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What Are We Reading This Summer?

Mann Library iconWho picks up a 704 page tome on the art and science of a 19th century German marine biologist for some summer leisure reading? Well, we have to admit, that would be Michael Cook, the indefatigable Head of Collection Development and Preservation at Mann Library. We are a life sciences library after all.


As summer set in on campus, we asked Mann Library staff to share what book(s) they’d be been spending time with over the (at least in theory!) more languid hot weather weeks of the season. And while Michael’s pick is certainly a serious (and seriously gorgeous) life sciences doozy, in gathering together all the reading suggestions submitted so far, we’ve learned that our Mann colleagues are actually fairly eclectic in their reading tastes, ranging from Norse mythology to modern Russian literature and from biotech science fiction to some refreshing thinking on being an activist for healing and happiness. What about you? If you find yourself with a spare moment on Cornell’s upper campus, do drop by the library to check out the small book display of staff-recommended titles that we’re putting up for the 2nd half of the Cornell summer break next Monday. And if you feel so inclined, don’t be shy about letting us know of any good summer reads you might recommend too—we’d love to include them in our display as well!


What are Mann Library staff reading this summer? Here’s a list of select titles:

アキラ/ AKIRAŌtomo Katsuhiro“Set in a dystopian future, AKIRA’s brutal and chaotic story popularized the cyberpunk genre and influenced several other famous series.” – Jimmy M.
Are We Not Men? We Are DEVO!Jade Dellinger“As a de-evolved DJ and musician I’m a lifelong fan of these brilliant absurdists. The most authoritative book on DEVO.” – Michael C.
The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel Gigantic book of total eye candy. Most stunning biological artwork ever. I bought my own copy – hey, it’s Taschen!” – Michael C.
AutonomousAnnalee Newitz“A Biotech and AI sci-fi novel with a pertinent question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?” – Chris J.
Bug Music: How Insects Gave us Rhythm and NoiseDavid Rothenberg“A lovely angle on one of the best features of late summer nights” – Eveline F.
Capitalist Realism: Is There No AlternativeMark Fisher“Fisher addresses the quote that ‘it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism’ (quote attributed to Jameson & Zizek).” – Daisy W.
Dirt Work: An Education in the WoodsChristine Byl“I am just starting this book, but one reviewer said, “a must read for anyone who’s worked in the dirt,” which I did for my first couple jobs” – Mary O.
Don’t Make Me Pull Over: An Informal History of the Family Road TripRichard Ratay“An informative and humorous look at family car trips in the U.S. interspersed with historical perspective on how the interstate highway system, fast food restaurants and hotel chains factored into the mix. Will bring back memories for anyone who has ever shared a back seat in a station wagon with siblings in the pre-seat belt era!” – Mel J.
The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov: the Story of Stalin’s Persecution of one of the Great Scientists of the Twentieth CenturyPeter Pringle“A case study of the suppression of science, sadly a story that seems to repeat itself. Vavilov is my hero.” – Michael C.
Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology,Mark Barrows“The topic has an urgent edge to it, but Barrow’s elegant prose makes this a rewarding read as well.” – Eveline F.
Norse MythologyNeil Gaiman“An excellent introduction to Norse Mythology based off of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Great for anyone interested in Norse mythology or planning a trip to Iceland!” – Ryan T.
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Goodadrienne maree brown“Can the political be pleasurable? brown explores the politics of healing and happiness, rethinking the ground rules of activism.” – Karina H.
Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Other StoriesMaxim Osipov“Osipov is a cardiologist whose lyrical stories involve medicine, crime, art, and the joys and frustrations of provincial Russian life.” – Matt K.
SevenevesNeal Stephenson“One day, the Moon suddenly shattered into pieces. Humanity now has a very interesting problem on its hands.” – Jimmy M.
SeverenceLing Ma“Beautiful descriptions of NYC and China, apocalypse, coming-of-adulthood in the early aughts – and more! Ling Ma is a Cornell grad.” – Kate G-K.
The Solitary TwinHarry Mathews“What do you want from a book? … To stand on the threshold of the unfamiliar, the inevitably familiar viewed unfamiliarly …” – Keith Jenkins
Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943Antony Beevor“Well told, well researched story of the horrific clash of two madmen. Incredible heroism by people in a bad situation.” – Michael C.
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After WarmingDavid Wallace-Wells“An extremely urgent analysis of climate catastrophe that addresses not just science but climate change’s social and everyday impacts.” – Daisy W.