Summer Reading

Shellie Jeffries, undergraduate librarian

"I like mysteries and several of my favorite authors have published new books this summer. I just finished 'Through a Gold Eagle' by Miriam Grace Monfredo. The main character is Glynis Tryon, a librarian living in New York in the mid-1800s. I like Monfredo's novels not only because of the protagonist, but also because of their historical accuracy. Walter Mosley's latest, 'A Little Yellow Dog' is an Easy Rawlins story and once again I'm amazed at Mosley's ability to evoke an historical period, in this case 1963, and imbue all his characters with interesting and compelling personalities, especially Easy himself. Mosley's novels are social histories as much as they are mysteries. I'm also currently reading 'Cause of Death' by Patricia Cornwell, featuring Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a wonderfully complex and conflicted character.

"I've been working my way through 'How Buildings Work: The Natural Order of Architecture' by Edward Allen, which explains what happens in a building, from how water gets to a faucet to why some buildings sweat. I'm also reading 'The American Family Home 1800- 1960' by Clifford Clark Jr., a history of the transformation of housing design and philosophy over the decades, and 'The Power of Place' by Winifred Gallagher, who explores how living and working environments affect people. On my list for later this summer are 'Home' by Witold Rybczynski, complementary to 'The American Family Home' in that it talks about how social and cultural changes have influenced styles of decoration and home furnishing, and 'Parallel Utopias' by Richard Sexton, which investigates and compares two planned ideal communities. "Probably though, my summer reading will keep me busy through December."

Tori Corkery, procedures and systems analyst I Institute for Environmental Studies

"I love murder mysteries all year round. Three of my favorite authors are Dick Francis, Carl Hiaasen and Karen Kijewski. All offer marvelous characters and a challenge in solving the whodunit, but most of all they make you laugh. But if you're looking for a mystery writer with more to offer, try P.D. James. I recommend keeping a dictionary nearby; she is sure to increase your vocabulary. P.D. James is a master at developing scenes and characters with such vivid detail that you simply become absorbed in the book. I find her books most enjoyable in the summer when there is time on vacation to read all day, becoming immersed in the plot.

"But for me, summer brings to mind fresh vegetables from the garden. I love to cook and have found a couple of cookbooks that offer good reading in addition to some excellent recipes. I love to sit each afternoon and peruse 'The Victory Garden Cookbook' by Marian Morash or 'The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden' by David Hirsch, always learning something new and finding inspiration for what to make for dinner. There is a chapter for each vegetable or herb with discussion of the history, old and new varieties to grow, how to purchase and store, and yes, even how to cook them."


Comments to: Inside Illinois Editor Doris Dahl, (217) 333-2895,

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