What are you reading this summer? Checking with the Friends of VCU Libraries

As we head into the last month of summer, we asked current and former members of the Friends of VCU Libraries board what they are reading. Here is what some of the had to say:

JoAnn Bodurtha, emeritus Friends of VCU Libraries Board member and former faculty, VCU Health

David Whyte poetry (one a day), Arienne Marie Brown’s Emergent Strategy (a chapter a day), and just finished rereading Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman 

Nick Cooke, emeritus Friends of VCU Libraries Board member and owner, Black Swan Books 

“I am loving an English murder mystery series by Richard Osman: The first book in the series is called The Thursday Murder Club; the next is The Man Who Died Twice: a Thursday Murder Club Mystery.  The next to come (can’t wait) will be out in September.  It’s called The Bullet That Missed. The Thursday murder club is made up of four residents of an assisted living community.  The books are laugh-out-loud funny! “

David Gardner, emeritus Friends of VCU Libraries Board member and retired faculty, VCU Health

“I’ve been reading the mystery series by Louise Penny about the remarkable Quebec chief of homicide, Armand Gamache. The stories are intriguing, the characters well-portrayed, and you begin to understand a little bit about the rural Quebec landscape–human and physical from her description of the tiny town of Three Pines.  Three Pines is not on any map and very difficult to find, but is filled with unforgettable characters.  Best to read this in the order that they were written. I’m on the eighth book in the series, and I’ve been able to find them all in the Henrico County Library.”

John Jay Schwartz, 1st Ultimate Ram, BS’69/B, emeritus Friends of VCU Libraries Board member

Boyd and Beth Morrison’s The Lawless Land. is an interesting history lesson in life in the late 1300s in England with competing brothers and other characters.  Now waiting for delivery of VCU grad & friend David Baldacci, The 6:20  Man and Daniel Silva Portrait of an Unknown Woman, another Gabriel Allon thriller. 

Murti Khan, BS ’17/B, Friends of VCU Libraries Board member

Last week, I finished reading The Book of Five Rings by Miyamato Musashi. Musashi was a Ronin, which is a samurai without a master. It is believed he lived from about 1584 to 1645. He spent much of his life alone and homeless. Early in his life it is likely he wasn’t looked upon with respect as he wandered without a master. It is believed he gained respect by being undefeated in more than 60 duels which lead to him becoming well known in his society. Right before he passed away it is believed he wrote The Book of Five Rings, which taught about how to be a skilled swords person, and also wrote Dokkodo” (The Path of Aloneness) which is a very short 21 phrase literature piece that showcased 21 principles he felt were important in life based on his life experiences and philosophies (link to the 21 principles: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dokkōdō). The Book of Five Rings and Musashi’s life philosophies are generally quoted and recommended to people who want to become really good at one specific skill, whatever that skill may be. Much of his writing is useful for a person who wants to take one single thing, and become a master in that area. For Musashi that was being a swordsman, but people can apply his teachings in the process of mastering other skills. I believe people in today’s ever hyper specialized society can get as much value from Musashi’s writing as his community did in the time it was written. 

Carol Stanfield, BS ’92/H&S, Friends of VCU Libraries Board member

I’m in full “beach read” mode – current selection is Alex Harwood’s The Wicked Girls. Everything in the world is so heavy now, it’s nice to be able to go head over heels into stories that don’t have any agenda other than to be a thrill ride for my tired brain.

Stephanie Holt, BS ’74/Ed, Friends of VCU Libraries Board member

  • Hey, White Girl (Judith Bice, About Busing in Richmond, VA, trip down memory lane);
  • One Small Sacrifice (Hilary Davidson, mystery and thriller); and
  • Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (Gloria Steinem, reflections on her involvement as a journalist, feminist and activist.  I read this yet again as I had to get back to my roots with all that is happening today).

Renate Forssmann-Falck, Friends of VCU Libraries Board member, former faculty, VCU Health

Das Zusammenspiel der Generation by Sabine Trenk-Hinterberger and Effis Nacht by Rolf Hochhuth

Carol Hampton, emeritus Friends of VCU Libraries Board member, former faculty, VCU School of Medicine

  • Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, 2021. This is a remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian—who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true. I understand the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC is quite beautiful and open to visitors.
  • The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, 2019, is a novel with a historical foundation from events in Finnmark, Norway in 1617. It is a chilling story around women’s issues. Since it’s based in Norway mostly in winter, it kept my mind off the hot weather in Richmond.
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