Every year, members of Jamestown Community College compile a summer reading list. Here is a list of my contributions:
Cinderland by Amy Jo Burns
The year that Amy Jo Burns turns ten, she finds herself in a scandal that shakes her tiny town of Mercury, Pennsylvania. Howard Lotte, the town's respected piano teacher, has been accused of sexually assaulting several of his female students. Out of Lotte's many students who were questioned, seven came forward to tell the truth, while others lied. Burns was one of the students who lied. Those who told the truth were ostracized by the town; those who lied were safe from the repercussions. Or were they? Burns' memoir traces this incident through her teenage years, reminding us that being silent is not always as easy as it seems, and that there are always consequences to our actions.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
I have yet to see the movie, but thought Lisa Genova’s novel, about a woman who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, was a compelling read and one of the best books I have completed this year.
Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
Jessica Handler's memoir exploring the loss of two sisters is a beautiful read. Without falling into melodrama, she explores grief, guilt, and anger of loss.
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
I am a big fan of Erik Larson's work, and I finished Dead Wake in record time. Larson's latest book thoughtfully investigates the last trip of the Lusitania before it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Featuring an interesting cast of characters, Dead Wake is a must read for history buffs everywhere!
H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly, Helen, in her grief, turns her attention to raising a goshawk, one of nature's most fierce and determined predators. What she learns is not only how we survive grief, but how we navigate life. A wonderful mediation on nature and sorrow.
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Readers may have to brush up on their Bloomsbury history a bit to enjoy this fictional retelling of the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell. Still, I found Parmar’s lyrical writing compelling and beautiful as she dives into the literary and art world of the early 1900s.
Finding Abbey by Sean Prentiss
Prentiss looks for the nature writer Edward Abbey’s hidden desert grave in a book that could be described as part memoir, part travelogue, part biography. Finding Abbey is a work that not only explores the life of an elusive literary figure, but also catalogs a young writer's own self-discovery.
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.