Summer Reading: Julie Summerfield

Our collection management and metadata services assistant makes five suggestions, including two titles for young readers, that involve unexpected connections and new worlds of possibility.

Summer Reading is a series that asks Haverford’s librarians and library staff for book recommendations that will enlighten, entertain, and educate during this vacation season. Take these titles to the beach, on a plane, or just enjoy them indoors with the fan on. 

This week: Collection Management and Metadata Services Assistant Julie Summerfield makes five suggestions. Says Summerfield: “I’m a sucker for books with beautiful writing and a lot of heart.  After agonizing over my choices for summer reading, I realized that all of the books I finally chose involve unexpected connections that open up worlds of possibility.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:

“The circus arrives without warning.” This intriguing opening line lures you into an extraordinary world that serves as the backdrop for a timeless contest between two magicians who use their protégées as pawns in their mysterious game. Author Erin Morgenstern creates indescribable wonders and then describes them wondrously as you become immersed in the lives of the performers, creators, and patrons of Le Cirque des Rêves.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr:

The lives of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German orphan, intersect in this breathtakingly moving World War II novel.  You’ll be torn between racing ahead to follow the intricately woven and gripping plot lines and sitting flabbergasted by the author’s exquisite turn of phrase and breadth of ideas. An absolute marvel.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion:

Social cues are not Professor Don Tillman’s strong suit, so when a friend tells him that he’d “make someone a wonderful husband,” the brilliant geneticist is shocked.  He develops a 32-page, scientifically valid questionnaire as the basis for his Wife Project. But then Rosie Jarman appears at Don’s office seeking his expertise to help identify her biological father. She meets none of the criteria for the Wife Project, but the relationship that develops between the two makes for an extremely funny and thoroughly charming story. (And who amongst us isn’t looking for an evidence-based enjoyable reading experience?!)

Says Summerfield: “Much has been said (in the world of publishing, at least) about the “crossover” potential for Young Adult (teen) fiction that is being read and enjoyed by adults.  In my previous life as a children’s bookseller, I found there are outright gems to be found in books written for the slightly younger crowd as well.  Here are two of the best I’ve come across.  No matter what your age, you’re in for a treat.”

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo:

The best children’s bookseller in the business (Collette at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis) recommended this to me years ago, and I just got around to reading it recently.  It immediately jumped onto my list of favorites.  Kate DiCamillo has written a mesmerizing fable filled with melancholy, wonder, and possibility.  A fortuneteller gives our hero, Peter Augustus Duchene, what at first appears to be impossible news. As the impossible becomes increasingly possible, fascinating characters’ lives intertwine to bring about a marvelous conclusion.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley:

Prickly and determined, ten-year-old Ada has lived her entire life confined to one room, kept a prisoner by the nastiest of mothers who is ashamed of Ada’s clubfoot.  Denied physical, mental, and emotional nourishment, Ada seizes the chance to escape London at the outset of World War II as an evacuee.  When she and her younger brother are taken in by a bereaved woman who doesn’t “know a thing about taking care of children,” Ada begins to blossom and her world begins to expand. Her discoveries are all the more poignant, witty, and satisfying because the novel is told in the first person. (Good news, fans: the sequel will be released in October!)

Photo by Cole Sansom ’19.