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TBT: Former President Barack Obama Shares His Summer Reading List

Screenshot of "2022 Barack Obama's Summer Reading List" featured on President Obama's Instagram.

2022 Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List (Barack Obama/Instagram)


Looking for a few last-minute reads before the end of summer? Former President Barack Obama shared his summer reading list on July 26. His recommendations are listed below. All titles are available at Falvey Library through interlibrary loan. Enjoy the final weeks of summer, Wildcats!


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Photo Friday: The Purr-fect Recommendation

Image of Sarah Wingo's cat, Bruce, a white and gray cat with green eyes, sitting next to the book "Carrying All Before Her: Celebrity Pregnancy and the London Stage, 1689-1800" by Chelsea Phillips.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature.


Sarah Wingo’s cat, Bruce, shares his reading recommendation—Carrying All Before Her: Celebrity Pregnancy and the London Stage, 1689-1800 by Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD, Associate Professor; Associate Director for Villanova Theatre. Dr. Phillips’ book is available at Falvey Memorial Library (E-book and hardcopy). For more summer reading recommendations, check out selections from the staff at Falvey Memorial Library and faculty in Villanova’s English Department.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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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.

 


 


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Villanova English Faculty Offer 2022 Summer Reading Recommendations

For the past nine years, Villanova’s English Department faculty have offered summer reading recommendations to the campus community. The department has kindly allowed Falvey to reprint the list on the Library’s blog and share it with our patrons. Check out this summer’s features below and explore prior recommendations here.

Kimberly Takahata, Assistant Professor

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong.

For me, summer is a time to slow down, and Ocean Vuong’s recent collection of poetry demands all the time we can give it. Hauntingly beautiful, these poems weave together worlds of feeling in just a few pages. In one, entitled “Amazon History of a Former Nail Salon Worker,” Vuong collects lists of objects, leaving us as readers to fill in the gaps. I’ll be thinking about that record of orders every time I receive a package.

Book cover of Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong.

 

Crystal Lucky, Professor of English and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Two books are at the top of my summer reading recommendations, one that I just finished and one that I just started. The first, Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature (WW Norton, 2021), is a beautiful blend of memoir and cultural criticism. Written by Columbia University comparative literature professor, Farah Jasmine Griffin, the book begins with her memories of her father’s last hours on earth, suffering at the hands of insensitive and misinformed Philadelphia police officers. It then moves readers through a series of important American texts—literary, musical, and visual—to consider the ways Black people have always participated in and contributed to the American democratic project, even when they have been denied its basic freedoms and liberties. Dedicated to TM, the book pays tribute to the late Toni Morrison in each of its ten chapters and offers insight into the work of a wide range of Black artists and thinkers. The book’s title, taken from a note her father left her in one of his many and precious books, invites readers on a journey through the quest for Black freedom, justice, rage, resistance, and death, upwards to love, joy, beauty, and grace. Griffin’s beautiful writing made me cry, laugh, and hope.

Book cover of Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature by Farah Jasmine Griffin.

The second book, Moon and the Mars (Penguin Random House, 2021), is a novel by Kia Corthron. Set in New York’s impoverished Five Points District in the 1850s through the 1860s, the novel is told from the perspective of a young Black and Irish girl named Theo. She is beloved by both sides of her family and lives between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. “Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformation ally—as the nation divides and marches to war.” The audiobook is a wonderful companion to the written text and is masterfully read by narrator and actor, Robin Miles. Both the reading and listening experiences are a treat!

Book cover of Moon and the Mars by Kia Corthron.

 

Alan Drew, Associate Professor of English; Director, Minor in Creative Writing

In his New York Times Book Review rave of Mercy Street, the novelist Richard Russo says he was “gobsmacked” by the time he finished reading. Haigh’s last novel, Heat and Light took on fracking, and managed to produce a nuanced portrait of rural Pennsylvanians caught in the grip of big corporate exploitation. Here she wades into one of the most fraught issues in American politics, particularly in our current moment: Abortion. If you’ve ever read Haigh before, you know this novel will be intellectually insightful, emotionally compelling, and will have a lasting impact long after you’ve read the last page.

Book cover of Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh.

