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Dig Deeper: Brad Guigar

Brad Guigar headshot.

Join us on Wednesday, September 27 at 6 p.m. at Falvey Speakers’ Corner for an event featuring professional cartoonist Brad Guigar titled “Mastering the Art and Business of Web Comics.” This inaugural event will celebrate comics, graphic novels, and sequential art. Webcomics have been up and coming since 2000, and a new generation of creator-entrepreneurs who taught themselves about art and business are currently finding stable careers in a world where “published” artists are struggling. Webcomics have opened the door for marginalized voices that had previously been ignored by corporate gatekeepers.

Brad Guigar is a pioneer in the comic industry and has been publishing his daily comic strips and other comics on the web for over 20 years. His comic, “EVIL INC.,” tells the story of supervillains who realized that most of their evil schemes could be enacted legally if they formed a corporation together. Guigar has published over two dozen collections of comics as well as three books titled, The Everything Cartooning Book, How to Make Webcomics, and The Webcomics Handbook. He has been nominated for the Eisner Award in Comics, the ‘Ringo Award, and the NCS Silver Rueben Award. He also co-hosts a podcast called ComicLab, where he discusses making a living with comics. He resides in Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.

This event, co-sponsored by Falvey Library, Department of English, Creative Writing Program, Department of Communication, the Idea Lab, and the Writing Center, is ACS-Approved and open to all!

Dig deeper and explore more about Brad Guigar and his comics:

Julia Wagner ’26 CLAS is a Communication major from New Hampshire (Go Patriots!). She works as a Communication & Marketing Student Assistant at Falvey Library.


Master the Art and Business of Web Comics with Professional Cartoonist Brad Guigar

Event poster for Brad Guigar's talk.

Attention all graphic novel and comic book fans! You are cordially invited to join us for our inaugural event celebrating comics, graphic novels, and sequential art on Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6-7 p.m. at Villanova University’s Falvey Library. The event will feature professional cartoonist Brad Guigar and will be held in Speakers’ Corner on the Library’s first floor.

In 2000, webcomics grew out of dissatisfaction with gatekeepers (publishers and syndicates) and led to a new generation of creator-entrepreneurs who taught themselves about art AND business — and are currently finding a financially stable career in a climate in which “published” artists are struggling. What used to be known as “vanity press” is now offering a superior outcome for many creative professionals. Furthermore, it opened the door for marginalized voices that had previously been ignored by corporate gatekeepers.

Brad Guigar is considered by many to be an independent comics pioneer, having published his daily comic strips and other comics on the Web for over 20 years. His most well-known comic, “Evil Inc.,” is about supervillains who realized that most of their evil schemes could be enacted legally if they formed a corporation.

He has published over two dozen collections of his comics, and he is the author of three books on the subject of cartooning. The Everything Cartooning Book is an all-ages cartooning tutorial. Both How To Make Webcomics and The Webcomics Handbook break down the business of self-publishing comics using social media and crowdfunding strategies.

Guigar has been nominated for the Eisner Award in comics, as well as the ’Ringo Award and the NCS Silver Rueben. He co-hosts a weekly podcast, ComicLab, which has been described as “Car Talk for cartoons,” which will be entering its seventh year in January. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.

This event, co-sponsored by Falvey Library, the Idea Lab, Department of English, Creative Writing Program, Department of Communication, and the Writing Center, is free and open to all! Light refreshments will be served. Join us!



Falvey Library Staff Offer Summer 2023 Reading Recommendations

We’re happy to share reading recommendations by the staff at Falvey Library. Once you’ve explored the list below, check out some summer reads suggested by Falvey’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement. Villanova’s English Department faculty also shared summer reading recommendations on the department’s blog. You can see more recommendations in the display on Falvey’s first floor.

My summer reading rec is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Anyone planning to spend time in the great outdoors of North America should consider reading this book before or during their nature vacation! Bryson’s book is a cautionary tale filled with humor, adventure, information, and human emotion. I’m still finishing it up, so the library copy is checked out. Try EZBorrow or ILL!  It was also made into a movie starring Robert Redford, which I haven’t seen. I’m a “book first” kind of person.

Christoforos Sassaris, Distinctive Collections Coordinator 

Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature

Babel: An Arcane History, by R.F. Kuang

This book begins with a trope readers know well-intelligent young people with special abilities go away to school to learn a kind of magic, and along the way they make friends and have adventures. But unlike the other books that follow this narrative this one asks the question that most aren’t even aware needs asking, which is “at what cost?.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it early in 2023, it is a scathing condemnation of colonialism and also a loving exploration of the beauty and magic of language.

Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor

I discovered Nnedi Okorafor’s writing first through her novella trilogy Binti, and so when Noor came to my attention I knew I wanted to read it. Nnedi Okorafor who coined the term Africanfuturism in a 2019 blog post defined it as a sub-category of science fiction that is “directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view…and…does not privilege or center the West.” This is a short (214 page), fast paced book that immediately sets the reader on an adventure with OA, a young woman who has had major mechanical body augmentations to allow her to live and be mobile, in a society that does not look kindly on such augmentations.

The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell

This book is on my to-read list for summer. I’ve been a big fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s writing ever since a grad school friend gifted me a copy of The Hand That First Held Mine over a decade ago. O’Farrell’s writing is intimate and often switches between multiple timelines exploring multiple generations within the same family.

