Celebrate National Book Lover's Day!

With the start of the school year just under 4 weeks away, it’s a great time to sneak in those last summer reads before recreational reading takes the back burner to school-related reading this fall. What better way to find your next summer book than this list of books that U of M Librarians, UMSI students, and famous authors love to read? I compiled this list in honor of National Book Lover’s Day on August 9th; there’s a display of books with more titles you’ll soon be able to find in the Shapiro lobby, but all of the titles below are available online. Thank you to all of the librarians and students who participated in this! Book recommendations from famous authors were collected from several different sites.

  • Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng. [Audiobook version link here]. “Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.” Recommended by U of M Librarian Jaimie Lopez, Circulation & Access Services Senior Assistant at U of M Library, who says “Little Fires Everywhere challenged my understandings of mothers and motherhood. In this novel, maternal figures fail, make mistakes, and justify their cruelty. These mothers also succeed and fight for themselves, despite the criticism constantly thrown at them. My mind is still blown thinking about the ending to this book. Little Fires Everywhere also includes interesting commentary about the town of Shaker Heights in Ohio. I definitely recommend looking more into the history of the community after reading!"
  • Autobiography of Red - Anne Carson. “The award-winning poet reinvents a genre in a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present.” Recommended by j. Oceano Meyer, Offsite Shelving and Withdrawals Assistant at U of M Library, who says “Almost an afterthought in the myth of Herakles, Anne Carson broadens & transforms the story of Geryon the monster — so he is not just a monster but a volatile, artistic, queer teenage boy experiencing the labors of sex, love, and purpose. I was challenged by many of my own formative labors when I read this book for the first time: I was exploring who I wanted to be, I was starting to read & write poetry, and my heart had just been broken by a charismatic boy much like the Herakles of this novel. Autobiography of Red is bizarre and lyrical and funny too at times; it's a book that has a way of calling me back to it when I need to get lost in wonder.”
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas. “The Count of Monte Cristo is Alexandre Dumas' classic tale of revenge and adventure. The young sailor Dantes is fallaciously charged with treason and loses his fiancé, his dreams and his life when he is locked up for thirteen years on the island prison of Chateau d'If. Mentored by another prisoner, Dantes finally escapes the prison, reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo and begins to exact his revenge on the people who set him up.” Recommended by UMSI student Jack Schmitt, who says “It's so expertly written! An thrilling adventure novel, where even small characters have large roles to play. I discovered later that it was in part such a page-turner because it was originally serialized, or published in installations, with rather purposeful cliffhangers. Unsurprisingly, it was received then much like we'd obsess today over this week's episode of Game of Thrones or Succession. And with its many excellent adaptations, I always have a reason to go back!”
  • The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin. “A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.” Recommended by me, Rion Berger, UMSI student and Collection Development Intern at U of M Library. This was one of the first books that challenged me to imagine a world without patriarchy, and reading it was an excellent exercise in questioning why things are the way they are. A great read to book club with your friends - you’ll want to talk about it with someone!
  • The Book of Form and Emptiness - Ruth Ozeki. [AUDIO] “A boy who hears the voices of objects all around him; a mother drowning in her possessions; and a Book that might hold the secret to saving them both—the brilliantly inventive new novel from the Booker Prize-finalist Ruth Ozeki One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices.” Recommended by UMSI student Annie Else.
  • Wilder Girls - Rory Power. [AUDIO]. “A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears. This fresh debut is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you've read before.” Recommended by Jeff VanderMeer (author, "Annihilation").
  • Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel. “Set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse—the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.” Recommended by George R.R. Martin (author, "Game of Thrones").
  • Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison. “Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.” Recommended by Brit Bennett (author, "The Mothers").
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain - James Baldwin. [AUDIO]. “With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin tells the story of the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else." Recommended by Ocean Vuong (author, "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous").
  • Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban. “Set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), Hoban has imagined a humanity regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state―and invented a language to represent it. Riddley is at once the Huck Finn and the Stephen Dedalus of his culture―rebel, change agent, and artist.” Recommended by Anthony Burgess (author, "A Clockwork Orange").