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10 Don’t-Miss Summer Reads

University-Related Authors Offer Everything From Novels to History


By Julia Gavin

Summer, with its long days and slow pace, is prime time to catch up on reading. Here are a few recommendations to fit every reading situation:

The Fitting,” Prof. Joseph Zaitchik
For a murder-mystery exploring shifting American values –  with a few glimpses of UMass Lowell in the background – pick up this debut novel by Prof. Zaitchik, featuring an immigrant tailor turned amateur sleuth.

Townie,” Prof. Andre Dubus III
Growing up in a depressed mill town, with family issues and a knock-out punch, almost led Prof. Dubus down a dark road. Fortunately, writing brought him back, in a transformation shared in this acclaimed memoir. The book has been chosen as the common text for the First Year Writing Program, so there will be several events related to the story in the fall.

Under the Dome,” Stephen King
For readers with a healthy chunk of time, King's epic tale of a town held captive will keep the pages turning. If quicker reading sessions are called for, pick up his short story collection, “Different Seasons.” