The Dog Days of Summer are Here

Sweetzels are back on grocery store shelves. Scott Hanson is sharpening pencils and picking out ties. Staples is selling one ¢ packs of filler paper again. These are clear signs that summer is waning fast, but that doesn’t mean that we should relinquish summer vacation without a fight. Three weeks is more than enough time to squeeze in one or two summer reading books before the Fall semester starts. Here are three recommendations for books to read in the hammock during the lazy hazy crazy days of August.

Piccadilly Jim. By P.G. Wodehouse. Available for free from This story is pure Wodehouse magic. It has multiple cases of mistaken identities, a ne’er-do-well hero who falls in love at first sight with a red-headed heroine whose temper matches her hair, a passel of geniuses to plague the long-suffering man of the house, a yappy purse dog who bites at the right time, and lots & lots of snappy British slang. Pour yourself a b&s. Have a plate of cucumber sandwiches within reach. Make sure there are no aunts lurking nearby. Then escape into the kind of loopiness that only Wodehouse can provide.

Sparkling Cyanide, by Agatha Christie. London: Published for the Crime Club by Collins, 1964. Location: L-3-STACKS Call Number: 828.5 C555sp  One of the biggest (and happiest) surprises for me when I  first came to Lehigh was discovering our vast Agatha Christie collection. Someone must have taught a class on Agatha Christie at one time because we have nearly every novel in our collection that she published. Sparkling Cyanide is one of the best ones, with plot twists and plenty of red herrings. I guarantee you will be surprised by the identity of the murderer. Agatha Christie wrote good solid murder mysteries with no gimmicks to distract the reader from the plot. Her books are not of the cosy mystery genre. No crime solving cats here! Instead you will get a finely crafted puzzle that will challenge you to deduce the solution before the final denouement.

Baltasar and Blimunda, by José Saramago. 1st U.S. ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987. Location: L-3-STACKS Call Number: 869 S243meE This last selection is a bit more challenging than the first two, but well worth the effort. First published in Portuguese as Memorial do Convento, this superb translation by Giovanni Pontiero of Nobel prize-winner José Saramago’s novel is at its core a love story between two peasants in 18th century Portugal. Baltasar is an ex-soldier and a drover who has a hook for a left hand. Blimunda is a clairvoyant who can see the insides of people and things. Although a love story winds through the whole book, Baltasar and Blimunda  is not even remotely of the romance genre. Rather, the love story resembles a real life relationship in which two people meet, know that they love each other, and so they are together. No vampires. No zombies. Just plain true love. Saramago inserts historic figures and events such as musician/composer Domenico Scarlatti, Father Bartolomeu de Gusmão, and  the construction of the Convent of Mafra. He writes about class, the Inquisition, religion, war, aviation, to name a few of his themes, but he always comes back to Baltasar and Blimunda. This book took me so long to get through because I would keep re-reading passages aloud, enchanted by the beauty of the language or stunned by a particularly insightful passage.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.  When you get back to campus, please stop by the Libraries to see what we’ve been up to over the break. Pop your head into the Humanities Librarian office to tell me how you liked these books. Check out our latest exhibit, At the Podium: The Speeches of Lee Iacocca, 1978-2011. We’ll have the coffee on in Lucy’s Café.

More Summer Reading Suggestions From LTS Staff

Our recommendations for summer reading continue with two recommendations from Sharon Wiles-Young, Director Library Access and one from Tim McGeary, Team Leader Library Technology.

From Sharon:

Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz. In her first review, Sharon tells us that Rich Boy is a story about Robert Vishniak’s” journey from suburban Philadelphia to high society New York City in the 80s” that asks “what defines success and self?” This debut novel from Sharon Pomerantz will definitely be appearing on my nook Color in the near future.


How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal. In her second review, Sharon summarizes How To Bake A Perfect Life as being about “mother and daughter complex relationships interspersed with recipes and baking bread.” Sounds like a great read for a holiday weekend with the family, Sharon. All the angst and none of the carbs!


From Tim:

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned To Ask the Questions, by Rachel Held Evans. Tim writes, “Rachel Held Evans recounts her experiences growing up in Dayton, TN, famous for the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. With fearless honesty, Evans describes how her faith survived her doubts to re-imagine Christianity in a postmodern context, where knowing all the answers isn’t as important as asking the questions.” You had me at monkey, Tim.

Whatever you decide to read, I wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend. Both libraries will be open the following hours over the weekend: Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from noon to 5 PM. Both libraries will be open for regular summer hours on Monday. Regular summer hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM for Linderman Library and from 8 AM to 10 PM for Fairchild Martindale Library.

Summer Reading Suggestions

Summertime and the living is easy… Summertime is also a time to catch up on one’s reading. LTS staff members have compiled a list of their recommendations for summer reading. I will post selections from this list over the next few weeks. Here are three book suggestions to get you started:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This is what I am reading now. Somehow I missed being forced to read it in high school. It is a very exciting story about love, deceit, and creative, exacting, unmerciful (mostly) revenge. However, it takes place over a number of years and has many characters. I found the character map in Wikipedia to be helpful for keeping everyone straight.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Doreen Herold, Cataloging Librarian, recommends The Help. This story takes place in the 1960s in Mississippi. Some reviews describe it as being similar to Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.


Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. by Kerry Patterson et al
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High has been recommended by Tina Hertel, Help Desk Librarian.  Tina says, “Effective communication is a key skill that will benefit your own career, your relationships, and your organization.” This title is available as an e-book in the Library’s eBrary Collection.