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Staff Picks: Summer Reading

bookpicLooking for something to read this summer? The LUC libraries have some suggestions. Some of our staff members told us a bit about a few of their favorite reads.  If you see anything that piques your interest, many of these books are available at the LUC Libraries – call numbers are listed after the titles. Books not available at the LUC libraries can be requested through ILL.


James Conley, our Media Services Librarian, suggests a pair of non-fiction reads:

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – RC265.6 .L24 S55 2010

This book tells a fascinating story about the cell culture process and cell line responsible for many of the cures in contemporary modern medicine. More importantly, it tells the story of the disenfranchisement of a family who lost their beloved mother through lack of access to information and unprincipled medical practices.

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

This is the harrowing story of an American (or gaijin) who successfully makes it as a police beat reporter in Japan, only to uncover some dangerous connections between the US and a Yakuza clan. This thrilling biography offers fascinating insight into the legal, ethical, social and media processes in Japan and how the Yakuza functions in contemporary Japanese society.


Shannon Haluszczak, a member of the Serials Department, suggests:

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

This book tells the story of three world-class runners who set out to break the four-minute mile barrier in the 1950s. Bascomb lays out the failures and triumphs that led Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee to this ultimate challenge. It’s an awe-inspiring story of passion, perserverance and heroism.


Robert Seal, the Dean of the University Libraries, recommends a detective novel:

The Redeemer  by Jo Nesbo  – PT8951.24 .E83 F7413 2013 

This is one of the latest of Nesbo’s Harry Hole detective novels to be translated into English. Harry and colleagues on the Oslo police force are tracking down an unknown assassin who has murdered a Salvation Army soldier.  Like all Nesbo books, this one is great escapist fiction and a real page-turner.


Gabrielle Annala, our Business Librarian, picked two entertaining memoirs:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson – PN4874 .L285 A3 2012

This humorous autobiographical memoir tells the story of a socially awkward girl growing up in rural Texas with a father (a professional taxidermist) that likes to keep bizarre pets like wild turkeys and raccoons.  After spending years growing up in a town of about 300 people, Jenny never quite outgrows her awkwardness and carries it with her well into adult life.  Jenny initially became famous for her blog: The Bloggess.  Followers were so enamored with her charm, sarcasm, and absurd personality that she gained a national following.

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

Another humorous autobiographical memoir, Jen Lancaster and her longtime boyfriend rise to the top of their fields and become wealthy Chicagoans.  When the dot com bubble burst in 2000 they both found themselves unemployed and eventually unable to find work.  Jen retells their fall from financial grace with hilarious sarcasm and altruism.  She uses this first memoir as a “lifestyle post-mortem” and makes fun of the way she used to live, while learning to be an adult on a budget, and sometimes food stamps.


bookpicKim Medema, of the Acquisitions Department, suggests:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – HD9000.5 .C506 2009

You’d have to have spent the last decade living under a rock to have avoided hearing about Michael Pollan. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is his seminal work about American food systems. If you’re like me, this book will leave you afraid to eat anything for a week while you seriously revisit your personal food politics. But you’ll be much better off in the end!

Wilco: Learning How To Die by Greg Kot – ML421 .W52 K68 2004

This book covers the history and discography of Wilco from Jeff Tweedy’s middle school days through the drama of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and its supporting tour. The book ends just as the band heads into the studio to record A Ghost is Born. This is a must-read for any Wilco fan, and I hope one day Greg Kot will write a revised edition that includes the band’s history since 2004. Pair this with the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, and you will never listen to a Wilco album the same way again.

Divergent by  Veronica Roth – PZ7 .R7375 Di 2011

You loved The Hunger Games and you heard some similar dystopian YA book-turned-movie was recently filming in Chicago. This is that book. Read Divergent and Insurgent now so you’ll be ready for the October release of the final book installment (Allegiant,) and also so you will be ahead of the curve when everyone races to pick up a copy of this book in advance of the 2014 film release.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – PS3553 .A655 E5 1991

Another “hey, this is about to be released as a movie” selection for you. There is so much more to Ender’s Game than the movie trailer suggests. Take any of the book’s discussions of war, politics, morality, or the fundamental question of what it means to be human and you have the fuel for a full night of impassioned sci fi-driven debates with your friends. You guys do that, right?


Sarah Meisch, another member of the Serials Department, recommends:

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age by Ruth Harris – BT653 .H37 1999

This is a history book that reads like a novel. It explains with beautiful detail and emotion how a little town set in the Pyrenees became one of the most important Catholic Pilgrimage sites of the 19th Century.  If you really enjoy this book, I suggest following it with the 1894 novel Lourdes by Emile Zola for a fascinating, contemporary perspective. (PQ 2506 .A38 1993)

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – PR6056 .O45 F35 2010

This is a novel full of historical information, and is part one of Follett’s Century Trilogy – for those (like me) who just can’t get enough of the 20th century.  If you like Downton Abbey, All Quiet on the Western Front, Dr. Zhivago, or the film Joyeux Noel, this book is worth checking out. It follows the lives of several interconnected families across Europe and the United States from the early years of the 20th Century through World War One and into the Depression. The second book in the Century Trilogy, Winter of the World, is also available, but I have to say it doesn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first book (PR6056 .O45 W56 2012).


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