Cornell University

Cornell University Library

MANN LIBRARY

All Hours

What Should I Read This Summer?

At the start of the spring 2017 semester, we invited students, faculty, staff and other visitors to Mann Library to let us know of any good books they had read over winter break. Our community came through with selection of titles that's as eclectic as it is long, running the gamut from a delightfully philosophical bit of Victorian-era science fiction to edgy analysis of the murky machinations at work in the financial sector meltdown of 2008 (the latter now also a major motion picture, but as one reader assured us, the book is even better than the movie!). It was such fun to get to know a little more about the people that we see at this this library from the perspective of the books they are reading. 

With the close of a busy academic year now behind us, the prospect of some good summer reading lies ahead. For those who may be casting about for good additions to their summer reading list, we happily pass along the suggestions--and the fun mini-reviews--that our patrons so gamely shared with us. If, as British playwright Alan Bennett says, "a book is a device to ignite the imagination," we think our list below will do its part to add fuel to one deliciously fiery summer.




Good Reads Recommended by Mann Library Lovers:

Title Author Comments
Memoir - Biography - Autobiography
Chapter and Verse Bernard Sumner Great autobio of a self-taught celebrity UK musician
All Things Great and Small James Herriot kind of rambling, but really sweet, touching personal memoir from a vet!
Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates An excellent commentary on race relations in the U.S.
The Log from the Sea of Cortez John Steinbeck Great!
Nicotine Gregor Hens About addiction--yet interesting and comforting
On Her Trail John Dickerson Easy read about Jane Dickerson.
Skyfaring Mark Vanhoenacker Inspiring and beautiful poetic prose about being a pilot.
Non-Fiction
All the Birds in the Sky Charlie Jane Anders Eek! We need to get our crap together re: climate change because magic's not going to save us!
At the Existentialist Café Sarah Bakewell Super interesting history/philosophy read
The Big Short Michael Lewis Very interesting take on how unregulated swaps can alter the financial structure of our country. Better than the movie. Read it!
Braiding Sweetgrass Robin Wall Kibberer Each chapter is like receiving a good hug
Braintrust Patricia S. Churchland Very insightful and shrewd in its critique of how neuroscientists attempt to explain the biological origins of morality.
Case in Point Mark P. Cosentino really informative; seriously helpful job interview prep
Cod Mark Kurlansky Excellent historical review of the science of fisheries management (or not) for this important species!
Emperor of All Maladie: A Biography of Cancer Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz Amazing book that changes your life if you are willing to accept all of that information.
The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman Or, why birds are awesome
Girls & Sex Peggy Orenstein It was very educational and changed my perspective on how women should be portrayed in media.
Grain Brain David Perlmutter Good book on how diet affects your brain and mood
The Handmade Marketplace Kari Chapin It's very helpful for those who want to start their own craft business.
A Lover's Discourse Roland Barthes Very insightful! Very relatable to modern love.
Into Thin Air Jon Krakauer Incredible book, Jon Krakauer is one of my favorite writers!
Lords of the Harvest Daniel Charles Good account of the discovery of history-making tech
The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander A very insightful book that all should read
On Photography Susan Sontag This is a book that engages with the complexity of the world by challenging perceptions and meanings.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space Carl Sagan It shows how small we really are.
Settle for More Megyn Kelly Very inspiring; we can overcome tough times when we focus on bettering ourselves
The Spirit Catches You & You Fall Down Anne Fadiman Humbling, cultural competenc/understanding in healthcare
Start With "Why" Simon Sinek I agree with his deep insight, especially the relationship between the brain and inspiration
Stocks for the Long Run Jeremy J. Siegel very practical information
Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman fascinating insights on human behavior, delivered in a conversational writing style
The Wayfinder Wade Davis Awesome lecture (he gave a talk in the fall--life-changing)
Weapons of Math Destruction Cathy O'Neil good--definitely worth a read. Quick. Gave me insight into something not related to my field.
Fiction
1984 George Orwell Perfect foreshadowing
1Q84 Haruki Murakami Reflexious: a story unfolds in mirrors
Anansi Boys Neil Gaiman Awesome! Neil Gaiman is the best!
Borne Jeff van der Meer absurdist sci-fi warm fuzzy apocalyptic fiction
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky Brilliant philosophical treatise on the perils of Western thought and the nature of crime and sin
Le chat du Rabbin Joann Sfar Great book on religious tolerance
Cinnamon & Gunpowder Eli Brown Swashbuckling, mouthwatering fun!
Cirque Du Freak Darren Shan great story great series
The Clay Girl Tucker Interesting perspective from small child to adult; excellent but strange imagery