 

Evan Radcliffe, Director, English Graduate Program; Associate Professor

I’ve been reading modern-day creative responses to Homer, most recently David Malouf’s Ransom (which turns Priam’s journey to the Greek camp at the end of the Iliad into a novel) and Madeline Miller’s Circe (which develops the Circe episode from the Odyssey into a full account of her life from her own perspective). So one of my books this summer will be Miller’s The Song of Achilles. As she does in Circe, Miller draws on other ancient stories of her characters, and in this novel she expands the story of Achilles and Patroclus, telling it from Patroclus’s point of view and as a love story. In 2012 it won the Orange Prize for Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction).

Book cover of Ransom by David Malouf.

 

Travis Foster, Associate Professor, English; Academic Director, Gender and Women’s Studies

Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain.

I listened to the audiobook when it first came out, fell in love with it, and plan to reread it in print this summer. It’s a novel bursting in feelings, a coming-of-age story about a working class gay Scot, and a beautiful representation of the relationship between a boy and his alcoholic mother. If that’s not persuasive enough, it also won last year’s Booker.

Book cover of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

 

Mary Mullen, Associate Professor

I highly recommend Louise Erdrich’s The SentencePart ghost story, part narrative of Minneapolis in the midst of the summer of 2020, this novel celebrates independent bookstores and communities forged through reading (there’s even a reading list at the end) as it thinks about prison sentences, Indigenous remains, policing, memory, and history. Much of the action takes place at Erdrich’s bookstore, Birchbark Books, which is haunted by an annoying customer who just won’t leave. I never thought I’d like a novel that represents the outbreak of COVID-19, but I couldn’t put this one down and am still thinking about it.

Book cover of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.

 


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Falvey Library Staff Shares Reading Recommendations for Winter Break

Happy Holidays, Wildcats! Looking for some reading recommendations for the semester recess? The Falvey Memorial Library staff shares a few suggestions below.

Roberta Pierce, Access & Collections Coordinator:

Image of the book cover of "The Invited."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Darren Poley, Associate Director of Research Services:

Image of the book cover of "The Tiger's Wife."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Image of the book cover "No One Is Talking About This."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Michael Foight, Director of  Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement:

Image of the book cover of "The Library."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Meg Schwoerer-Leister, Access and Collections Coordinator:

Image of the book cover of "Notes From A Young Black Chef."

Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, & Romance Languages:

  • My recommendation is for Harry Potter fans, who love the world but maybe wish there was better more inclusive representation in the Harry Potter world. The Simon Snow book series (currently three books Wayward Son, Carry On, and Any Way the Wind Blows), by Rainbow Rowell are pretty literally Harry Potter fan fiction. Characters have different names and not everything is the same, but it’s not that these books are like Harry Potter, they are directly commenting on and engaging with Harry Potter. Rowell is herself a prolific award-winning author, and I’ve really enjoyed this series. The audiobooks are excellent if that is more your speed. Link to series: https://bit.ly/3pw3LPI
Image of the book cover of "Carry On."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Deborah Bishov, Social Sciences & Instructional Design Librarian:

  •  My reading recommendation is The Hidden Palace (2021), long awaited sequel to The Golem and the Jinni (2013), both by Helene Wecker. They’re magical realist fantasy that immerse you completely in a richly detailed world where mystical beings end up in turn of last century New York City and face otherworldly obstacles and human dilemmas.
Image of the book cover of "The Hidden Place."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Shawn Proctor, Communication & Marketing Program Manager:

  • Aristole and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. This is a unique and memorable novel about friendship and self-discovery. A book that both reads quickly and lingers in your memory for a long time. Bonus: the sequel book just came out.
  • Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer. A tightly written mystery by a master puzzle maker and author. It feels a part of the time in which it is set and refreshingly modern, using Sherlock Holmes as inspiration and foil to Enola’s ingenuity and pluck. If you’ve been wanting to see what the Netflix movie’s buzz is about, this is the best place to start.
Image of the book cover of "Enola Holmes."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Ethan Shea, Communication & Marketing Graduate Assistant:

