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The Last Unicorn by
Two men and a handful of village guides venture into the forest/jungle of the Annamite mountains on the Laos side of the border beside Vietnam. Conservationist de Buys, who is from the mountains of New Mexico, records the tremendously difficult journey and their search for a very rare animal called a Saola. Along the way, he records what he sees us doing to our planet and how it is playing out on our environment. The journey is beautifully written and captures the same type of incredible exploits Theodore Roosevelt experienced on his expedition up the River of Doubt in South America many years ago. Our next Brown Symposium will be on the Anthropocene, and this book is a good preliminary read for thought-provoking aspects of how human activity has been the dominant influence on our environment now. It is filled with photographs and good maps too!
-- Norma Gaines, Finance and Administration
Me Before You by
You get emotionally attached to the characters, and the follow-up novel, After You, is just as beautiful. Many will have seen the movie based on the book, but the book is so much better in terms of character development. It is a quintessential summer read.
-- Jennifer Marciniak, Director of the Debby Ellis Writing Center
This is a wonderfully written historical novel about Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. Set in the 14th Century, the novel exposes readers to the dangers and romance of long ago. Whether you're a British historian or not, you'll enjoy the plot (loosely based on fact) and recognize characters in the story.
-- Debbie Pauley, Director of University Events
The Shack by
Mackenzie Phillips's youngest daughter has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note--apparently from God--inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.
-- Jennifer Esparza, Administrative Assistant to the Faculty
Snap Happy by
This book is a hilarious novel written by British comedienne Fiona Walker. It is smart, funny, and has lots of twists and turns as you follow the main characters' mishaps. It may seem like a long book, but it reads quickly. And if you find yourself wanting to follow-up on the characters afterward, you can in Walker's many other books that intertwine these characters with other storylines.
-- Jennifer Marciniak, Director of the Debby Ellis Writing Center
Insomniac City by
The book is a memoir about the two loves of the author's life: the late neurologist, Oliver Sacks, and New York City. It's sweet and sad, and is a great read for summertime
-- Jason W. Dean, Director of Special Collections & Archives
The Plot Against America by
What happens to the Roth family when a Nazi-sympathizer and America First proponent is elected President of the United States in 1940? This historically-informed "counterhistorical" novel (don't skip the epilogue!) was published in 2004; it's a compelling and relevant read about coming of age in politically turbulent times.
-- Dr. Helene Meyers, Professor of English and McManis University Chair
Small Great Things by
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
"This book is a timely exploration of race issues within the justice system." -- Becca Edwards, Physics
Indian Killer by
By the end of this novel that can be read simply as a murder mystery of sorts, the reader will likely find his or her ideas about race and identity and tribal belonging (in the broadest sense of tribe) shattered to fragments. The novel accomplishes what Anzaldua calls a nepantla, a disruption that opens a space in and through which we can see through other eyes a different world , and our own world radically differently. It is deeply unsettling, of necessity. It is a mirror.
-- Phil Hopkins, Philosophy
Dust Bowl Girls by
Lydia Reeder captures a moment in history when female athletes faced intense scrutiny from influential figures in politics, education, and medicine who denounced women's sports as unhealthy and unladylike. At a time when a struggling nation was hungry for inspiration, this unlikely group of trailblazers achieved much more than a championship season.
"The women featured in the book are truly inspiring and amazing! It also offered some great historical perspectives." -- Debika Sihi, Department of Economics and Business
The Neapolitan novels by
The Neapolitian Series, vols. 1-4
These books trace the friendship of two girls who grow up together in poverty in Naples, Italy. They endure abuse and sexism endemic to Italian family systems in the 1950s, navigate a criminal underworld, fight for their educations, and eventually forge financially successful lives for themselves, complicated by difficult marriages and struggles with child rearing. I love to submerge myself in literary worlds; I love series books that allow me to live with the characters over a series of months. Her writing is beautiful, and the unraveling of the story is deliciously slow: you have time to savor the language and the characters. Be patient with these books! I also love the open mystery about Elena Ferrante's identity; she has published her books under the strictest of secrecy and a pseudonym; Italian gossip has variously identified her as a famous male author, and now as the famous male author's wife. Intrigue abounds!! I also gave these books to my (Italian) mother, and she loves them!
