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Here's a list of books for summer reading, recommended by the UST Libraries staff. See our Leisure Reading collection for additional choices. Enjoy your summer!
(Libraries staff & student workers, if you have titles to add, please send title & blurb/commentary to Eric Kallas or John Heintz).
Karen Brunner - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
The Four Winds by
OSF Library - Leisure Reading Collection PS3558.A4763 F68 2021
"Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli-like so many of her neighbors-must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation."
The Midnight Library by
OSF LIbrary: PR6108.A39 M53 2020
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?' A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time. Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place."
Marianne Hageman - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Louisiana's Way Home by
Keffer Library Children's Literature Collection, PZ7.D5455 Lq 2018
"When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town—including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder—she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana's and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)" (From the author)
The Calculating Stars by
"On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her." (From the publisher)
Winner of the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards for Best Novel
Catfishing on CatNet by
"This is a thought-provoking near future YA thriller that could not be more timely as it explores issues of online privacy, artificial intelligence, and the power and perils of social networks. Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her." (From the publisher)
Winner of the Edgar and Minnesota Book Awards for Best Young Adult Novel
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by
"In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Anne Boyd Rioux brings a fresh and engaging look at the circumstances leading Louisa May Alcott to write Little Women and why this beloved story of family and community ties set in the Civil War has resonated with audiences across time." (From the publisher)
"It tells the book's history, explores its abiding appeal, and considers its influence on generations of readers and writers since. It goes without saying that lovers of that book will adore this book. But even those who haven't read Little Women will enjoy learning about the literary history behind it." (From the Christian Science Monitor)
John Heintz - Charles J. Keffer Library
The Siege by
For fans of Alan Furst and Carlos Ruiz Zafón comes a haunting and layered thriller filled with history, adventure, suspense, and an unforgettable love story--by the internationally bestselling author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Cádiz, 1811: The Spanish port city has been surrounded by Napoleon's army for a year. Their backs to the sea, its residents endure routine bombardments and live in constant fear of a French invasion. And now the bodies of random women have begun to turn up throughout the city--victims of a shadowy killer. Police Comisario Rogelio Tizón has been assigned the case. Known for his razor-sharp investigation skills--as well as his brutal interrogation methods--Tizón has seen everything.
The Ragged Edge of Night by
". . .an emotionally gripping, beautifully written historical novel about extraordinary hope, redemption, and one man's search for light during the darkest times of World War II. Germany, 1942. Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann is stripped of his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet to wed Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage--in name only--to a man who can help raise her three children. Anton seeks something too--atonement for failing to protect his young students from the wrath of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expects their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war. As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth's reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life--even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible."
The Order by
Book #20 in the Gabriel Allon series.
On the eve of a Pope's death, he discovers a remarkable book in the Vatican Archives: a long-suppressed gospel that calls into question the accuracy of the New Testament’s depiction of one of the most portentous events in human history. For that reason alone, the Order of St. Helena will stop at nothing to keep it out of Gabriel’s hands. A shadowy Catholic society with ties to the European far right, the Order is plotting to seize control of the papacy. And it is only the beginning.
Cathy Lutz - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
The Black Swan of Paris by
From Publishers Weekly: “Famed, beautiful Parisian singer Genevieve Dumont uses her alliance with the Resistance to rescue her mother from the Nazis in Robards's thrilling latest. As the darling of Paris's music scene, Genevieve receives adulation from the Nazis while secretly helping her manager, Max Bonet, an intelligence operative working with the British. When Genevieve returns to her childhood home and discovers that the Germans have killed her father and taken her mother, Baroness Lillian de Rocheford, prisoner, Genevieve becomes resolute in her efforts to rescue her and joins forces with her estranged sister, Emmy, also an agent for the British. Genevieve gains the attention of Gen. Claus von Wagner, a high-ranking German officer who she believes knows her mother's whereabouts. In her quest to save Lillian, Genevieve persuades Max to help by revealing a painful story from her past. Together, Emmy, Genevieve, and Max risk their lives in a well-planned but highly risky mission to free Lillian from von Wagner's German estate where she is being held prisoner. Robards blends commendable attention to historical detail with intense realism and deep feeling. Historical fiction fans will be enthralled with this richly hewn novel and the romance and danger lurking around its every corner.”
