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The Librarian Is In: Summer Reading Edition

News Story

Looking for an engrossing summertime read? From a groundbreaking work of science fiction to a historical thriller, here’s what Pace faculty and staff are recommending this month!

Brought to us by the Mortola and Birnbaum libraries, "The Librarian Is In" seeks to answer the age-old question—what should I read next? This month, for our special summer edition, we have a number of recommendations from Library staff. Here’s what you should be adding to your list, and bringing to the beach!

Dark Eden—Chris Beckett
Recommended by: Jennifer Rosenstein, First Year Outreach Services Librarian

Dark Eden is an utterly original work of science fiction. Even if you think you hate sci-fi, you should give it a try. A small group of humans lives on a distant planet with no sun, where all the light comes from bioluminescent organisms. They have built a simple society and a religion based on ritualistic re-telling of the story of how their ancestors came from Earth and ended up on this planet by accident. For generations they have clung to the idea that one day rescuers will come from Earth to take them back to the sunny motherland, but a new generation begins to chafe at these restrictions and imagine completely new possibilities for life on Eden.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts—Joshua Hammer
Recommended by: Ellen Sowchek, University Archivist

I must confess that it was the title that first called my attention to this book, as I am sure it was meant to do. Timbuktu is a name that conjures up the faraway and the exotic, but it's a very real place. Located in Mali, 12 miles north of the Niger River, its history dates back to medieval times when, due to its geographic location at the crossroads of numerous caravan and trade routes, it became an important cultural, intellectual, and religious center. At its peak, Timbuktu was a focal point of Islamic scholarship and its collections of medieval manuscripts were unique and priceless. However, there was no central library in which to house them so, over time, the owners and locations of these manuscripts became scattered and hidden. This book focuses on one man, librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, and his efforts first to find, identify, and preserve as many manuscripts as possible and then, following the Al Qaeda invasion and occupation of Mali in 2011, to smuggle more than 350,000 of them out of Timbuktu to safety. It’s a well-written book with everything: heroes, villains, colorful secondary characters, exotic locales, all in a gripping, suspenseful, adventure-filled story. What makes it special is that it is all real. (And, to better understand the reality of life under the occupation, I recommend the film Timbuktu, by Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2015. When you see it, the urgency and magnitude of Abdel Haidara's task will be crystal clear.)

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute—Grace Paley
Recommended by: Gina Levitan, Instructional Services Librarian

In this collection of short stories Paley opens a window into post-war New York City life. Each story is an intimate portrait of love, life, sadness, humility—all stories exist independently of each other, but are all interconnected in one way or another. The world that Paley creates in each of her stories is filled with so much heart, which can be traced through to the work of Donald Barthelme and George Saunders, who both cite her as a major influence. This collection is an excellent introduction to Paley’s work.

I Fought a Good Fight: A History of the Lipan Apaches—Sherry Robinson
Recommended by: Greg Murphy, Head of Resources and Information Services

I’ve been recently conducting research on Apache tribes and discovered Sherry Robinson’s I Fought a Good Fight: A History of the Lipan Apaches. The Lipans were mostly located in the vicinity of the Rio Grande that borders Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, in the nineteenth century. The book delves into their rich history that includes wars with the Comanche and frictions or collaborations with the "whites." I recommend this book because of its depth of research, although I found that the writing doesn’t always depict events in a coherent manner.

Do you have a book you would like the Pace Library to buy? Please send your book recommendations to Michelle Lang at