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What’s On Your Summer Reading List?

What’s on your summer reading list? We asked a handful of URI alumni, students, staff, faculty, and friends what they have stashed in their beach bags—and their responses made us want to head straight to the bookstore. What a list: from URI’s Common Reading selection The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch to young adult novels like The Fault in Our Stars; from the Bible to the Berenstain Bears; from technical journals to guilty pleasures.

Page down to get their intriguing tips for good reads.

What are you reading this summer? Comment below.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman.

Lixis Acevedo ’15, biology major from Providence, RI

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (for pleasure, I read it in high school and loved it since) and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (I am reading this for URI 101 mentoring, because the incoming freshmen have to read it over the summer and I will be a mentor this fall).

Taylor Archer ’16, from Milford, MA, softball player and journalism major

My Kindle is full! Just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings and just started Jimmy Carter’s newest, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

The Reverend Lynn Baker-Dooley, URI’s first lady and active member of South County Habitat for Humanity’s Board of Directors

Frost in the Low Areas by Karen Skofield, winner of the PEN New England Award in Poetry.

Richard Blanco, Hon. ’14, Award-winning inaugural poet and URI’s 2014 commencement speaker

My summer is usually spent recovering from the conference and art festival (I am showing at the Narragansett art festival the week after the conference and working feverishly on paintings after hours). My summer reading book list generally consists of the conference participant’s work. I am reading Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic now, and will be reading Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama. Also on my list, Maria Mutch’s Know the Night, Charles Bernstein’s All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems, Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense, and Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier. My list grows once the conference is underway!

Michelle Caraccia ’10, Graduate Program Administrator, URI English Department, and Coordinator, Ocean State Summer Writing Conference

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Caroline Casey ’15, from Columbia, MD, volleyball player majoring in kinesiology

Namath by Joe Willie Namath and Shawn Coyne.

Luke Casey ’17, from Columbia, MD, football player majoring in business

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger.

Rodney Chance ’15, from Mansfield, MA, football player majoring in communications with a minor in public relations

URI Common Reading book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It’s interesting because it is all about his life experiences and what he learned from them.

Ben Concepcion ’17, biological sciences major

Decision Points by George W. Bush.

Clay Crume ’15, from League City, TX, football player majoring in finance

Here’s what I’ve enjoyed best so far this summer: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon (Mike has a Ph.D. from URI, I might add), The Apartment by Greg Baxter, Updike by Adam Begley, and Open City by Teju Cole.

Ted Delaney, award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker and Advanced Fiction Workshop Leader for URI’s Ocean State Summer Writers Conference

Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan. I also am reading a wide variety of Berenstain Bears books by Stan and Jan Berenstain on a daily basis with PJ [Shane’s 3-year-old-son].

Shane Donaldson ’99, Coordinator, Sports Communications, URI Athletics

I’m reading Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Joseph Needham.

David M. Dooley, President, University of Rhode Island

Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity by Marc Lamont Hill and Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week by Joel Osteen.

Michelle Fontes-Barros ’96, M.A. ’11, Coordinator, Student Diversity Initiatives, College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren.

Deborah Gardiner ’05, URI Honors Program Coordinator—Academic Programming, Advising and Outreach

I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I am just starting Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.

Danielle Gariglio ’17, from Massapequa, NY, softball player and journalism major

Most of the books I have been reading are about art. My beach bag reading will be Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Now there is someone who changed the world with the power of imagination!

Henry Gauthier ’74, Wickford sculptor and resident

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell and American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle.

John Greenhalgh ’15, from Chepachet, RI, football player majoring in history

I really enjoy reading technical news and stories, and my favorites are: IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and Communications of the ACM, the magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Haibo He, associate professor of electrical, computer and biomedical engineering

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Abdul Ibrahim ’17, from Queens, NY, football player majoring in health studies

I am studying for my qualifying exams in the fall, so not a lot of pleasure reading! I am finding some time to fit in some readings that are research-related, and a few that are not:
The View from Vermont: Tourism and the Making of an American Rural Landscape by Blake Harrison and Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science by Robert Thorson. My list also includes A Feast for Crows, which is the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (the series that inspired HBO’s Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and The Rogue Crew by Brian Jacques—the last book in the Redwall series, a young adult fantasy series that I started in 1994 and have been continuing to read as I (and the series) get older. Finally, I usually re-read parts of one of my favorite books ever during the summer at the beach: Timeline by Michael Crichton.

Kate Johnson ’06, archeologist and geography Ph.D. student

Otter Skins, Boston Ships and China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast by James Gibson—research for my next book; The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen and Anthony Palumbi—my continuing education about marine biology; Myself Among Others: A Life in Music by George Wein (founder of the Newport Jazz Festival)—I consume every jazz biography I can find; and the last four mystery novels by Stuart Woods—guilty pleasures on audio to get me through my commute to work.

Todd McLeish, URI Public Information Officer and Manager of the URI Speakers Bureau. Todd is a wildlife and environmental author. His most recent book is Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki. I also loved The Dinner by Herman Koch.

Eva-Marie Mancuso ’82, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education

Right now I’m reading The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo Martinez. This summer I plan to read A Time to Dance, the newest book by local author Padma Venkatraman; One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, and something yet to be determined that is fictional, completely escapist and amusing, with great dialogue. (Any suggestions? Comment below)

Sunshine Menezes Ph.D. ’05, executive director of URI GSO’s Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

​—Jasmine Miller ’16, from Providence RI, majoring in biological Sciences on a pre-med track

I just started rereading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. He’s my favorite author and that is my ultimate favorite read. His novels have short chapters, which makes it easier to digest and hold my place when I need to take a swimming break!

Jessi Minneci ’16, URI Admission tour guide, journalism and marine affairs double major

Reading and breaking down the book of Ephesians from the Bible this month.

Kolt Peavey ’16, from Bolivar, MO, football player majoring in business administration

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

Catie Seman ’16, from Cranberry Township, Pa., volleyball player majoring in global business

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Joe Simon ’15, from Armonk, NY, football player majoring in Psychology

My list includes The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Megan Straumann ’15, from Cary, IL, basketball player and human development and family studies major

What is on my list for the summer: The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures by Lawrence Anthony and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. What I am reading now: Still Alice by Lisa Genova. What I have just finished: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. What I read every day: The Wall Street Journal

Louise H. Thorson M.B.A.’85, president of the Alumni Association Executive Board

One of my favorite things about summer vacation is the time I get to read some books on my reading list. Currently, I am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The next books on my list include Room by Emma Donoghue and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

Samantha Valenza ’17, from Plainview, NY, double majoring in marketing and public relations, in the Honors Program

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. Although not a light summer read, I find the public debate about Wall Street and its actors pretty fascinating.

Laurie White ’81, trustee of the URI Foundation and president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

Jawaun Wynn ’15, from Piscataway, NJ, football player majoring in criminal justice and pre-med



Comment here and tell us what you’re reading this summer…


2 comments to “What’s On Your Summer Reading List?”

  1. Kristina Macri comments:

    I’ve been reading “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green and I love it! It is an emotional read but very good and well worth the read!!

    --Posted: June 17th, 2014 at 5:40 pm
  2. Barbara comments:

    Thanks Kristina! I just read that one too—agreed! Have a great summer, and I hope you get to squeeze in some more good reads!
    –Barbara Caron, Editor, QuadAngles Online

    --Posted: June 18th, 2014 at 8:29 am

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