Reading for the Dog Days of Summer

Still looking for a great title to get you through the dog days of summer? Carlow University’s English department is here to help!

The dog days of summer are upon us. Are you still looking for a great title (or two or three?) to get you through the sunny, steamy days ahead? Never fear! The Carlow University English Department is here to help! Read on to find books with characters so vivid, situations so funny that you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world.

Not in the market for a summertime novel? How about something a little more digital-check out the Summer 2014 issue of The CarlowUniversity Magazine, hot off the presses!

Louis J. Boyle, PhD, Professor of English; Director ofCore Curriculum

One of the books that still makes me laugh is P.G. Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters. Wodehouse is the creator of Jeeves, the valet for the notoriously inept and full-of-himself Bertie Wooster. Here, Wodehouse presents a satirical treatment of the world of master and servant. TheCode of the Woosters is a light, relaxing, and amusing read.

When I go to the beach, I like to have a sea story with me such as Two Years Before the Mast by R.H.Dana.  This nineteenth century classic accounts Dana’s two-year experience as a sailor. Dana explains what it was like to be a rookie on an eighteenth-century wind-powered merchant vessel in a way that makes the unfamiliar terminology more accessible. His accounts of the life of a sailor, the operations of a merchant ship in the nineteenth century, and his visit to SanFrancisco when it was nothing more than a few shacks on the sides of a few hills will keep your attention throughout Two YearsBefore the Mast.

My third selection is a collection of short stories by RayBradbury entitled Bradbury Stories: 100 of His MostCelebrated Tales.  If you knowBradbury as the iconic science-fiction writer of such classics as”Fahrenheit 451″ and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” among many others, this collection might surprise you. Bradbury’s prose has a keen edge, and this is a good one to make you think. The probing science fiction is there, but the scope of these stories is far wider. Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most CelebratedTales demonstrates his versatility as a writer. 

Roberta N. Foizey, MS Assistant Professor of English;Coordinator of Undergraduate Composition

I’ve been spending time this summer reading literature that hasbeen made into films/television, so I should note that some ofthese selections, in either book or film format, include adultcontent and scenes with graphic violence and/or sex. Please takethis into consideration when deciding whether these titles areright for you!

My first recommendation is the novel by Matt Bondurant,The Wettest County in the World: A Novel Based on a TrueStory. The related film, Lawless (starring TomHardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, and Jessica Chastain, amongothers), came out in 2012, and both book and film are worth a look!The story is based on the true story of a family of bootleggers andtheir experiences running moonshine in prohibition-eraVirginia.

My second installment on this list is the set of novels byGeorge R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) on which theHBO series Game of Thrones is based. The first novelin the series, A Game of Thrones, is really good.I’m working my way through the rest, but if the remaining fourbooks are as good as the first, we’re all in for a lot of greatreading.

My final suggestion comes from my husband, Bret, who just finished Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of BroadcastJournalism by Bob Edwards. The book looks acrossMurrow’s career, but one chapter in the book takes on the same subject matter as the McCarthy-era film Good Night, and GoodLuck. The film examines the risk-taking journalism of Edward R. Murrow and his impact on McCarthyism. An excellent read and an excellent film.

Anne M. Rashid, PhD, MA, Associate Professor ofEnglish

My first summer reading recommendation is Lolita Hernandez’sMaking Callaloo in Detroit. Hernandez’s family comes from Trinidad and Tobago, but she grew up in Detroit. This collection of stories draws on memories of food and culture, and is a moving tribute to Hernandez’s parents. You will find surprise after surprise in Making Callaloo inDetroit.

Another book I have not been able to put down is TheBeggar Maid by Alice Munro. In this collection of interweaving stories, Munro writes about the tenuous relationship between a resilient, funny stepmother named Flo and her shy, precocious stepdaughter, Rose. The BeggarMaid captures the trials of girlhood and growing up in the depression.

Sue Kreke Rumbaugh, MPM, MFA, Associate Professor ofEnglish 

The first book on my list is Debra Marquart’s TheHorizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle ofNowhere.  Marquart’s story of growing up and moving away from a land that is very flat and very dry is delightful. Her descriptions capture mundane scenes with vivid language and she is adept at studying the desires of the people who worked hard, struggled, and found life as they could.The Horizontal World is a luscious story with a dash of humor.

The next book I recommend is The Artist’s Way(now in its 10th edition) by Julia Cameron. The book is assembled in a 12-step approach to recovering our ability to be, act, think, and create new thoughts and new ways of seeing. If you have forgotten how, Cameron can help you restore or develop new ways.You don’t have to follow each and every one of the exercises that are outlined here, but you may pick and choose, digging into the ones that seem to make sense, that help you along your creative path, no matter where you find yourself on your creative journey.After all, creativity is within us and The Artist’sWay can help to rediscover it and all of those habits we once easily and readily practiced.

My third recommendation is a book I am currently listening to as an audio book, The Old Curiosity Shop by CharlesDickens. Written in 1841 as a collection of shorter stories published as a weekly serial story, it tells the tale of NellTrent, a beautiful, virtuous orphan girl who lives with her maternal grandfather in his shop of odds and ends. The OldCuriosity Shop  comes alive throughDickens’s creative nuance, colorful language and characters, and vivid details.

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