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by
OSF Leisure Reading Collection PS3619.C4848 I58 2020
From Publishers Weekly: “Schwab crafts the tale of one woman's desperate drive to be remembered into a triumphant exploration of love and loss. The story hops across time as it follows the life of Adeline "Addie" LaRue from the French country side in the early 1700s to New York City in 2014. As a young woman, Addie makes a deal with the devil to save herself from the tedium of an arranged marriage, asking for "a chance to live and be free." The devil grants her immortality but curses her to a life of horrible isolation: no one she meets will be able to remember her. The first half of the book----as Addie learns the limits and loneliness of her curse----is as devastating as it is prescient in these self-isolating times. Which makes Addie's eventual meeting with Henry, the first person to remember her in some 300 years, all the more joyous. This sweeping fantasy is as much a love story as it is a tribute to storytelling, art, and inspiration. Schwab's diverse cast is beautifully rendered, and the view of human connection on offer is biting and bitter, yet introspective and sweet. This ambitious and hopeful work is a knockout.”
Black Sun by
From Publishers Weekly: “The opening of Hugo- and Nebula Award--winner Roanhorse's Between Earth and Sky series draws inspiration from the indigenous cultures of North and Central America to deliver a razor-sharp examination of politics, generational trauma, and the path to redemption. Sun Priest Naranpa, the highest religious authority in the holy city of Tova, faces prejudice for her low birth despite her high rank, and her radical desire for her priests to be more accessible to Tova's people makes her an object of resentment. Meanwhile, in the Obregi Mountains, a young boy named Serapio, raised to become the vessel of the god Grandfather Crow and take revenge for the Night of Knives, a massacre committed against his people, sets out to fulfill his destiny. Sea captain Xiala, a Treek who commands powerful sea-born magic, may be her own worst enemy of many, but she proves a welcome friend to Serapio as he voyages across the sea to avenge his people by ending the Sun Priest's reign. All three formidable characters are on a collision course that keeps the pages flying. Roanhorse (the Sixth World series) strikes a perfect balance between powerful worldbuilding and rich thematic exploration as the protagonists struggle against their fates. Fantasy fans will be wowed.”
Ann Kenne - UST Archives & Special Collections
The Vanishing Half by
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her daughter in the same small town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Even still, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.
Long Bright River by
“Raised by their bitter grandmother, Mickey is now an arrow-straight cop, raising a child alone, while Kacey is a victim of Philadelphia’s opioid epidemic. Estranged from one another, Mickey’s job enables her to keep tabs on her sister along with all the other lost souls and criminals on her regular beat. Every sighting of Kacey means one more day Mickey doesn’t have to worry about her sister turning up among the dead in the opioid-ravaged Kensington section of Philly. But when a string of murders coincides with Kacey’s disappearance, Mickey’s fears overrule her good sense and she obsessively hunts for Kacey in a neighborhood riddled with crime, corruption, addiction, danger, and deception.”
The Searcher by
“ Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets.”
Andrea Koeppe - Charles J. Keffer Library
The Campaign of the Century by
OSF Library: F866 .M65 1992
As a basic film geek, I consider Citizen Kane to be one of the greatest movies of all time. So when Mank dropped on Netflix, I was there front and center opening night. What I didn't expect from a movie about the making of this iconic movie, was the time spent on Upton Sinclair's controversial campaign for the governorship of California in 1934. I didn't expect it because I knew nothing about it. This very detailed book chronicles Sinclair's campaign in the backdrop of the New Deal and the roll of major Hollywood studio executives who pioneered the burgeoning power of film and mass media to derail Sinclair. It's fascinating to trace the origins of so many of the political media manipulations that are depressingly commonplace today to that era. It's kind of like that one movie I really like called Citizen Kane.
