Tag Archives: summer reading

Summer Reading

There’s still time left this summer to enjoy some good reading. Whether you are looking for a true beach read that places you in the midst of the season and/or a moving story that is timeless we have several recommendations for you. The following are titles we recently enjoyed and thought to share.

the vacationers book coverThe Vacationers: A Novel by Emma Straub

Straub’s second novel (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, 2012) is contained in the two-week vacation of the extended Post family: Franny and Jim, married over 30 years; their teen daughter, Sylvia; twentysomething son Bobby, his girlfriend, Carmen, in tow; and Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. Trading one grand island for another, the mainly Manhattanites arrive in Mallorca with, of course, a few secrets tucked in their literal baggage—and so begin the games that occur above the plane of the Scrabble board. Jim has suddenly left his beloved magazine job, and not everyone knows the circumstances; Sylvia’s excitement to get to Brown might have more to do with leaving home; Carmen wishes Bobby would ask his parents for that favor already; and it’s more than work e-mails keeping Lawrence searching for a Wi-Fi signal. Straub masters a constantly changing flow of perspectives as readers wonder who will forgive and be forgiven in this sun-soaked, remote paradise. Spongy and dear, sharply observed and funny, Straub’s domestic-drama-goes-abroad is a delightful study of the complexities of family and love, and the many distractions from both. -Annie Bostrom, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen

mr. loverman book coverMr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Barrington Walker is a 74-year-old transplanted Antiguan living in Hackney, London, and wrestling with a late-life crisis. For more than 20 years, he has pondered leaving his profoundly unhappy wife, Carmel, for his lover and childhood friend, Morris de la Roux. Barry is a dapper dresser, lover of Shakespeare, wise investor, and shrewd observer of the human condition. But he is unable to reconcile his own inner conflicts and come to account for what his actions and inactions have cost his wife and his lover. Can he do it this time, with his daughters more than grown up? Carmel herself is obviously dissatisfied with the marriage, giving Barry an ultimatum as she journeys back to Antigua to see her dying father. She is fed up with his weekends of drinking and carousing with, she thinks, women. He is fed up with her clutch of churchy, judgmental friends so critical of him. In this vibrant novel, Evaristo draws wonderful character portraits of complex individuals as well as the West Indian immigrant culture in Britain. -Vanessa Bush, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

my real children book coverMy Real Children by Jo Walton

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know — what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War — those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton’s My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives… and of how every life means the entire world.​ – Publisher description. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

boys in the boat book coverThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown (Under a Flaming Sky, 2006) takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler’s heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. –Alan Moores, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen

secret daughter book coverSecret Daughter: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

In her engaging debut, Gowda weaves together two compelling stories. In India in 1984, destitute Kavita secretly carries her newborn daughter to an orphanage, knowing her husband, Jasu, would do away with the baby just as he had with their firstborn daughter. In their social stratum, girls are considered worthless because they can’t perform physical labor, and their dowries are exorbitant. That same year in San Francisco, two doctors, Somer and Krishnan, she from San Diego, he from Bombay, suffer their second miscarriage and consider adoption. They adopt Asha, a 10-month-old Indian girl from a Bombay orphanage. Yes, it’s Kavita’s daughter. In alternating chapters, Gowda traces Asha’s life in America—her struggle being a minority, despite living a charmed life, and Kavita and Jasu’s hardships, including several years spent in Dharavi, Bombay’s (now Mumbai’s) infamous slum, and the realization that their son has turned to drugs. Gowda writes with compassion and uncanny perception from the points of view of Kavita, Somer, and Asha, while portraying the vibrant traditions, sights, and sounds of modern India. -Deborah Donovan, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Coleen Martin.

empty mansions book coverEmpty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark’s descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book’s mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clark’s life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery. – James Orbesen, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen.

raising my rainbow book coverRaising my Rainbow by Lori Duron

In her first book, Duron comes out of the mommy blog closet with an optimistic and delightful memoir of her family’s process of understanding, supporting, and celebrating their gender-creative son, C.J., who prefers Barbies to trucks and princesses to pirates. The story of the phenomenal growth that this mother exhibits as she tries to do what she thinks is best—steering C.J. toward gender-neutral toys, navigating ever-changing rules about what is okay for him to wear in public—is humorous and light, even when the issues involved are heavy. Duron employs a range of resources as she tries to understand her son and how best to parent him, including speaking to her gay brother and his transgendered friend, finding LGBTQ resources on the Internet, and discovering peers when she begins publishing a blog about C.J. (RaisingMyRainbow.com). In Duron’s story, parents will find support for a love them, not change them style of parenting, optimism about the outcomes for their gender-creative children, sympathy for the difficulties of parenting, and an affirmation of the appropriateness and necessity for fierce advocacy. Duron’s call for compassion should be heeded by educators, caregivers, and neighbors—an open heart, a desire to listen and learn, and a willingness to accommodate go a long way in doing well by someone who differs from your expectations. – Publishers Weekly. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