-- Eileen Cleere, Professor and Chair of English
The Boys in the Boat by
In the spirit of Unbroken or Seabiscuit, The Boys in the Boat is an account of beating the odds through fortitude and sheer determination. At the 1936 Olympics, the eight man rowing team from the University of Washington pulled a major upset, winning gold when pitted against the most elite crews in the world. In telling the story of this unlikely team of working class young men, the author weaves in their personal histories, an engrossing portrait of Depression era America, and the political and social landscape associated with the "Nazi" Olympics. It's also a fascinating introduction to the sport of rowing. I couldn't put it down!
-- Carol Fonken, Smith Library Center
Exit West by
I snapped up this slim novel after hearing Hamid interviewed--and just loved it. On one level, it is a relationship story about romance and its afterlives. On another, it is a moving examination of the experience of refugees. The story begins in a city that falls into war; the main characters flee through mysterious portals that open directly into other parts of the world. But this is not a dark or dystopian read. Following Nadia and Saeed on their journeys is exciting, thought-provoking, wry, and hopeful. This book would be a welcome travel companion for the summer.
-- Melissa Byrnes, Associate Professor and Chair of History
Carry On by
"Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right..."
This is, hands-down, my FAVORITE book EVER. I've probably read it 7 times at this point (I've lost track) and keep finding new easter eggs and laugh harder every time I re-read this wonderful and sweet story. Rainbow Rowell has a way of making her characters so endearing and so devastatingly real. Yes, this tale kinda makes fun of Harry Potter. Yes, it's born out of fan fiction from another of Rowell's novels, FanGirl (another excellent read). But it's go so much heart despite all the problems and heartache Simon has had to face in his short life. I could go on and on about this book, but you should read it for yourself. Oh, and "CHAPTER 61." That's all I can say without spoiling the best part of the book.
-- Theresa Zelasko, Outreach & Info Literacy Librarian and Shameless SnoBaz Trash
News of the World by
A National Book Award Finalist, this is a book I couldn't put down and it is a quick, good summer read. Travel with a man in 1870's Texas who goes from town to town reading the newspaper aloud and charging 10 cents to listen. It transpires that he takes on the transport of a 10 year old girl who was kidnapped by the Kiowa's and then "rescued" after four years. He agrees to transport her across Texas from Wichita Falls to Castroville to return her to her relatives. I loved the detailed descriptions of the Texas landscape, horses, guns, rifles, covered wagons, and even what they ate along the trails. Just like today, the story reflects the rich mixture of race and ethnicity in Texas, and it intermingles with characters you just grow to love.
-- Norma Gaines, Finance and Administration
Prisoners of Geography by
This book explains major long term political and economic trends that often get lost in them morass of current events. E.g., Putin's assertive behavior is in synch with Russia's historic fear of its indefensible borders and its long history of violent invasions, which it survived only by having "defense" in depth of vast territories. Europe is in a temporary state of trust rather than warlike competition inspired by the memory of the two World Wars.
Many of the seemingly insoluble problems of the Near East and Africa are the result of the illogical groupings of peoples imposed by the borders drawn by twentieth century imperialists, which gives on the grim impression that they will not be solved until the borders are "redrawn in blood."
-- Thomas N Howe, Prof. of Art and Art History, Chair of Art History
In the Woods by
I'm not usually a fan of crime novels, but I make an exception for anything by Irish author Tana French. In the Woods is the first book in her Dublin Murder Squad series. You don't have to start with it -- each book stands alone and you can read them in any order -- but the fun of reading them sequentially is the way a main character in one novel may pop up as an incidental character in another, and be portrayed through a different lens. Over the course of the series, you get to know the entire squad, and follow the trajectories of several of the detectives. Publisher's Weekly describes In the Woods as "expertly walking the line between police procedural and psychological thriller." It does that, and so much more..
