Looking for your summer reading? We’ve solicited recommendations from our Libraries staff and are featuring those books in a new display at the Main Library. It’s on the first floor, to the left of the checkout desk, and right across from the door to the cafe area. The books circulate like any regular book, with regular checkout periods. We’ll be adding more recommendations as books are checked out, so check back often.
Here are the books currently on display:
Hope Dies Last by Studs Turkel, chosen by Walter Biggins, UGA Press
Given the world we live in, and given that we all are perpetual screwups within it, how do we keep going? And why? These are the central questions of life, and Studs Terkel talks to over 60 activists, politicians, and world changers about the potential answers. Hope means different things to different people, and the quasi-oral history doesn’t offer a definitive answer. (If the Bible can’t even do it, why would we expect it of Terkel’s tome?) But the wrestling with the questions is the main thing, and that wrestling is lucid, tear-jerking, insightful, and deeply, deeply moving.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durell, chosen by Jenifer Marquardt, Cataloging Department
Gerald Durrell was one of the first to believe that zoos should be used to help preserve and regenerate species. My family and other animals is a biography covering the period of his childhood on the Greek island of Corfu. The book is a mix of funny tales of his British family, which included Lawrence Durrell, and the naturalistic studies of a young child.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, chosen by J. R., Cataloging Department
My hopes for this one were so high that I was inevitably a little let down through absolutely no fault of the author’s. I’m choosing this one nonetheless, because I think what he did here was incredibly valuable, and I can probably say very little about this exploration of the way in which our pettiest actions can crush another human being that hasn’t already been said. One scene in particular was hard for me to get through, in the best possible way, because of its spot-on portrayal of people’s utter lack of compassion for the suicidal person.
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, chosen by Amy Watts, Reference Department
If you saw the movie, forget about it. It was rubbish. Rachel is best friends with Darcy, who is engaged to Dexter. Rachel first fell in love with Dexter back in law school, right before he met Darcy. After too many drinks on Rachel’s 30th birthday, she and Dexter end up sleeping together. So then what? Will the marriage go ahead? Whether it does or doesn’t, what happens to Rachel and Darcy’s lifelong friendship? A novel about infidelity that makes you sympathetic to both the cheater and the cheated-on; a story about the fine line between a friend and a “frenemy” – this book is called “Chick Lit” mainly because it’s got a pink and cover and is written by a woman; the issues it’s confronting will be relatable to many readers.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, chosen by Rachel Evans, Law Library Web Developer
This is a stunning work of experimental fiction. A book about a book about a movie about a house (or something like that). If that sound intriguing then you’ll love this book! It is part horror, part psychological thriller, part diaries of multiple people whose interest in an unexplainable phenomenon found within a photographer’s house brings all of the stories and story tellers together into one confusing but ultimately very rewarding novel. The book itself is also filled with typography that requires you to read the book sideways and upside down at times. As the one character gets lost within the abyss of his house that seems to have a never-ending depth, you the reader get just as lost within the book as the typography begins to reflect visually on the page the journey of the character within who is video-documenting the movie that is at the center of this story within a story. A fascinating read that will make you question the boundaries of reality!
Pym by Mat Johnson, chosen by Amber Prentiss, Reference
If you want to go way down south with a team of unlikely Antarctic explorers (including an African American literature professor and “the world’s only civil rights activist turned deep-sea diver”), then read this book. There are also monsters. Did I mention that this is a riff on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket?
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, chosen by Hayley Cox, Access Services Department
Eleanor & Park is a lovely Young Adult novel that addresses insecurity, interracial relationships, step-families, and abuse. Despite the breadth of subjects addressed, E&P is simple in that it tells a story of a boy and a girl who fall in love and learn to support each other as they learn to become themselves.
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, chosen by Liz Holdsworth, Reference Department
The first published* queer romance with a happy ending, Highsmith both sympathetically and ruthlessly captures class differences, self-discovery, and the deeply entrenched social mores of sexuality. Written in the early 1950s, her characters and ideas ring true today. The lovers aren’t perfect or perfectly matched, but you root for their freedom.
*Maurice, by EM Forster, was written in 1913 but published after his death in 1971.
Refried Elvis by Eric Zolov, chosen by Michael Law, Interlibrary Loan Department
This is an excellent overview of the American/Mexican cultural exchange in the counterculture era of the 1960s and 70’s. The title is not the only entertaining part; it’s very illuminating and entertaining.
The Invisibles by Hugh Sheehy, chosen by Sean Garrett, UGA Press
The Invisibles is a work of short stories that gives credit to the genre. The stories take on a range of interesting issues with extremely believable characters that will prove a page-turner for any interested party.
Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson, chosen by Justin Brunley, Special Collections Building Vault
Blankets is not only an emotionally satisfying story of first love, loss of faith, and childhood nostalgia, but also a complex enjoyment of symbolic artistry. The narrator succinctly combines a tone of wistful enjoyment with the regret of impermanence – all tied to the encompassing complexion of the winter landscape. In other words, like any graphic novel worth its ink, it does a good job of combining the words of its story with the imagery on its page – imagery that both enhances and emphasizes the mood and meaning of the story’s events. Recommended for anyone with a taste for strong emotional desires and a touch of the resulting melancholic reflection (or for those who love snow).
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, chosen by MacKenzie Haring, Cataloging Department
Set in early 20th century Australia, this b ook tells the story of a lighthouse keeper, Tom, on a small island. When a boat carrying an infant washes ashore, Tom and Isabel, his wife, must make a critical decision and the book deals with the repercussions. Even more compelling than the story is the beautiful way this book is written. The descriptions of Janus Rock are breathtaking. This is one of the best books I read last year and I cannot recommend it enough!
After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation by George Steiner, chosen by Christine Packwood, Map and Government Information Library
If you have an interest in studying linguistics or hermeneutics, this is indeed the book for you. However, anyone who has ever learned a foreign language or tried to translate a book or a poem from one language to another would enjoy this. I found particularly fascinating the author’s story about being in an accident and suddenly crying out as he realized that a crash was imminent. Since he is totally bilingual, he thought that the language he used at that point must be his “primary” language. Unfortunately, he could not remember later what he had said in the danger of the moment!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, chosen by Laura Shedenhelm, Collection Development Department
This is a wonderful work that integrates history and gaming. If you like massive multi-player games, yet you are too shy (or afraid) to personally engage with the other players, you ARE player one. The protagonist in this post-apocalyptic work must overcome his fear of the outside world and other people in order to survive to win the game. A fascinating read.