INALJ Summer Reads – you’ll love these books!

by Julie Watson, Head Editor, INALJ Pennsylvania

INALJ Summer Reads – you’ll love these books!

julie_watsonI asked some of my favorite librarians, who also happen to be INALJ volunteers, what books they are recommending this summer. Here’s what they had to say (and my recommendation as well):



  1. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    Recommended by Sara Dixon, Head Editor, INALJ Kansas
    This is one of my favorite books of all time. The story follows Ignatius P. Reilly, a modern day Don Quixote, through a series of jobs that never seem to work out.  The story is hilarious and tragic at the same time, with plenty of side stories and colorful characters to keep you entertained.  Though I would not advise using Ignatius as your job search role model.  Great for summer reading or any time during the year!

  3. William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic by Alan Taylor
    Recommended by Claire Schmieder, Head Editor, INALJ New Jersey
     Forget all of the common stereotypes surrounding history scholarship – this book, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, tells the fascinating story of a father and son, namely William Cooper and James Fenimore Cooper. William clawed his way from modest beginnings to the US Congress, and James became one of the first truly American novelists. Both men are crafty, determined, and scrappy – three excellent qualities when on the job hunt! Lively prose and an excellent story will make this adventure tale hard to put down.

  5. John Dies at the End by David Wong
    Recommended by Leigh Milligan, Head Editor, INALJ Wisconsin
    I read this book because David Wong is a writer for and I really enjoy reading his posts and I find them hilarious.  I read this quote on the back of the book before reading John Dies At the End: “David Wong is like a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King . . . ‘page-turner’ is an understatement.” –Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm I–V and Bubba Ho-tep.That quote on the back is a tall order to fill, but after reading the book, it’s exactly how I felt.  If you are looking to read a book that is comical with horror at the same time, John Dies at the End is the book to read this summer.

  7. Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm
    Recommended by Jess Bruckner, Assistant Editor, INALJ Wisconsin
    This book will not leave you, profoundly impacting how you view life’s challenges and self-less sacrifices.   Fearless is a captivating, emotionally-transparent account of one man’s overcoming of personal battles, drug addiction, and life-altering obstacles to become an elite operator in Seal Team SIX, a top-tier unit in the Navy SEALS.  In the end, he gave the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in action on March 17, 2010.  Although I read this book in 2012, I continue to recommend it to my patrons as a librarian.

  9. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
    Recommended by Kate Kosturski, Head Editor, INALJ New York State
    On advice from my significant other, I made it a point to make sure that I had finished reading the first two A Song of Ice and Fire books (A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings) before Seasons 1 and 2 of the show aired on HBO, so that I wouldn’t be spoiled.
    And then I got lazy and figured, well, they’re splitting the third book into two seasons, I can wait a bit on A Storm of Swords.   Frank (my SO) had been teasing me all season that something big was going to happen, and that I would know what it was if I had read the book.
    I am writing this a day after the infamous Red Wedding episode aired on HBO (2 June). If you read the books, you know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, Google it.  And then Google the internet’s reaction.
    My exact status on Facebook later that night was this: “Just watched Game of Thrones. Didn’t read the books.  Now I need a drink.”
    After that, I am now on a mad dash to catch up because if something like the Red Wedding is going to happen again, I sure as heck want to know about it.

  11. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
    Recommended by Amanda Viana, Head Editor, INALJ Massachusetts
    Dellarobia Turnbow is a farmwife and mother living a life of quiet desperation in the Appalachian Mountains. An unplanned pregnancy and hasty marriage seem to have set the tone for her life; stagnated dreams and lost ambitions shadow days that bleed into each other as the years pass. Hiking up to a remote cabin on her family’s land, Dellarobia spots what she believes to be a wildfire but is actually something quite different; something that brings outsiders into her world and sparks a debate between faith and science. As the Turnbows and their neighbors struggle to reconcile their way of life with the perspectives of the wider world, Dellarobia must make choices that will change her life. Bestselling and celebrated novelist Kingsolver has written a novel that illustrates how personal decisions are made in the wake of international debate. A story of transformation, individual beliefs vs. broader truths, and life-changing events, Flight Behavior would make an excellent community read or title choice for the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) theme of “Groundbreaking Reads”.

  13. I Asked for Wonder: a Spiritual Anthology by Abraham Joshua Heschel
    Recommended by Rachael Altman, Head Editor, INALJ Alabama
    Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the greatest spiritual teachers and of the 20th century. This anthology serves as a great introduction to Heschel’s thought. Heschel seems to find just the right words for any challenge or situation a person may be faced with. His words are philosophical and poetic, yet the passages are relatable and understandable.  It sits with me at my desk and I reread passages from the book when I am in need of wonder and inspiration.

  15. The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne
    Recommended by Nena Schvaneveldt, Head Editor, INALJ Utah
    This summer, I’m recommending The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne, whom I heard speaking at the Utah Library Association conference.When I finished this book, I felt like I’d had a long conversation with a friend. This book deals honestly with some difficult issues: namely struggles with faith and controlling Tourette Syndrome through various means. In the midst of the struggles, he tells a lot of funny stories – the scenes from the public library where he works are stranger than fiction. Some are hilarious; others are heartbreaking.I love this book because it is so honest about issues that are hard to be honest about. It’s inspirational in that Josh overcomes so much, but not in a way that felt trite. Just when things would go his way, something else would happen that he would have to deal with, and he didn’t always handle everything “right.” If you like memoirs – honest yet funny librarian memoirs – this is worth reading!

  17. The Red Tent by Anna Diamant
    Recommended by Julie Watson, Head Editor, INALJ Pennsylvania
    This is the beautiful (and of course, fictional) story of a life, of Dinah, who is briefly mentioned in the Book of Genesis. Set in Biblical times, the story takes you through the course of Dinah’s life as she grows from an intelligent and lively girl into a strong and forceful woman. Her skills in observation allow her to blossom into a brilliant mid-wife, a vocation that supports and protects her. Dinah endures unspeakable grief and loss throughout her life, but also knows joy and pleasure. She proves that through perseverance, we can overcome any hardship and find a productive and peaceful life. She says, “the painful things…even my own loneliness… seemed like knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place.” Diamant’s narrative and prose absolutely pulse with the divine feminine. If you want to be moved this summer, read this book.

Happy Reading!