Shooting Midnight Cowboy by
This book proves my theory that non-fiction is more interesting than fiction. I have seen Midnight Cowboy twice. It's a bleak film that is tough to watch at times, but it is engrossing, the characters feel real and even sympathetic, and it's a brilliant visual snapshot of New York at that time. Having said all those nice things about the movie, this is why I love this book. The author explores the historical background of this era, delves into the real-life people who created and acted in this film, and the chronicles the process of bringing this very unconventional story to the big screen to massive popular and critical acclaim. I found all of these stories fascinating and I was sad when I finished. This book is getting a lot of positive buzz right now, there is even going to be a documentary based on it, and I for one could not be more thrilled.
Talia Nadir - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
OSF PS3565.F383 W43 2020
I love Jenny Offill's writing.
"A darkly funny and urgent tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisis. (NPR)
CLIC: St. Kate's
This novel was recommended to me several times over the last few years by my cousin, who read it in Hebrew. I finally got around to reading it and it has quickly become one of my favorite novels. Written in 1963, Stoner (the name of the main character) is a story of an academic at the University of Missouri who lives a life full of disappointments.
The Death of Vivek Oji by
OSF PR 9387.9 E42 D43 2020
One of the most moving, sad and powerful stories I've read in a while.
“Electrifying . . . The Death of Vivek Oji is a masterful contemplation on gender identity and fluidity, the heavy weight of shame, and the importance of having friends and family who accept you rather than attempt to ‘fix’ you.” (Salon)
OSF PR9387.9.E42 F74 2018
“An extraordinarily powerful and very different kind of physical and psychological migration story.”―Edwidge Danticat, New Yorker
His Favorites by
OSF PS3573.A42113 H57 2018
"A sharp look at school days that are anything but idyllic...Walbert’s slim, impactful novel, distinguished as all her work is by beautiful writing and a wealth of literary allusions, could not be more timely.”
Writers and Lovers by
CLIC: Concordia University
"A book about passion, desire, grief, determination, and finding one's way." (NPR)
Light Years by
"Seductive, witty, and elegantly nuanced, Light Years is a classic novel of an entire generation that discovered the limits of its own happiness—and then felt compelled to destroy it." (Amazon)
My Dark Vanessa by
OSF PS3618.U756 M9 2020
“[An] exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice. I couldn't agree more!
Transcendent Kingdom by
OSF PS3607.Y37 T73 2020
“The novel is full of brilliantly revealing moments, sometimes funny, often poignant.... [Gifty is] provokingly vital.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker
"Absolutely transcendent. A gorgeously woven narrative about a woman trying to survive the grief of a brother lost to addiction and a mother trapped in depression while pursuing her ambitions. Not a word or idea out of place. Completely different from Homegoing. THE RANGE. I am quite angry this is so good."
To Be a Man by
OSF PS3611.R38 A6 2020
“Serpentine short stories that plumb human bonds and self-exploration, in settings from Tel Aviv to post-9/11 New York.” (Vanity Fair)
The Vanishing Half by
OSF PS3602.E66444 V36 2020
“If you’re looking to escape into a fictional story, Bennett brilliantly examines race and identity, family and history, and love and belonging—and it just may make you reflect on the realities of your own.” – Forbes
OSF PS3523.A7225 P37 2018
“It is a tragic story rooted in inescapable facts of American life: that whiteness conferred an almost universal unearned advantage, and that loyalty to a black racial identity was not only an act of pride but also one of courage.”
– The New York Times
OSF Library PS3523.A7225 Q55 2002
"Nella Larsen's powerful first novel, has intriguing autobiographical parallels and at the same time invokes the international dimension of African American culture of the 1920s. It also evocatively portrays the racial and gender restrictions that can mark a life." (Amazon)
Brian Hill - IRT
100 Cookies by
Here is a cookbook of perfect weeknight baking projects from celebrated blogger Sarah Kieffer - inventor of the viral 'bang the pan' technique - with 100 delicious cookies organised by type into 8 chapters. Cookies range from classics like chocolate chip to fruity bars and brownies. The recipes, headnotes, and tips feature Kieffer's thoughtful innovations on techniques and ingredients. The photography, also by Kieffer and shot in her warm, homey style, shows every cookie, as well as step-by-step techniques where appropriate.
Eric Kallas - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Redlined exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident. As blacks move deeper into Chicago's West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands. But Linda Gartz's parents, Fred and Lil choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors. The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape--even as their own relationship cracks and withers.