unsweetined book coverUnsweetined by Jodie Sweetin

. . . In this deeply personal, utterly raw, and ultimately inspiring memoir, Jodie comes clean about the double life she led—the crippling identity crisis, the hidden anguish of juggling a regular childhood with her Hollywood life, and the vicious cycle of abuse and recovery that led to a relapse even as she wrote this book. Finally, becoming a mother gave her the determination and the courage to get sober. With resilience, charm, and humor, she writes candidly about taking each day at a time. Hers is not a story of success or defeat, but of facing your demons, finding yourself, and telling the whole truth—unSweetined. – Publisher description. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon

stiff book coverStiff by Mary Roach

“Uproariously funny” doesn’t seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader’s Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines (“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back”), it is clear that she’s taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called “Dead Man Driving”) to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and “beating-heart” cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach’s digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down. – Publishers Weekly. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

Cool TCC Books for a Warm Summer

Postcards from campHoping to quench your thirst for some great summer reading? You can find terrific books in the Library’s Teacher Curriculum Center’s (TCC) literature collection. It’s the place for readers of all ages. For the younger set, check out titles such as, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Mosquitoes are Ruining My Summer, and Froggy Learns to Swim. “Off-to-camp-ers” will enjoy, Postcards from Camp, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (parents – and grandparents may fondly remember the latter), and Cheesie Mack is Cool in a Duel. Young adults will surely warm to titles such as, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation and The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls. As always, the friendly TCC staff is here to help you find what you’re looking for — or even make reading recommendations to suit your interests. So, let your flip-flops do the walking and set you on the path to great summer reading adventures. We look forward to “sea-ing” you in the TCC, so dive on in! 

- Mara Houdyshell

Beach Reads

Book on Beach

Beach Reads http://www.flickr.com/photos/frostis/8081062616/

Looking for something fun to read this summer?  Browse the Bestsellers Collection and the Reading Room on the second floor!  Here are some top picks to keep you blissfully transported on vacation.

DivergentIf you liked The Hunger Games, you will love Divergent by Veronica Roth. Tough-as-nails heroine Tris learns who she is and what she’s made of in a dystopian future Chicago.  The fast-paced cinematic action continues in the sequel, Insurgent – but you’ll have to wait until October for Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy. In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call numbers PZ7.R7375 Di 2011 and PZ7.R7375 Ins 2012

Private BerlinThe latest mystery from the always-popular James Patterson is Private Berlin, a grisly thriller.  In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PS3566.A822 P763 2013

The RookIf you’re looking for both a mystery and a heroine in an alternate world, try The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.  Publishers Weekly says, “Dry wit, surprising reversals of fortune, and a clever if offbeat plot make this a winner. Dr. Who fans will find a lot to like.” In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PR9619.4.O52 R66 2012

Sophie KinsellaFor a summer read that’s light as chiffon, try the latest from Sophie Kinsella (author of Confessions of a Shopaholic).  I’ve Got Your Number  starts with a lost engagement ring and a cell phone mix up, telling much of the story in text messages and footnoted quips.  A fine romance, perfect for a lazy day of sunbathing.  In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PR6073.I246 I93 2012

 – Laura Wimberley

It’s Summertime and the Reading is– at the TCC!

Summer is here and some of the best reading can be found in the Oviatt Library’s Teacher Curriculum Center (TCC).  What’s better than buying a book?  Checking one out for free!  It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Book trio

You can re-visit classics of yore (“A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Little Prince”), or catch up on some contemporary “must reads” (“Twilight,” “The Hunger Games”).  Perhaps a childhood favorite?  We even have some graphic novels. TCC’s collection has something for everyone, including a wide variety of picture books perfect for the younger set or even for you.  Stop in and check out, “Pete the Cat,” the “Elephant & Piggie” series, or even “Officer Buckle and Gloria” – books so entertaining that you’ll want to read them again and again (and enjoy their playful artwork).  We also have a great selection of books on CD to keep you entertained on those long, cross country drives.  Imagine having the complete “Harry Potter” series read to you as you navigate the highways and byways!

Silly or serious, fact or fiction, we’ve got your number and it’s unlimited.  What could be finer than sitting poolside or seaside, sipping cool lemonade, wearing shorts, shades and flip flops while taking in the antics of “Huckleberry Finn” or “Ramona the Pest”?  And don’t forget about, “Al Capone Does my Shirts” (we thought you’d be intrigued).  If you have a current CSUN ID card, you hold the passport to a myriad of destinations.

Let reading transport you.  For fun, excitement, adventure, or just a mental scenic getaway, you don’t have to go very far, come to the TCC – it’s the start of any great vacation.

