"At Home in Mitford" by Jan Karon
Any of Jan Karon's "Mitford" series. This series of books is set in the make-believe town of Mitford in the Blue Ridge Mountains. These books feature Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest and confirmed bachelor in his late 50s. Karon weaves the characters who live in Mitford into very inspiring, humorous stories of love and adventure. If you have never read the series, I suggest you start with book one -- "At Home in Mitford."
-- Jim Soos
"Countdown" by Deborah Wiles
The vacation reads that fill my book bag are usually young adult titles with a few serious novels for children thrown in. One of my favorite writers of recent years is Deborah Wiles, who now lives in Atlanta. Wiles spent childhood summers in my home state, Mississippi, and has written a trilogy based on her experiences there. Her latest book, "Countdown," about the Cuban Missile Crisis, begins a new trilogy about the 1960s. The book is written as a documentary novel with photographs and news clippings from the era. For those who grew up during the time, the book will bring it back clearly.
-- Gloria Barton
"The Great Railway Bazaar" by Paul Theroux
There's nothing better than reading travel books while traveling. Don't miss "The Great Railway Bazaar," Paul Theroux's fascinating and timeless account of boarding the train in London and riding trains through Europe and across Asia.
-- Gary Barton
"Heaven's Prisoners" by James Lee Burke
For the record, there are no books written by James Lee Burke that I would not recommend, and I have read at least 15 of them. This particular novel introduces Alafair, the soon-to-be adopted daughter of Dave Robicheaux. Take it to the beach and before your vacation is over, you will be looking for a bookstore and more Robicheaux books. If you have not read any of these books, this summer is a great time to get started. And remember the names Tripod and Clete Purcell -- once introduced you will not forget them.
-- Mary Braswell
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
Most science fiction is dry. This series is witty, sharp and hilarious. The late Adams' five-book trilogy (the improbability that a trilogy could have five parts gives you an inkling as to where things are headed) starts out with the utter destruction of Earth and gets weird from there. Along the way, you learn the secret of life, where to find a good cooperative meal just as the universe is about to end, what makes elevators happy and why it's important to keep a towel with you when traveling. If you saw the movie, don't judge the books by it. They're infinitely better. Start with the series' namesake first book and, whatever else you do, "Don't Panic."
-- Jim Hendricks
"1408 and Other Short Stories" by Stephen King
OK, so I am a King fanatic. So when I came across this set of some of his most famous and least well-known short stories at a flea market, I snatched it up. Obviously, the writing of "1408" is what earned it a spot on the list of King's filmography, but its some of the other stories in the collection that are simply amazing. Of particular note is King's take on the whole "I'm paralyzed but not really dead," story which provides a chilling and very valid reason why people just shouldn't play golf.
For something a little less spine-tingling, but no less interesting, check out one of any of the "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader" series. It's a fun, fact-filled book to keep you preoccupied while involved in other activities. While not prose, literature or any other form of fiction, it will lead to some interesting conversation starters.
-- J.D. Sumner
"Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs" by Katherine Applegate
In this new series, Roscoe tells his story in short, snappy sentences. His first-grade classmates are having a difficult time keeping their bee antennae on their heads and their behinds in their seats for an open house performance for parents. Roscoe is afraid his rookie teacher might lose her job if the class makes a mess of their song, so he uses his ingenuity (and a little super glue) to "fix" things.
NOTE: This series is popular with 2nd-grade students (especially boys).
-- Karen M. Liebert
"Service With a Smile" by P.G. Wodehouse
Wodehouse wrote books that are so funny, I had to learn the hard way not to read them in public places: I would laugh, people would stare -- you get the idea. Some are better than others, but they're all good, and this is one of the best. It's about the goings-on at Blandings Castle, where an eccentric earl dotes on his prize-winning pig, "The Empress of Blandings." If you like this one, there are dozens more Wodehouse books that should entertain you for a long, long time.
-- Bill Strickland
"61 Hours" by Lee Child
Jack Reacher is the greatest recurring character in modern fiction, a former MP who travels the country and inevitably finds himself in adventures that would humble Rambo. Child's writing is riveting, his dialogue surpassed only by the great Elmore Leonard. Reacher deals with a slew of new hardships in this, the 14th book of the series: the frigid cold of South Dakota, drug dealers who have a grip on the small town he ends up in and a traitorous insider. Read any of Child's Reacher novels; you'll be hooked from Page 1.
-- Carlton Fletcher