Books We Love: National Book Lovers Day

Student reads a book

When asked to share their favorite book, a true bibliophile will become both excited and a little overwhelmed in thought. "How can I choose only one? It's like choosing my favorite child!" August 9th is celebrated as National Book Lovers Day, but that's every day to most of us at the Libraries.

It was so interesting to see the great variety of literature from almost every genre, no two were the same. Many of the titles are currently available upon request, either physically or online. Thanks to everyone who helped put this list together and shared their love of books.

Feature image: "Student reads a book" (c. 1985), found in CMU Digital Collections

"We read to know we are not alone."
–C.S. Lewis

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013) | Selected by Senior Librarian Kristin Heath

Braiding SweetgrassDrawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices.

In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Annie Dillard (1974) | Selected by Liaison to the Departments of History and Modern Languages Charlotte Price

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek""Pilgrim" surprised me with how utterly beautiful it was. Reading it, I felt like I stepped into the wilderness of Virginia's Roanoke Valley. Despite being nonfiction, Dillard created such a narrative around the natural world in this one valley that I was completely hooked." - Charlotte Price

Dillard's personal narrative highlights one year's exploration on foot in the Virginia region through which Tinker Creek runs. In the summer, she stalks muskrats in the creek and contemplates wave mechanics; in the fall, she watches a monarch butterfly migration and dreams of Arctic caribou. She tries to con a coot; she collects pond water and examines it under a microscope. She unties a snake skin, witnesses a flood, and plays King of the Meadow with a field of grasshoppers. The result is an exhilarating tale of nature and its seasons. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov (1967) | Selected by English/Drama Librarian Liaison Ashley Werlinich

The Master and Margarita"Giant talking cats wearing bow ties, surreal comedy, and a woman who makes a deal with the devil to find her long lost lover... what more can you ask for in a novel?" - Ashley Werlinich

When the devil arrives in 1930s Moscow, consorting with a retinue of odd associates—including a talking black cat, an assassin, and a beautiful naked witch—his antics wreak havoc among the literary elite of the world capital of atheism. Meanwhile, the Master, author of an unpublished novel about Jesus and Pontius Pilate, languishes in despair in a pyschiatric hospital, while his devoted lover, Margarita, decides to sell her soul to save him. As Bulgakov’s dazzlingly exuberant narrative weaves back and forth between Moscow and ancient Jerusalem, studded with scenes ranging from a giddy Satanic ball to the murder of Judas in Gethsemane, Margarita’s enduring love for the Master joins the strands of plot across space and time. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Animal Farm
George Orwell (1945) | Selected by Library Associate for Ordering Ruth Ann Schmidt

Animal Farm"The symbolism between the farm & the political climate of post rebellion Russia." - Ruth Ann Schmidt

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Italian Folktales
Italo Calvino (1992) | Selected by Oral History Production Assistant David Bernabo

Italian Folktales"I tend to like a good deal. So 200 short tales (over 700+ pages) filled with absurdity, an oddly weightless brutality, various forms of justice, and certainly things that haven't aged well across the centuries is quite a good deal, especially for the $15 hardcover copy that I acquired in the early 00s. But more than that, the way Calvino writes and the way George Martin translates flows so well. The writing is economic, but not stingy. There are other books that I've been more excited about recently, but this one continues to jump off the shelf." - David Bernabo

Filled with kings and peasants, saints and ogres—as well as some quite extraordinary plants and animals—these two hundred tales bring to life Italy’s folklore, sometimes with earthy humor, sometimes with noble mystery, and sometimes with the playfulness of sheer nonsense. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Lord of the Flies
William Golding (1954) | Selected by Librarian Ryan Splenda

Lord of the Flies"I am a huge fan of dystopian literature - it is the perfect genre to metaphorically and symbolically critique the human condition and the various social, political, and ethical issues we all deal with. Since this book does all of that with the most innocent of populations (children), it's arguably the darkest and most cynical take on humanity within all of fiction." - Ryan Splenda

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell (2011) | Selected by Principal Systems Analyst Jason Glenn

Outliers: The Story of Success"I love this book because it highlights all of the environmental factors that contribute to one's individual success and/or high achievement. Although it may not always be possible to create the optimal environmental conditions for success in a specific pursuit, the lessons from this book inspire me to take whatever steps I can to create an environment that will foster success for myself and others in my circle." - Jason Glenn

Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

The Overstory
Richard Powers (2018) | Selected by Simon Initiative Liaison Librarian Lauren Herckis

The Overstory"This is my current favorite book because I found it completely engrossing, and it changed the way I think about trees. I have always loved the natural world, and I don't think I particularly IGNORED trees before, but this book led me to see them in an entirely new way. I consider any book that shifts my worldview well worth reading!" - Lauren Herckis

