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What Should I Read This Summer?

Fri May 26, 2017

What should I read this summer?At the start of the spring 2017 semester, we invited students, faculty, staff and other visitors to Mann Library to let us know of any good books they had read over winter break. Our community came through with selection of titles that’s as eclectic as it is long, running the gamut from a delightfully philosophical bit of Victorian-era science fiction to edgy analysis of the murky machinations at work in the financial sector meltdown of 2008 (the latter now also a major motion picture, but as one reader assured us, the book is even better than the movie!). It was such fun to get to know a little more about the people that we see at this this library from the perspective of the books they are reading.

With the close of a busy academic year now behind us, the prospect of some good summer reading lies ahead. For those who may be casting about for good additions to their summer reading list, we happily pass along the suggestions–and the fun mini-reviews–that our patrons so gamely shared with us. If, as British playwright Alan Bennett says, “a book is a device to ignite the imagination,” we think our list below will do its part to add fuel to one deliciously fiery summer.

Good Reads Recommended by Mann Library Lovers:

Memoir – Biography – Autobiography  
Chapter and VerseBernard SumnerGreat autobio of a self-taught celebrity UK musician
All Things Great and SmallJames Herriotkind of rambling, but really sweet, touching personal memoir from a vet!
Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi CoatesAn excellent commentary on race relations in the U.S.
The Log from the Sea of CortezJohn SteinbeckGreat!
NicotineGregor HensAbout addiction–yet interesting and comforting
On Her TrailJohn DickersonEasy read about Jane Dickerson.
SkyfaringMark VanhoenackerInspiring and beautiful poetic prose about being a pilot.
All the Birds in the SkyCharlie Jane AndersEek! We need to get our crap together re: climate change because magic’s not going to save us!
At the Existentialist CaféSarah BakewellSuper interesting history/philosophy read
The Big ShortMichael LewisVery interesting take on how unregulated swaps can alter the financial structure of our country. Better than the movie. Read it!
Braiding SweetgrassRobin Wall KibbererEach chapter is like receiving a good hug
BraintrustPatricia S. ChurchlandVery insightful and shrewd in its critique of how neuroscientists attempt to explain the biological origins of morality.
Case in PointMark P. Cosentinoreally informative; seriously helpful job interview prep
CodMark KurlanskyExcellent historical review of the science of fisheries management (or not) for this important species!
Emperor of All Maladie: A Biography of CancerSiddhartha Mukherjee 
The Four AgreementsDon Miguel RuizAmazing book that changes your life if you are willing to accept all of that information.
The Genius of BirdsJennifer AckermanOr, why birds are awesome
Girls & SexPeggy OrensteinIt was very educational and changed my perspective on how women should be portrayed in media.
Grain BrainDavid PerlmutterGood book on how diet affects your brain and mood
The Handmade MarketplaceKari ChapinIt’s very helpful for those who want to start their own craft business.
A Lover’s DiscourseRoland BarthesVery insightful! Very relatable to modern love.
Into Thin AirJon KrakauerIncredible book, Jon Krakauer is one of my favorite writers!
Lords of the HarvestDaniel CharlesGood account of the discovery of history-making tech
The New Jim CrowMichelle AlexanderA very insightful book that all should read
On PhotographySusan SontagThis is a book that engages with the complexity of the world by challenging perceptions and meanings.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in SpaceCarl SaganIt shows how small we really are.
Settle for MoreMegyn KellyVery inspiring; we can overcome tough times when we focus on bettering ourselves
The Spirit Catches You & You Fall DownAnne FadimanHumbling, cultural competenc/understanding in healthcare
Start With “Why”Simon SinekI agree with his deep insight, especially the relationship between the brain and inspiration
Stocks for the Long RunJeremy J. Siegelvery practical information
Thinking Fast and SlowDaniel Kahnemanfascinating insights on human behavior, delivered in a conversational writing style
The WayfinderWade DavisAwesome lecture (he gave a talk in the fall–life-changing)
Weapons of Math DestructionCathy O’Neilgood–definitely worth a read. Quick. Gave me insight into something not related to my field.
1984George OrwellPerfect foreshadowing
1Q84Haruki MurakamiReflexious: a story unfolds in mirrors
Anansi BoysNeil GaimanAwesome! Neil Gaiman is the best!
BorneJeff van der Meerabsurdist sci-fi warm fuzzy apocalyptic fiction
The Brothers KaramazovFyodor DostoevskyBrilliant philosophical treatise on the perils of Western thought and the nature of crime and sin
Le chat du RabbinJoann SfarGreat book on religious tolerance
Cinnamon & GunpowderEli BrownSwashbuckling, mouthwatering fun!
Cirque Du FreakDarren Shangreat story great series
The Clay GirlTuckerInteresting perspective from small child to adult; excellent but strange imagery