Linda Hauck, Business Librarian 

Danielle Adamowitz, Metrics and Assessment Librarian 

Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing Program Manager 

Laurie Ortiz Rivera, Social Sciences Librarian

Meg Schwoerer-Leister, Access and Collections Coordinator 

Roberta Pierce, Resource Management and Description Coordinator 

Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing

Darren Poley, Theology, Classics and Humanities Librarian

Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement

  • In Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press, 2011) historian John McMillian explores the appeal of underground newspapers as instruments of political dissent at the example of a range of geographically diverse student newsletters such as the Berkeley BarbThe East Village Other, and The Rag (Austin). The author captures the idealism that fueled underground newsrooms and student protest movements throughout the decade. He makes it abundantly clear that women were relegated to the role of assistants and girlfriends and African Americans were simply not present despite the calls for political change. Segregation persisted even in the underground: women and African Americans spoke on their own behalf through their own publications. While these are not covered in Smoking Typewriters a wide range of underground newspapers can be found in the Independent Voices archive (JSTOR).
  • Unexpectedly, print culture also plays a key role in Nile Green’s How Asia Found Herself: A Story of Intercultural Understanding (Yale University Press, 2022) albeit in a different time and place. Green, an award-winning historian of “the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims,” takes on a whole continent in his latest monograph. The book is full of surprising bits and pieces that provoke a fundamental rethink of how Asia came to be. Given the sheer size of the continent it comes as no great surprise that “Asia” did not feature prominently, if at all, in the self-understanding of Asian peoples until fairly recently. Increasing awareness of other Asian cultures came with the imperialist expansion of Europe into Asia accompanied not just by trading posts but also by missionaries and printing presses. Asian participation in inter-Asian trade led to engagement with other Asian languages and religions often by way of books in European languages. The immense popularity of Edwin Arnold’s Light of Asia Being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism re-introduced Buddhism to India. Buddhism had basically disappeared from the Indian subcontinent centuries ago to the extent that Indian languages had no word for Buddhism other than idol worship. ‘Abd al-Khaliq, a contemporary Indian Muslim author called it the religion of Burma for lack of a better label. How Asia Found Herself is an utterly fascinating account of how Asia came to define itself as Asian. Reading it made me rethink much of what I know about Asia and reminded me of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha a book with a similar footprint to Arnold’s Light of Asia. It hence comes as no great surprise that Siddhartha has been translated into many Indian languages and while the first English translation by Hilda Rosner is still under copyright, the German original has recently moved into the public domain and the Internet Archive offers various English translations published in India as well as the German original. Happy reading!

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. She recommends Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy. 

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“Classics Illustrated” Comics in Distinctive Collections

Last week, I posted an article on this blog in which I discussed the value of collecting comic books in special collections, while drawing on examples from Marvel Comics in Falvey Library’s holdings. This week, I have another comic-book collection to highlight: Falvey’s holdings in Classics Illustrated. This series, which was published by three separate publishers (Elliot Publishing Co., Gilberton Company, and Frawley Corporation) from 1941 to 1969, adapted literary classics to the comic-book medium. It has significant research value not only in comics studies, but also in adaptation studies, a field that is becoming increasingly central in the arts and humanities. With the tagline “Featuring stories by the world’s greatest authors,” the series sheds light on mid-twentieth-century cultural conceptions of texts that have traditionally been viewed as particularly significant in the United States and elsewhere, as well as how these texts were transmitted to new audiences.

The Tragedy of Macbeth and Paratext

These comics include not only abridged adaptations of their source material, but also paratextual material that assists readers to understand and appreciate the stories. For example, the adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Macbeth includes numerous explanatory footnotes, which make the early modern language of the text more accessible to twentieth-century readers.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Additional segments at the ends of issues often provide biographical and historical context for the preceding narrative, typically in the form of a text box. The following two examples, drawn from the Macbeth issue of Classics Illustrated, explain Shakespeare’s life and the relation between the play and King James I of England (you may click on all images in this blog article to enlarge them).

Other times, this type of supplementary content at the end of an issue takes the form of a comic book, like the following panels on British history, which are again drawn from the final pages in the Macbeth issue.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Another paratextual aspect worth noting is the banner that appears across the bottom of the final page in each adapted story, which urges readers to track down a copy of the original text in a school or public library. This inclusion demonstrates the comics’ goal of developing an appreciation of literature in younger readers. On the one hand, this is beneficial in that it encourages engagement with libraries and promotes further reading. On the other hand, it is potentially problematic in its suggestion that comics are valuable only if they serve as a stepping stone to a more highly respected (and supposedly more advanced) medium or mode of reading, namely prose and verse.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 128, Macbeth.

While seeking to cultivate a love of reading, Classics Illustrated promoted bibliophilia, especially as the notion relates to the material aspect of books. The following advertisement demonstrates this attitude, as it aims to sell a “handsome, durable, permanent” binder for storing Classics Illustrated issues, which is “made to last a lifetime of handling.” (However, the primary aim of any advertisement is, of course, to sell a product or service.)

Advertisement on back cover of Classics Illustrated, no. 64, Treasure Island.

Advertisement on back cover of Classics Illustrated, no. 64, Treasure Island.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Getting back to the adapted narratives themselves, it is important to note that Classics Illustrated sometimes altered or added to the source material. An illustrative case-in-point is the adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which is collected alongside two other adaptations in issue #21 of Classics Illustrated. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841 in Graham’s Magazine, is widely considered the first modern detective story. It is a predecessor to popular detective fiction like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, as well as numerous dime novels and story papers available on the Villanova Digital Library, most notably Mystery Magazine (1917-1927). Poe’s full short story is available on Falvey’s website. A facsimile edition of the manuscript can also be consulted in-person at the library.