- Mara Houdyshell

Summer Reading Picks

So many books so little time. Summer presents us with an opportunity to kick off our shoes, sip lemonade and most of all – read. With so many good books waiting to be discovered at the end of an academic year that’s been packed with required reading and other campus commitments, it can be a challenge as to know where to start. But several of us at the Library have been comparing notes about good reads and we thought to share.

chango's fire

Chango’s Fire by Ernesto Quinonez

. . . In his searing portrait of a community at the tipping point, Quinonez ably illuminates the sordid politics of gentrification and the unexpected places new immigrants turn to for social and spiritual support. His exploration of the often misunderstood Santeria–the title references the religion’s trickster god, Chango–proves especially fascinating.Frank Sennett, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Jennie Quinonez-Skinner.

the forgotten waltz

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

“This stunning novel by a Booker Prize winner . . . Offers up its brilliance by way of astonishingly effective storytelling.”Booklist, starred review. The book description calls The Forgotten Waltz a haunting story of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction and the irreparable slip into longing. It is a finalist for the 2012 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Recommended by librarian Christina Mayberry.

how to be a chicana role model

How to be a Chicana Role Model by Michele Serros

Serros’s work has been called “wonderfully comical and wise” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “pulsating with the exuberance of an unmistakably original poetic talent” (Entertainment Weekly). How to be a Chicana Role Model is the fiercely funny tale of a Chicana writer who’s trying to find a way to embrace two very different cultures–without losing touch with who she is.Book description. Recommended by librarian Jennie Quinonez-Skinner.

in the garden of beasts

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.Book description. “Erik Larson tackles this outstanding period of history as fully and compellingly as he portrayed the events in his bestseller, Devil in the White City. With each page, more horrors are revealed, making it impossible to put down. In the Garden of Beasts reads like the true thriller it is.”BookReporter.com. Recommended by librarian Lynn Lampert.

kindred

Kindred by Octavia Butler

“This powerful novel about a modern black woman transported back in time to a slave plantation in the antebellum South is the perfect introduction to Butler’s work and perspectives for those not usually enamored of science fiction . . . A harrowing, haunting story.”—John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Recommended by librarian Jennie Quinonez-Skinner.

little bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee will blow you away…. In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters’ points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark — but often funny — story tight. What unfolds between them… is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending.”—Washington Post. Recommended by librarian Coleen Martin.

The Magic of Blood

The Magic of Blood by Dagoberto Gilb

Acclaimed Chicano writer Gilb’s collection of short stories set in the American Southwest won the PEN Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award. —Publishers Weekly. The book description calls The Magic of Blood . . . Fresh, funny, relentless, and beautifully crafted, his writing possesses that rare Chekhovian ability to perfectly capture the nuances of ordinary life and make it resonate with unexpected meaning. Recommended by librarian Jennie Quinonez-Skinner.

reamde

REAMDE: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

“Neal Stephenson has guts, a killer story, and—for the first time since Cryptonomicon—a thriller I can thoroughly recommend to any reader….With REAMDE we have a very smart page-turner—a global chess game expertly played.” —Mental_Floss. “[REAMDE] is, without a doubt, one of the smartest, fastest-moving, and most consistently enjoyable novels of the year, a book with the rare distinction of being one this reviewer wishes he had written.”—Irish Examiner. Recommended by librarian Laura Wimberley.

silver sparrow

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Its book description highlights the significance of the opening line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” which unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle. “Populating this absorbing novel is a vivid cast of characters . . . Jones writes dialogue that is realistic and sparkling, with an intuitive sense of how much to reveal and when . . . One of literature’s most intriguing extended families.”—The Washington Post. Recommended by librarian Coleen Martin.

still alice

Still Alice: A Novel by Lisa Genova

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.—Book description. “This book is as important as it is impressive, and will grace the lives of those affected by this dread disease for generations to come.”—Phil Bolsta, author of Sixty Seconds. Recommended by librarian Marcia Henry.

unorthodox

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

In this arresting memoir about growing up in—and ultimately escaping from—a strict Hasidic community, Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious sect that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms.—Book description. “Eloquent, appealing, and just emotional enough . . . No doubt girls all over Brooklyn are buying this book, hiding it under their mattresses, reading it after lights out—and contemplating, perhaps for the first time, their own escape.”—HuffingtonPost.com. Recommended by librarian Lynn Lampert.

Other summer reading recommendations can be found at the Oviatt’s Pinterest boards, librarian Jennie Quinonez-Skinner’s Pinterest board, L.A. Times Summer Reading Guide and some interesting nonfiction titles can be found at Zocolo Public Square. Perhaps you have a book you’d like to share. Feel free to let us know the latest title that’s drawn you in and why we all might want to read it.

-Coleen Martin