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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).
Dan Gjelten - UST Libraries
The Son by
A big sprawling novel telling the story of a Texas family through the generations, with the story narrated by different members of the family and in different generations. The family’s patriarch, Eli McCullough, is kidnapped by Indians at a young age after seeing most of his family slaughtered in the attack. Eli is then raised as an Indian for many years, before returning to white society and starting the family that grows (and grows wealthy) as the state of Texas develops. It is a occasionally brutal book, and not for the faint of heart, but beautifully written and unflinchingly addressing all the themes that the state of Texas and the United States have in our past, including our treatment of native people, immigrants and the environment. Yet it never feels like a contemporary criticism of the mistakes of our founding fathers, but rather a personal story of a family with all the problems that any family has over generations. Great summer reading.
John Heintz - Charles J. Keffer Library
In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse. (description from Goodreads)
Karen Brunner - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Chasing Excellence by
CrossFit trainer Ben Bergeron has helped build the world's fittest athletes, but he's not like other coaches. He believes that greatness is not for the elite few; that winning is a result, not a goal; and that character, not talent, is what makes a true champion. His powerful philosophy can help anyone excel at all aspects of life.
Using the dramatic competition between the top contenders at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games® as a background, Ben explores the step-by-step process of achieving excellence and the unique set of positive character traits necessary for leveling up to world-class. The mindset and methodology that have produced some of the greatest athletes in the world's most gruelling sport can work equally well for golfers, lawyers, artists, entrepreneurs--anyone who's willing to commit totally to becoming better than the best.
The War That Saved My Life by
A Newbery Honor Book Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award (Middle School) Wall Street Journal Best Children's Books of 2015 New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson's Sons and for fans of Number the Stars. Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada's twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn't waste a minute--she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan--and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity--a classic in the making.
The Paris Architect by
In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.
But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.
Talia Nadir - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Home Fire by
A modern retelling of Antigone, this is a suspenseful novel that is hard to put down. It tells the story of an immigrant family in London that is forced to choose between love and loyalty. The New York Times describes the book as: “Ingenious and love-struck … Home Fire takes flight. … Shamsie drives this gleaming machine home in a manner that, if I weren’t handling airplane metaphors, I would call smashing. … Builds to one of the most memorable final scenes I’ve read in a novel this century.”
This novel was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for fiction and longlisted for the Man Booker prize.
We Need New Names by
A stunning novel. From the back cover: …”A potent story of displacement and arrival, at once disarmingly playful and devastatingly candid, with a power all its own.” Highly recommended!
Stay with Me by
This celebrated, unforgettable first novel (“A bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit.” –The Guardian), shortlisted for the prestigious Women's Prize for Fiction and set in Nigeria, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage--and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.
A New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Southern Living, and BuzzFeed Best Book of the Year
"A bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride." —The Guardian
"Adebayo gifts readers with an emotionally powerful first novel that relies less on literary artifice and more on old-fashioned storytelling. She plumbs the depths of the loving marriage of Akin and Yejide, a couple complete in themselves, until Akin’s family sows division by excoriating Yejide for failing to produce children… Adebayo’s work makes a blazing entry onto the list of young, talented writers from Nigeria. Readers who pick up this debut novel will not put it down until they’ve finished." —Ally Bissell, Library Journal (Starred Review)
A Separation by
“Deceptions pile on deceptions in this coolly unsettling postmodern mystery, in which a British woman travels to a Greek fishing village to search for her estranged husband, who has disappeared.”
So Much Blue by
"Kevin Pace's latest painting, like so much of his past, remains a secret. Ten years ago, he had an affair with a young watercolorist in Paris. And in the late 1970s, he traveled to El Salvador to search for his best friend's brother, a minor drug dealer gone missing in a country on the verge of war. When the past begins to resurface, Kevin struggles to justify the sacrifices he's made for his art and the secrets he's kept from his wife and family" -- cover.
A good read.
Janice Kragness - Charles J. Keffer Library
"A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century."
Manhattan Beach by
"With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel [explores] into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world."
