The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Reading Advice

Relatively speaking, the summer is when most people have the most time to read for fun and since I am a visiting school librarian from a local high school, I've decided to share my thoughts on something I'm very familiar with, young adult literature. There are some absolutely wonderful stories out there that you may have never considered reading because they are sold in the "young adult" sections of bookstores. Well, I'm here to enlighten you.

My personal favorite is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is the story of a sixteen year-old girl who volunteers to take her little sister's place in a televised fight to death with 23 other teenagers called the Hunger Games (hence the title). Explaining the plot in one sentence cannot, however, indicate how great this story is. I absolutely did not want to stop reading it. Every chapter ends with a sentence that will make you gasp and frantically start the next chapter even though it is 2a.m. and you wanted to go to bed. The book is an amazing mix of adventure, suspense, romance, philosophy, and social commentary that will change the way you think about young adult literature.

Another excellent choice is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was originally published in Australia as an adult novel, but has been marketed as a young adult book here in the United States. The story follows a young German girl named Liesel Meminger and her foster parents living near Munich during World War II. One of the best parts of the book is the identity of the narrator... Death himself. Can you think of a more significant time in human history than the Holocaust to be the backdrop for a story told by Death? The pace of the book is quite slow, but the time it takes to read it allows you to become all the more connected emotionally to the characters. An absolutely worthwhile, powerful read.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a story like you have never read (or seen) before. At 530+ pages it looks intimidating, but mixed in with the text are actually 300 pages of original charcoal drawings by the author that are reminiscent of watching a black and white silent film. Hugo Cabret is an orphan living secretly in Paris' main train station during the early 1900s. There, he meets a girl who might be able to help him unlock the secret of his last memory of his father. This spellbinding mystery can be read over a single weekend and I highly recommend it.

All of these books can be found in the Duke library system. If they are checked out already, get your name on the hold list immediately. Take a break from your academic journals, theses, and dissertations. Pick up one these stories, relax, and enjoy! You won't regret it.


  1. I've read The Invention of Hugo Cabret (loved the illustrations!) and The Book Thief (looked for lighter reading afterward), and agree that both are really interesting reads! I'm looking forward to The Hunger Games.

  2. I'm glad to hear you agree with me about Hugo Cabret and Book Thief. You are right. Book Thief is pretty heavy emotionally, but it was so worth it. Let me know what you think of the Hunger Games when you finish it. The sequel is already out and the final book in the trilogy comes out in August.