Summer Celebration!

This week our Summer of Reading selections focus on celebrating our nation’s birthday! Check out the reviews below and then check out the books at the AUM Library or your local public library or bookstore! Happy reading and Happy 4th of July!

The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America’s Founding Document and the Men who Created it By Rod Gragg

The fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, the foundation of America’s freedom, created a nation and launched a freedom movement the world had never seen. Today it seems inevitable that the thirteen colonies would declare their independence from Britain. And yet in 1776 it was not so. Here is the extraordinary story of drama and daring, sacrifice and selflessness, danger and potential death. The signers concluded their work with a plea for Providential protection and a selfless vow to sacrifice “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Many of them did just that to create a country in which “all men are created equal, . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Ladies of Liberty: The Women who Shaped Our Nation By Cokie Roberts

In this eye-opening companion volume to her acclaimed history Founding Mothers, number-one New York Times bestselling author and renowned political commentator Cokie Roberts brings to life the extraordinary accomplishments of women who laid the groundwork for a better society. Recounted with insight and humor, and drawing on personal correspondence, private journals, and other primary sources, many of them previously unpublished, here are the fascinating and inspiring true stories of first ladies and freethinkers, educators and explorers. Featuring an exceptional group of women—including Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Rebecca Gratz, Louise Livingston, Sacagawea, and others—Ladies of Liberty sheds new light on the generation of heroines, reformers, and visionaries who helped shape our nation, finally giving these extraordinary ladies the recognition they so greatly deserve.

Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised Our Nation By Cokie Roberts

Focusing mainly on the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of the Founding Fathers, this lively and engaging title chronicles the adventures and contributions of numerous women of the era between 1740 and 1797. Roberts includes a surprising amount of original writings, but uses modern language and spellings to enable readers to enjoy fully the wit and wisdom of these remarkable individuals. While their men were away serving as soldiers, statesmen, or ambassadors, the women’s lives were fraught with difficulty and danger. They managed property, and raised their children and often those of deceased relatives, while trying to make their own contributions to the cause of liberty. They acted as spies, coordinated boycotts, and raised funds for the army. Through it all, they corresponded with their husbands, friends, and even like-minded women in England. Readers will enjoy seeing how many of these individuals showed their mettle when they were still in their teens. Black-and-white photographs of portraits, a small selection of recipes, and a cast of characters are included.–

Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence By Joseph D’Agnese & Denise Kiernan

Signing Their Lives Away — In July 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy the British and sign the most important document in the history of the United States-and yet how many of them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, criminals, and crackpots who were chosen to sign this historic document-and the many strange fates that awaited them. Some died from war-related injuries; others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers; a few rose to the highest levels of U.S. government (ten signers were later elected to Congress). George Wythe was murdered by his nephew; Button Gwinnet was killed in a duel; and of course Sam Adams went on to fame and fortune as a patriot/brewer. Complete with a reversible parchment jacket (offering a facsimile of the Declaration on the reverse), Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history buffs of all ages.

Summer of Reading Series Continues

Here’s another installment of our Summer of Reading recommendations by our fans! This week’s selections include The Bartimaeus Trilogy, The Year of Living Biblically, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and Shogun. Listed below are reviews of the books. Thanks go out to everyone who has responded so far! It’s not too late to send us your summer reading list, you can contact Lucy Farrow at or Samantha McNeilly at Happy reading!

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud
Magicians are in charge of the government. Djinni and demons are at the beck and call of the most powerful wizards. And a growing band of resistance who seek to end the stranglehold on the common people by the magicians in power. Welcome to London as portrayed in the mind of Jonathan Stroud, author of The Bartimaeus Trilogy.

Forget what you think you know about the laws of magic-use; Stroud’s universe re-writes the rules and sends readers on a breathtaking journey with a teenage magician bent on earning the respect of his peers, a young commoner determined to restore balance in the world, and an ageless djinn who just wants to be left alone. Filled with vendettas, intrigue and action, The Bartimaeus Trilogy has something to offer every reader (from

Jonathan Stroud is a master at creating a plot that is similar to a puzzle. At first it’s just a bunch of interesting individual pieces, but as the book progresses the puzzle pieces fit together and you begin to see this marvelous thing begin to take shape. What was once a bunch of colorful interesting small pieces of cardboard is now a breath-taking panoramic of The Grand Canyon. That and the djinni Bartimaeus is one of the most fun to read characters I have ever come across.
(Review provided by Scott Tidwell, AUM ’10)

