Most summers, those of us who enjoy reading look forward to a vacation read. Maybe it is a throw-back to the summer reading programs that some of us participated in when we were in elementary school. Or perhaps you were one who paid attention to the reading lists that the junior high or high school English teachers made available and encouraged you to delve into over the summer. For me, my vacation reads usually fall in one of three categories: thick books, sequels, or discovering a new author.
When I say thick books, I mean hefty fiction that can take weeks to read. One junior high summer I devoured Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace , compiling a list to keep track of the various names that one character had, depending on whether it was a family member, dear friend, or acquaintance who addressed them. Another year it was the frontier story Lonesome Dove with its myriad of characters and locales that comprised the adventure story of a post-Civil War cattle drive from south Texas to Montana. More recently I picked up Kathryn Stockett’s not-quite-so-thick The Help, and was mesmerized following the lives of five Mississippi women in the 1960s.
Sequels were faster than the thick tomes, and not necessarily fiction. I first became acquainted with Winston Churchill not as a British politician and war leader, but as the author of the four-volume set A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. I also started this during one of my junior high summers, and so began my fascination with British history and literature. One of my close friends became a life-long fan of J.R.R. Tolkien as she read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Discovering a newly loved author has been a consistent adventure for me. In the late 1970s there was a TV series based on James Mitchener’s Centennial, and after finishing that book I delved into his Hawaii . I first discovered R.F. Delderfield through his God is an Englishman, the beginning of the three-part saga of the Swann family set in rural England and London. Two American historians that have the talent to combine concrete facts and a good yarn are Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I first heard about Ambrose as one of the contributors to the TV series Band of Brothers. The Bellevue University Library also owns his background examination of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, Nothing Like it in the World . In addition to writing about Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt, Doris Kearns Goodwin also takes the reader behind the scenes in President Lincoln’s Cabinet in her book Team of Rivals (E457.45 G66 2012).
Each of you has favorite genres – I encourage you to investigate what the Bellevue University Library has to offer for each one. The building is currently open from 8:00 – 6:00 weekdays and 1:00 – 5:00 weekends. Come with titles or authors with you and browse, call the staff at 402-557-7311 or 402-557-7313, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Members of the Bellevue University community can have your choice(s) sent to your home or office address. If what you are looking for is not owned in our building, we can probably get it for you through interlibrary loan. Enjoy a pleasant read this summer!