Famously, this short story ends (spoilers!) with the reveal that a runaway orangutan had committed the eponymous murders. In Poe’s story, the orangutan’s fate remains ambiguous. However, the comic book adds an extra page at the end of the story, where detective C. Auguste Dupin and his associate (the unnamed narrator of Poe’s story, who is named “Poe” in the comic-book adaptation) track down and fight the animal, which was changed to an ape for the comic book. These changes and additions to the source material may have happened for a variety of reasons. In this case, perhaps the creators wanted the story to fit more neatly into the conventions of the adventure comic-book genre, hence the action-packed ending. Alternatively, they may have felt uncomfortable depicting an ambiguous ending, where a dangerous animal is still on the loose, especially if their target audience was mainly composed of children. (I have no explanation, however, for why the animal was changed from an orangutan to an ape.)

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 21, 3 Famous Mysteries.

Detail from Classics Illustrated, no. 21, 3 Famous Mysteries.

Robin Hood

Besides detectives like Dupin and Holmes, another famous character portrayed in Classics Illustrated is Robin Hood. Two early issues of Classics Illustrated in Falvey’s collection feature the character. Robin Hood has had a long history of popular culture portrayals (having even become a fox in a Disney animated film), and comics are no exception. In addition to Classic Illustrated issues, the English folk hero also appears in Martin Powell and Stan Timmons’ Robin Hood, published by Eternity Comics in 1989. The series’ first issue, which was recently donated to Falvey, sports a cover illustration by painter N. C. Wyeth. (More information about the original painting is provided in the Brandywine River Museum of Art’s N. C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné.) Other popular culture materials at Falvey’s Distinctive Collections that depict Robin Hood’s adventures include dime novels like the Aldine Robin Hood Library and The Story of Robin Hood (1889), both of which are available to read on the Villanova Digital Library.

All the comics shown in this article, and several more issues of Classics Illustrated and other titles, are available to see in Falvey’s Rare Book Room during walk-in hours (Wednesdays 9:30-11:30 AM and Thursdays 2-4 PM) or by appointment. Make sure to check the library’s blog for more articles on our growing collections of comic books, dime novels, and other popular literature.

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Marvel Comics in Distinctive Collections

Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement (DCDE) department recently received a generous donation of dime novels and other popular culture materials, including comic books drawn from the collections of John Randolph “Randy” Cox. Randy was a highly regarded scholar and collector, with expertise in numerous areas of pulp literature, including Nick Carter and Sherlock Holmes. He was also an early supporter of the Edward T. LeBlanc Dime Novel Bibliography project, a comprehensive online database of dime novels, story papers, reprint libraries, and related materials hosted by Falvey Library. Among the titles recently donated from Randy’s collections are several comic books published by Marvel Comics in the 1960s and 1970s. These materials demonstrate the value of collecting original copies of comic books in special collections.

Some Brief History

Under the banners of Timely Comics and Atlas Comics, Marvel Comics published stories in various genres from the 1930s to the 1950s, a period known as a Golden Age of comic books. It was during this period that a handful of now-classic characters, such as Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner, were introduced to readers. However, it was not until the Silver Age of the 1960s and 1970s that Marvel would become synonymous with the superhero genre. This was largely owing to the humanizing of superheroes: While characters published by DC Comics (Marvel’s main competition, then and now) like Superman and Wonder Woman were akin to gods, Marvel characters experienced more grounded, personal problems alongside their grandiose, world-saving pursuits. For example, Spider-Man struggled to make rent and stressed about his coursework. Some of the creators responsible for ushering in this era of storytelling (most of whom created the Captain America comics pictured above) were Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Sal Buscema, Don Heck, Jim Steranko, Gene Colan, John Romita Sr., Art Simek, Sam Rosen, and Stan Lee.

Detail from Captain America Vol 1 #106, October 1986.

Detail from Captain America Vol 1 #106, October 1968. Art by Jack Kirby.

Creators such as these often worked in highly specialized roles, which were necessitated by the fast-paced nature of the comics industry, as well as the complexity of developing graphic storytelling. American comics typically involve a writer who develops the plot; a penciller who designs the panel layouts and draws the initial sketches; an inker who finalizes the penciller’s work by tracing it in black ink; a colorist who adds color to each page; a letterer who inserts speech bubbles and designs fonts and logos; and an editor who oversees and double-checks the whole process. There can be much variation to this process, but it has remained relatively consistent throughout the decades, even while several steps are now accomplished digitally in most cases. What made Marvel’s procedures unique during the Silver Age, however, was the emergence of the “Marvel method” of creating comic books, in which the penciller arguably played a more central role than the writer in developing narratives. Following the Marvel method, a writer would come up with rough outlines for a story, without providing detailed dialogue or many details about where individual scenes were set. This would allow the penciller to make major decisions regarding setting, pace, and other aspects of the story, making the penciller’s role similar to that of a film director. The writer would then write the narration and dialogue around the penciller’s drawings. Most comics creators have not been using the Marvel method since the turn of the century. Nonetheless, there are still some who prefer it, such as popular penciller Greg Capullo, who, though he works at DC Comics and Image Comics, began his career at Marvel in the late 1980s.