"A teenage boy born in space makes his first trip to Earth. He’s going to a place he’s never been before: home. ..Born and raised on [the satellite] Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight. But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma?" Available in the Keffer Library's Hubbes Children's Collection.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by
"Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of [an] unlovable boy..." I hadn't seen the movie (2011) so I had no idea what the book was about before Andrea Koeppe handed it to me. The structure and the tone hooked me at the beginning and I read it voraciously and with a deepening sense of dread.
By the author of The Martian. "Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right?"
Brian Hill - ITS
Coconuts and Collards by
When her family moved from Puerto Rico to Atlanta, Von Diaz traded plantains, roast pork, and malta for grits, fried chicken, and sweet tea. Brimming with humor and nostalgia, Coconuts and Collards is a recipe-packed memoir of growing up Latina in the Deep South. The stories center on the women in Diaz's family who have used food to nourish and care for one another. When her mother--newly single and with two young daughters--took a second job to make ends meet, Diaz taught herself to cook, preparing meals for her sister after school, feeding her mother when she came home late from work. During summer visits to Puerto Rico, her grandmother guided her rediscovery of the island's flavors and showed her traditional cooking techniques. Years later the island called her back to its warm and tropical embrace to be comforted by its familiar flavors. Inspired by her grandmother's 1962 copy of Cocina Criolla--the Puerto Rican equivalent of the Joy of Cooking--Coconuts and Collards celebrates traditional recipes while fusing them with Diaz's own family history and a contemporary Southern flair. Diaz discovers the connections between the food she grew up eating in Atlanta and the African and indigenous influences in so many Puerto Rican dishes. The funche recipe is grits kicked up with coconut milk. White beans make the catfish corn chowder creamy and give it a Spanish feel. The pinchos de pollo--chicken skewers--feature guava BBQ sauce, which doubles as the sauce for adobo-coated ribs. The pastelón is shepherd's pie . . . with sweet plantains. And the quingombo recipe would be recognized as stewed okra in any Southern kitchen, even if it is laced with warm and aromatic sofrito Diaz innovates for modern palates, updating and lightening recipes and offering vegetarian alternatives. For the chayotes rellenos (stuffed squash), she suggests replacing the picadillo (sautéed ground beef) with seitan or tofu. She offers alternatives for difficult-to-find ingredients, like substi¬tuting potatoes for yucca and yautía--root vegetables typically paired with a meat to make sancocho. Diaz's version of this hearty stew features chicken and lean pork. And because every good Puerto Rican meal ends with drinks, desserts, and dancing, Diaz includes recipes for besitos de coco (coconut kisses), rum cake, sofrito bloody marys, and anticuado, an old-fashioned made with rum. With stunning photographs that showcase the geographic diversity of the island and the vibrant ingredients that make up Puerto Rican cuisine, this cookbook is a moving story about discovering our roots through the foods that comfort us. It is about the foods that remind us of family and help us bridge childhood and adulthood, island and mainland, birthplace and adopted home.
Chad Kluck - UST LIbraries
Follow You Home by
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. After a perfect start, Daniel and Laura's travels end abruptly when they are thrown off a night train in the middle of nowhere. To find their way back to civilisation, they must hike along the tracks through a forest...a haunting journey that ends in unimaginable terror. Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what they saw that night. But as they try to fit back into their old lives, it becomes clear that their nightmare is just beginning... Follow You Home is a chilling tale of secrets, lies and deadly consequences from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by
Publication Date: 2018-02-06
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first book in a spellbinding fantasy adventure series by screenwriter John August. Some trails lead to magic. Some lead to danger. As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves. She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: "If I can see you, they can see you . . . Be careful, Arlo Finch." Arlo Finch thought becoming a Ranger meant learning wilderness skills, like camping and knots. But upon arriving in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, Colorado, Arlo soon learns there's so much more. His new friends Indra and Wu teach him how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods--a parallel realm of wonder and danger. First he must master the basics, including snaplights, thunderclaps and identifying supernatural creatures. But Arlo Finch is no ordinary Ranger, and this is no ordinary time. A dark and ancient force is sending threats into the real world . . . our world. Through perilous adventures and close calls, Arlo is awakened to his unique destiny--but the obstacles he faces will test the foundations of the Ranger's Vow: loyalty, bravery, kindness, and truth.
