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.“