Relevance to Special Collections

Partly due to the success of superhero film franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), comic-book superheroes have seen a resurgence in popular culture during the past decade. Stories that have now become a mainstay in the popular imagination, like the MCU’s Infinity Saga, can be traced back to comics published in the late twentieth century. For example, “the tesseract,” a cosmic weapon/energy source used by the villain Red Skull in the film Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and later by Loki in The Avengers (2012), makes an early appearance in an issue held by Falvey’s Distinctive Collections, under the name of “the cosmic cube”:

This newfound popularity of Marvel characters has meant that older comics, such as the ones in Falvey’s Distinctive Collections, are easy to find and rarely out of print. Even when they are out of print, there is always the option of accessing a digital copy. However, most recent editions of twentieth-century comics display several differences from the original copies. These differences demonstrate the value of collecting original copies of these comics in heritage institutions.


When large companies like Marvel reprint their earlier titles, they usually recolor the drawings. The above images show the differences between several panels in the copies of Captain America Vol 1 #110 and Conan the Barbarian Vol 1 #1 held at Falvey and their modern reprints (you may click on all images in this article to enlarge them). While some may argue that the modern edition is superior due to its cleaner lines and brighter colors, it does not teach us much about comic-book authorship or readership in the Silver Age. From an artistic point of view, it could be argued that the relatively muted colors and imprecise inks of the original printing are better suited to the art style. Moreover, the signature “dots,” which marked the cheap mechanical printing processes of the time, lend a realistic texture to many parts of the page. On the contrary, the flat recoloring makes figures and environments stand out in a way that was not originally intended. Artists and editors designed these comics with specific printing technologies in mind. If a researcher is to study these titles, they will get a clearer understanding of the comics in their moment of creation if they examine original copies.

Another aspect that is omitted when older comics are reprinted (except in facsimile editions of key issues) is the section of letters, or “fan mail,” at the end of each issue. These sections, which still exist though not as frequently as they used to, often have pun-based titles and publish selected letters from readers, as well as responses from Marvel’s editorial staff. They shed light on the reactions and attitudes of these comics’ first readers. One notable characteristic is that Marvel did not seem to shy away from publishing fan letters that were critical of the company or the topics explored in superhero comics. For instance, the following fan letter, published in Captain America Vol 1 #126 (the plot of which addresses issues of racial inequality), is actively resistant to the types of nationalistic attitudes that a character like Captain American might risk inadvertently endorsing:

Fan letter from Captain America Vol 1 #126, June 1970

Fan letter from Captain America Vol 1 #126, June 1970

A similarly valuable paratextual segment in Marvel comics of this era is “Stan’s Soapbox,” where writer and editor Stan Lee would discuss a wide variety of topics in his characteristically jovial style. (Lee, whom many will recognize as an elderly man who made brief appearances in most Marvel films until his passing in 2018, was as much a showman as a comics creator–so much so, in fact, that when artist Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics, he created a satiric parody of Lee for DC Comics called Funky Flashman.) The following two entries of “Stan’s Soapbox,” published in consecutive issues of Captain America, show the editorial staff’s active engagement with readers’ opinions:

Some entries in “Stan’s Soapbox” would also offer glimpses into the process of creating comics, including the Marvel method. Other entries announced events that would become key moments in comics history, such as Jack Kirby leaving Marvel.

"Stan's Soapbox" entry in Captain America Vol 1 #127, July 1970

“Stan’s Soapbox” entry in Captain America Vol 1 #127, July 1970

"Stan's Soapbox" entry in Captain America Vol 1 #129, September 1970

“Stan’s Soapbox” entry in Captain America Vol 1 #129, September 1970

Another element that almost never makes its way into modern reprints is the impressive and sometimes bizarre variety of advertisements that accompanied these superhero stories. Some addressed (or, unfortunately, sometimes took advantage of) the anxieties and insecurities of readers, such as the advertisement below about reading proficiency. Others promoted interesting and strange products, such as a book that teaches readers to throw their voices like a ventriloquist.

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

Advertisements in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

Advertisements in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #107, November 1968

And, of course, some advertisements would announce the publication of new Marvel series, such as the 1970 series featuring Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, the first comic book  published in the United States to feature this famous character.

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #129, September 1970

Advertisement in Captain America Vol 1 #129, September 1970

Advertisement in Ka-Zar the Savage Vol 1 #20, November 1982

Advertisement in Ka-Zar the Savage Vol 1 #20, November 1982

Collectively, these advertisements and other paratextual segments mentioned above help us understand the interests, attitudes, and even spending habits of readers during the late twentieth century. (For similar information on early-twentieth century consumers, see a 1916 store catalog recently made available on the Villanova Digital Library.) They can serve as invaluable resources for research; and, this research can only reach its full potential if researchers have access to original copies of these comic books, rather than being limited to modern reprints.

However, the world of comic-book collecting can be difficult to navigate for those not already familiar with it. Moreover, key issues (i.e., issues that include the first appearance of a major character or a particularly famous moment in a widely beloved story) can be too expensive for most individuals to afford. In an especially extreme case, a copy of Action Comics #1–the first appearance of superman and the birth of the superhero genre as we know it today–sold for $3.18 million last year. However, this case is not reflective of the prices of most older comic books, which are indeed affordable for many heritage institutions. By collecting original copies of comic books, heritage institutions can make these texts accessible to researchers and fans alike. Furthermore, these comics are recent enough to have copyright restrictions, which is why they have not been digitized for the Villanova Digital Library. In most cases, only modern reprints have been made available digitally by Marvel and other major companies. This is yet another reason for heritage institutions to collect physical copies.

The series referenced in this article are part of the growing number of comic books in Falvey’s Distinctive Collections. Be on the lookout for additional blog articles that highlight these comics, their value of research, and their connections to other historical materials at Falvey and beyond. In the meantime, if you are interested in a primer on how to study and appreciate comic books, then make sure to check out Falvey’s copy of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993).