One of Ours by Willa Cather
One of Ours is a novel by Willa Cather which won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize. It tells the story of the life of Claude Wheeler, a native of Nebraska around the turn of the 20th century. The son of a successful mid-western farmer and an intensely pious mother, thus guaranteed a comfortable livelihood, Claude Wheeler nonetheless views himself as a victim of his father's success and his own inexplicable malaise.
One of Ours is a portrait of a peculiarly American personality: it is the story of a young man born after the American frontier has vanished, yet whose quintessentially American restlessness seeks redemption on a frontier far bloodier and more distant than that which his forefathers had already tamed.
Eric Kallas - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Speed : the biography of Charles W. Holman by
A fascinating biography of someone who lived fast, died young and spent lots of time in St. Paul during the early 20th-century. (No, not that "Great" writer...) Charles Willis "Speed" Holman - stunt pilot, barnstormer, wing walker, parachutist, airmail pioneer, record holding aviator, motorcycle racer and airline pilot. Born in Minneapolis in 1898, he became Northwest Airways first pilot in 1926 and set a world's record of 1,433 consecutive loops in an airplane in five hours over the St. Paul Airport. In 1927 he won the New York to Spokane cross country air derby in a Laird Commercial biplane (17 hrs). He also won the 1930 Thompson Trophy national air race in Chicago. Holman died in a plane crash on May 17, 1931 at the opening of an airport in Omaha, Nebraska in front of 20,000 spectators, at age 32 - his funeral was one of the largest ever held in St. Paul. The St. Paul Downtown Airport is also known as Holman Field in his honor. Read about what 1,433 consecutive loops in an airplane feels like!
Ann Kenne - UST Archives & Special Collections
The Green Road by
Rosaleen is the matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. As they grew up, Rosaleen's four children left the west of Ireland for lives they could have never imagined in Dublin, New York, and Mali, West Africa. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she's decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.
The Alice Network by
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth . . . no matter where it leads.
Cold Earth by
In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea. At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity. Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.
Cathy Lutz - O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Where Dead Men Meet by
From Library Journal: “On a dark and stormy night, a baby is left on the doorstep of an orphanage outside London. Soon adopted, Luke Hamilton grows up to be a junior air intelligence officer at the British embassy in Paris. It's 1937, Europe is on the brink of war, and Luke becomes the target of an assassination attempt. Convinced it's a case of mistaken identity, he carries on until he confronts one bad guy after another. Soon he's running for his life. One hit man finally talks, and Luke realizes that he's not who he thinks he is and that deep secrets lurk behind his childhood abandonment. These are perilous times and competition for survival on the fringes of an unraveling society is fierce. Master storyteller Mills's prior books, Amagansett and The Savage Garden, were both absorbing reads, but this is a pulse-pounding thriller of the first order. Think John le Carré meets Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. Believable characters, a richly detailed historical setting, and a story that keeps the reader's attention glued until the final page makes this a worthy addition to the many recent World War II novels.”
Magpie Murders by
From Library Journal: “ … presents two mysteries for the price of one, crafting a classic whodunit within a modern mystery. Susan Ryeland is an editor for a small press whose success rests on the old-fashioned mystery novels of Alan Conway. Returning from escorting an author on a book tour, she finds Alan's latest Atticus Pund manuscript, Magpie Murders, on her desk. Upon reaching the novel's end, she finds that the last chapter is missing. When she informs her boss, he tells her that Alan has committed suicide. Susan searches for the lost chapter, and in the process comes to believe that Alan's death was no suicide. Using clues buried in the manuscript, she investigates his death. While Susan and the fictional Atticus are very different characters, they use similar techniques to tease out the clues and hints to bring each mystery to resolution. Both stories might stand alone, but combined, they result in a delightful puzzle. Fans of Agatha Christie and the BBC's Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War (both written by Horowitz) will relish this double mystery.”
