Rainy Day Reads

What would you read on a rainy day?

Get cozy this wet winter with a good book! The Puget Sound bookstore and Collins Memorial Library have put heads together to bring you Rainy Day Reads, a selection of favorite titles and recommendations by our faculty and staff. So read on for captivating ideas in this nose-in-book weather list.  Add your comments to the Rainy Day Reads section at:  Library Thing.

Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures book

Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures by Gilbert & George and Rudi Fuchs
Recommended by: Amy E. Ryken, Associate Professor, School of Education

In the late 1980’s I saw Gilbert and George’s “Flight” at the Hess Collection Art Gallery in Napa, California.  The work is huge (8’x12’), colorful, and reminiscent of a stained glass window, except for the images.  Two translucent white men in bright red suits stand against a royal blue background with large yellow wine bottles and glasses in the foreground.  I was immediately drawn to it.  The environments Gilbert and George create situate humans in relation to natural, religious, and political landscapes and reflect an intellectual, personal, and political integrity that I find inspiring.  On a rainy day I reach for my signed copy of Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures and am greeted with a burst of color and a reminder that it is important to look for beauty where you least expect it.  Gilbert and George’s life long dedication to making their life art, and to exploring all aspects of the human condition, adds joy to any day, especially a rainy one.

Time of our Singing book

The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
Recommended by: Keith Ward Director, School of Music

Powers is one of the most compelling young novelists of today.  He spins nuanced, substantive tales that thoroughly engross a reader.  His attention to detail and perceptive analyses add such richness to his narratives.  A perfect book to get lost in on a rainy day!

Invisible Cities book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Recommended by: Mike Veseth, Professor, International Political Economy

The Invisible Cities that Marco Polo describes to Kublai Khan may be real or inventions. It is hard to tell which. The Great Kahn seeks to know his Empire, which is too vast for such an old man to experience first hand. Are Marco Polo's reports poetry, travelogue or bald-faced lies? The stories are brief and incomplete, like postcards. What truths could they possible contain? Do they reveal actual landscape or a map of desire> Does it matter, since they will always remain invisible?
Fun Home book Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Recommended by: Yoshiko Matsui, Director, Multicultural Student Services
The Warrior Woman book The Warrior Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston
Recommended by: Yoshiko Matsui, Director, Multicultural Student Services
Halsey's Typhoon book

Halsey's Typhoon by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Recommended by: Mike Segawa, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

I enjoy reading about American history especially around war years, in this case World War II. It's a book I picked up at a small, local bookstore on Orcas Island a year ago with the intent of reading it on a lazy, rainy day. My problem is that there have been plenty of rainy days since then but not enough lazy ones!

Revenge of the Lawn book Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan
Recommended by: Hans Ostrom, Professor, English Department
 Composing a Life book Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson
Recommended by: Kris Bartanen, Academic Vice President/Dean, Professor, Communication Studies

There are so many choices… and it depends a bit on the nature of the rainy day… Wallace Stegner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jill Ker Conway, J.A. Jance, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen and David Relin, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy Kordery, A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. Sometimes, though, a rainy day of the type described is a space for stepping back from the tyranny of the immediate to engage in reflection on who you are and what you are about. Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer whose books (Composing a Life; Peripheral Visions; Full Circles, Overlapping Lives) I go back to at various times for just that reason.
The Moonstone book The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Recommended by: William Kupinse, Associate Professor, English Department

T.S. Eliot thought that The Moonstone was the greatest of all detective novels and I'm inclined to agree. While the plot revelations are both vivid and startling, the novel also has a dreamy quality that seems suited for a rainy day-- this may be due to the fact that Collins was taking so much opium when he wrote the book that he hardly remembered composing some chapters.
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Recommended by: Lisa L. Ferrari
Associate Professor, Associate Dean

I have an old hardcover copy that was my dad’s before he gave it to me.  The Holmes stories are wonderful because the layers of detail reward multiple readings.  A gray rainy day is the perfect time for a good puzzle, and would give the right atmosphere for foggy, Victorian London.  So I would reach for Holmes and a pot of tea.
 Possession book Possession by A.S. Byatt
Recommended by: Rebecca Kuglitsch, Science Librarian

It will get you through the whole afternoon, and maybe inspire you to get started on research papers, considering that all the excitement in the plot starts with an afternoon's library research. And with the way colors are described throughout the book, you might not mind the greyness outdoors as much.
Jane Eyre book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Recommended by: Jane Carlin, Director, Collins Memorial Library

I have read this book over and over again since the first time which was in junior high school! Jane Eyre is a complex and deep character. She lost her parents, was sent to a dreadful boarding school, her best friend died and yet she continued to be strong and never give up. Add to this, the drama of a love story, the windswept landscape of the English countryside, a mentally ill wife and the book offers something new every time it is read. Jane's spirit was filled with integrity and a sense of independence. Her character traits are ones that never waned in spite of all the oppression she encountered in life. A role model for sure.
The Looming Tower book

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Perhaps no two questions are as important in the early 21st century as the ones Wright answers: how 9/11 happened, and why.

The Way We Live Now book

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

The title says it all. Trollope's satire of financial (and moral) crisis in Victorian England even has a Madoff-before-Madoff, a tragic swindler named Augustus Melmotte.

The Bear (Three Famous Short Novels - book)

The Bear by William Faulkner
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

A boy comes of age in the 1880s by learning the ways of the fast-disappearing Mississippi forests. The best environmental novel ever written.

God: A Biography book

God: A Biography by Jack Miles
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Miles, a journalist and former Jesuit treats the God of the Bible as a literary protagonist-- and discovers infinitely human depths.

The Unsettling of America book

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

First published in 1982, this book-length argument for the family farm-- and against agribusiness-- is simply the most thoughtful book on modern agriculture.

A Good Man is Hard to Find book

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Conner
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Stories of the New South, Christ-haunted and out of control, are as scary as they were when published in 1955. "Shut up, Bobby Lee, it's no real pleasure in life."

Underground book

Underground by Haruki Murakami
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Critics love Murakami's surrealist fiction, but this collection of interviews with victims and perpetrators of Japan's 1995 sarin-gas attack is a useful study of modern terror and its aftermath.

Leaves of Grass book

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

There's no better season to read the Great American Poem than summer, and no better place than the outdoors for savoring its charms, both contemplative ("I lean and loafe at my ease") and ecstatic ("Mad naked summer night!").

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? book

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Before Wall-E, there was this penetrating parable of the grim future of technology and life on an Earth without animals (and the basis for Blade Runner).

Benjamin Franklin book

Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

A model biography: pithy, wise, and-- despite its brevity--complete. Franklin emerges as a quintessential hero of his time, and ours.

Frankenstein book

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

In an age of bioengineering, Shelley's novel about a scientist and his creation is especially unsettling- and its message about the necessity of companionship and sympathy is especially urgent.

Whittaker Chambers book

Whittaker Chambers by Sam Tanenhaus
Recommended in article "What to Read Now. And Why." Newsweek, July 13, 2009 issue.

Whittaker Chambers (along with his friend William F. Buckley Jr.) was a crucial avatar of the modern right. The forces are all here, embodied to one degree or another within Chambers himself: religion, a tragic sensibility, a fear of centralized control, and a Manichaean view of good versus evil.


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