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Falvey Library Staff Offer 2022 Summer Reading Recommendations

Last week, we shared summer reading recommendations by Villanova’s English Department faculty. This week, we’re happy to share reading recommendations by the staff at Falvey Memorial Library. Once you’ve explored the list below, check out some summer reads suggested by Falvey’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement. Have a great summer, Nova Nation!

Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature

Book cover of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman.

  • Planning to read: Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. After watching the incredibly heartwarming Netflix series based on this graphic novel series I’m looking forward to checking out the books for myself. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. I’ve been a fan of Emily St. John Mandel’s for a while now and I’m looking forward to reading her latest book this summer. Probably her most well known book, Station Eleven, was recently made into a great HBO miniseries. I highly recommend both the book and the series.
  • Already Read: The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt. This is a collection of four short stories and one novella length story of the same name as the title of the collection. I just read it last week, George Miller (Director of “Mad Max: Fury Road”), has a new movie coming out this summer staring Tilda Swinton and Idris Alba. The movie is titled “Three Thousand Years of Longing” and is based on the Novella The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.

Darren Poley, Theology, Classics and Humanities Librarian

Book cover of The Fall of the West: The Slow Death of the Roman Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy.

Demian Katz, Director of Library Technology

Book cover of a dime novel in Falvey Library's collection.

Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing Program Manager

Book cover of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

  • Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass—A middle grade novel about a young skater who must balance competitive skating aspirations against the realization they are non-binary.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain—This selection of the Villanova Alumni Association’s book club explores the value of introversion when so much of society is geared toward people who talk first (and most.)
  • Heartstopper by Alice Oseman—Now a popular streaming show, this young adult graphic novel series navigates love and friendship from a LGBTQIA+ point-of-view.

Mike Sgier, Access and Collections Coordinator

Book cover of Circe by Madeline Miller.

  • Circe by Madeline Miller—A great and page-turning retelling of Greek mythology from the point of view of Circe, the witch daughter of a Titan and nymph who is exiled to the island of Aiaia, and who becomes intertwined in the fates of Daedalus, Medea, and most famous of all, the wanderer Odysseus.

Luisa Cywinski, Director of Access Services

Book cover of The Wildlife Pond Book by Jules Howard.

Now that summer is here, I will be spending every free moment gardening for food, wildlife, and relaxation. The books on my reading list are:

I’ll also be reading the author’s blogs, watching their YouTube videos, and sharing my results on social media.

Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing
Book cover of The Woman In the Library by Sulari Gentill.

Should I be ashamed to admit that my “Want To Read” list on Goodreads is close to 4,500 books? But I promise not to list them all here. I will, though, let you know of two on the list that, appropriately, each have library in their title:

  • I hope to finally tackle Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, a fantasy novel published in 2020, which was the inaugural selection for the Villanova Alumni Book Club, if memory serves me.
  • The other one, The Woman In the Library, by Sulari Gentill, is coming out this week and is being hyped as a smashing, closed-room mystery that’s as much fun as a game of Clue. So look for me reading it in the Library, with a lead pipe by my side!

Caroline Sipio, Access and Collections Coordinator

Book cover of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.

  • I recommend People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry! It is full of heart, travel, and overall summer goodness that encourages readers to embrace new experiences and appreciate loved ones near and far.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. She recommends Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon. “Always proud to support a fellow Ohioan,” she says.




Falvey Library Celebrates Pride Month

Philadelphia Pride Flag.

Happy Pride! Falvey Memorial Library is celebrating Pride Month, and we invite you to celebrate along with us.

It is in this spirit that we encourage the community to increase awareness about LGBTQIA+ related topics, needs, and challenges.

Villanova University provides an array of resources for LGBTQIA members of our community, from VU Pride to scholarship information to Safe Zone training. We invite you to explore and discover a wealth of information there.

Similarly, in honor of Pride Month, we offer a LGBTQIA+ reading list, including a wide range of novels, poetry, non-fiction, and film. They span hundreds of years and include classics along with modern works. No list of this nature could ever be comprehensive, but we hope that this list, will serve as a starting point. 

Pride Month Recommended Reading List



Paris is Burning (film) Livingston, Jennie Documentary 1990
Stonewall Uprising Documentary 2015
Normal Heart, The Kramer, Larry Drama 1985



Price of Salt, The Highsmith, Patricia Fiction 1952
Giovanni’s Room Baldwin, James Fiction 1957
City of Night Rechy, John Fiction 1963
Rubyfruit Jungle Brown, Rita Mae Fiction 1973 Available via E-Z Borrow
City and the Pillar, The Vidal, Gore Fiction 1979
Color Purple, The Walker, Alice Fiction 1982
Boy’s Own Story, A White, Edmund Fiction 1982
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit Winterson, Jeanette Fiction 1997
Tipping the Velvet Waters, Sarah Fiction 1998 Available via E-Z Borrow
Hours, The Cunningham, Michael Fiction 1998
Middlesex Eugenides, Jeffrey Fiction 2003 Available via E-Z Borrow
Under the Udala Trees Okparanta, Chinelo Fiction 2015
Edinburgh Chee, Alexander Fiction 2016 Available via E-Z Borrow
She Of The Mountains Shraya, Vivek Fiction 2016 Available via E-Z Borrow
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls Madden, T. Kira Fiction 2019 Available via E-Z Borrow
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous Vuong, Ocean Fiction 2019 Available via E-Z Borrow
Memorial Washington, Bryan Fiction 2020 Available via E-Z Borrow
Real Life Taylor, Brandon Fiction 2020 Available via E-Z Borrow
Vanishing Half, The Bennett, Brit Fiction 2020 Available via E-Z Borrow
Ana on the Edge Sass, AJ Fiction 2021
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Albertalli, Becky Fiction 2021 https://
Single Man, The  Isherwood, Christopher Fiction 1962
Maurice: A Novel FORSTER, E.M. Fiction 1971
Perks of Being a Wallflower, The  Chbosky, Stephen Fiction 1999 Available via E-Z Borrow
Line of Beauty, The Hollinghurst, Alan. Fiction 2004
Hero Moore, Perry Fiction 2007
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Saenz, Benjamin Alire Fiction 2013 Available via E-Z Borrow
Call Me By Your Name Aciman, Andre Fiction 2017 Available via E-Z Borrow
Reverie La Sala, Ryan Fiction 2019 Available via E-Z Borrow
Fun Home Bechdel, Alison Graphic memoir 2006
Princess and the Dressmaker, The Wang, Jen Graphic novel 2018 Available via E-Z Borrow