The Complete Stories Clarice Lispector The best surrealist author who does short stories that are beautifully arresting.
Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky you get immersed in the tension. Got headaches at parts!
Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson I really enjoyed the contorted ways of describing events and conditions. Fun and interesting though a little long by the end.
A Dirty Job Christopher Moore funny and somewhat introspective
A Dog's Purpose W. Bruce Cameron Great fiction for 1st time dog owners (should be required reading).
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick A solid read
Dracula Bram Stoker Very interesting and suspenseful!
A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry Heartbraking display of the depths of human compassion--set in India
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Edwin Abbott It was a cool 19th century philosophical take at judging our ignorance.
Frankenstein Mary Shelley Incredible--it feels surreal that the sun's still shining after reading it!
Galapagos Kurt Vonnegut Great satire on evolution!
Giovanni's Room James Baldwin a really beautiful insight on the intersection of sexuality, love, and intimacy
Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins creepy, thrilling
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson Exciting, thought-provoking and interesting
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald good read but kinda sad in the end
Harry Potter J. K. Rowling Amazing Series. Wish there were more
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J. K. Rowling good read
The Help Kathryn Stockett Great! Real characters and well-put humor
Herland Charlotte Perkins Gilman Interesting, about feminism and agroecology from the beginning of the 20th century and in novel form
How To Be Both Ali Smith spectacular, mind-bending
Jingo Terry Pratchett Funny, a good dose of satire
Kindred Octavia Butler Brilliant exploration of the realities and ehtics of existence during slavery in the south
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini moving, immediate, tragic, beautiful
A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara Thought-provoking, painfully beautiful and sad. Heartbraking and amazing
Leviathan wakes James S. A. Corey Futuristic sci-fi set in space with great prose and portrayal of how colonization, politics, and survival play out
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov Teaches us how it's possible to empathize with someone even when their actions are morally wrong according to society
A Man Called Ove  Fredrik Backman Heartwarming. Better than the movie because it was more real.
The Man Who Was Thursday G. K. Chesterton Fun, exciting, not completely predictable
Milk & Honey Rupi Kaur Amazing, emotional, relatable poetry
Le Misanthrope Moliere A great satire/comedic play on hypocrisy in society
Moominpappa At Sea Tove Jansson humanity in animal form
Nerve Jeanne Ryan Interesting, dark, and a general warning of our acceptance of the digital world
Neverwhere Neil Gaiman Dark, funny fantasy about the "real" London Underground. Read it long ago, loved it even more this time.
Portrait of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde OW must have really liked art; it was an odd read
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce Good take on religion, but not as humorous or involved as Ulysses
Raven boys Maggie Stiefvater A nice supernatural book that is easy to read and very entertaining
Re: Jane Patricia Park It was a fresh take on Jane Eyre!
Room Emma Donoghue Insightful. I saw everything from the perspective of a 5-year-old, which was awesome
A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf AMAZING! Early feminist themes, very relevant given politics today
The Running Mann Stephen King I liked the pacing. Very Stephen King
Scrappy Little Nobody Anna Kendrick Adulting memoir via Hollywood
Sea of Poppies Amitav Ghosh Loved it! Challenging to read the dialect included by author. A beautiful read.
The Skin I'm In Sharon G. Flake Loved it. A good coming-of-age book.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things  Patrick Rothfuss "For the people who are not quite right (occasionally)"
Small Great Things  Jodi Picoult Great book for encouraging discussions on race
The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner A beautifully-written, if extremely hard to interpret, internal saga of a family's demise
Stardust Neil Gaiman Proof that fairytales can be for adults too--made me feel ten years old again!
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel inventive, post-modern
The Steady Running of the Hour Justin Go Cheesy with a poor ending but entertaining regardless
A Study in Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle Much better than the BBC series!
Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler Rich; sped through it because I liked it so much
Tender is the Night F. Scott Fitzgerald poetic, dreamlike
The Who and the What: A Play Ayad Akhtar Incredibly moving and captivating! Characters really draw you in!
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami A Rollercoaster of a Plot; definitely read it!
Thousandth Floor Katherine McGee scifi fantasy, really cool
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee love
We, the Drowned Karsten Jensen A cross of Moby Dick and 100 years of Solitude--absolutely brilliant
Who Fears Death  Nnedi Okorafor Magical and surreal