The Essex Serpent by
From Publishers Weekly: “ … set in the Victorian era, recent widow Cora Seaborne leaves London with her 11-year-old son, Francis, and loyal companion, Martha, and goes to Colchester, where a legendary, fearsome creature called the Essex Serpent has been sighted. Scholarly Cora, who is more interested in the study of nature than in womanly matters of dress, tramps about in a man's tweed coat, determined to find proof of this creature's existence. Through friends, she is introduced to William Ransome, the local reverend; his devoted wife, Stella; and their three children. Cora looks for a scientific rationale for the Essex Serpent, while Ransome dismisses it as superstition. This puts them at odds with one another, but, strangely, also acts as a powerful source of attraction between them. When Cora is visited by her late husband's physician, Luke Garrett, who carries a not-so-secret torch for her, a love triangle of sorts is formed. In the end, a fatal illness, a knife-wielding maniac, and a fated union with the Essex Serpent will dictate the ultimate happiness of these characters. Like John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman, whose Lyme Regis setting gets a shout-out here, this is another period literary pastiche with a contemporary overlay. Cora makes for a fiercely independent heroine around whom all the other characters orbit.”
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by
From Publishers Weekly: “World Fantasy Award-winner Goss's debut novel, richly reworking a short story (published in Strange Horizons in 2010) with influences as diverse as The Castle of Otranto and Mystery Science Theater 3000, brings her gothic-inflected fantasies roaring into the steampunk era. The main narrative is a standout pastiche of late Victorian mystery fiction, set in an alternate 1880s London and featuring Sherlock Holmes and a quintet of remarkable women: Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappacini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary Jekyll. Mary is penniless and hoping to remedy that by claiming the bounty on the fugitive Edward Hyde. She partners with Holmes to find him -- though Holmes is somewhat distracted by a killer who's targeting Whitechapel prostitutes -- and in the process discovers the other "monstrous" daughters of infamous scientists. Goss easily surmounts the challenge of making such a male-defined premise belong to the women as shapers of their own destinies. A peppering of the daughters' wry comments, first presented as brief marginalia, swiftly blossoms into dialogues and alternative takes on the tale … This is a tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight.”
The Storm King by
From Publishers Weekly: “Duffy follows his debut, House of Echoes, with a stunning literary thriller, which combines accomplished wordsmithing with startling twists. Nate McHale is a husband, father, and pediatric surgeon in New York City, but he was once the Storm King of Greystone Lake in upstate New York, the leader of a band of vengeful vandals. Under cover of bad weather, Nate and his high school friends balanced "the equations of pain" by committing acts of retribution for attacks and sleights against them. Nate's high school girlfriend, Lucy Bennett, disappeared just after graduation. Now Lucy's body has recently been found, and Nate is returning to Greystone Lake for the first time in 14 years for her funeral. He must tame the "menagerie of suffering in the cages of [his] soul" in order to fight his way through the layers of secrets, past and present, as a hurricane rages and a new wave of vandalism even more vicious than his own strikes the town. Duffy weaves Lucy's murder and town folklore into a tapestry of storm, pain, fire, and, eventually, redemption.”
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by
*Book of the Month Club Selection *Indie Next Pick "Hugely entertaining... The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is full of delight. Though Ms. Jacobs's writing has echoes of Thomas Pynchon, Nathanael West and J.D. Salinger, her terrific book displays in abundance a magic all its own." --The Wall Street Journal The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down--and protect--before others can get their hands on it. Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden. While in Los Angeles for Isaac's funeral, Hazel realizes she's not the only one searching for his life's work, and that the equation's implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch. As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac's favorite son--a theoretical physicist--and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel's grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.
Marianne Hageman - O'Shaughnessy-Frey LIbrary
"During World War II, a family finds life turned upside down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small Colorado town. After a young girl is murdered, all eyes (and suspicions) turn to the newcomers, the interlopers, the strangers. This is her town as Rennie Stroud has never seen it before. She has just turned thirteen and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things."