-- Carol Fonken, Smith Library Center
Land of Love and Drowning by
It's about Afro-Caribbean women (and the men and boys in their lives, too), land, water, tourism, ghosts, history and the present and has some really fascinating characters and a landscape that also plays a role as shaping character....a very beautiful novel.
-- Melissa Johnson, Anthropology / Race and Ethnicity Studies / Environmental Studies / Feminist Studies / Latin American and Border Studies, Professor
In Farleigh Field by
World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. Who is the the man who fell from the sky and what is his mission? This is the big question when a body shows up on a lawn in England during WWII. It is a race to stop an assassination. If you like WWII books and spy novels this is a very good book! -- Dottie Turner, Admissions
Ready Player One by
A spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut--part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
"This is such an interesting book. It combines some of the best things about growing up in the 80s with science fiction, gaming, and puzzles. Stephen Spielberg is making the movie now, so read it before you see it!" -- Valerie Renegar- Communication Studies
The Ship of Brides by
This book takes place after WWII is over and Australian women, wives of soldiers they met and married during the war, leave Australia to meet their soldier husbands. Excellent reading about a group of women aboard ship.
-- Dottie Turner, Admissions
Michael Chabon's Moonglow (2016) is, in his words, "my first faux-memoir novel." In my words, that means boundaries are blurred and we travel from the invasion of Germany in World War Two to the early years of NASA at Cape Canaveral to a prison in New York and to a retirement community in Florida. Chabon's grandfather tells him his stories as he lays dying in Oakland. Big themes--love, war, sanity, invention, rockets--are narrated in voices drunk on amazing (yes, it's a word that frequently comes up when describing Chabon's work) metaphors. Almost every page has a passage that merits rereading, copying in your journal, sharing with your favorite fellow traveler.
-- David Gaines, Professor of English
The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by
I invite the reader to work through the slight disorientation at the author's use of the second person to narrate her experience flying to Morocco to escape herself and a crumbling life back home. You will see why she does so. Almost immediately, her official identity is compromised, and the novel follows her as she slips into and out of one identity after another. It is a wonderful examination of what identity is and isn't, how constructed, and by what forces. It is also a thought provoking inquiry into the possibilities of freedom to construct one's own identity and destiny. -- Phil Hopkins, Philosophy
Who Do You Think You Are? by
My fascination with my own personal family history lead me to check out to read this book. Megan Smolenyak, genealogy author and speaker "offers everything readers need to know to start the journey into their past, from digging through old photos, to finding the best online resources." It was during my own searching I discovered one of my own relatives was "a resident of Windsor Connecticut who was executed for witchcraft in 1654." Just remember, though, searching gets you involved in history which can lead to good and not-so-good family history.
It is no secret that ancestral searching is a big hobby, beginning with the most used subscription service, Ancestrydna.com. If you do not subscribe to Ancestrydna.com, our library offers HeritageQuest where one can find the US censuses, Freedman's Bank records (for African-American ancestors), Revolutionary War materials, local and family history books, and more. Happy genealogy-searching!
--Joan Parks, Head Reference and Instruction Librarian
Good Omens by
This book is a hilarious satire of the battle between Good and Evil and how the end of the world just might not go off as planned. In a massive, sweeping, interconnected plot, characters include a wise-cracking Demon, a book-hoarding Angel, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an Antichrist, a Witch, and a Gang of schoolchildren. You can read this story at multiple levels - on its surface it can be a silly summer read or more deeply it can make you reconsider the nature of good and evil - but either way it'll be a good time!
-- Carin Perilloux, Assistant Professor, Psychology