"The Overstory," winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver (1998) | Selected by Library Associate II for Ordering/Dissertation Associate Melanie Klaput

The Poisonwood Bible"Beautifully written novel with strong women, political allegory, religious hypocrisy, Africa, snakes... it has it all." - Melanie Klaput

The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

Liber Novus (The Red Book)
Carl Jung (2009) | Selected by Web & Content Specialist Shannon Baldridge

The Red Book"Published nearly a century after it was written, "The Red Book" is a collection of Jung's personal journals documenting his descent into hell following the psychotic episode he experienced after his split from Sigmund Freud. This internal journey laid the foundation for his entire body of work in analytical psychology, in which Jung created a personal mythology in attempt to bridge the widening gap between science and religion. Jung's artwork is also absolutely haunting. "Liber Novus" is an inspiration/invitation to go deep within and confront our shadow head-on." - Shannon Baldridge

When Carl Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration, the result was "The Red Book," a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930. However, only a handful of people have ever seen it. Now, in a complete facsimile and translation, it is available to scholars and the general public. - Publisher's Description

Request this Title

For the Winner
Emily Hauser (2017) | Selected by Open Science Project Coordinator Lencia Beltran

For the Winner"I love reading historical fiction, especially Greek and Roman myths/legends. Emily Hauser does a phenomenal job retelling/reimagining the myth of Atlanta and the legend of Jason and the Argonauts and the search for the golden fleece. This story portrays Atlanta as a strong and clever female character. Very excellent book!" - Lencia Beltran

Here then is the legend of Jason and the Argonauts as never told before: the true story of the princess who sailed and fought alongside Jason and Theseus and Peleus (father of Achilles), and who ultimately ran a race that would decide her destiny. Based on the myths of the ancient Greeks, "For the Winner" brings alive a mythological world where the gods can transform a mortal's life on a whim, where warrior heroes carve out names that will echo down the ages―and where one woman fights to determine her own fate. - Publisher's Description

Harriet the Spy
Louise Fitzhugh (1964) | Selected by Library Specialist Jan Hardy

Harriet the Spy"Harriet is curious, honest, observant, and a dedicated writer. She's hilarious, but she learns how hurtful her writing can be if she's not careful." - Jan Hardy

Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together? - Publisher's Description

Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed
Robert Dinwiddie (2006) | Selected by Materials Processing Coordinator Leah Zande

Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed"I love fish and other ocean creatures, and this book describes them in an interesting manner. it also illustrates the entire ecosystem of the ocean, which I find very fascinating." - Leah Zande

An in-depth resource documenting the rich diversity of oceanic features and marine life draws on the latest research and developments in undersea exploration to describe the various habitat zones, the geological and physical processes that influence the oceanic environment, the role of the oceans in the planet's weather, human impact studies, and more. - Publisher's Description

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Grace Lin (2013) | Selected by Liaison to the School of Architecture Lynn Kawaratani

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon"I find it to be such an imaginative and hopeful story with Chinese folklore tales interwoven into it." - Lynn Kawaratani

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer. - Publisher's Description

Christopher Paolini (2008) | Selected by DevOps Engineer Nicholas Lockwood

Brisingr"The Inheritance Cycle Series is overall very good in my opinion, but "Brisingr" is when the story is at it's midpoint and there is just so much going on. It is an excellent book for those interested in high fantasy." - Nicholas Lockwood

Oaths sworn...loyalties tested...forces collide. Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king? Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices-choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice. - Publisher's Description

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe
Dr. Steven Novella (2018) | Selected by Open Science PostDoctoral Associate Chasz Griego

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe""The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe" (from the creators of the weekly podcast of the same name) is the greatest guide to skeptical and critical thinking. This book is for anyone that wants to learn how to combat all of the pseudoscience and fake we see in the world. You can use this book like an encyclopedia and open it at any chapter to learn about an interesting aspect of skepticism. I found this book easy to read from front to back, and I still find myself cracking it back open to refresh on things like logical fallacies or cognitive bias." - Chasz Griego

An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts, which Richard Wiseman calls "the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction." - Publisher's Description

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Cal Newport (2016) | Selected by Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Preservation, and Access Brian Mathews

Deep WorkA mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, "Deep Work" takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories -- from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air -- and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. "Deep Work" is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world. - Publisher's Description

Toni Morrison (1987) | Selected by Librarian Melanie Gainey

BelovedSethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, "Beloved" is a towering achieve - Publisher's Description

by Web & Content Specialist Shannon Baldridge