Summer Reading Picks Journey Into the Warm Months With a Good Book
April's showers have passed, flowers are in bloom, and it's time to pick the paperbacks that will join you on your summer adventures (in an exotic locale or while sipping lemonade on the patio). To help, Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty and staff members offer their summer-reading recommendations.
West of Eden by Harry Harrison
Humans are not the superior species in this book. It makes you think what would have happened if some things during the evolutionary process had turned out differently. This is the first book of a trilogy. Great series, great writing.
– Eric D. Pruden, instructor of automotive
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy
Tallamy provides scientific evidence in an easy-to-read style, showing how all of us can make our properties naturally more attractive to wildlife. His book abounds with color photographs and lots of suggestions.
– Jim Green, assistant director of financial aid
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
It is a historical mystery set in a 14th century monastery. I love this book because of the rich detail and the author's ability to make medieval controversies and heresies accessible to his audience. If you love language, this novel is a joy to read.
– Susan K. Clark-Teisher, director II, professional and community education
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Set in southeastern Pennsylvania in 1959, the novel introduces the flawed and fleeing Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, former high school basketball star, as he negotiates his way through – and often from – early adulthood. I love the book because Updike, who died in 2009, makes every word count. You won't feel warm and fuzzy about the protagonist, but the description of his travels through American culture at the end of the 1950s is rich.
– Brad L. Nason, associate professor of broadcast communications
Following are the most-borrowed popular reading selections at Penn College's Madigan Library (August to February).
- The Lost Symbol: A Novel by Dan Brown
- Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson
- The Host: A Novel by Stephenie Meyer
- Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
- Change of Heart: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
- Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
- Heartstick by Chelsea Cain
- Black Hills by Nora Roberts
- Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
- Remember Me? by Marianne J. Legato
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Milton asked his muse for guidance in explaining God's ways to man. I have always felt his muse honored that request completely. What other book so reasonably explains all of those great quandaries about our humanity? Milton tells me why there is sorrow in the world; why I love my wife so much, yet can't understand her; why my human passions jibe so well with my spiritual leanings when I strive to understand the seeming conflict; and how fortunate I am to have the great challenges that create a life worth living.
– Christopher M. Bower, part-time instructor of English
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
I first read this book when I was in high school, after falling in love with the Disney movie release. I was immediately taken in by the story because of its many elements – history, mystery, romance, action, etc. – all of which work together in a way that leaves the reader not only satisfied, but always wanting to read just one page more. More than 10 years later, "The Three Musketeers" continues to be one of my "comfort" reads.
– Nicole S. Staron, library circulation assistant
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
A story of the author hiking the Appalachian Trail. Anyone who loves to hike or walk in the woods should read this book. This is laughout-loud funny, and hikers can relate to his story. I've read it more than once, and our family has even discussed buying the audio version so we can listen while we drive to our hiking destinations.
– Brenda A. Wiegand, secretary to the special assistant for student affairs and student development
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany, it follows the maturation of a young girl, Liesel, whose life is transformed by books and also by her foster parents, who bravely hide a young Jewish man. It's a remarkable story of heroism and generosity under enormous pressure.
– William J. Astore, associate professor of history
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison
Maybe not your typical lighthearted summer reading, but for those of us who have been touched by Asperger's Syndrome, this book is an amazing look from inside. So many of the author's experiences had me nodding my head in agreement and made me realize that the confusion I felt in watching my child's "antics" was also felt by my child while watching me. If you don't have any experience with Asperger's Syndrome, it's still a fascinating book.
– Deborah C. Books, secretary to the dean of natural resources management
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A great book for anyone who believes their dog has his/her own personality and outlook on the world! This hilarious, sad and ultimately uplifting book tells a story of family, love, loyalty and hope, as only a dog could tell it.
– Valerie L. Fessler, director of alumni relations
The Historian: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova
I like this book because it combines history, mystery and adventure. It confirmed something I've long suspected – vampires are fond of libraries and archives, where knowledge and secrets abound.
– Patricia A. Scott, librarian
Electronic Books: The Second Generation
In 1997, the library at Pennsylvania College of Technology purchased its first electronic books. At that time, the World Wide Web was gaining rapidly in popularity, but it was still in the "Web1.0" phase. E-books began as exact digitized copies of print books.
But today, like the Web's second phase, "Web2.0," e-books have matured into a format of their own, with much more capacity for customization.
Many books are now only available electronically, and the number and type of electronic books encompasses technical manuals and reference resources, as well as fiction and nonfiction books.
E-books are being incorporated into distance education through the online classroom. Our own Montage Yearbooks (Williamsport Area Community College) for the years 1968-83 have been turned into electronic books. The library has even switched many resources in its reference collection to electronic versions in order to maintain the most current information.
If you'd like to visit the next generation of electronic books, the library features a new e-book every month. Why not see what it has to offer?
-Tracey Amey, librarian
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This heartwarming book explores the life of an immigrant family and their daughter Francie. It captures turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. The book takes you through Francie's growth from age 11 to 16 and allows you to see her emotion and the deprivation felt by her family. Truly, this book made me appreciate everything I have.
– Kathy Coppersmith, science laboratory technician
Yancey's War by William Hoffman
I read this war story years ago while I was working in New York and commuting on the subway. I remember laughing out loud in a packed subway car during rush hour and looking up at everyone around me just staring as if I were a crazy person. At times I had to close the book and catch myself before I laughed so much tears would well up.
