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Must-Read Books for Summer 2018

Posted in Academic Communities, Faculty, General News, Staff & Administrators, and Students

Summer is here! And undoubtedly, summer is a great season to read books! (along with fall, winter, and spring).

While our primary mission is to support teaching, learning, and research, the Pollak Library does have some popular and leisure reading titles in our print and eBook collections. We also provide access to titles we do not own, through other libraries. Although many book stacks in the library are inaccessible due to the ongoing construction, Pollak Library patrons can still use our fast, handy Book Paging Service to request titles from those restricted areas. Titles below provide links to OneSearch book record.

These are a few summer favorites recommended by our own faculty, staff, and library student employees. Are you reading something interesting this summer? Please share with us in the comment box below. Enjoy!

Title: Ask the Dust

Author: John Fante

Book jacket for Ask the DustRecommended by: Jon Cornforth, First-Year Experience Librarian

Italian-American writer John Fante’s second published novel (and middle volume of a loose trilogy), Ask the Dust, tells in somewhat hard-boiled, lyrical prose, the coming of age tale of a young writer in pursuit of the California Dream while writing the great American novel. Our hero’s adventures take him all over 1930s Southern California, from Chinatown to Laguna Beach, and even out to the Mojave Desert. Noted for its accurate depictions of ethnic groups and urban geographies, a sense of hopeful idealism in the face of harsh reality is felt, which sets it apart from other dystopian visions of L.A. written at the time. Bandini’s dreams and disappointments compliment those of the region he traverses. If you are interested in works by writers about writers, or the area and era in general, I highly recommend this engaging and influential novel.

Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley Book jacket for The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley

Author: Alex Haley, Malcom X

Recommended by: Rowell Miko Santos, Library Student Assistant

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley is powerful and moving account of the life of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, otherwise known as Malcolm X, one of the prominent figures in the Civil Rights movement. This book is gravitating with its poetic grace. This book contains an epilogue from Alex Haley, the writer responsible for transcribing Malcolm X’s life story, as well as an explanation of the writing process and their growing bond.

Title: The Body Where I was BornBook jacket for The Body Where I was Born

Author: Guadalupe Nettel

Recommended by: Richard Cho, Reference & Instruction LIbrarian

This autobiographical novel is narrated in the form of a confession to a psychologist; the author recounts her journey through her childhood and youth by which end she has accepted her own body where she was born. Simply put, it is one woman’s coming-of-age story in Mexico and France. The even tone of the prose is paradoxically gripping throughout, and the novel pays homage to other classic Latin American Literature (e.g.: Cortazar’s axolotls and Bolano’s Infrarealist writers). Interestingly, trilobite (the ancestor of cockroaches, the most resilient species on earth) as a motif is presented to describe one’s childhood, inferring that anyone who has survived childhood can survive anything.

Title: The Chinese Typewriter: A HistoryBook jacket for The Chinese Typewriter: A History

Author: Thomas S. Mullaney

Recommended by: Emily Bonney, The Dean of the Library

The Chinese Typewriter: A History is hardly a beach reading but still a fascinating nonfiction account of efforts to develop a mechanical device that would allow users to print Chinese characters in a way similar to the alphabet typewriter of the west. It also reveals how the availability of a Chinese typewriter was tied up in notions of modernity and of intellectual superiority. The author will bring out the second volume on the computer.

Title: The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Author: Reyna GrandeBook jacket for The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Recommended by: Colleen Greene, Marketing Librarian

Through her own experiences, author Reyna Grande first tells the story of the children who are left behind in Mexico when their parents go to “el otro lado” (the other side of the border, to the United States) seeking opportunity to provide a better life for their children. She then shares what it is like to cross the border and live in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant minor, and of feeling torn between life in the old country vs. the new country.

This book provides context; context to anyone whose Mexican ancestors came to the U.S. in the 20th or 21st centuries — whether documented or undocumented. If these eras apply to your family history, you will want to add this book to your personal library. If this scenario does not apply to your family history, I still encourage you to read this book. This powerful work sheds light on an important issue, tells a powerful inspiring immigrant story, and is capable of teaching us a valuable lesson…empathy.

