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The First Circle



Rituals of Blood

Sophie's Choice

Pale Blue Dot

 

 

Circle of Stones

 

Outfoxed

Long Walk to Freedom

 

Great Gatsby

 

 

 

 

Horse Heaven

 

 

 

Almost a Woman


 Librarians Who Read
compiled by Rebecca Feind 
Reference Librarian


Summer Reading: what library faculty and staff read and recommend!  Here are the results of a survey of library faculty and staff. We hope these reviews might provide some titles to add to your own "To Read" list.

 John McGehee, Electronic Services Librarian:  This summer I read Naked by David Sedaris. Naked is a collection of essays describing a variety of humorous, irreverent, and sometimes bizarre, episodes in the author's life. These life experiences include accounts of outrageous family dysfunction, the author's struggles with obsessive-compulsive childhood tics (repeated licking of light switches,) hitchhiking misadventures, and strange career choices. I often found myself laughing out loud when reading Naked (especially when the author decides to converse only in Elizabethan English) and acquired the annoying habit of re-reading the particularly humorous  passages out loud to my wife. The book also has serious moments, particularly when the author recounts the days leading up to his mother's death. At its core, however, Naked is a book that makes you laugh.  

Brian Cockburn, Head, Music Library:  The First Circle  (PG3488.O4 V213 1969)by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.  Not really "summer" reading but part of my goal of reading the greatest books of western civilization as listed in Mortimer Adler's "How to Read a Book".  It is set in Stalin's USSR and details the life inside a political prison full of engineers developing various systems for covert and non-covert actions.  I am about half-way through the almost 900 page volume and enjoying the thoughtful and philosophical writing.  The book is neither an easy nor quick read, but very rewarding so far.  On second thought, it is a good summer book, because it will take me the entire summer to read it.

Candace Miller, Reference Librarian:  I read Rituals of Blood  (E185.615 .P353 1998) by Orlando Patterson, a Harvard sociologist.   This the second book of a 3-book non-fiction series about African-American social history.

Gordon Miller, Reference Librarian:  Sophie's Choice  (PS3569.T9 S66 1992 ) by William Styron.  The novel brings out the horrors of the Holocaust, though the eyes of one woman who did survive. 

 Mark S. Purington, Approvals Manager:  This summer I'm reading Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot: A vision of the human future in space (QB500.262 .S24 1994). I think most people were first introduced to Dr. Sagan the same way I was, through his fascinating 1980s PBS series "Cosmos" where, through the use of clear language, simple diagrams, and fabulous photography, Sagan laid out the workings of the universe in plain terms everyone could understand.  Pale Blue Dot uses the same technique of simplifying, but never patronizing, to explore the history of man's understanding of his place in the world. Sagan describes the progression from geocentrism, where Man is at the center of a universe created just for him, to the exciting discoveries that prove that we are really part of something much bigger.  It is not surprising that Carl Sagan's stark truths have unsettled many in certain religious and philosophical circles. Even if you don't read a word of the text, however, the photographs alone will almost certainly move you.  I recommend it highly.

Anna Creech, Periodicals Department:  I've read a number of books this summer that I enjoyed, but the one that stands out the most is Circle of Stones (Browsing Collection) by Anna Lee Waldo.  This book is a historical fiction novel about the Welsh sailor Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd written from the perspective of his mother, Brenda, who was Prince Owain's chief advisor and long-time mistress.  I enjoyed this book largely because the author was very skilled in bringing to life these personalities who were very influential in shaping the future of Gwynedd and the Druids. 

Karen Milne, Technical Services:  I read Outfoxed (PS3552.R698 O97 2000) by Rita Mae Brown and enjoyed it immensely.  It is a mystery set in Virginia fox hunting country and gives the lowdown on foxhunting (the object is not to kill the fox).  An entertaining read especially for people who enjoy foxes, hounds, and horses.   

Anna Newman, Interlibrary Loan: This is my reading for the summer:  Long Walk to Freedom (DT1949.M35 A3 1994 ) Nelson Mandela, A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer and Mother Teresa: In My Own Words compiled by Jose' Luis Gonzales-Balado.  We have a reading list for our United Methodist Women and these are book from that list. 

Lynn Cameron, Reference Librarian:  I'm continuing a 6-year effort to read and discuss literary classics with a small group of five.  This summer we read The Great Gatsby (PS3511.I9 G7 1953) by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Although I had read this book as a college student, I found that I could enjoy it from a whole different perspective 30 years later.  This book tied in with my interest on the focus on materialism and the excessive display of wealth in our society.  In this complex novel, Gatsby chases the American dream of opportunity and achievement and dies wealthy, but with no friends to attend his funeral.  
Since I really enjoy reading and discussing books, I am involved in another small group that is reading Deep Ecology:  Living as if Nature Mattered by Bill Devall and George Sessions (GF75 .D49 1985).  This fundamental work on environmental ethics examines the roots and motivations of the environmental movement and looks at different ways we humans see our relationship with the rest of the natural world.  

Reba Leiding, Collection Development Librarian: I highly recommend Horse Heaven  (Browsing Collection) by Jane Smiley. It takes you behind the scenes of thoroughbred horse racing, covering all the action from breeding farm to betting window. Like a horse race with too many entries, you wonder how she can juggle all those characters without someone falling by the wayside, but she manages with it with ease. The varied cast includes professional trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, and owners who have way more money than sense, Smiley even gets inside the heads of one or two horses and a Jack Russell terrier. And since horse racing is its own little world, all these characters keep encountering one another, interacting and affecting one another in surprising ways. You will enjoy this book, even if you've never watched a horse race before.

Rebecca Feind, Reference Librarian:  This summer I read Almost a Woman (F128.9.P85 S267 1999) by Esmeralda Santiago.  I really enjoyed this autobiography about a young woman from Puerto Rico growing up in New York City in the 1960's.  The author's voice is honest, genuine and incredibly descriptive.  I felt I learned as much about an immigrant's experience in moving to a different country as I did about the struggle of a young woman working to define herself as a grown woman to her family and to herself.  Reading this book is like having a long, juicy conversation with someone you just met but know you are going to like a lot."

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clarkeke@jmu.edu

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