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University Libraries

Summer Reading Suggestions from the University Libraries

By Zachary Lewis, Jason Wardell and Heidi Gauder

When you ask a librarian for a book recommendation, chances are good they will have at least one title ready to share. And so it is the case with the staff of the University Libraries. We recently polled the University Libraries staff about what books they plan to read this summer or would recommend as a summer read, and the responses were varied and interesting — in other words, what you might expect from a group that reads a lot.


There was a slight preference for fiction in the recommendations, but the broad spectrum of results will give an adventurous reader quite the tour through a variety of genres.

  • Jillian Ewalt, Marian Library, suggests Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. Described as a hypnotic novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality, it is the story of a young man, Piranesi, who lives in an infinite, labyrinthine house.
  • Katy Kelly, Roesch Library, plans to read Animal: A Novel, by Lisa Taddeo. Katy noted, “I loved her book Three Women, so I am excited to read more from her.”
  • Bridget Retzloff, Roesch Library, is looking forward to reading The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan; it’s a novel of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives.
  • From the Marian Library, Henry Handley’s pick is Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters. This title has been longlisted for the The Women’s Prize and has been selected for Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club and the New York Times Editors’ Choice, among other things.
  • Zachary Lewis, Roesch Library, has plans to read Hummingbird Salamander, by Jeff VanderMeer. He shares, “I’ve been reading the Southern Reach Trilogy and loving it, so I’m excited to read VanderMeer’s newest title.”
  • For mystery lovers, Amy Rohmiller, University Archives, recommends Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manansala. She notes, “It’s got everything — a mystery, food and a cute dog.”
  • Kathy Webb, University Libraries, highly recommends Writers and Lovers, by Lily King. She says, “It is phenomenal. Everyone I know from 25 to 65 has enjoyed this book.”


Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction; sometimes real life spins amazing stories; and sometimes we read to understand the world around us. Here are staff picks for nonfiction.

  • Joan Plungis, Roesch Library, endorses author Beverly Cleary’s two-volume autobiography, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. She notes, “Beverly Cleary was the author of beloved children's books, including Henry Huggins and the Ramona series. She was also a children's librarian. I loved reading about her experiences in Depression-era library school and as a librarian during World War II. She passed away in spring 2021 at age 104.” 
  • Heidi Gauder, Roesch Library, is planning to read The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis. Kirkus Reviews described this work as “An urgent, highly readable contribution to the literature of what might be called the politics of disease.”
  • Maureen Schlangen, Roesch Library, will be reading The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. She shared that she and a friend are reading this book for later discussion.
  • Sarah Cahalan’s pick is a thoughtful one: The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life, by Henri Nouwen. The Marian Library director notes, “Maybe not the stereotypical beach read, but I am looking for Nouwen's thoughts on work, especially as we get back to ‘normal post-COVID.”
  • Jason Wardell, Roesch Library, says: "With a very active 20-month-old, I don't have a lot of time to read for myself, but we enjoy reading the Little People, Big Dreams series of condensed biographies by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara. Our personal favorites are about Alan Turing, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie."

Summer is a great time to catch up on leisure reading, but the University Libraries are here all year round to help track down the titles you need. To borrow these or your own favorite summer reads, you can request them from OhioLINK or SearchOhio and have them delivered directly to Roesch Library. First, let us know which ones you might like — and make a suggestion of your own.

Zachary Lewis is the student success librarian; Jason Wardell is the life and health sciences librarian; and Heidi Gauder is coordinator of research and instruction.

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