Recommended Reading for Spring Break

Recommended Reading Spring Break

Craving something fun to read? Check these out!

Tredway’s librarians offer these suggestions for some decidedly non-academic reads for spring break.

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (Recommended by Christine Aden)

Letters from SkyeThis lovely book tells the story of Elspeth and David through their letters to each other during World War I. From the start, the young graduate student from Urbana, Illinois and the poet from the Isle of Skye captures your imagination.  Midway through the book, when Elspeth goes missing and her daughter finds the letters walled up in their home after a bomb blast during World War II, the letters take on a new role as Margaret investigates her mother’s past in the hopes of finding her now.  This is a gentle story that demonstrates how key communication is, and how lives can change when you don’t have that one important conversation or a letter never arrives. (Leisure Collection)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Recommended by Anne Earel)

will graysonAuthor John Green has been getting a lot of media attention for The Fault in Our Stars, an excellent young-adult novel that’s about to be released as a film starring Shailene Woodley, but this novel, co-written with David Levithan, merits attention, too!  Two teenaged boys from different Chicago suburbs, both named Will Grayson, are each independently struggling with the usual angsty high-school relationship dramas…until they randomly meet in downtown Chicago and their lives begin to intersect.  Through their meeting and subsequent developments, each realizes the truth about the love in their lives: romantic love, family love, and friendships all change as each of the two Will Graysons changes, as well. (An intriguing note about the book’s co-authorship: Each author worked independently on his own “Will Grayson” character for the first few chapters; they then read each other’s work and jointly decided how to continue the story from there. Nevertheless, the novel itself reads as  true cohesive whole.) (Available through I-Share.)

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley (Recommended by Christine Aden)

dead in their vaulted archesThis is the sixth book in the Flavia de Luce book, and fans of the series will not be disappointed.  While there are a few nods to previous books (a reference to past mysteries solved or how Flavia met certain people), the book can stand on its own. In this book, the intrepid Flavia must face a murder as well as the challenges that happen when her mother, missing for more than a decade, returns to Buckshaw.  Flavia’s life is upended, and the book foreshadows a new direction for future books.  If you want to read one of the earlier books in the series, we have Speaking From Among the Bones and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. (Leisure Collection)

Reading My Father by Alexandra Styron (Recommended by Amanda Makula)

reading my fatherWhat was it like to have a literary giant — William Styron, author of Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice — for a father? Alexandra Styron, the youngest of his four children, explores how his brilliance inspired both respect and terror in the household. Focused, driven, and volatile, he would frequently explode when domestic interruptions interfered with his writing. Yet his public persona was often that of charming, charismatic entertainer. Alexandra tries to reconcile these differences in this generous, exquisitely written account. Part biography and part memoir, this book includes details of her father’s life and writing career as well as ample reflection of his influence on her and their entire family. (Available through I-Share)
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell (Recommended by Stefanie Bluemle)
vampires in the lemon groveVampires in the Lemon Grove is Karen Russell’s second short story collection, and her growth as a writer is evident here. Vampires is more complex, sophisticated, and elegantly written than her first collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. It’s also considerably more bizarre, even unsettling, than her Pulitzer Prize-short-listed novel, Swamplandia! Russell uses the bizarre to good effect, though, pushing us to think of familiar human emotions and conflicts in ways that challenge preconceptions about how we interact with one another and the world around us. Plus, there’s an Augustana reference! Not a deliberate one, I’m sure, but it’s there; you’ll figure out what I mean if you pick up this captivating book. (Available through I-Share and at most QC-area public libraries)
My Promised Land by Ari Shavit (Recommended by Margi Rogal)
my promised landAlthough not exactly relaxing, recreational reading, Shavit’s new book is important and riveting. An Israeli journalist descended from the Bentwich family, one of the first Jewish settlers in Israel at the end of the 19th century, Shavit writes compellingly about the history, struggles, and present day challenges of the tiny country in the Middle East founded as a haven for the world’s persecuted Jews. This is not a book that is one-sided; rather, it presents a picture of a complicated society that still faces matters of survival. (Available through I-Share)
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (Recommended by Margi Rogal)

secret scriptureBarry is one of my favorite writers. I’ve loved everything that I have read of his (three novels). Here, in alternating chapters, 100-year-old Roseanne McNulty writes down her life story, hiding it under the floorboards of her room in an insane asylum, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Grene, recalls his own story as he observes and evaluates Roseanne. This is a mystery, a story of Irish political conflict, and an expose of the damage the Catholic church inflicted on people in 20th century Ireland. The language is exquisite. (Available through I-Share)

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