In the Dream House : a memoir Machado, Carmen Maria Biography 2019
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Lorde, Audre Biomythography 1982
Song of Achilles, The Miller, Madeline Historical fiction 2011
Orlando: A Biography Woolf, Virginia Literature 1928
Tales of the City Maupin, Armistead Literature 1976 Available via E-Z Borrow
And the Band Played On Shiltz, Randy Non-fiction 1987
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Lorde, Audre Non-fiction 2007
Queer History of the United States, A Bronski, Michael Non-fiction 2011
Transgender Experience: Place, Ethnicity, and Visibility Zabus, Chantal J. and Coad, David Non-Fiction 2014
LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History Non-fiction 2016
Trans Studies: The Challenge to Hetero/Homo Normatives Martínez-San Miguel, Yolanda (Editor), Tobias, Sarah, 1963- (Editor) Non-fiction 2016
Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity Stein, Arlene Non-fiction 2018
Gay on God’s Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities Coley, Jonathan S. Non-fiction 2018
Nonbinary Gender Identities: History, Culture, Resources McNabb, Charlie, Non-fiction 2018
Navigating Trans and Complex Gender Identities Green, Jamison; Hoskin, Rhea Ashley; Mayo, Cris; and Miller, S.J. Non-fiction 2020
Queer New York, A : geographies of lesbians, dykes, and queers Gieseking, Jen Jack Non-fiction 2020
United Queerdom: From the Legends of the Gay Liberation Front to the Queers of Tomorrow Glass, Dan Non-fiction 2020


June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint Jordan, June Stories 1995
Leaves of Grass Whitman, Walt Poetry 1855
New and Selected Poems, Volume Two Oliver, Mary Poetry 2005
Selected Poems: 1950-1995 Rich, Adrienne Poetry 1996
Homie: Poems Smith, Danez Poetry 2020 Available via E-Z Borrow
Amora Polesso, Natalia Borges Stories 2020 Available via E-Z Borrow



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eBook available: In the Volcano’s Mouth

The latest Project Gutenberg produced by the Distributed Proofreaders project from images in our Digital Library is In the Volcano’s Mouth; or, A Boy Against an Army, by Frank Sheridan.

The novel, first serialized as Madcap Max; or, The Man, the Mahdi and the Mamaluke during 1890 in the Golden Hours story paper, tells of the adventures of “Madcap Max,” a young American prankster whose trip to Egypt turns tragic when his father is murdered by bandits. He is rescued by a mysterious young woman, makes some new friends, then has a series of adventures, including deadly encounters with strange creatures in a subterranean river, and eventually becomes deeply involved in the Mahdist War.

Like many works of its time, the book requires a content warning. In addition to containing a startling amount of graphic violence and gore for a book marketed to children, it also includes racist and sexist language and ideas, and its “hero” frequently behaves in appalling ways — such as when one of his pranks ends in the gruesome death of an innocent bystander. However, in spite of these things, the book does contain more nuance than many of its contemporaries — some of its characters directly challenge various prejudices of its time, and its depictions of Muslim characters are more sympathetic than some found in much more recent entertainment media.

It seems unlikely that the author of this book set out to advance any particular social agenda; it is much more likely that his goal was simply to entertain with a series of “thrilling incidents” partially inspired by then-current events — the 19th century equivalent of an action movie. Whatever the motivation behind it, the book’s mixed messages and puzzling creative decisions make it an unexpectedly interesting read, perhaps raising more questions than are answered, but shedding some light on the complexity of the cultural landscape in which it was produced.

If you would like to see it for yourself (and can stomach some of the less tasteful aspects of the text), the entire book can be read online, or downloaded in popular eBook formats, through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Nimble Ike, the Trick Ventriloquist

Decades before the invention of the modern comic book and other contemporary forms of entertainment, dime novels were pioneering some of the conventions that would later become commonplace. For example, in the growing field of detective fiction, Old Sleuth (the pseudonym of Harlan Page Halsey) created an array of colorful and quirky detective characters, and even experimented with having their paths cross from time to time. One might dare call it the “Old Sleuth Bibliographic Universe.” A few years ago, we shared one of these “crossover events” as a Project Gutenberg eBook: The Twin Ventriloquists. Our latest release, produced with help from the Distributed Proofreaders project, is an earlier story from the same series: the origin story of Nimble Ike, the Trick Ventriloquist, a self-described “rousing tale of fun and frolic.”

