What’s Chuck Barger Reading?

Chuck Barger, owner of Common Market

Interesting people read interesting books…so we asked Common Market owner Chuck Barger for some recommendations. He gave us a literary stroll down memory lane:

Harriet, The Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
I got this book from the library at Central Elementary School in Albemarle.  I think my love of strong character, compelling story, and unique narrative approaches was born from devouring this book.  I loved reading about an “outsider” kid and the life of New York City.

Car, Harry Crews
When I was 15 I found this book in the “New Arrivals” section of the Albemarle Public Library and was totally absorbed with this very strange tale of a man who eats a 1971 Ford Maverick bumper to bumper in the lobby of a hotel.  This book helped me feel that “strange” is okay – in fact it is a very good thing.

The View from Pompey’s Head, Hamilton Basso
Sometime in high school I read the Reader’s Digest non-condensed version of this sweeping story and I fell in love with writing about the South.  It’s the first time I realized there was an Old South and a New South and neither was like the rest of the country.  I could not stop thinking about this book.

A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Temple of Gold, William Goldman
I read these books in my Catcher in the Rye phase in my late teens.  Both of these books were very influential to someone looking for a bigger world and questioning their sexuality.

East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Stanger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
I was a Religion and Philosophy major at Greensboro College in the mid-1970’s and books like these opened my eyes to the power of symbolism and literature to help us find meaning in our world.

Cowboys are my Weakness, Pam Houston
Chemistry and Other Stories, Ron Rash
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
I enjoy a really good collection of short stories and these three are among my favorites for their strong and interesting characters and the sense of place that each writer establishes.  Houston’s tales of cowboys, cancer and Colorado are funny, touching and inspiring. Rash’s tales of poverty and meth in NC are haunting. Strout’s stories of larger-than-life Olive are brilliant.

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy KidderI usually prefer to read fiction but this narrative non-fiction account of Dr. Paul Farmer’s work in Haiti was pivotal to me. The book shows how radical change can be achieved in seemingly insurmountable situations.  This book helped me understand the importance of being a change agent in the world—and of reading non-fiction!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I discovered this book through the Library’s online catalog and downloaded the audio book using the Hoopla app.  Listening to this delightful coming of age story narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, of Hamiltonfame, was one of my favorite experiences of 2016.  Download it and listen – you’ll be glad you did.

I am in a few book clubs and my life is greatly enriched by the relationships, the discussions and the variety of books we read.  Here are a few unforgettable books I’ve enjoyed with my fellow page turners:

Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
A truly bizarre story about a freak show family. Dark and engaging.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, MichaelChabon
A page turning tale of the creation of the comic book industry.

The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
A tale of poverty and corruption in modern day India.

The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson
An amazing story of propaganda and identity in North Korea.

Stones from the River, Ursula Hegi
A tale chronicling the life of a woman who has dwarfism in a village in Germany in World War II.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
A brilliantly written story of a curmudgeonly concierge in an apartment building in Paris.

Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks
A compelling story of sex offenders and those who have been banished from society.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra
An amazing story of love and loss – horror and humanity in the ruins of Chechnya.

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