The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs
What would it require for a person to live all the commandments of the Bible for an entire year? That is the question that animates this hilarious, quixotic, thought-provoking memoir from Jacobs (The Know-It-All). He didn’t just keep the Bible’s better-known moral laws (being honest, tithing to charity and trying to curb his lust), but also the obscure and unfathomable ones: not mixing wool with linen in his clothing; calling the days of the week by their ordinal numbers to avoid voicing the names of pagan gods; trying his hand at a 10-string harp; growing a ZZ Top beard; eating crickets; and paying the babysitter in cash at the end of each work day. (He considered some rules, such as killing magicians, too legally questionable to uphold.) In his attempts at living the Bible to the letter, Jacobs hits the road in highly entertaining fashion to meet other literalists, including Samaritans in Israel, snake handlers in Appalachia, Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and biblical creationists in Kentucky. Throughout his journey, Jacobs comes across as a generous and thoughtful (and, yes, slightly neurotic) participant observer, lacing his story with absurdly funny cultural commentary as well as nuanced insights into the impossible task of biblical literalism.
(Recommended by Dr. Lee Farrow, AUM History Dept)

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in Hobbiton by the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves. He finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, The Lord Of The Rings tells of the great and dangerous quest undertaken by Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the dwarf; Legolas the elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider. J.R.R. Tolkien’s three volume masterpiece is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale — a story of high and heroic adventure set in the unforgettable landscape of Middle-Earth.

Shogun, by James Clavell
Reviewers have cited the story itself as the source of Shogun’s appeal. Gorney of the Washington Post described it as “one of those books that blots up vacations and imperils marriages, because it simply will not let the reader go,” and Library Journal contributor Mitsu Yamamoto deemed it “a wonderful churning brew of adventure, intrigue, love, philosophy, and history.” “Clavell has a gift,” contended Schott in the New York Times Book Review. “It may be something that cannot be taught or earned. He breathes narrative. It’s almost impossible not to continue to read Shogun once having opened it. The imagination is possessed by Blackthorne, Toranaga and medieval Japan. Clavell creates a world: people, customs, settings, needs and desires all become so enveloping that you forget who and where you are.“

More Summer Reading Titles

Here are this week’s selections for the Summer of Reading Series. This week the theme is “Books that go bump in the night.” Enjoy!
Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris
Recommended by Angel Smith-Waters, Interlibrary Loan Dept, Library
Vampires have been around in fiction for centuries, portrayed as evil monsters, tortured souls, and even charming and romantic. Charlaine Harris in her Southern Vampire Series has attempted to “revamp” the typical vampire story and bring about a whole new genre in the process — the Southern Vampire Mystery.
These stories focus on Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. She has the local townsfolk convinced she is crazy. And who wouldn’t think that with her ability to read people’s thoughts?.
Dead Until Dark is the first of this series, which continues through several books and short stories. In the pages you are introduced to an entire world of supernatural creatures that Charlaine Harris does a fantastic job of bringing to life. Sookie gradually comes to terms with her “disability,” even managing to save some innocents along the way. Eric the Viking vampire has enough sex appeal all by himself to send Sookie on a tailspin, not to mention Alcide and Sam from various “were” packs.
If you are looking for a tongue in cheek peek into the intimate world of vampires and other supernatural creatures, as well as humorous plots with natural dialogue, then these books are for you. Both well written and highly entertaining, you won’t regret picking them up.
(review from
Tess Gerritsen: Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles Series, Medical Thillers
Recommended by Barbara Hightower, Library Instruction Coordinator
Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), and The Keepsake (2008). Her books have been translated into 33 languages, and more than 20 million copies have been sold around the world.
Her books have been top-5 bestsellers in both the United States and abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon.) Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.
(review from
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Recommended by Samantha McNeilly, Archives & Special Collections Dept, Library
In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their “dark gift” to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale–with Louis’ first-person confession to a skeptical boy–transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns–the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception–in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.
While Rice has continued to investigate history, faith, and philosophy in subsequent Vampire novels (including The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, and The Vampire Armand), Interview remains a treasured masterpiece. It is that rare work that blends a childlike fascination for the supernatural with a profound vision of the human condition.
(review from
Walk into the dark with bestselling author Stephen King, who has terrified readers with his classic novels over the past three decades.
Here are some short descriptions of some of King’s most successful books.
Pet Sematary - “Sometimes, death is better.” Those are the ominous words spoken by Jud Crandall, an elderly resident of Ludlow, Maine to newcomer Louis Creed. Dr. Creed and his family have just moved in to a house across the road from Crandall, who warns them to approach the intersecting highway with caution since many large trucks frequently pass by.
One day Jud takes them for a walk into the forest and shows them a burial ground for dead pets, many of which were run over on the highway. Later, the two men travel further, over a difficult barrier of thick foliage to another cemetery once used by the Micmac Indians. It is here that the dead can come back to life, but when they do, they aren’t quite the same. When Gage, their youngest son, is killed by a speeding truck and then buried in the Native American graveyard, there are horrific consequences for the rest of the Creed family.
It- In the town of Derry something evil is living below the ground in the sewers and storm drains. It likes to kill children, and then hibernate for twenty-seven years before awakening once again to satisfy it’s appetite for human flesh. A group of young kids fight this monster in 1958, and must do so again as adults in 1985 after they find out “It” has come back, and is hungry. They must come to grips with their repressed memories of that fateful encounter long ago, as well as destroy the creature once and for all.
(review from

