Arts & Humanities

Summer Reading Recommendations From The Texas A&M Community

Faculty and staff share titles to add to your TBR list.
By Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications August 2, 2023

Artist's illustration of two women lounging on the beach reading
Here’s what Texas A&M faculty and staff are reading this summer.

Eugenie Sutio/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


There’s still time to fit in plenty of summer reading before the start of the fall semester. Need recommendations for what to pick up next? Here’s what Texas A&M University faculty and staff have on their lists.

Dr. Michelle Simms, lecturer, performance studies
School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts

Current read: I’m reading “The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood” by Edward Jay Epstein, which dives into the structure and mechanics of the engine that drives the Hollywood movie industry. I find the business of Hollywood as fascinating as the art it makes. Besides, if you want to be in the proverbial game as an artist, you need to understand the rules and playing field.

What’s next: Next on my list is a book with a similar name, “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies” by Ben Fritz, which tracks the shift from original material to franchise-centric studio strategy, and the consequences thereof, by following the interesting path Sony Pictures traveled as revealed through emails made public by the 2014 corporate hack.

Rayna Dexter, instructional associate professor, performance studies
School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts

Current read: “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen. This was the perfect summer read. The novel is centered on relationships and community, with just the right touch of magic and enchantment. I fell in love with the characters and wish I hadn’t finished the book so quickly. I might have to read it again!

Also, “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan. This is the second book in the “Wheel of Time” series. I’ll admit it took me a bit to get into the story in the first book, but now I’m hooked. The characters are rich and the world is complex. I’m constantly wondering what will happen next.

What’s next: It’s time to start thinking about work again. My next reads are more focused on my teaching practice and upcoming fall classes: “Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto” by Kevin Gannon.

The title says it all.

Also, “Bubbletecture: Inflatable Architecture and Design” by Sharon Francis.

I am so excited to be teaching Design as Performance with Susanneh Bieber this fall. We’re going to be focusing on performing pneumatics, and the students in our class will be working with air, tensile materials and inflatables throughout the semester. I’m reading this book (among others) for inspiration about the many ways artists have used inflatables in their work. I can’t wait to see what we create. “The Dragon Reborn” by Robert Jordan. It can’t all be about work. On to book three!

Dr. Michelle Kwok, clinical assistant professor
Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, School of Education and Human Development

Current read: “Y/N” is a novel by Esther Yi about a Korean American woman in Berlin who suddenly becomes enthralled by a K-pop star. I’m not into K-pop myself, but I don’t think you have to be to enjoy this book. For me, summer reading is about escaping into different worlds, and I was easily immersed into the surreal world that Yi portrays.

What’s next: I plan on reading “The Swimmers” by Julie Otsuka, which starts off as a story about a group of swimmers, but is really about the relationship between a mother and her daughter.

Dr. Calvin Nite, associate professor of sport management
Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management, School of Education and Human Development

Current read: Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. This book reads like a person’s journal. It’s interesting to examine the utility of ancient wisdom in modern times.

What’s next: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. This book details the author’s quest to survive the Holocaust and offers the wisdom drawn from surviving tragedy.

Buzz Williams, men’s head basketball coach

Current read: “Hidden Genius” by Polina Marinova Pompliano. It’s about the unique ways of thinking that are the fuel of the world’s most successful people.

What’s next: “Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less” by Jim VandeHeiMike Allen, and Roy Schwartz.

Alex Mitchell, academic and curricular services coordinator
University Libraries

Current read: “System Collapse,” the next book in “The Murderbot Diaries” by Aggie author Martha Wells. I’m pretty sure Murderbot wants nothing more than to be able to watch endless episodes of “The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon,” but somehow, they keep getting dragged into adventures that usually involve saving the humans they’re with. It’s a delightful and relatable series.

What’s next: “Spirit of the Wood” by Kristen Britain, which is a novella prequel that is part of her “Green Rider” series. I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was announced.

These are advance reader copies, so they don’t come out until November.

Jillian Eslami, student engagement and outreach coordinator
University Libraries

Current read: “The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill. This is a mystery about a series of murders and a group of new friends who realize they do not know much about each other after all. Everyone is a suspect. A fun twist to this book is that it is a story inside a story. We are reading the story as the author is writing it between email correspondences with a fan. It is very intriguing, mysterious and I cannot put it down!

What’s next: “Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It seems like a perfect summer read, and who doesn’t love Taylor Jenkins Reid? I am making my way through all her books, and every single one has been a 10 out of 10.

Chance Medlin, assistant librarian
University Libraries

Current read: I have been really enjoying graphic novels lately, and I am currently bouncing back and forth between a few graphic novels. I have been reading a graphic novel version of Octavia Butler’s “Kindred,” which brings the intense story to life through unforgettable art, and the Manga versions of Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl.” I love experiencing the story in a new medium. I also love listening to audiobooks. I just finished TJ Klune’s “In the Lives of Puppets,” which is a sweet retelling of “Pinocchio” that has a fun-filled cast of robots and a story that is full of heart.

What’s next: I am excited to listen to “Family Lore” by Elizabeth Acevedo.  After hearing her speak on campus a few years ago as part of Brazos Valley Reads, I have become a huge fan of her work.

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