Grab a Good Book

Looking for a good summer read? Check out these faculty-recommended books:

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton. (Recommended by Kate Ramsdell)
Upper middle class New York society of the 1870s is reeling from the calamity of
individual aspirations contradicting the fashionable, respectable, and self-righteous
expectations of the social tribe. You can’t live where you want, love whom you
want, dream what you want.

The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to
Manhood, Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Recommended by Jenny Carlson)
I LOVED this book. It’s like reading poetry and jazz music. His prose is like verse;
his words are like dashes of paint on canvas. He sings, spits, stabs, and celebrates.
His ink on paper is powerful.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker. (Recommended by Julia Russell)
Fourteen year old Celie grapples with the very human question about why bad
things happen to her, a good girl, in a series of letters to God. These letters written
in a lilting, manner-of-fact style tell the story of Celie’s loving kinship with her sister
from whom she is brutally separated, the horror of being raped, and the tenderness
of finding love in friendship. Love becomes prayer and affirmation giving Celie
strength as she persists in overcoming the mysterious moments of life’s
inhumanity. Boys and girls alike will be pulled into Celie’s story thanks to her
honest gumption.

Empire Falls, Richard Russo. (Recommended by Tim Carey)
A novel that studies characters and life in a small New England town.

The Free Frenchman, Piers Paul Read. (Recommended by Michael Denning)
Interesting historical novel that deals with elements of French society from 1900-
1945. A great read.

Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin. (Recommended by Dick Baker)
A story of alienation as a gay, Black ex-patriot tries to adjust to the conflicts of life
in Paris after WWII and to the issues of sexual identity that plague him.

High Fidelity, Nicholas Hornby (Recommended by Kate Blake)
For all lovers of music, particularly alternative pop found on vinyl, High Fidelity is
the story of the record-store owner Rob Fleming as he tries to graduate from adult
adolescence. Funny, sad, sweet – songs will be rattling around your head as you

Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry. (Recommended by Dan Matlack)
Jayber, a bachelor and a barber, in an agrarian town along the Kentucky River tells
the story of the townspeople as they deal with change and turmoil that is both
global and personal. Take a look, too, at any of Berry’s essay collections.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John LeCarre. (Recommended by Bill Bussey)
Arguably the great spy writer’s (and former real-life intelligence operator) finest
work. Nobles grad and former CIA Inspector General Fred Hitz called this novel,
along with Alan Furst’s Dark Star, one of the two most realistic spy novels that he
has ever read. With one of literature’s most interesting fictional characters, British
spy George Smiley, coming out of retirement to find a Soviet mole that has
infiltrated the M16, the British Secret Intelligence Service.

For more recommendations, or information about Nobles Summer Reading requirements, visit

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