HUP ReadUP: Summer Reads

“The book has to grab me right out of the gate and not let go.”

We asked our colleagues, “What is one word you would use to describe an ideal summer read?” Their answers range across all the summer feels, from those easygoing lazy hazy days to that voltage of energy that fires up a reawakening. What’s more, their responses include book recommendations sure to help you breeze through the sunny season—from our own library as well as those of fellow university presses.


• Memory Speaks
• Lives of Houses (Princeton University Press)
“I wouldn’t want to read anything too heavy or depressing over summer.”


• Memory Speaks
• Go Ahead in the Rain (University of Texas Press)
“I’m looking for a book that takes me away from everyday concerns, with entertainment value.”

Engaging / Engrossing

• The Invention of the Restaurant
Goya (Princeton University Press)
“I’m willing to work at reading scholarly books. But in the summer, I’d rather not work too hard.”

• Memory Speaks
• Gilgamesh (Yale University Press)
“I am looking for something that is fun to read, that can hold my attention despite potential summer distractions. I don’t want anything too somber or heavy.”

• Not Thinking like a Liberal
• The Dissolution of the Monasteries (Yale University Press)
“I like to lose myself in a book, and summer provides a space to do so.”

Three book jackets: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw (National Book Award Finalist); Lessons from Plants, by Beronda L. Montgomery; Memory Speaks: On Losing and Relearning Language and Self, by Julie Sedivy

• From Here to There
• Confidence Culture (Duke University Press)
“To me, summer is a time where it feels like we all re-emerge from the hibernation of winter and engage more with our community. Whether that’s with personal social events or outdoor activities that you enjoy alone, I like a book in summer that gives me confidence to shake off any anxiety that lingers from winter and enjoy the new season.”

Escape / Escapism / Escapist

• Lessons from Plants
• The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press)
“The winter is long in New England! Summer is a time to forget those cold dark days and soak up the sunshine, literally and metaphorically!”

• On Not Being Someone Else
• Translating Myself and Others (Princeton University Press)
“In the summer I want to switch off and be transported somewhere else through reading.”

• On Not Being Someone Else
• Contra Instrumentalism (University of Nebraska Press)
“At least once a year, I like to entertain the possibility of disappearing inside of a book.”


• From Here to There
• The Mushroom at the End of the World (Princeton University Press)
“The book has to grab me right out of the gate and not let go—I never want reading to be a slog but I especially don’t want that for a summer read.”

Three book jackets: On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives, by Andrew H. Miller; Translating Myself and Others, by Jhumpa Lahiri; From Here to There: The Art and Science of Finding and Losing Our Way, by Michael Bond

• Spacefarers
• Imaginary Languages (MIT Press)
“When I was a student, summer was always the time when I could read ‘fun’ books rather than my assigned school reading. That mentality has stuck with me to this day, and even though I can read whatever I want at any point in the year, I still have a tendency to gravitate toward fun books in the summer months.”


• Monsters of the Gévaudan
• The Pursuit of the Millennium (Oxford University Press)
“Summer reads should offer escape from the cares of the world; an immersive book transports the reader from the tedium and misery of the quotidian to another point in spacetime—preferably one that is more miserable (but perhaps not more tedious) than one’s own.”


• The Intellectual Lives of Children
• The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press)
“My favorite kind of summer read offers a million small moments—these are the best teachers, bringing me to the world and the world to me.”


• From Here to There
• The Fall of Robespierre (Oxford University Press)
“Summer reading is not about keeping up with work, news, or trends. It should be an escape from the rhythms of normal life.”


• Taxi from Another Planet
• Blooming Flowers (Yale University Press)
“I associate that word with summer reads because I always think of reading on the beach, and those are ideal beach reads for me!”


• Nothing Ever Dies
• Old Truths and New Clichés (Princeton University Press)
“Summer is a great time to leave behind the familiar and seek unfamiliar perspectives on history and current events.”

Three book jackets: The Long, Long Life of Trees, by Fiona Stafford (The _Sunday Times_ Nature Book of the Year); Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, by Daphne A. Brooks; Taxi from Another Planet: Conversations with Drivers about Life in the Universe, by Charles S. Cockell

• Desperate Remedies
• The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press)
“My book group doesn’t meet in the summer, and I miss the animated discussions that keep me thinking about a book long after I’ve finished it. During our hiatus I look for books that really challenge, disturb, or inspire me.”


• Liner Notes for the Revolution
• All I Ever Wanted (University of Texas Press)
“I get through the dog days downing hot tea and hot sauce; listening to loud live music in unsheltered parking lots; sweat watching Deadwood eps in unair-conditioned rooms; and reading words that burn to stay cool.”


• Desperate Remedies
• The Club (Yale University Press)
“Summer is generally a time to recalibrate, carve out time for reflection, explore new places, and embark on new experiences. The right book can take you on a fruitful journey of the mind.”

Transporting / Transportive

• When the King Took Flight
• Autobiography of a Geisha (Columbia University Press)
“When reading for pleasure, I like to be taken to another time/place.”

• Objects of Love and Regret
• The Long, Long Life of Trees (Yale University Press)
“Summer reads should take one to places beyond the usual drudge of everyday life—to faraway places, stories, and people that take me away from my four walls (or beach lounger!) to another world.”



Dip into more summer reads »


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