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 Barb, The 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.