The book tells of the early career of Nimble Ike, a young orphan boy raised by a globetrotting magician, who is left to fend for himself and decides to use his incredible powers of ventriloquism to fight crime (and play the occasional prank). Along the way, he befriends a more experienced detective and uncovers a plot against a young banker. It is written in Old Sleuth’s signature style, with the narrative frequently broken up by repetitive, staccato dialog (the better to fill pages with, when you’re churning out dime novels at a frantic pace). While not a literary masterpiece, the book delivers what its audience likely expected from it: a bit of mystery, a bit of action, and a bit of humor (though the prank sequences are unlikely to elicit much laughter from a modern reader).

Nimble Ike would go on to star or co-star in another six adventures written by Old Sleuth, so apparently there was a market for ventriloquism-based detective fiction.

If you want to experience this story for yourself, you can find the full text available for online reading (or download in popular eBook formats) at Project Gutenberg, or you can view the original scanned book in our Digital Library.


Villanova English Faculty Offer 2021 Summer Reading Recommendations

For the past eight years, the faculty of Villanova’s English Department has created summer reading recommendations. The department has kindly allowed Falvey to reprint the list on the Library’s blog and share it with our patrons.

Once you’ve explored this one, you can click on the link at the end to see the previous lists on the English Department’s web page.

Alan Drew, MFA, Associate Professor of English

Since we’ve been mostly confined to our homes this last year, I’m in need of escape to start the summer. I’ve surfed only a little, but I grew up body surfing in Southern California and have had a long running fantasy to travel the world, riding waves wherever you can catch them. William Finnegan lived my fantasy, wrote a memoir about it, and won a Pulitzer for that memoir. (I’m very jealous of him.) I’ll live vicariously through him and his book, at least for a few days.


Joe Drury, Associate Professor of English

I’m currently about halfway through and very much enjoying Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, a kind of anti-Kerouac road trip novel about a journalist who sets off across the US with her husband and two children. Her husband wants to explore the history of the Apache, while she plans to search for two immigrant children who have gone missing at the southern border. Once I’m done with that, I will be picking up Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a satirical novel about an English missionary on a remote volcanic island. The maggot in question is not a bug but “a whimsical or perverse fancy.”


Travis Foster, Associate Professor of English

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. A stunning coming-of-age novel primarily about the experiences of queer people in the US from the 1940s through the 1970s. I read this almost a year ago and still think about the protagonist, Jess Goldberg, several times per week.


The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice. An epic fantasy adventure that reimagines North America in the 18th and 19th centuries from the perspective of Cherokee people and history. It is a truly amazing novel with world building on a vast scale; multiple different cultures, all fully realized; unforgettable characters whose sexualities and genders far surpass any simple binaries; and a plot with the very highest of stakes. This one kept me up late into the night.

Daisy Fried, Adjunct Faculty Member 

Derrek Hines’ contemporary retelling of Gilgamesh, the world’s first book. In translation, Michel Houellebecq‘s controversial novel about French politics and ethnic/religious divisions, Submission.


Karen Graziano, Adjunct Faculty Member 

This summer, I plan to revisit my legal roots: environmental law and policy. I’ve been exploring local parks and open spaces throughout the pandemic and thoroughly enjoying my frequent walks. You can expect to find me at one of my local parks this summer rereading Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring that helped galvanize the environmental legal movement. Next, I’ll be carried away to life on a Nebraska farm looking at the connections between agricultural and environmental policy, community and family, and business in Ted Genoways‘ This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm. I’m looking forward to reading a book that plants “seeds of hope as the next generation prepares to inherit the family land and all of the joys and challenges that come with it,” as Willie Nelson, president of Farm Aid, describes it. I want to become more aware of and appreciate what Tom Colicchio, chief and cofounder of Food Policy Action describes as “farming, family, and good” converging to show readers “what it takes to work on this blessed earth.”


Heather Hicks, Chair and Professor of English 

As I am always dipping into new fiction related to my scholarly interest in the apocalyptic tradition, I recently read Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel Leave the World Behind.  This is a page-turner set in the Hamptons, which effectively intermingles class and racial politics with a looming sense of mystery and dread.


Jill Karn, PhD, Adjunct Faculty Member 

I plan to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I know, I know, it’s so incredibly long; but I like the idea of having a massive book to accompany me wherever I go this summer. It feels like a huge commitment to read this novel, and, truly, it’s a book I’ve always been meaning to read. Already, I’ve dipped into it and have been pleasantly surprised by its accessibility and richness. The characters—if you can keep track of who’s who—are fascinating and real. This book will be my companion on the train, on visits to family, on the beach. And if I want to hide behind it sometimes, that’s what one needs in the summer months too.


Yumi Lee, Assistant Professor of English 

This summer, I’ll be reading The Essential June Jordan, just published this month. June Jordan is one of the great political poets of our time, and her work touches on so many of the issues that have been at the front of my mind this year: the violence of policing, the intersections of racism and sexism, how to be and act in solidarity with oppressed peoples the world over. Reading her work, I’m reminded that the struggles we’re engaged in today aren’t new by any means—a fact that’s depressing and enraging, and yet somehow oddly comforting to me at the same time. Jordan is at once a brilliant political thinker, an unswerving moral guide, and a genius of poetic language. (She also has amazing comic timing: as you read, you’ll be moved to tears and you’ll laugh out loud in the space of the same poem.) If you’ve never read her before, I highly recommend picking up this new collection.


Crystal Lucky, PhD, Associate Professor of English

This summer, I am planning to read the debut novels of two immigrant writers, one old(er) and one brand new. The first, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), was the debut novel of the late Paule Marshall, novelist, short story writer, memoirist, and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner. The coming-of-age novel reveals the inner workings of a close-knit community of immigrants from Barbados and their complex relationship with World War II era American society. The second, Of Women and Salt (2021) by Gabriela Garcia, tells a transgenerational story of migration, addiction, betrayal, and perseverance. I received the novel as a Mother’s Day gift and discovered it comes highly recommended by our colleague, Dr. Yumi Lee.

