Summer Reading List

The books that are piling up....

June 1, 2016

It’s that time of year. The time when things begin to slow down; at least for those of us not running amazing summer programs, that is. This is the time when the back to back meetings and never-ending assignments begin to subside. The time when we may even have time to get to all those books that have been piling up on our nightstands (come on, we all have that pile!).

I’ve been looking forward to this time of year for several reasons - not only for the chance to clear my nightstand, but because I’ll also be starting a summer book review series here at the University of Venus. To kick us off, I’ve asked our contributors to tell us about some good books that they’ve read lately, and what’s on their summer reading lists. [And in case you’re wondering, I’ll be reviewing both fiction and nonfiction books. If you’re an author who’d like to have your book reviewed, please contact me at Gbeetham[at]gmail.com]

Let’s get started!

Meg Palladino, New Haven, CT:

I have been enjoying Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of a Lost Child.  

Janine Utell, Philadelphia, PA:  
I’ve got three book projects going simultaneously, so I’ll keep my reading list here to what I’m doing for “fun”:  I’m on a major Joan Didion kick after finishing Year of Magical Thinking, so I’m going back to all her early essays; I’m reading Mary Dearborn’s Queen of Bohemia: The Life of Louise Bryant (about the wife of radical journalist John Reed—herself a journalist and activist); and I’ve just started Aleksandar Hemon’s The Making of Zombie Wars, which is hilarious.


Ernesto Priego, London, UK:

I’ve got several projects on the go. I thought that for the time being I could share with you the titles of the books that I have here next to me piled up on my desk as I type this: Doing data science by Rachel Schutt and Cathy O'Neil; Researching information systems and computing by Briony J. Oates; Data literacy: A User's Guide by David Herzog; Data Collection and Analysis, edited by Roger Sapsford and Victor Jupp;  Introduction to Artificial Intelligence by Philip C. Jackson; Minds and machines, edited by Alan Ross Anderson; and The Robot's Dilemma: The Frame Problem in Artificial Intelligence, edited by Zenon W. Pylyshyn. For fun (and, alas, another project!) I am also finally re-reading Stephen King’s The Stand (the unabridged edition with illustrations by the great Bernie Wrighston) in the same fat US paperback edition I bought in Mexico City back in 1992 when my English was not really good enough to read it without a dictionary...


Lee Skallerup Bessette, Fredericksburg, VA:

Reading? For pleasure? What’s that? I’ve taught Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson this past semester, and I can’t recommend it (and all of Hopkinson’s writing) enough. Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction, rethinking analogies about technology, and Black, Caribbean, female protagonists...her work is fantastic. I’m also looking forward to getting to read Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life by Steven Hyden. I also have Kim Thuy’s latest novel, Vi, which is only available thus far in French, but her writing is so beautiful, I can’t wait to get into it.


Janni Aragon, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

I have several books on the go, and will pull from what is on my Kindle app. I have been reading Jon Krakauer’s Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town for weeks. I can only read a chapter at a sitting thanks to the topic. It’s an important read. I also have Charlie Higson’s #YAzombielit The Sacrifice downloaded and ready for a long weekend. I’m  and forward to reading Elissa Shevinsky’s Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-up Culture and Andi Zeisler’s We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl. The Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. I am currently re-reading Amanda Lang’s The Power of Why and Geektastic, which is a wonderful anthology edited  by Holly Black, Cecil Casellucci, and M.T. Anderson. I also look forward to catching up with the array of magazines on Texture.


Deanna England, The University of Winnipeg, Canada

My Kindle is overflowing right now! It’s far too easy to click and order which has both its benefits and disadvantages. I just finished two fabulous books in the nonfiction genre: Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk, which is an amazingly honest memoir talking about growing up under the legacy of residential schools; as well as The Creation of Anne Bolelyn by Susan Bordo - one of my favourite academic writers. I am fully devoted to fictional fluffy reading for the Summer though. Guy Gavriel Kay is an amazing Canadian author, so I am currently mid-way through Children of Earth and Sky, soon to be followed by Under Heaven. And now that I’m seeing some of the amazing lists that my fellow UVenus writers have going, I may need to delve into some of those as well!


Mary Churchill, Salem State University, Salem, MA

Way back in April when I was on vacation, I read Theresa Ann Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald in a day and started Elena Ferrante’s  My Brilliant Friend. I hope to finish it this summer. I’ve slowly been reading Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward - I can only handle it in small, yet incredibly potent, doses. On my aspirational list: Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I might not get to these until I take a short vacation in August. There’s never enough time! I almost forgot, I've just purchased Jessica Valenti's Sex Object: A Memoir in anticipation of seeing her next week in Jamaica Plain, 



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