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’ve heard endless praise about The Picture of Dorian Gray, so this winter, I’m finally taking the plunge and checking this novel off my to-read list. The story follows a young and beautiful Dorian Gray as he sells his soul to ensure he will never age or lose his beauty. Gray continues to live a worry-free but sinful life while the consequences of his actions become visible in his portrait.
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I hope to read Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles over winter break, a fresh take on the story of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. A couple of my friends have recommended Miller’s books to me, and this particular text aligns with my interest in Greco-Roman mythology. 
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. In anticipation of a class on the African novel I’ll be taking next semester, I’m excited to read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.  I’ve heard Achebe’s depiction of colonialism and masterful use of language is incredibly moving to say the least, so I can’t wait to read this classic novel.
Image of the book cover of "Things Fall Apart."

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication & Marketing:

  • At Christmas time, not only do I like to eat cookies, I like to read about them, too. That’s why I’m excited to see several delicious looking new cookie cookbooks on the horizon, including one by legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum. When Rose titles a book with a food item and then the word Bible after it, you know The Cookie Bible will be a must-read. The pandemic has affected its delivery date, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.
  • Also on my cookie-cooking radar is Sweet Talk Cookies, by Hayley Callaway. This one teaches you all the tools to ice/stencil and uber-customize cookies to feature any art that you wish–including an amazing turkey from a peace sign cookie cutter–which of course, every Villanovan should own.
  • And finally, It’s Not Just Cookies, by Tiffany and John Chen tells the story of two college sweethearts and entrepreneurs who began a multi-million dollar cookie business, Tiff’s Treats, in an off-campus apartment at the University of Texas, Austin. Sound like they’re two smart cookies, for sure.
Image of the book cover of "Sweet Talk Cookies."

Image courtesy of Amazon.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. While you won’t be able to read it during the semester recess, Stahl recommends Dolly Parton and James Patterson’s book Run, Rose, Run (available March 7, 2022.) Parton is also releasing a new album of the same name in conjunction with the novel. Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is available to read over the holidays.



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Don’t Just Give Up Something For Lent

By Darren Poley

“The Fight between Carnival and Lent” painting by Pieter Breughel the Younger (1564–1638)

Among St. Augustine’s many sermons there is a cycle entitled “On the Beginning of Lent.” Sermon 209, which was most likely preached where Augustine was bishop, begins:

The solemn season has come round when I must remind your graces about giving more attentive thought to your souls, and chastising your bodies. These, you see, are the forty days held so sacred in all countries of the earth, that the whole world, which God reconciles to himself in Christ, celebrates them together with remarkable devotion as Easter approaches.
—The Works of Saint Augustine III/6, Translated by Edmund Hill, New City Press, 1993.

Here are devotional reading suggestions for this season of penance and preparation before the Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Wasn’t Killed by the Jews: Reflections for Christians in Lent
Falvey Call Number: BT431.5 .J47 2020

Journey to Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season by Pope Benedict XVI
Falvey Call Number: BX1912.5 .R3813 2005

Lent and Easter with the Church Fathers
Falvey Call Number: BV85 .P315 2010

Lent with Saint Augustine
Falvey Call Number: BR65.A62 T8713 2014, which is also available online for the Villanova University community: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1849270

Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Falvey Call Number: BX2170.L4N6813 1992

 


Darren G. Poley is Associate Director of Research Services and Scholarly Engagement, and Theology, Humanities, and Classical Studies Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 



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Recommended Reading: Remembering the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Remembering the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, June 6, 1944, Falvey Memorial Library Staff shared their recommended reading on the battle and World War II.

sophie scholl and the white roseGeoff Scholl: Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn

Dave Burke: Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Michael Foight: Manzanar by Peter Wright, photography by Ansel Adams

Sarah Wingo: City of Thieves by David Benioff

Linda HauckAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marianne Watson: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand unbroken

Darren Poley: The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany by David Dalin

The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, Day  by Elie Wiesel

On Trial at Nuremberg by Airey Neave

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward Beach

The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM by Gereon Goldmann

The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis

thirty seconds over tokyoThirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted W. Lawson and Robert Considine

Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon Prange, Donald Goldstein, and Katherine Dillon

Miracle at Midway by Gordon Prange, Donald Goldstein, and Katherine Dillon

Mister Roberts: Play in Two Acts by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial: A Drama In Two Acts by Herman Wouk

Joanne Quinn: Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin by Leon Uris

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Shawn Proctor: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Marc Gallicchio, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of History, who was named a winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy for his book Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945, recommended American films that deal with aspects of war not normally captured on film. Below he shares his D-Day film recommendations:

 

The Longest Day (1962) “Offers the most comprehensive multi-national look at the different operations and services involved in bringing off the invasion. The Germans receive even-handed treatment and the scene of thousands of GIs moving ahead on Omaha beach outdoes in power similar scenes from Saving Private Ryan.

