Tag Archives: adult summer reading

I Promise I Won’t Freak Out This Time.

I have a certificate in Women’s Studies. I’m still not entirely sure how I received it, but I feel that way about most of my college experience. I *do* remember taking my first Women’s Studies class. The four dudes that lived with me also remember. Because I lost my mind. Like, if they didn’t do the dishes, they were clearly keeping me down.

Or, you know, they were 20-something guys.

I was furious all. the. time. Everything I read simply made me more angry. So like an adult, I stopped reading the assigned texts.

Fast forward to now and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Adult Summer Reading program! This year we asked our summer readers to set a reading goal. I volunteered to be a reading coach and set a goal of my own. I will read those feminist classics that I avoided in the interest of not burning my house down. (So far “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the only one that had me eyeing the matches.)

Here is a short list, with blurbs from the catalog. (I didn’t read them yet, so I can’t write reviews.) What’s missing? What should I skip? OMG, summer is so short!

SimonedBThe Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of “woman” and to explore the power of sexuality. Drawing on extensive interviews with women of every age and station of life, masterfully synthesizing research about women’s bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles, The Second Sex is an encyclopedic and cogently argued document about inequality and enforced “otherness.” A vital and life-changing work that has dramatically revised the way women talk and think about themselves.

KateChopinThe Awakening, Kate Chopin

Novelist and short story writer Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was the first American woman to deal with women’s roles as wives and mothers. The Awakening (1899), her most famous novel, concerns a woman dissatisfied with her indifferent husband. She eventually gives in to her desire for other men and commits adultery. It is a searing indictment of the religious and social pressures brought to bear on women who transgress restrictive Victorian codes of behavior.

BettyFriedanThe Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic–these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan’s . This is the book that defined “the problem that has no name,” that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since.

AudreLordeSister Outsider, Audre Lorde

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.

NaomiWolfThe Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf

The bestselling classic that redefined our view of the relationship between beauty and female identity. In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. However, Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”

And much more by Lucille Clifton, an amazing author and poet I discovered during National Poetry Month in April.

homage to my hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

Anyone else have a reading goal? Need a coach?

not burning anything down currently,





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4 Books to Take to (Insert Your Dream Vacation)

By the time you read this post I will probably be on my way to my summer vacation… I know, I know… you are pretty envious right now. You are imagining me lounging around, slacking off and reading to my little heart’s content on some far away beach…but alas, don’t get too worked up because in reality my summer vacation is going to take place in the labor and delivery ward. I am currently (as I am writing this on June 12th) 37 weeks pregnant  and, as you may know, that translates into street talk as, “lady you’re about to pop…are you sure you should be walking around out here in public like that?” But having already done this whole ‘bring a new life into the world thing’  before, well… to be honest, the novelty has kind of warn off.

How To be a Villain

My eldest daughter circa 2009

I am looking forward to my stay at the hospital, not just because it will end with me bringing home a cute little newborn to mold into an evil genius, but also (actually mostly) because it means I am going to get a couple days off! While in labor and then for a few days afterwards I will get treated like a princess…nurses will do my bidding, people will bring me food, no one will ask me, for the zillionth time, to watch Frozen or clean up something sticky they spilled (and if they do, so help me, I am having them forcibly removed from the premises). I seriously cannot wait for my little mini-vacation and like all good bookworms looking forward to a vacation I have picked out a few titles to take with me to the spa…er, I mean hospital. Let’s face it, there will be a lot of downtime in between contractions and all that other stuff, and all moms know that you grab those few precious ‘me’ moments whenever and whereever you can, even if it means you have to get yourself admitted to do so. If you are searching for some titles to take on your own vacation this summer, whether it be to a tropical island or to the 7th floor of your nearest hospital, look no further:

bookcoverCAYX5D8LAmerican Spring: Lexington, Concord and the Road to Revolution by Walter Borneman: I am student of history, it has always been my favorite subject and I love a good story. This book focuses on, in my opinion, one of the best stories of American history; the spring of 1775 and the events leading up to the American Revolution. But it gets us there in an interesting way. Borneman asks you to step back from history and remember that, while the outcome may seem preordained to us, that for the men and women living through the spring of 1775 – much like our contemporaries all over the world today – the events of that season held only uncertainty and confusion. I cannot wait to finish this book even though I already know the story; it is interesting to look at it from a fresh perspective.

bookcoverCAYB3DD4The Library Lovers Mystery Series by Jenn McKinlay: Recently I was looking around for a fun mystery series and stumbled on to Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers Series. I sped through the first three books and am now moving on to the 4th in the series, Read it and Weep. These books are great little mysteries. They are current, which I love because sometimes it can be hard to read a mystery written 25 years ago before the wide spread use of cellphones and google. They also do a great job of balancing the love we library workers have for our jobs with a healthy dose of humor about the not-so-pleasant aspects of our duties. If you love your local library, love books, or just love a fun little mystery. this series will give you something to do on your down time during your vacation, or before the IV drip kicks in.

bookcoverCATHWUU4You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements by David McCullough, Jr.: I am really looking forward to reading this book, which is based on a Boston area high school commencement speech from 2012. Being in my early 30’s I grew up at the beginning of the “you are so awesome” movement but my default slacker personality meant that I never really took those sentiments to heart, I would much rather just be than excel at anything. I do, however, know lots of friends and family members who are struggling in a world that doesn’t automatically give them a trophy for just showing up (“You want me to, like, work overtime? Because it’s part of my job responsibilities? What? I don’t understand”).


