Summer reading list

every semester.

That being said, it is a glorious time of year.

I’d like to share some of the non-textbook books I’ve read so far this summer, as well as some I plan to read before summer’s end.

Try out at least one of these books and you’re guaranteed to have a
happier summer.

Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible”:
Kingsolver might be considered “chick lit” by some, but her skillful telling of both actual history and a bizarre story in this novel proves her to be otherwise. I devoured this tale of an American Baptist missionary family in the Congo before and during the civil war of the early 1960s.

Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”:
If you haven’t read this classic yet, you need to — you won’t regret it. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves the wild, quick-paced language of the beat generation (though Kesey was a self-pronounced hippie-beatnik hybrid), anyone who has ever felt the slightest bit like an outcast or anyone who loves reading. Put simply, you don’t have a choice and therefore must read it.

Brooke Gladstone’s “The Influencing Machine”:
This book details a subject that might be boring to some people — the history of media in American democracy — in a marvelous format: graphic nonfiction.
I learned more about media from this book than from any other source and enjoyed it, largely because of Josh Neufeld’s funny and thought-provoking
illustrations. Also, I happen to be interested in the topic, which helped. Give it a read if you’ve ever abhorred news bias of any sort!

Dave Eggers’ “What Is the What”:
If you read “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, or anything else by Dave Eggers, and loved it, read this. Eggers chronicles the story of a refugee from the decades-long Sudanese conflict in his usual, beautiful, self-effacing style.

Tom Robbins’ “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”:
Tom Robbins is the sort of writer who says a foreboding sky is “the color of Edgar Allan Poe’s pajamas,” who insists that “just because you’re naked doesn’t mean you’re sexy; just because you’re cynical doesn’t mean you’re cool” and tells readers “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
Throwing quotes at you can’t do justice to Robbins’ bizarre but accurate metaphors, keen wit and never-ending sense of existential crisis, so I suggest you pick up “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” — the tale of a young, beautiful, ambitious hitchhiker — and get to know him a bit yourself.

David Michaelis’ “Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography”:
This is a must read for anyone whose childhood obsession with “Peanuts” has blurred into adulthood. This 600-page biography tells you anything you’d ever want to know about the enigmatic figure of Schulz and the element of biography inherent in the strip.

­— ccleahy@indiana.edu

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