Summer Reading Recommendations

Summer of Reading update
Just another quick update on our Summer of Reading series! We have received several recommendations from our patrons, and we wanted to share them with you. This week’s selections include: The Time Traveler’s Wife; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Gulliver’s Travels; and On the Road. Read some of the reviews below and be sure to send us a review or recommendation of your favorite summertime reading.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
Recommended and Reviewed by Sarah Burnham, AUM ’09.
In her 2003 novel The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger incorporates love, loss, and science fiction in the story of time-traveler Henry and his wife Claire. Henry discovers his “chronological impairment” at a very young age and suffers from the condition for the rest of his life, sporadically and unpredictably visiting different moments in time without the ability to take anything—clothes included—along the way. Even in face of such challenges, Henry and Claire build a unique and strong relationship, with their bond both tested and strengthened by Henry’s condition. Leaving out none of the bittersweet realities of love and romance or paradoxes of time travel, Audrey Niffenegger still engages and engrosses the reader on several levels in this unforgettable novel.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Recommended by Sarah Burnham, AUM ’09
“This is the story of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy— perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most successful book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor. More popular than the Celestial Homecare Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things To Do In Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters: Where God Went Wrong, Some More Of God’s Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway?. And in many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom. Because although it has many omissions, contains much that is apocryphal—or at least wildly inaccurate—it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important ways: first, it is slightly cheaper, and second, it has the words “ DON ’ T PANIC ” inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover.
To tell the story of the book, it’s best to tell the story of some of the minds behind it. A human, from the planet Earth, was one of them—though as our story opens, he no more knows his destiny than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India Company. His name is Arthur Dent, he is a six-foot tall ape descendant, and someone is trying to drive a bypass through his home.” (from the opening lines of the book)
On the Road, by Jack Keroac.
Recommended by Lane Powell, AUM Library Fan
Poetic, open and raw, Kerouac’s prose lays out a cross-country adventure as experienced by Sal Paradise, an autobiographical character. A writer holed up in a room at his aunt’s house, Paradise gets inspired by Dean Moriarty (a character based on Kerouac’s friend Neal Cassady) to hit the road and see America. From the moment he gets on the seven train out of New York City, he takes the reader through the highs and lows of hitchhiking, bonding with fellow explorers and opting for beer before food. First published in 1957, Kerouac’s perennially hot story continues to express the restless energy and desire for freedom that makes people rush out to see the world. (review from
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Four-part satirical novel by Jonathan Swift, published anonymously in 1726 as Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World. The novel is ostensibly the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon and sea captain who visits remote regions of the world. In the beginning Gulliver is shipwrecked on Lilliput, where people are six inches tall. The Lilliputians’ utterly serious wars, civil strife, and vanities are human follies so reduced in scale as to be rendered ridiculous. His second voyage takes him to Brobdingnag, where lives a race of giants of great practicality who do not understand abstractions. Gulliver’s third voyage takes him to the flying island of Laputa and the nearby continent and capital of Lagado. There he finds pedants obsessed with their own specialized areas of speculation and utterly ignorant of the rest of life. At Glubdubdrib, the Island of Sorcerers, he speaks with great men of the past and learns from them the lies of history. He also meets the Struldbrugs, who are immortal and, as a result, utterly miserable. In the extremely bitter fourth part, Gulliver visits the land of the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent, virtuous horses served by brutal, filthy, and degenerate creatures called Yahoos.(review from

Summer of Reading

Calling All Readers!
Have you ever finished a book and thought, I bet my friends would enjoy this one! Well, how about sharing your book recommendations with your AUM friends?
Join us in a Summer of Reading and make recommendations of books you or your family members have enjoyed. Send your recommendations to us and we will post them on our blog or as an elevator flyer. The books can be anything you have enjoyed, children’s books included, and they don’t have to be part of our collection. If you’d like to include a short review of the book we will be delighted to include that, otherwise we would like to add, “This book recommended by ….”
Check our blog for reading recommendations and the latest books added to the Browsing Collection. Please send your recommendations to Lucy Farrow or Samantha McNeilly and share the delights of a good book with your AUM friends!
Happy Reading!