suns’ ” she says. “So I’ll buy the digital version of it and it just sits there right in my devices, but at least it’s not taking up room in the house.”

Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, loves good books, whatever the season.

That said, she recently read a book by Pearl Cleage, an African-American author, “and I was really impressed.”

Long story short: She’s ordered four more novels by Cleage and plans to tackle them this summer.

“They’re novels of the African-American experience, but novels that make you think about those experiences in a new way and a feminist way,” White says. “The one I read was, ‘I Wish I Had a Red Dress,’ and that just took me to some of her other books.”

Cleage’s books also will offer White a break from — and further inspiration for — her own book, which is about, she says, “the history of the African-American experience in Las Vegas.”

Magician Mac King is an avid reader, but summer is his busiest time of the year.

King’s comedy magic show — presented Thursdays through Saturdays at Harrah’s Las Vegas — is popular among vacationing families. “So,” he says, “I don’t go out and sit on the beach and read.”

That means King’s summer reading menu will revolve around books about “recreational math” — puzzles and the like — and science. And when he feels a craving for something lighter, he plans to reread selections from his library of Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout. King discovered the series in college and, since then, has “read them in order and gone (back) through the cycle.”

King also plans to pick up the latest Harry Potter novel, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” for his daughter, Elizabeth, when it’s released in July. He also has read the popular series. “She’ll read it, and I might read it, too,” he says.

Donato Cabrera, music director and conductor of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, has to delay his summer reading until August, when he’ll finally have a month off after having conducted concerts around the world.

And, even then, his summer reading will begin with studying scores of the pieces he’ll be preparing for the Philharmonic’s fall season.

“It’s sort of like reading a book,” Cabrera says, and “I do treat it like a novel, in a way.”

Beyond those, though, he hopes to tackle “Completely Lost” by Jessica Swan. The author is a friend, he says, “so I’m excited to read it.”

The recommendation of a friend “whose opinion I greatly admire” put “My Struggle,’ an autobiographical series of novels by Karl Ove Knausgaard, on Cabrera’s summer reading list, while another friend put “Dinner with Lenny” by Jonathan Cott — an interview with iconic conductor Leonard Bernstein — on the list, too.

Finally, Cabrera plans to tackle “Played Out on the Strip: The Rise and Fall of Las Vegas Casino Bands” by Janis L. McKay, principal bassoon of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I lived in Las Vegas until I was 10 and when I was growing up in Las Vegas back then, every casino, practically, had an orchestra — not a band, an orchestra,” Cabrera says.

McKay interviewed “a lot of those musicians from the heyday” of that era, Cabrera says. “So I’m really excited to read this book.”

Michael Richards, president of the College of Southern Nevada, says his reading tastes don’t change much during the summer. That means “a lot of history and, then, for escape, I read some political and military thrillers.”

He’s now reading “The First World War” by John Keegan and, on the thriller side of the ledger, plans to read the new novel from Brad Thor, “Foreign Agent,” which is scheduled to be released this week.

The appeal of the thrillers, he jokes, is that they “put the world in good order for a few minutes.”

Read more from John Przybys at Contact him at and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like