I also want to recommend Cicely Tyson’s Just As I Am: A Memoir (2020), which I just finished reading. Released just days before the extraordinary actress’ passing at age 96, the autobiography is not only an engaging recounting of Tyson’s life, career, and long relationship with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It deftly guides readers through the 20th and early 21st century—the exciting days of Harlem in the 1920s, the Depression and Second World War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Age of Obama—right up to our current Pandemic moment. I loved every page!


Adrienne Perry, PhD, Assistant Professor of English 

This summer I’m looking forward to setting up the hammock and spending many days reading a few of the books that friends and former students have given to me. The first is N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy. Each book in the series won a Hugo Award. (By the way, Jemisin won the Hugo three years in a row for these books!) I enjoy the immersive experience of reading science fiction and am eager to get to know about the people and land of Stillness. On the short story front, I’m looking forward to reading Kingdom’s End, a Penguin Modern Classics edition of Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories, translated here from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan. Manto was a prolific writer who (apparently) revised little, and yet is considered “one of Urdu’s great stylists.”


Megan Quigley, Associate Professor of English

Ulysses by James Joyce!

As I prepare to teach Ulysses on its 100th birthday next spring, I’m thinking about why this book matters still, from humanist, theoretical, religious and political perspectives. Some ideas though, maybe first you should read, “The Dead,” a short story from Dubliners, to get your Joyce feet wet. Then try out A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, if you are in the mood for a more Romantic story of young Stephen. But then, tackle the big blue book! Some suggestions: join an online reading group! It’s more enjoyable with friends. Check out Robert Barry’s Ulysses Seen or the Joyce Project for a graphic novel or multimedia approach. Is it a book about a divided nation? About marriage? About the body? About the impossibility of writing a novel? Have fun….


Evan Radcliffe, Associate Professor of English 

Alison Bechdel has just published a new book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. It’s a graphic memoir like her previous books Fun Home and Are You My Mother, but in this book you get not only Bechdel herself but also Romantic or Transcendentalist writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Emerson, and Margaret Fuller, who explored (as Bechdel puts it) “Self! Nature! Spirit!” All that, and (in contrast to her earlier work, which is black-and-white with a single-color wash) colors too! I’ll be reading it, and I also recommend a book I just finished listening to, Anna Burns’s 2018 novel Milkman, as read by Brid Brennan. A lot depends on the distinctive language of the central character, who is also the narrator of the story; Brennan gives her a compelling voice that brings out her particular Irish tones and rhythms, and I loved listening to it.


Lara Rutherford-Morrison, Adjunct Faculty Member 

My rec for summer reading is Madeline Miller’s 2018 novel, CirceCirce is a minor deity in Greek mythology, who is probably most famous for her role in Homer’s Odyssey, in which she turns a bunch of sailors into pigs. Miller’s version, told from Circe’s point of view, recounts Circe’s life from her childhood among the gods to her banishment on a remote island. It’s a fun and extremely absorbing book; I loved it. If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, you’ll enjoy cameos from a variety of Greek gods and monsters and Miller’s reimagining of a number of famous myths.


Lisa Sewell, PhD, Professor of English 

I am starting off the summer with Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. The novel is set in the near future, when global warming has wiped out the food and habitat for most animals and a majority are endangered or already extinct. It tells the story of Franny Stone, who travels to Greenland to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what may be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat and the plot moves between her experiences with the motley crew on board the ship and her memories of her troubled past, which includes a passionate romance, missing parents and a violent crime. The New York Times describes it as a reimagining of Moby Dick. It’s beautifully written (though she’s no Melville), an ode to a disappearing world, but it’s also a page-turner, so a good, though depressing, summer read. Other books on my list include Brenda Hillman’s book of poetry, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, the final book in her tetralogy on earth, air, water and fire and Cathy Park Hong’s essay collection/memoir, Minor Feelings, which is apparently being made into a TV show.


Lauren Shohet, Professor of English 

First, my senior seminar students chose for our class Margaret Atwood’s novel Hagseed, which adapts Shakespeare’s Tempest, setting it in a prison. It’s an engaging read on its own terms, and offers some interesting ways to think about the Tempest as well. Second, I plan to read Maggie O’Farrell‘s Hamnet, a novel about the death of the historical Shakespeare’s son. Third, I recommend Nina MacLaughlin’s Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung, which offers a range of feminist voices retelling the tales from Ovid’s Metamorphosis (many of which concern sexual violence).


Tsering Wangmo, PhD, Assistant Professor of English

I’ve been thinking about form a lot lately, and about Carmen Maria Machado‘s work. A while back responding to a question about genre and her use of form in her stories, Machado said something about how she thinks of the world as a “liminal fantasy”, and how she’s interested in messing with genre. I’m returning to Her Body and Other Partiesfor form and for the stories she tells. Her recent memoir In the Dream House was among books removed from school reading lists by Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas, partly because of parents who opposed including LGBTQ+ books on the reading list. In the Dream House is on my reading list.

Last summer I said I was going to read An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine, and I did not read it. The novel is a portrait of a reclusive translator in Beirut who, once a year, translates a favorite volume into Arabic but they’re only for herself. I hope to get to it this summer.



Read the English faculty’s prior summer reading lists.


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Last Modified: June 15, 2021

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