Dodger by Terry Pratchett: I love me some Terry Pratchett and I love re-imaginings of classic characters and stories so this is right up my alley. Here we have the story of 17-year old Artful Dodger who sees a girl jump from a carriage in an attempt to escape her captors and ends up on a wild ride that introduces him to Sweeney Todd, Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one since it includes other well-known characters and some real-life people from history.

At some point I also might also pack clothes and my camera and stuff like for the hospital, but let’s be honest, the books are the most important part.

-Natalie (a/k/a baby mama)





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June is Bustin’ Out (Great Books) All Over!

Let’s pretend that as a middle-schooler, I wasn’t a “townsperson” (read: not-very-talented extra) in my hometown’s production of Carousel, and get right to the point…  June is a great month to to bust out and  publish a doozy of a book.

Do we have some doozy summer reads for you?  We do!  Check them out today, and then add them to your Summer Reading account.  They will help you become eligible for fabulous prizes.  And don’t forget to check eCLP to read some of these titles on your tablet, laptop, or smart phone!


Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell by Katherine Angel is a “genre-buster.”  Is it poetry?  Is it biographical?  Oprah lists it  as a must-read for the summer – for fans of experimental literature and/or Anaïs Nin.


The Shining Girls is already being compared to Gone Girl.  In this summer’s page turner, bright young girls are stalked by a serial killer in  a house that just happens to have time traveling tendencies.


This stray jumps right into the meat of big human questions, in a graphic novel with simple art work and fable-like story telling from Graham Chaffee.  Share Good Dog with the whole family!


You can call this one a double doozy! Parade says of The Ocean at the End of the Lane: “A young boy discovers a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. Soon his innocence is tested by ancient, magical forces, and he learns the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating read, equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky.”


Stephen King is back at it with Joyland.  According to The Telegraph, “American imprint Hard Case Crime is a deliberately retro pulp paperback press, and Joyland is Stephen King’s second deliberately retro pulp paperback written for it.” Also, Mr. King discusses the book in an interview with Neil Gaiman.


TransAtlantic is the newest effort by Colum McCann. What do Frederick Douglass, Alcock and Brown, and Senator George Mitchell have in common?  Their stories are woven together by the talented Irish author of Let the Great World Spin.  Lit fiction fans, get ready to drool.
Big Brother is a fiction novel that Lionel Shriver decided to write after losing her big brother to obesity-related illness. This novel dives right into all of the social and personal sticky, sticky wickets that accompany any discussion of food, weight, and health in America.

Happy Summer Reading!


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Where Were You…?

…On Sunday, June 10th?

Hopefully, you were on the front lawn of the Main Library participating in the 12th Annual Summer Reading Extravaganza. This year was out of this world!! We had beautiful weather and lots of smiling faces. It was certainly a great day for the Library. Over 5,000 people registered for the event, there were over 80 groups that participated, 83 people signed up for library cards (that’s 1 card made every 3.5 minutes!), and 427 items per hour were checked out at the Customer Services desk during the Extravaganza!

Alice and the White Rabbit entertain the crowd

To see exactly how much fun we all had, check out some amazing photos and a nice little story from a first time Extravaganza guest and volunteer photographer, Bridgett Kay.

Wishing String – Lots of people made a wish!

Of course, the main reason for having the annual Extravaganza is to celebrate the beginning of and to encourage people to participate in the Summer Reading programs. There’s one for every age group: children, teens and adults. There’s still plenty of time to join. The Summer Reading programs run thru mid-August.  Just registering for the programs and visiting your library even once gets you a great bag or other nifty prizes and qualifies you for giveaways, but the best part is the reading. Make sure your kids’ brains stay alert and active during the summer to retain knowledge from the school year. Take time as an adult to read for pleasure and find your stress levels reduced. Read together to interact and engage with each other. Reading during the summer is fun and important!

Storytime with the East End Food Co-op

The Library’s Summer Reading Extravaganza is a great reminder to the community about just how integral the Library wants to be to life here in Pittsburgh. I hope that you’ll join us for next year’s Extravaganza!

-Melissa M. (With more than a little help from Sara W.)

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Have You Done It Yet?

Well, have you? And by “it,” I refer to the Adult Summer Reading Program. (What were you thinking? Get your mind out of the gutter . . .)

Novel Destinations is the theme for this year's Adult Summer Reading program.

Novel Destinations is the theme for this year's Adult Summer Reading program.

It’s almost half over, but you can still sign up. All you have to do is register, and then if you read, and log, at least 5 books or other items by August 13th, you will be eligible for the grand prize drawing at your selected Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location. Each library has its own grand prize specifically chosen for its customers. For example, the grand prize for the Main Library is a $50 Big Burrito gift card.

And really, how hard is it to read five books over the summer? If you belong to any of our book discussion groups and read the books selected for June, July and August, you’ve already got three on your list.  Then you only need two more.  Might I suggest one of our staff picks? Or a book from our Adult Summer Reading themed booklists? Or you could turn to your fellow readers for suggestions.

So c’mon, you were going to read anyway. You might as well get something for it.

-Melissa M.

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