The Complete StoriesClarice LispectorThe best surrealist author who does short stories that are beautifully arresting.
Crime and PunishmentFyodor Dostoevskyyou get immersed in the tension. Got headaches at parts!
CryptonomiconNeal StephensonI really enjoyed the contorted ways of describing events and conditions. Fun and interesting though a little long by the end.
A Dirty JobChristopher Moorefunny and somewhat introspective
A Dog’s PurposeW. Bruce CameronGreat fiction for 1st time dog owners (should be required reading).
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?Philip K. DickA solid read
DraculaBram StokerVery interesting and suspenseful!
A Fine BalanceRohinton MistryHeartbraking display of the depths of human compassion–set in India
Flatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsEdwin AbbottIt was a cool 19th century philosophical take at judging our ignorance.
FrankensteinMary ShelleyIncredible–it feels surreal that the sun’s still shining after reading it!
GalapagosKurt VonnegutGreat satire on evolution!
Giovanni’s RoomJames Baldwina really beautiful insight on the intersection of sexuality, love, and intimacy
Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkinscreepy, thrilling
The Girl with the Dragon TattooStieg LarssonExciting, thought-provoking and interesting
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgeraldgood read but kinda sad in the end
Harry PotterJ. K. RowlingAmazing Series. Wish there were more
Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildJ. K. Rowlinggood read
The HelpKathryn StockettGreat! Real characters and well-put humor
HerlandCharlotte Perkins GilmanInteresting, about feminism and agroecology from the beginning of the 20th century and in novel form
How To Be BothAli Smithspectacular, mind-bending
JingoTerry PratchettFunny, a good dose of satire
KindredOctavia ButlerBrilliant exploration of the realities and ehtics of existence during slavery in the south
The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseinimoving, immediate, tragic, beautiful
A Little LifeHanya YanagiharaThought-provoking, painfully beautiful and sad. Heartbraking and amazing
Leviathan wakesJames S. A. CoreyFuturistic sci-fi set in space with great prose and portrayal of how colonization, politics, and survival play out
LolitaVladimir NabokovTeaches us how it’s possible to empathize with someone even when their actions are morally wrong according to society
A Man Called Ove Fredrik BackmanHeartwarming. Better than the movie because it was more real.
The Man Who Was ThursdayG. K. ChestertonFun, exciting, not completely predictable
Milk & HoneyRupi KaurAmazing, emotional, relatable poetry
Le MisanthropeMoliereA great satire/comedic play on hypocrisy in society
Moominpappa At SeaTove Janssonhumanity in animal form
NerveJeanne RyanInteresting, dark, and a general warning of our acceptance of the digital world
NeverwhereNeil GaimanDark, funny fantasy about the “real” London Underground. Read it long ago, loved it even more this time.
Portrait of Dorian GrayOscar WildeOW must have really liked art; it was an odd read
Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManJames JoyceGood take on religion, but not as humorous or involved as Ulysses
Raven boysMaggie StiefvaterA nice supernatural book that is easy to read and very entertaining
Re: JanePatricia ParkIt was a fresh take on Jane Eyre!
RoomEmma DonoghueInsightful. I saw everything from the perspective of a 5-year-old, which was awesome
A Room of One’s OwnVirginia WoolfAMAZING! Early feminist themes, very relevant given politics today
The Running MannStephen KingI liked the pacing. Very Stephen King
Scrappy Little NobodyAnna KendrickAdulting memoir via Hollywood
Sea of PoppiesAmitav GhoshLoved it! Challenging to read the dialect included by author. A beautiful read.
The Skin I’m InSharon G. FlakeLoved it. A good coming-of-age book.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things Patrick Rothfuss“For the people who are not quite right (occasionally)”
Small Great Things Jodi PicoultGreat book for encouraging discussions on race
The Sound and the FuryWilliam FaulknerA beautifully-written, if extremely hard to interpret, internal saga of a family’s demise
StardustNeil GaimanProof that fairytales can be for adults too–made me feel ten years old again!
Station ElevenEmily St. John Mandelinventive, post-modern
The Steady Running of the HourJustin GoCheesy with a poor ending but entertaining regardless
A Study in ScarletArthur Conan DoyleMuch better than the BBC series!
SweetbitterStephanie DanlerRich; sped through it because I liked it so much
Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgeraldpoetic, dreamlike
The Who and the What: A PlayAyad AkhtarIncredibly moving and captivating! Characters really draw you in!
The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleHaruki MurakamiA Rollercoaster of a Plot; definitely read it!
Thousandth FloorKatherine McGeescifi fantasy, really cool
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Leelove
We, the DrownedKarsten JensenA cross of Moby Dick and 100 years of Solitude–absolutely brilliant
Who Fears Death Nnedi OkoraforMagical and surreal