Read These Now

6 books to get your hands on this summer

Faculty members in Monmouth’s Department of English recommend these summer reads:

On The Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac
» Recommended by Stanley Blair
Summer is road-trip season! The first complete version of Kerouac’s 1957 classic originated in 1951 from three weeks of typing that resulted in a 120-foot-long scroll, now available in book form. Unlike the novel, the original scroll version uses real names, is unedited and uncensored, and lacks margins, paragraphing, and sections: a stream-of-consciousness exploration of late 1940s America, when the U.S. had survived the Great Depression and WWII and was trying to figure out what kind of country it was going to become.

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
» Recommended by Alena Graedon
It’s immersive, entertaining and—while it touches on some bleak material relevant to both the Me Too movement and racial profiling—it manages somehow to be wryly comic. It helped enlarge my sense of what a novel can do, exploring ways to expand the limits of reader consciousness and empathy, while, at heart, remaining a really good story.

Incendiary Art by Patricia Smith
» Recommended by Michael Waters
This book of poems, often elegiac, captures Black life in America through the lens of history and does so with nonstop verbal energy and lyric grace. Each poem is a performance, and each is accessible and, especially, memorable.

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
» Recommended by Michael Thomas
Not the typical beach read—though I did, in fact, read much of it on the beach—this novel is deeply emotional and so beautiful, yet written with fluid, economical prose. It is one of the few novels I’ve read that has a multitude of perspectives surrounding a single tragedy, with each one offering true humanity and compassion, ultimately teaching us what it means to live through another’s experiences. It’s heartbreaking and illuminating.

The Prize: Who’s In Charge of America’s Schools by Dale Russakoff
» Recommended by Maria Geiger
Russakoff’s incredibly researched book offers an insider’s view of how public-school students (Newark, New Jersey, in this case) are being educationally shortchanged while being used as political pawns. I think that all educators will benefit from recognizing that identity politics and unions that fight for the sake of fighting are only hurting our students.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
» Recommended by Courtney Wright-Werner
This dystopian novel takes a hard look at the power dynamics of our world by flipping them upside down. While gender plays a significant role in the novel, it’s about more than just gender dynamics. The piece is particularly engaging and follows five or six key characters of various genders and ages. It’s a framed piece, too, which makes it a book about a book (extra points, in my opinion!). It’s an engaging, meaningful read that will make you think differently about how the world works.