Reading for the Dog Days of Summer

Caitlin Wilson -

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 of Core Curriculum

P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

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. The Code 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 San Francisco when it was nothing more than a few shacks on the sides of a few hills will keep your attention throughout Two Years Before the Mast.

My third selection is a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury entitled Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales.  If you know Bradbury 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 Celebrated Tales demonstrates his versatility as a writer. 

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

George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

I've been spending time this summer reading literature that has been made into films/television, so I should note that some of these selections, in either book or film format, include adult content and scenes with graphic violence and/or sex. Please take this into consideration when deciding whether these titles are right for you!

My first recommendation is the novel by Matt Bondurant, The Wettest County in the World: A Novel Based on a True Story. The related film, Lawless (starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, and Jessica Chastain, among others), 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 and their experiences running moonshine in prohibition-era Virginia.

My second installment on this list is the set of novels by George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) on which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based. The first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones, is really good. I'm working my way through the rest, but if the remaining four books are as good as the first, we're all in for a lot of great reading.

My final suggestion comes from my husband, Bret, who just finished Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards. The book looks across Murrow's career, but one chapter in the book takes on the same subject matter as the McCarthy-era film Good Night, and Good Luck. 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 of English 

  Lolita Hernandez, Making Callaloo in Detroit
My first summer reading recommendation is Lolita Hernandez's
Making 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 in Detroit.

Another book I have not been able to put down is The Beggar 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 Beggar Maid captures the trials of girlhood and growing up in the depression.


Sue Kreke Rumbaugh, MPM, MFA, Associate Professor of English 

Debra Marguart, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of NowhereThe first book on my list is Debra Marquart's The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.  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's Way 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 Charles Dickens. Written in 1841 as a collection of shorter stories published as a weekly serial story, it tells the tale of Nell Trent, a beautiful, virtuous orphan girl who lives with her maternal grandfather in his shop of odds and ends. The Old Curiosity Shop  comes alive through Dickens's creative nuance, colorful language and characters, and vivid details.

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