What’s on your summer reading list?

Nalo Mitchell recently began a new job as executive director of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum but still plans to find time to read several books this summer.

Many people look forward to summer to catch up on their reading. We asked several notable Springfield readers what books they plan to read this summer. The choices seem endless: from books that inspire with tales of courage or beautiful poetic musings to biographies and memoirs of historical figures and world leaders to novels that let us escape to other places, times and cultures. You can always find a good book!

Jennifer Gill, superintendent, Springfield School District 186

With a long career in education, Gill is most certainly a strong advocate for reading. Here are a few of her choices for summer reading:

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a world-famous psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the two systems that drive the way we think.

2. Surrender by Bono has been described as a brilliant, funny, revealing autobiography-through-music.

3. Building Thinking Classrooms by Peter Liljedahl offers a different take on how classroom work is organized, how tasks are assigned and how students learn and work together, leading to more "hard thinking" in the classroom.

Gus Gordon, executive director, Hoogland Center for the Arts

Understandably, Gordon enjoys books about theater, including biographies and autobiographies of performers, writers and directors. Two books on his list for this summer are:

1. Chita: A Memoir by Chita Rivera with Patrick Pacheco, about the legendary star of stage and screen.

2 The Making of a Musical: Fiddler on the Roof by Richard Altman and Mervyn Kaufman, chronicles the behind-the-scenes creation of this classic musical. Gordon is rereading the book, in part, because he is playing Tevye in the Springfield Muni's production of Fiddler on the Roof this summer.

Chandana Nandi, retired, community volunteer and 2023 Woman of Influence

Nandi has a busy summer schedule, but she plans to make time for these two books:

1. Aavarana: The Veil by S.L. Bhyrappa, an Indian author who writes about a young woman seeking to uncover India's history of religion, caste and creed.

2. Angela's Ashes by Irish American author Frank McCourt is a memoir of McCourt's childhood raised in a poor family in Limerick, Ireland. Nandi says it was one of her late husband's favorite books. 

Ethan Baima, student, Springfield High School

Baima is an avid reader, and he is often asked by classmates to recommend books. Here are three books on his list:

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is an epic of more than 1,000 pages and is known for its wit and quirky plot.

2. The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand is Baima's first foray into philosophy, and he chose one of the most problematic thinkers of the 20th century.

3. Libra by Don DeLillo is a reimagined account of events leading up to John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Nalo Mitchell, executive director, Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum

Given her role, it's not surprising that Mitchell gravitates toward African American authors and stories. Here are books she plans to read:

1. The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama, who offers a blend of powerful stories and practical wisdom.

2. King: A Life by Jonathan Eig is a vivid biography of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. I Am Debra Lee is a memoir by the former CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Angie Muhs, strategic communications manager, Memorial Health

As the former editor of The State Journal-Register, Muhs is a self-described bookworm. She has a big pile of books to read, but these are the ones she will start with:

1. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel is a captivating story of how several disparate events intertwine.

2. Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver (one of Muhs' favorite authors) is about a boy born into poverty in Appalachia and his growth to manhood. It was recently awarded a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

3. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny is the ninth book in the Chief Inspector Garmache series of 18 mystery crime stories.

Jean Campbell is a Springfield freelance writer who is finishing Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti

Callahan, then will start The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs.

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