INDIANAPOLIS | The senior senators from Indiana and Illinois have little in common politically, but they are of like mind in deciding which books to read over the summer.
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., both recently confessed to the "Book TV" program on C-SPAN2 that they read a lot — notwithstanding the long hours and late nights that come with serving in the Senate.
Coats explained that he typically reads three books at once, keeping one at his Indiana home in Carmel, one at his home near the Capitol and taking a third book to read on airplane trips between Washington, D.C., and the Hoosier State.
He said he is about to start reading "World Gone By," a new mystery novel by his favorite author, Dennis Lehane.
In it, former crime boss Joe Coughlin bounces among Tampa, Boston, and Cuba during World War II trying to keep the Bartolo Crime Family in business and himself alive.
"I like (to read) a little bit lighter in the summer," Coats said. "Some people wouldn't think that's light reading, but it's escape reading."
Also on tap are two non-fiction narratives that connect to Coats' former service as U.S. ambassador to Germany.
"Dead Wake," by Erik Larson, details the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine during World War I. "The Boys in the Boat," by Daniel James Brown, recalls the working-class U.S. rowing team that won the gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
"I've been in the Olympic Stadium, seen all the Olympic facilities, so that's interesting to me," Coats said.
Coats recently finished reading "All the Light We Cannot See," a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Anthony Doerr about a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy whose lives intersect in occupied France during World War II.
He said he also is on the verge of wrapping up the third volume of the massive Winston Churchill biography "The Last Lion," by William Manchester and Paul Reid. As well as Bret Stephens' warning against isolationism in foreign policy, "America in Retreat."
Three of Coats' books also appear on Durbin's summer reading list: "The Boys in the Boat," "Dead Wake" and "All the Light We Cannot See."
The Illinois Democrat said he's also reading "In the Kingdom of Ice," by Hampton Sides, which was recommended to him by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
That book tracks the two-year Arctic journey of the USS Jeannette, its eventual sinking near the North Pole and the unlikely survival of 13 of the 33 crew members following their 1,000-mile trek to Siberia.
Another book Durbin said he's reading is "The Narrow Road to the Deep North," by Richard Flanagan. That novel is centered on the experience of Australian prisoners of war forced to participate in Japan's construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway during World War II.
In addition, Durbin is carefully going through the Pulitzer Prize-winning analysis, "The Sixth Extinction," by Elizabeth Kolbert, which links the recent elimination of numerous plant and animal species to human activity.