The Radium Girls by
“The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill....The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Homemade: Finnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients from My Life in Food by
“Beatrice Ojakangas, the oldest of ten children, came by it naturally—the cooking but also the pluck and perseverance that she's served up with her renowned Scandinavian dishes over the years. In the wake of the Moose Lake fires and famine of 1918, Ojakangas tells us in this delightful memoir-cum-cookbook, her grandfather sent for a Finnish mail-order bride—and got one who’d trained as a chef. Ojakangas’s stories, are, unsurprisingly, steeped in food lore: tales of cardamom and rye, baking salt cake at the age of five on a wood-burning stove, growing up on venison, making egg rolls for Chun King, and sending off a Pillsbury Bake Off–winning recipe without ever making it.”
Hayley Graffunder - Charles J. Keffer Library
The Nix by
"A hilarious and deeply touching debut novel about a son, the mother who left him as a child, and how his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own.
Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn't seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. But then one day there she is, all over the news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints Faye as a militant radical with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother never left her small Iowa town. Which version of his mother is the true one? Determined to solve the puzzle--and finally have something to deliver to his publisher--Samuel decides to capitalize on his mother's new fame by writing a tell-all biography, a book that will savage her intimately, publicly. But first, he has to locate her; and second, to talk to her without bursting into tears."
One More Thing by
This is the perfect book for those of us who should really take a break from watching all those Netflix stand-up specials. It's a must-read for anyone who likes comedy.
"B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.
Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak's assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time."
Best when read outdoors, preferably in a hammock or sprawled out on a blanket.
Mary Oliver's perceptive, brilliantly crafted poems about the natural landscape and the fundamental questions of life and death have won high praise from critics and readers alike. Oliver's passionate demonstrations of delight are powerful reminders of the bond between every individual, all living things, and the natural world."
Andrea Koeppe - Charles J. Keffer Library
Please Kill Me: the Uncensored Oral History of Punk by
I originally read this book when it came out in 1994 when it came out, and I remember enjoying the stories and gossip about some of my favorite bands like the Talking Heads, Patti Smith Group, and the Velvet Underground, along with the whole awesomely decadent Andy Warhol Factory scene. Now flash to 2018 and I found my old copy on a shelf in the basement, so I couldn't resist a re-read. And wow. Not only do all of the old, cringy stories of famous people excess still hold up, but now I find myself paying attention to the people who did not get as big as Debbie Harry and David Bowie, but who contributed to the spirit and energy of New York City in the 1970's. It also doesn't hurt to read this in 2018 with high speed internet at your fingertips, so I can Google a name or a group I am not familiar with and go down an endless rabbit hole of old interviews and YouTube clips. I realize I must be making reading this book to be a lot of work, but it is honestly a lot of fun. To quote Van Halen 'I think of all the education that I missed, but then my homework was never quite like this'.
Once upon a Time in Shaolin by
You know what it is like when you are watching the trailer for a movie, and the trailer gives away the entire plot of the movie and so you think to yourself, 'well, now I don't have to see the movie'. That was my initial thought seeing the (massive) title of this book, but I this is worth reading. 'Once Upon a Time...' chronicles the Wu Tang Clan's provocative and original idea of creating just one copy of their album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, to sell to the highest bidder. The thought being that a single copy album makes a statement about the worth of music as art, as opposed to music being perceived only as content or entertainment for audiences to consume for free on streaming services. That sounds very worthwhile and noble, what can go wrong?
*Spoiler Alert* Unless you watch the news and keep up with current events.
The highest bidder at $2 million was from 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli, the disgraced pharmaceutical czar who is best known for dramatically jacking the price of a crucial AIDS treatment drug. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for securities fraud. And because of Shkreli's conviction he was forced to give up his Wu Tang album, and so the fate of the one and only copy of Shaolin is in government limbo.
What makes this book such a terrific read is that the story is crazy, especially because it all really happened. And I didn't even touch upon the Bill Murray sub-plot! What I also really liked was the context of this story highlighting disruptive models in the traditional music industry. Whether or not this chapter will be viewed as a success or failure is unclear. However as artists will always create music, I believe they will also come up with 'crazy' ideas to be heard and seen. Those are more books I am waiting to read.