Title:  The Future of the Body: Explorations into the Further Evolution of Human Nature

Author:  Michael MurphyBook jacket for The Future of the Body

Recommended by: Gregory Witmer, Library Services Specialist

Written by one of the leading figures in the Human Potential Movement, this work seeks to explore our unrealized potentials for meta-normal perception, cognition, movement, vitality, and spiritual development. Murphy presents a body of evidence for exceptional human functioning, aiming to motivate both self-reflection and future investigation. The author claims that “discoveries about our developmental possibilities are scattered across the intellectual landscape, isolated from one another in separate fields of inquiry. In this book, I bring some of these pieces together to see what picture of human possibility they present.”

Title: Gilead

Author: Marilynne RobinsonBook jacket for Gilead

Recommended by: Richard Cho, Reference & Instruction Librarian

Having read all four of her novels (and one essay collection), I shamelessly attest that Robinson might be the greatest American writer still alive. Her novels are challenging yet deeply rewarding. Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, is composed of letters written by a father, whose imminent death is certain, to his 8-year old son. John Ames, the said father, is in his 60s, a pastor his entire life, hence imbues his life story with mysteries of faith, grace, loneliness, and love. John Ames says at one point, “There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?”

Title: The Girl Who Drank the MoonBook jacket for The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Recommended by: Joy Sage, Reference & Instruction Librarian

A wonderful YA book about power, magic, dragons, witches, family and love.  The men in power create a story of a wicked witch living in the woods who demands the sacrifice of one baby each year. The people are sad, but comply. But there is actually a witch in the woods who hurries to rescue these babies. She feeds the babies on starlight during the 3 day journey to the next town where the babies are adopted and cherished. One day the witch falls in love with one of the babies and accidentally feeds her moonlight, which gives the baby magic. Raising a baby with magic is no easy task. This story slowly uncovers what happened to this town long ago and the brave souls who try and fix things for everyone.

Title: Gone with the WindBook jacket for Gone with the Wind

Author: Margaret Mitchell

Recommended by: Josselyn Marroquin, Library Student Assistant

In this novel, the focus is on the young Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara who is challenged during the civil war taking place in the South where her plantation called “Tara” is in jeopardy. As she battles to keep her family’s land, she is intertwined in a love affair between two men. Although Gone with the Wind is a fictional story, it feels as if the story was based on actual events because Margaret Mitchell was a very captivating author.

Title: Pride and PrejudiceBook jacket for Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen.

Recommended by: Olga Podlisetskaya, Library Student Assistant

The story of 5 Bennet sisters, and the challenges and trials of their everyday life, is told with a lighthearted tone, while at the same time carrying an underlying message of the hardships women faced and tried to overcome in a society that did not give them much freedom. If you’re looking for a good classic read, Pride and Prejudice is for you (read it even if you saw the BBC series or the movie).

Title: Riptide Summer: A Honey GirlBook jacket for Riptide Summer

Author: Lisa Freeman

Recommended by: Joy Sage, Reference & Instruction Librarian

Nani moves from Hawaii to California in 1973. She learns about the beach culture and how to be cool. She has friends who teach her how to rule the beach and the number one rule is Girls Don’t Surf. Read about Nani’s adventures and troubles with her surfer boyfriend and her cool SoCal friends in this breezy summer read full of drama.

Title: Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd EditionBook jacket for Strength Training Anatomy

Author: Frederic Delavier

Recommended by: Rowell Miko Santos, Library Student Assistant

Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd Edition is the definitive guide to the human musculoskeletal system, complete with an atlas of the muscular system, guides to exercises and how to complete them (divided into seven sections of the body), a few pages on stretches to improve muscular elasticity, and methods to avoid injuries and pathologies. This book is perfect for all skill levels, for beginners learning fundamental exercises to experts who are looking to fine tune their technique.

Title: The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden OracleBook jacket for The Trials of Apollo

Author: Rick Riordan

Recommended by: Kassidy Flores, Library Student Assistant

Based in the mytho-modern world first introduced in Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle follows the Greek god Apollo, after he has been cast down to earth as punishment by his father, Zeus. Apollo, now an awkward mortal teen, must complete many difficult tasks to prove himself worthy to Zeus and to regain his place among the other gods on Mount Olympus. Riordan’s latest novel is filled with action, humor, and enough haikus to make Apollo, the god of poetry, proud.


Thank you, Jon Cornforth, Colleen Greene, and Panayiotis Christou for your assistance with creating this post.