“Five directors worked on the film and they employed a star-studded international cast. The movie follows the story presented in Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same name. (Ryan also wrote A Bridge Too Far, which became a very good movie but which gave us one of the most vapid and overused clichés in the English language.)”

 

Saving Private RyanSteven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) “Best remembered for its first thirty minutes in which viewers find themselves suddenly thrust into the terrifying experience of the GIs on Omaha Beach.

“The remainder of the movie unfolds like an extended episode of the 1960s television show Combat, except that the guest stars aren’t the only ones who get killed.”

 

Sam Fuller’s memoir/movie, The Big Red One (1980) “Has a brief segment on D-Day. The film shows how Fuller’s unit got to Normandy by way of North Africa and Italy and follows it through the campaign in France and into Germany to the end of the war.

“Although the violence does not come close to reaching the Tarantino levels of Saving Private Ryan,  The Big Red One is more disturbing and thought provoking than Spielberg’s blockbuster.”

 

The dark comedy/farce The Americanization of Emily (1964) “Hollywood’s most subversive movie, takes place in England during the build-up for the invasion but concludes with a memorable scene on Omaha Beach.”

 


Kallie Stahl, MA ’17 CLAS, is communication and marketing specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 


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Villanova’s English Faculty 2019 Summer Reading Recommendations

To incorrectly quote the musical Grease, “Summer readin’, had me a blast/summer reading, happened so fast/I met a book, crazy for me…”

When you’re not showing off, splashing around in the water this summer, consider checking out these lit picks for those hot summer days and nights, provided by Villanova’s English Faculty (originally run on the departmental blog and republished with permission.)

TSERING WANGMO

On my list is Francisco Cantu’s nonfiction The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border.

Cantu worked as an agent for the US Border Patrol for four years. The borderlands, he writes, “have slowly become a place where citizens are subject to distinct standards for search and detention, and where due process for noncitizens is often unrecognized as anything that might exist within the American legal system.”

I’m also looking forward to reading The Truth Commissioner by David Park. I (and the Writing Through Conflict) class had the chance to see the film based on his novel on the difficult subject of truth and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

The Line book cover

David Park The Truth Commissioner book cover
ELLEN BONDS

I plan to read Michael Ondaatje’s latest novel Warlight, about a parent-less brother and sister (they’re not orphans; their parents have moved away and left them) struggling to survive post-W. W. II London. I loved Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient and you may not be surprised to hear that I’m always interested in W.W.II stories.

Michael Ondaateje Warlight cover

ALAN DREW

If you’re looking for well-written crime fiction, try Richard Price’s Clockers. Genre fiction or not, Price is a fantastic writer who delivers complex characters, and deep insight into the socio-political problems and human frailty that help to cause crime.

Clockers Richard Price cover

KAMRAN JAVADIZADEH
This summer I hope to be rereading and writing about a book of poetry, Solmaz Sharif’s Look. One of the book’s epigraphs comes from Muriel Rukeyser: “During the war, we felt the silence in the policy of the English-speaking countries. That policy was to win the war first, and work out the meanings afterward. The result was, of course, that the meanings were lost.” Sharif’s poems look at our language—its silences, its euphemisms, its evasions—and, in another time of war, try to find the meanings again.

Look by Solmaz Sharif cover

CRYSTAL LUCKY

I am planning to read Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

Chosen as the 2019 ‘One Book, One Philadelphia’ selection, “the National Book Award-winning novel is set in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and follows the story of one mixed-race family facing the impacts of racism, poverty, and incarceration.”

