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Sally Bradshaw’s Midtown Reader offers up suggestions for summer reading

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You know what Florida politicos are reading; now it’s time to let some literary experts weigh in.

Sally Bradshaw, a longtime adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush, opened Midtown Reader in November. The 1,500-square-foot bookstore located in Tallahassee’s Midtown neighborhood is working to build a community of book lovers in the capital city, hosting a variety of literary events and cultural programs.

We reached out to Bradshaw, an avid reader, to see what the team at Midtown Reader recommend we pick up this summer. And don’t worry — it isn’t all politics.

Midtown Reader recommends:

— “The Magpie Murders,” by Anthony Horowitz: Who doesn’t love a good Agatha Christie-like murder mystery? But this story, set in a sleepy English village, is actually a mystery within a mystery, where book editor becomes detective to solve the death of her mystery-writing author. A #1 Indie Best bookstore pick for June, you won’t be disappointed in this fun read.

— “Hunger,” by Roxanne Gay: Gay is all the rage in indie publishing world right now, and her memoir does not disappoint. Raw and real, she tells the story of our love/hate relationship with food through her own experience and challenges, including an unspeakable act of terrible violence which she experienced as a young girl. Gay’s courage and honesty are remarkable, and inspiring.

— “Marriage of a Thousand Lies,” by SJ Sindu: Sindu, who received her PHD in creative writing from FSU and now teaches at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, has written a debut novel that is honest and moving — a complex story about a Sri-Lankan family and a strong female protagonist who struggles with her own identity against a backdrop of deep traditions and community. Booklist calls it a “timely tale with themes of immigration, free will, identity and personal choice.”

— “The Lion’s Paw,” by Rob White: A great book to read with your 2nd through 5th graders (and if you grew up in Florida it was probably read to you by your 4th grade teacher), the Lion’s Paw tells the tale of three unlikely friends — two orphans and a runaway — who travel across Florida in a stolen sailboat to search for the elusive Lion’s Paw seashell, which they believe will bring the runaway’s father home. Originally published in 1946, and only recently republished by White’s family, it’s a classic adventure story with wonderful old illustrations. We’ve sold so many we can’t keep it in stock!

— “Daring to Drive,” by Manal al-Sharif: This memoir of a Saudi woman whose life changed because of her education is sure to be a summer best-seller. The daughter of a taxi-driver who ultimately landed a job as a computer security engineer, Manal begins to see and challenge the confines of her fundamentalist society. Library Journal calls it “fascinating, powerful and heartbreaking.” We call it a great and empowering story.

— “The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road,” by Finn Murphy: College dropout Murphy has driven more than a million miles in the eighteen-wheeler he named “Cassidy”, moving people’s belongings from coast to coast. His experience of life on the road as a professional mover is part storytelling, part social commentary. Funny and honest, Murphy takes readers on the road trip to end all road trips.

— “House of Spies,” by Daniel Silva: From London, to St. Tropez, to Casa Blanca, legendary Israeli spy, assassin, and art-restorer Gabriel Allon yet again fights terrorism and searches for the world’s most dangerous man. Silva has maintained his #1 NY Times best-selling status for book after book.

— “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis — And How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance,” by Sen. Ben Sasse: Too many helicopter parents, too many participation trophies, too many government programs to which our youth are becoming entitled. And did you know that 1 in 3 kids between the ages of 18-34 lives with their parents? Sasse, Republican US Senator from Nebraska and former college President has the answer to this crisis — or at least some answers to reverse the trends and get our kids back on track.

— “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” by Sen. Al Franken: Candid and of course really funny, Franken describes his unlikely run for public office and the eight-month recount that followed along with the challenges of serving in a polarized Washington, DC. It’s been named the “best political book of 2017” by New Republic and “compulsively readable” by Booklist. And did I mention it’s really funny??

Need another suggestion? Bradshaw said she’s reading — and hand-selling — “Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches from the Far Away,” by Bob Shacochis, this summer.

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