University of Southern Indiana

Rice Library's Winter Break reading recommendations

Rice Library's Winter Break reading recommendations

12/14/2020 | University Communications
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With many people planning to spend more time at home over Winter Break, Rice Library staff offer their recommendations of books and podcasts to enjoy! 

The Overstory by Richard PowersImage source: Amazon.com

The Overstory
By Richard Powers

Recommended by: Darrin Burns, Desktop Support Technician

Who would enjoy it: Anyone who loves nature, science and seeing how humanity is connected to the world we inhabit.

Why Darrin recommends it: It’s a compelling view of something we never think abouttreesand how important they are to the planet, the ecosystem and to humanity, told through the stories of diverse individuals from all walks of life.

The way the narrative is laid out, I found it nearly impossible to put down. Each chapter is told from a different person’s viewpoint, and just as you get a taste of that story and want to keep going, another person comes into the tale. Luckily, each person’s story is picked up again in later chapters. 


Image source: Amazon.com

The Winternight trilogy: The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, 
The Winter of the Witch
By Katherine Arden

Recommended by: Kirsten Williams, Library Associate

Who would enjoy it: Readers who love going on a long journey with a character.

Why Kirsten recommends it: It is a beautifully written fantasy story set in medieval Russia and inspired by Russian folklore. Perfect to read in the winter while cozied up at home with something warm to drink.


Image source: Amazon.com

Binti: The Complete Trilogy
By Nnedi Okorafor

Recommended by: Cecilia Pryor, Senior Library Assistant

Who would enjoy it: Readers who enjoy shorter stories, science fiction, female protagonists, mysteries or slice-of-life style writing. I think this small collection has something for everyone. 

Why Cecilia recommends it: These are good novellas that are very well written, and I think could appeal to a wide-ranging audience. When I first read this collection, I was blown away by how good they were. It made me fall in love with the science fiction genre all over again. 

The short stories are available individually, and are almost worth buying them that way for the beautiful covers on them. However, buying the complete collection volume includes an additional short story. 


Image source: Amazon.com

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World
By Alexander Rose

Recommended by: Peter Whiting, Scholarly Communication Librarian

Who would enjoy it: Readers who enjoy history and non-fiction.

Why Peter recommends it: I have always read about or heard the historic WLS radio broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg crash in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World, duels Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and both the Wright Brothers and Juan Trippe who founded Pan American Airlines. If you are keeping a scorecard, we all know who won, and that was the airplane as the way to travel by air.

History on the Net has a podcast episode featuring an interview with the author


Image source: Amazon.com

The Renegades trilogy: Renegades, Archenemies, Supernova
By Marissa Meyer

Recommended by: Marna Hostetler, Director of Library Services

Who would enjoy it: Young adult, tweens, anyone who enjoys young adult titles.

Why Marna recommends it: This series is about people who have superhuman abilities and is set in a post-war time period. It’s about how a society can reconstruct itself and how individuals can be affected during that process. It’s also about family, friendship and first love.

This series is unique, and I really enjoyed it. The characters are wonderful!


Image source: Amazon.com

The World and Then Some
By Sharon Randall

Recommended by: Debra Clark, Circulation Manager

Who would enjoy it: Readers who like stories that inspire, encourage and let us know that all lives matter, that we each are unique and we all have struggles and heartache, but we can come through these struggles better and wiser.

Why Debra recommends it: Ms. Randall has a weekly column that used to appear in the Evansville Courier and Press, and I always have enjoyed reading it. When the Courier stopped carrying the column, I was disappointed but eventually found her online, so now I get a feed every week when she posts the new one. I haven’t read the book yet, but it is on my Christmas wish list.

Her weekly articles are encouraging and uplifting, so I’m pretty sure her book will be an amazing read with laughter and tears involved.


The Broken Earth trilogy
Image source: Amazon.com

The Broken Earth trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
By N.K. Jemisin

Recommended by: Kirsten Williams, Library Associate

Who would enjoy it: Readers who enjoy stories with detailed worldbuilding and beautifully flawed characters.

Why Kirsten recommends it: It's one of the best science fiction fantasy stories I’ve ever read. It’s a gripping and imaginative storythe kind you think about for days after you finish reading.


Lunar Chronicles boxed set
Image source: Amazon.com

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winer, Fairest, Stars Above 
By Marissa Meyer

Recommended by: Janet Ruddell, Rice Library Senior Accounting Assistant 

Who would enjoy it: Readers who love classic stories and fantasy who have an active imagination! 

Why Janet recommends it: If you love the classic fairy tales, you’ll love these. The classics with a twist!


Seabiscuit coverImage source: Amazon.com

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
By Laura Hillenbrand

Recommended by: Tammy Jewell, Senior Library Assistant

Who would enjoy it: Readers who enjoy history, historical fiction, drama or the subject of horseracing.

Why Tammy recommends it: When I read this book, I get lost in time. The way the author wrote about the events in such detail, I can picture every scene and every moment in detail, as if I’m right there.


Cover of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic
Image source: Amazon.com

Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics
By Boom! Studios

Recommended by: Kirsten Williams, Library Associate

Who would enjoy it: Readers who love and need more Buffy the Vampire Slayer in their lives.

Why Kirsten recommends it: This is a retelling of the Buffy series set in today’s world. As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I think it is really good! There are also Angel and Willow spinoffs.


Book cover of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Image source: Amazon.com

Long Way Down
By Jason Reynolds

Recommended by: Marna Hostetler, Director of Library Services

Who would enjoy it: Teens, especially young men, or anyone who likes reading young adult titles. Reynolds writes for kids, not for critics and not for adults, and his stated goal is to get kids to read. It can be hard to get teens to readespecially boysbut Reynolds’ writing can draw them in.

Why Marna recommends it: This book is an award winner for a reason. It is about a young man with a choice to make. As he rides an elevator down eight floors, he thinks about the rules he has been taught and what he will do. Even though the novel is written in verse, the story grabs you immediately and stays with you long after you’ve finished it.

I had a really hard time picking just one Jason Reynolds book.  I have read many of his books and loved each one. For someone looking for more by this author, I would recommend For Every One, Look Both Ways, or the Track Series (four books). 

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Rice Library with snow covering the area in front of it

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