– Judy Quinti, assistant professor of fitness and lifetime sports, physical fitness
Are You Kidding Me? by Rocco Mediate and John Feinstein
This book is about a golf battle that took place at the 2008 U.S. Open, when not-so-big-name golfer Rocco Mediate had an amazing showdown with the biggest name in golf today, Tiger Woods. This is the best sports book I have read to date. Mediate gives you a look inside his mind and what he was thinking during the amazing events of his life and during this on-course battle.
– Timothy R. Cotter, student video production assistant
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin
Greg Mortenson survives a failed attempt at mountain climbing in the Himalayas through the care of poor Pakistani villagers. His promise to return and build a school for that village turns into a mission to build schools, especially for girls, in the extremist areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The thrilling adventure he retells explains the importance of education to some of the poorest students in the world. This inspiring true story illustrates how one person with determination and zeal can make a difference in this world and in the war against terrorism.
– Nancy C. Bowers, associate professor of mathematics
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
A hilarious satire on the then-official atheism of Communist Russia. Woland (the devil) visits Russia with two sidekicks. Naturally, they raise bedlam. Woland chooses a "Margarita" for his Easter Ball. Margarita, a young woman, actually loves the "Master," a poor writer who has written a life of Christ. The Master's novel is interwoven with the "current" tale of the devil's visit to Russia, and the parallels between the two stories raise numerous religious and philosophical questions. A combination of slapstick humor and deep religious questions, "The Master and Margarita" should entertain readers who like both the silly and the serious.
– Ed Vavra, associate professor of rhetoric
Working by Studs Terkel
This is a nonfiction book about what people do for a living and how they feel about it. I first read it in 1978 when I started my first job, and I have reread it six times as my career paths have changed. The author spent three years interviewing people in a variety of occupations. I love the book because it is an honest account of how people really feel about their jobs – the pride and the excitement, and in some cases, the boredom and the disdain. It gives the reader a good insight into the sometimes-complicated facets of jobs that we are not aware of.
– Lynne H. Koskie, library acquisitions manager
10 More Faculty and Staff Recommendations
- Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich
- Jenny M. Maurer, library technology services manager
- How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton
- Mindy L. Carr, clinical director, paramedic program
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
- Debra A. Krah, part-time instructor of business administration
- The Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum
- Judy A. Fink, manager of Web design
- The Alienist by Caleb Carr
- Shanin L. Dougherty, international programs specialist
- Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
- Jeanne L. Ott, accounts receivable assistant
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Marilyn L. Palmer, secretary to the vice president for institutional advancement
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
- Dennis F. Ringling, professor of forestry
- The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman
- Nancy C. Bowers, associate professor of mathematics
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Gaye R. Jenkins, instructor of sociology
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
An Irish comic novel that follows an IRA bomber through an "event horizon" into a strange, relativistic world patrolled by the mysterious Third Policeman. The novel was featured as one of the "clues" on the table in the bunker on the television series "Lost," and for those who enjoy the outer limits of language (as well as want to gain some insight into the literary allusions in "Lost"), the book is a satiric classic.
– Charles F. Kemnitz, associate professor of English and technical communication
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The struggle for independence is one of the
many themes in this memorable story of four sisters' lives as a missionary's daughters. I loved how Kingsolver was able to capture the unique voice of each sister and how differently they experienced and were shaped by their predicament. They face clashes of culture, nature, gender and family as each of them tries to find her own way in the world and reconcile her past. Kingsolver draws vivid pictures of the Congo set amid its struggle for independence.
– Genelle Gatsos, student support services specialist
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
This book contains true and truly amazing stories of soldiers who fought in World War II, told in their own words to Tom Brokaw. It's an awe-inspiring and moving read, even if you aren't a fan of history or war stories.
– Erin S. Shultz, coordinator of career development
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This novel about comic book authors explores the intersection of popular culture and art, and the nature of desire, sexuality and spirituality. It examines how we escape from reality and how we confront it, and offers an epic and hopeful look at what it means to be a superhero.
– Eugene M. McAvoy, assistant dean of integrated studies-programs.
The 21st Century Library More Than a Book Repository
by Nicole S. Staron, library circulation assistant
I recently read an article in the Pennsylvania Library Association Bulletin, in which the author described his interactions with three groups of people: library lovers – those who appreciate library collections, services and staff; library inquisitors – those who love books, but not necessarily libraries; and library doomsayers – those who believe that libraries will soon expire due to the changing nature of our "online culture."
Working in a library, I can relate to the author’s experiences, but also understand that many of these "doomsayers" exist only because they don’t fully understand the many services offered by libraries and view them only as buildings that house many books.
Libraries have had to grow and change at a rapid pace to keep up with new patron needs, and the Madigan Library is no exception. Unfortunately, many of the services provided to our faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the community, are not utilized to the fullest extent.
Our services continue to expand and change based on the needs of our patrons. For example, our librarians now provide convenient service via text messaging or AOL Instant Messenger while still available in person, over the phone or through e-mail.
The library also offers a selection of Videos-On-Demand, which can be viewed online, anytime, by faculty, staff and students with a valid college network ID. Additionally, the College Archives, which is housed on the third floor of the Madigan Library, has digitized its collection of Williamsport Technical Institute photos, allowing easy access from the farthest reaches of the Internet!
In recent years, the library has acquired Americans with Disabilities Act equipment and software, which is available for use in the library by members of the college community and the local community.
These features provide ample evidence that the Madigan Library is committed to showing the "doomsayers" that libraries are and will continue to be needed, due to the wealth of information and services that they provide, and not just because they are repositories for books!
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