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn-Ward book cover

DAISY FRIED

I’d suggest Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic, Jeffrey Yang’s Hey Marfa and Paisley Rekdal’s Nightingale, all poetry or poetry/prose combos.

Hey Marfa by Jeffery Yang book cover

Nightinggale by Paisley Rekdal cover

MICHAEL BERTHOLD

I’m devoting some of my summer reading to exploring world classics I’ve somehow neglected and plan to begin with Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo.

The count of monte cristo alexandre dumas cover

ROBERT O’NEIL

This novel was published in 1988, but it has always stayed with me.

Palm Latitudes by Kate Braverman.

Braverman’s novel chronicles the lives of three women–a prostitute, a young housewife, and an old woman–as they confront and struggle through the violence-filled Mexican barrio in Los Angeles.  Each woman struggles against defeat within a beautiful, yet dangerous landscape that Braverman poetically creates.  Remnants of this work will stay with you and surprise you long after reading it.

Palm Latitudes by Kate Braverman cover

MEGAN QUIGLEY

I’m launching off the summer with the following: The Overstory by Richard Powers (I was once a naturalist who lived in the redwoods in California, so I think I will not be able to put this down!); the new Ian McEwan, Machines Like Me; I will read a collection of essays by Zadie Smith called Feel Free (since I just advised a great honors / English thesis by Meg Carter on Smith so she is on my mind), and, I admit it, I have been lured into a series of mysteries set in an idyllic (and evil) town in Canada by Louise Penny.  Beware, there are 15 of these, so maybe don’t get started if you feel like accomplishing anything else, the first is called Still Life.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Ian McEwan, Machines Like Me cover

Zadie Smith Feel Free book cover

Louise Penny Still Life book cover

MARY MULLEN

Isabella Hammad, The Parisian

I recently finished this novel and it has stayed with me. It’s a novel that has historical content—France and Palestine from around 1914 to 1936—but also historical form—it shares much with nineteenth-century classical realism (Zadie Smith compares Hammad to Flaubert and Stendhal, I might say George Eliot). Hammad’s use of realist conventions raises questions about Orientalism that the novel also addresses in its plot, showing how representing ordinary, everyday life is always a political act. I read the novel quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it but still find myself wondering about what it is trying to do and what it does.

Isabella Hammad, The Parisian book cover

ADRIENNE PERRY

A book I’m excited to read this summer is Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, by adrienne maree brown (all lower case). Several of my friends and colleagues from the arts and nonprofit worlds have recommended this book as an essential read. It’s supposed to be a good one for folks looking to combine social justice with radical joy.

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, by adrienne maree brown cover

EVAN RADCLIFFE

For lightness, comedy, and inventive language, nothing beats P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie and Jeeves stories, which pair the “mentally negligible” Bertie Wooster—the kind of person who says “Right Ho”—with his omni-competent valet Jeeves.  Set in England in the early 20th century, they feature various improbable scrapes from which Jeeves always rescues Bertie, but the plots hardly matter; it’s the way they speak that counts.  I’d start with the short story collections Carry On, Jeeves and Very Good, Jeeves.

P. G. Wodehouse book cover

ELYSHA CHANG

I’m looking forward to reading BOWLAWAY, Elizabeth McCracken’s latest novel. I am always struck by McCracken’s impeccable wit, oddball characters and mesmerizing style. , her story collection from 2014, is a brilliant, heart-breaking book for any short fiction readers out there!

THUNDERSTRUCK & OTHER STORIES book cover

JOE DRURY

This summer, I’ll be finishing The Guermantes Way (the Moncrieff translation, nach), the third book in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. After that, I will be reading the final book in Elena Ferrante’s astonishing Neapolitan Quartet. I’m going to be in Edinburgh for a few days in July, so I will be taking Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with me for the train.

And a recommendation: over winter break, I read and adored A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes, first published in 1929. It’s a brilliant, sparkling, strange, and mesmerizing precursor of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, about a group of English children who are captured by pirates on their way to England from Jamaica, but turn out to be much more vicious and heartless than their captors.

The Guermantes Way cover

the lost child book cover

Muriel Spark book cover

A Hig hJamaica Wind Cover


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Last Modified: May 28, 2019