What are you reading this summer? A doorstopper biography or deep philosophical dive? A best-seller or an obscure title? The classics or pulp fiction?
Grove City College faculty picks for beach or back porch reading – or car trip audiobook listening – this summer run the gamut, from a colleague’s critical take on the modern self to fantasy adventures that entertain young and not-so-young readers.
“Summer reading can be a time to read some things that are ‘just for fun’ or for the love of reading – to rekindle your 9-year-old self’s love of reading,” Caleb Verbois, professor of Political Science, said. “But it can also be a time to pick up something that stretches your reading muscles a bit.”
Verbois said he reads broadly and eclectically. “Lots of science fiction and fantasy for fun, a fair bit of history for fun and work interest and often in the summer a number of mysteries,” he said. “I’m currently reading a collection of short works by note physicist Richard Feynman, “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out,” because my wife loved it. And she’s finishing up Dorothy Sayer’s final work “Busman’s Honeymoon” because I got her into Sayers’ works.”
For Kristina O. Pazehoski, professor of Biology and assistant dean of the Hopeman School of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, the seasonal break is the perfect time to pick up a book. “I find it very difficult to make time to read during the regular academic semesters, so I really try to pack my summers with lots of books,” she said.
This summer is no different. Pazehoski is reading “Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley” by Charlotte Gordon. “It’s a fascinating side-by-side biography of a mother-daughter author duo who wrote some significant pieces in the late 1700’s – early 1800’s,” she said. The authors of “Frankenstein” and “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” never actually knew each other because Wollstonecraft died two days after Shelly’s birth, but “the parallels between their lives are quite interesting.”
Also on her summer hit list: “The Hunger Games,” which she’s reading with “one of my 13 year-olds;” “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke, the author of another favorite, “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell;” and “The Craft of Science Writing: Selections from The Open Notebook” by journalist Siri Carpenter.
Professor of History Jason Edwards said he is reading “The Civil War: A Narrative” by Shelby Foote, the American writer he believes has the best chance of joining the ranks of legendary historians Herodotus, Livy and Gibbon. “The page count is not for the faint of heart making it an ideal summer read,” he noted.
Edwards also recommends J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal literary work for summer consumption. “Long drives with the family to vacation destinations were made for the audiobooks of “The Lord of the Rings” to while away the miles enjoyably,” he said.
Joseph Horton, professor of Psychology, said his summer reading list is topped by “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self” by faculty peer Carl Trueman, professor of Biblical and Religious Studies.
“I am reading it because Carl provides a deep exploration of foundational cultural issues. It is the most important book I have read in the past ten years,” Horton said.
For those looking for something a bit lighter for beach reading, Horton recommends the “Magic Kingdom of Landover” series by Terry Brooks.
Verbois rejects the idea that summer literature choices are less important than the books we pick up the rest of the year. “There are some great books, but there are also plenty of good books. Just focus on reading good things … I think it is really important to read real books – not just articles online. And summer can be a good time to do that even if your work schedule doesn’t actually change.”