Nancy Pearl

If you like your summer reading to take you beyond the beaten path, librarian Nancy Pearl is here to help. NPR's go-to books guru joins us once again to share "under the radar" reads — books she thinks deserve more attention than they've been getting. Pearl talks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of the titles she picked out for the summer reading season — several of which will make you reconsider the way you think about maps.

I'm often asked how I choose the books that I'm going to talk about on Morning Edition's "Under the Radar" segments. Simple: I just pick some of the titles that I've most enjoyed since the last time I was on, without concern for whether they're fiction or nonfiction, genre or not, or aimed or classified as being for children or teens.

Unlike a lot of people I know, my summer reading doesn't differ significantly from the reading I do the rest of the year. I'm always looking for new authors, older titles I might have missed, books I want to reread, and a nice mixture of fiction and nonfiction. While I understand the concept of beach reading, for me it doesn't mean light reading, but rather choosing books whose ultimate destruction by sand and water won't concern me overly much because I know that I can easily replace them.

Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.