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Crack Open a Classic

Summer is the ideal time to pick up a book that you never finished—or always meant to read. If you are looking for some great summer reading recommendations, the Library has got you covered. Check out these suggestions from Library personnel.

Nancy, University Librarian

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
PS3503 .R167 D35 2006
If you want the flavor of August in 1928, told through the lens of a 12-year-old boy, this may be the book. Ray Bradbury based the book on his own childhood, but it is a work of fiction. Douglas Spalding is 12 and his brother Tom is 10. Their Grandpa makes dandelion wine—"summer in a bottle," he calls it. Greentown, IL is the setting for the group of boys who learn the past from a Civil War veteran they call the Time Machine, but the old soldier can't remember if he fought for the North or the South. They see the future as buses replace electric trolleys, and other events [no spoilers here] cause them to begin to understand their own mortality. The large and close Spalding family passes much of the summer on the front porch, but Bradbury gives only the barest outline of his characters' appearances, allowing the reader to add faces of one's choosing to bring the book to life. As in his other books, Bradbury's imagery alone is worth the read: "shoes, as quiet as a summer rain falling on the walks."

Andrew, Circulation Services Specialist

War and Peace

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
PG3366 .V6 1982
The story of Russians during the Napoleonic War—At its core, War and Peace is probably the greatest realist novel ever written and the characters will live with you long after you've finished the novel. "There remains the greatest of all novelists—for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" -Virginia Woolf 

Sun Also Rises

Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
PS3515 .E37 S9
Hemingway's best novel. In it, the lives of the Lost Generation are refracted through a group of friends traveling around Europe, looking for love, bull fights, and their next drink. And, of course, it's about love.

Becca, Manager of Resource Description

Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
PS3537 .T3234 G7
The themes (workers' rights &man's impact on the climate) of this classic American migration tale set during the Great Depression remain as relevant today as they were 75 years ago. Summer is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the Joads' struggle as they cross the desert into California.

Jackie, Circulation Services Specialist

The Awakening

Awakening by Kate Chopin
PS1294 .C63 A6 2000
Set in New Orleans and the surrounding coastal region at the turn of the century, a young wife and mother becomes increasingly disenchanted with her life and actively seeks to free herself from societal norms. It's considered one of the first truly feminist novels, and it is a great read.

Kathryn, Reference Librarian

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
PT2625 .A44 Z31
Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) is a masterful commentary on Europe careening toward the Great War. Through the eyes of young Hans Castorp and the international clientele of an elite TB sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, Mann's bildungsroman chronicles the intellectual, political, and social scene of early 20th century Europe. The complex themes of Magic Mountain are particularly relevant as the 100th Anniversary of World War I refocuses attention on the "war to end all wars." (Want to learn more about the WWI but don't like fiction? Try Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August.)

Laura, Assistant to the University Librarian

The Good Soldier

Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford
PR6011 .O53 G6 2012
The Good Soldier takes place in England in 1915. It feels like a peek behind the curtain at a certain lifestyle in England. A sad story filled with witty lines. Worth reading for the writing alone!

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner
PS3537 .T316 B5 1991
This novel takes place on the plains and in Canada in the early 20th Century. It is told from multiple perspectives. Stegner is a great writer and the characters come to life in a sweeping tale that spans a generation.

Molly, Visual Media Collections Coordinator

A Study In Scarlet

Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
PR4622 .S933 1994
For those who enjoy a good mystery or love Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series Sherlock, read the original books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Witty, easy reads, the books are great to read outside on a lunch break or at the beach, and it is fun comparing the series to its inspiration.

Dark is Rising sequence

Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper
PZ7 .C7878 Dar 2000
For fun, quick reads this summer, YA books, such as Susan Cooper's classic series, are a great alternative to cheesy romances and mysteries.

Rose, Budget Coordinator

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
PS3537 .T3234 E3
This story about good and evil unexpectedly became one of my favorite books. It forces you to think about your beliefs in humanity and is so haunting that I reread it every year.

Sam, Music Library Coordinator

Moby Dick

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
PS2384 .M62 H47 1998
I heartily recommend Moby Dick as a summer reading classic. I mean, it's the quintessential American novel, but I do think it deserves its status. A who's who of under-dog miscreants traverse the globe looking for wealth and revenge. Pure American hubris at its best/worst. It is long, but takes place on a boat—and we all want to be on a boat in the summer, right? I've read it four times.

Last, but not least, a novel so beloved it gets two reviews:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
PQ8180.17 .A73 Z96

Katherine, Archives Specialist

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Read about the Buendía family in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Between the magical realism and compelling characters, you are sure to lose track of time with this summer read.

Jenise, Reference Librarian

Cien Años de Soledad

Incredibly timely since Gabriel García Márquez's passing. I read this for the first time the summer of my 21st year and I'll never forget the dreamy state it left me in each time I picked it up. I'm a big believer in season-appropriate reads and One Hundred Years begs to be read during the summer, on a porch, accompanied by something ice cold to drink.

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