Looking for a great summer read? Check out these recommendations from ZSR librarians and staff members! For additional recommendations, check out our Goodreads bookshelves or consider one of the suggested titles from the University’s summer academic program, Project Wake: Citizenship (listed below)!

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – This is a captivating story with intricate characters, many of whom are highly relatable despite dragon scales or made-up languages. The brushes of fantasy, religion, and culture reminds me of Rushdie, though this read is more easily digestible than most Rushdie novels. Fans of Philip Pullman or Garth Nix’s Sabriel will love this, too. (Recommended by Stephanie Bennett)

  • Imperium by Christian Kracht – What could be more summery than a darkly lighthearted tale about a Utopian south Pacific island of cocovores? Cocovorism = eating nothing but coconuts. And yes, it’s based on a true story. (Recommended by Jeff Eller)

  • The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin – In efforts to uncover and demonstrate the enormous impact that African Americans have had on American cuisine and food culture, Toni Tipton-Martin amassed one of the world’s largest collections of cookbooks published by African American authors.  This beautifully researched and detailed collection of historical cookbooks and the stories behind the cooking are an engaging read for all foodies, book lovers, collectors, and historians. (Recommended by Meghan Webb)

  • At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance by Danielle McGuire – A friend recommended this to me a few years ago, and I finally took the time to read it on the way to a conference. The author, a professor at Wayne State, exposes some important and often obscured facts related to American, civil rights, and women’s history; Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer are discussed, but also many lesser-known women. The research notes are detailed, and I was amazed at how much work Black newspapers did to expose white supremacist violence. And the women! Such courage in the face of threats that had no end. Despite the inherent weight of its topic, the book was easy to read because the author is an excellent writer and the stories are so compelling. (Recommended by Stephanie Bennett)

  • Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War by Joe Bageant – While written in 2007, just before the Great Recession, the insights Mr. Bageant makes about the state of the economy, cultural differences, and how that all plays out in how America votes is enlightening.  Read this book before the November election, and see if all the predictions don’t come true. (Recommended by Mary Beth Lock)

  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein – It is an interesting look at the 1970s and many of the issues the USA was coping with during those years. It also takes a look at Ronald Reagan and his youth and years in Hollywood and how he went from a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican. (Recommended by Patrick Ferrell)

  • Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon – Carly is very frank in this memoir about her early life leading up to her becoming a star: singing with her sister, then becoming a solo act, running into Sean Connery and many others. Her time with James Taylor is almost fully accounted for.  It is not a complete day by day description of her life. In fact, it leaves out her second marriage entirely.  It basically stops shortly after her 1983 breakup with James Taylor then skips to today.  I liked hearing about her early life.  Her father was a founder of the publisher, Simon & Shuster. She was friends with Jackie Robinson and many famous literati. She had a devotion to family (and I think she still carries a flame for James Taylor). I enjoyed this frank telling of a portion of her life and still love her music. (Recommended by Craig Fansler)

Suggested titles from Project Wake: Citizenship