In 1879, the Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) published this advice about reading good novels (thank you to Bari Burke for unearthing this gem):
Dr. James Freeman Clarke commends highly the reading of good novels, and lays down a few rules for general use:
- Do not read many novels, but read the best ones often.
- Read slowly and reflect on what you read.
- The good novel is one which leaves your mind in a healthy state, fit for any work, and for daily duty. It is a refreshment, not a dissipation. It does not dissipate the strength, but recreates it.
- The good novel takes a cheerful view of life, and a kindly view of [wo]men.
- A novel is immoral which assumes that men will go wrong, that society is corrupt, and that it is useless to try to resist evil. A moral novel is one which makes us feel, that though temptations are around us and within us, we are able, if we will, to battle with and overcome them.
I echo Dr. Clarke’s recommendation of reading good novels and would add my recommendation to read interesting nonfiction as well. I don’t agree with his first “rule” though. Instead, I would amend Rule #1 to read: Read as many good books as you can. And I would add the reminder that summer is a great time to do that. To facilitate that, we are again presenting our annual Great Summer Reads blog.
The books on this list are gathered from faculty, staff, and students. They are a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, law books, non-law books, new books, and old books.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich (this book received two recommendations)
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
- Flashman Series by George McDonald Fraser
- Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
- A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
- The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt
- Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
- A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
- The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
- The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shaffer
- Embassytown by China Mieville
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
- Dresden Files (series) by Jim Butcher
- A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Caton
- The Dinner by Herman Koch
- Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
- The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff
- Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum by Jason Felch & Ralph Rammolino
- The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
- Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis
Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons and Torture by Angela Davis
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (this book received two recommendations)
- Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore
- The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump
- Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Decline of the West, Vol. 2: Perspectives of World History by Oswald Spengler
- People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo– and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry
- The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin
- This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Cline
Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- The Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story about Looking at People Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem
- Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
- Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell
Montana Connections (a new category this year)
The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top by Carol Bradley
- Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
- Hawthorn: The Tree that Has Nourished, Healed, and Inspired throughout the Ages by Bill Vaughn
- Dalva by Jim Harrison (or anything by Jim Harrison)
And with that, this blog is also going on vacation for the summer. Leave a comment to let us know how you liked the books you selected from the list. Have a great summer– see you in August!