10 summer must-reads, according to local experts


By Jess Hume-Pantuso, OMN Photographer

A photo illustration of a stack of books and sunflowers signifying reading for class and for fun in the summer months in Corvallis Ore. on July 20, 2022. Librarians and professors recommended several books for community members to read this summer.

Tarsa Weikert, Beaver's Digest Contributor

Nothing says it’s summer more than feeling the warm air on your cheek while reading in a hammock.

As the days get longer, Corvallis, Ore. community members may be wondering how to spend the extra time from the summer solstice. 

A good book is the perfect companion whether you are sunbathing, escaping the summer heat indoors or having a picnic in the park.

When looking for a book to accompany you on your summer journey it is best to turn to the experts. Bonnie Brzozowski is a public services librarian at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library who, of course, reads books throughout the year.

“Before I go on vacation, I typically load myself up with library books!” Brzozowski said. “I read just for the sheer joy of it, but also, I think reading helps me to be a more empathetic person and is an excellent respite from social media and scrolling on my phone.” 

Although Brzozowski does not get to read on the job—despite popular misconception, she added—she does get to select the graphic novels or comic books you might find in the library’s collection. The Corvallis-Benton Public Library is located at 645 NW Monroe Ave.

Brzozowski’s advice for finding a good book is to pick something that keeps you turning pages.

For me, it’s fiction that is well-written with horror and/or sci/fi and fantasy elements,” Brzozowski said.

Brzozowski, and her colleagues Charles Dunham and Michael Hanson, who are also public service librarians, recommended five books for community members to read this summer:

  •  The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson stars an outsider who can travel between worlds.
  • Saint X” by Alexis Schaitkin is about a young girl who goes missing on vacation in the Caribbean.
  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry follows a cutthroat literary agent who visits a small town with her little sister, only to keep running into a brooding editor from the city in a series of coincidences.
  • Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe features a collection of 12 of Keefe’s articles from “The New Yorker” that investigate stories of crime and corruption in the form of literary journalism.
  • Ordinary Monsters” by J.M. Hiro follows strange, gifted children in the Victorian world and urges readers to question what monstrosity really is.

The Corvallis-Benton Library also provides personalized picks, where community members can fill out a form and professionals will recommend books to you based on your interests.

Kristin Griffin, a professor in the School of Writing, Literature and Film, Griffin spends the summer rereading her old favorites or exploring new stories and thinks every book can be a summer book.

“I feel similarly about this as I do about the notion of a ‘summer body,’” Griffin said. “A summer body is just a body in summer. We all have summer bodies! A summer book is a book you read in summer.”

Giffin recommended five books for the OSU community to read:

  • For anyone who has ever tried to make something: As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto” by Julia Child
  • For the baking enthusiast: A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi
  • For someone who wants a beautifully written, intergenerational novel to get lost in: Homegoing  ” by Yaa Gyasi
  • For anyone curious about what comics can do: Here” by Richard McGuire
  • For the person who has wondered what Corvallis would be like if it had a volcano in it, and people started having strange visions: If, Then” by Corvallis resident Kate Hope Day

Another expert, Marcos Norris, a SWLF professor at Oregon State University, said he loves to read over the summer but rarely reads for leisure. For Norris, summer is a time to catch up on literary research for the coming year.

For those looking to indulge in some continental philosophy—a collective term that includes various continental European-based schools of philosophy, particularly from thinkers of France and Germany—Norris recommends Gianni Vattimo’s “Being and its Surroundings.”

“The guy brings ‘high theory’ down to earth in a refreshing way,” Norris said. “It’s completely without pretense.” 

Norris said for pure enjoyment, he would suggest people read something challenging, something that causes introspection, meaningful thought and moral consideration.

One of his favorite novels is “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, which features a whaling ship’s voyage to hunt down a giant sperm whale. Norris recommends classic books for those seeking a story to dive into.

“It’s obviously a good thing to look outside of the Western ‘canon’ (and you should!) but the classics shouldn’t be avoided,” Norris said. “They can change your life. They changed mine.”

Read what you like, Griffin said.

“Into romance? Great!” Griffin said. “Love photography? Check out a coffee table retrospective of a photographer you admire! Is your favorite place the kitchen? There are so, so many beautifully written cookbooks out there. Release yourself from the soul-killing task of reading what you feel like you should​ read and read what you want to read.”

Griffin said individuals looking for a new book should trust the experts for help.

“Never underestimate the power and sheer breadth of knowledge of a librarian or local bookseller,” Griffin explained. “Tell them what you’re interested in, and they’ll have great recommendations for you.”

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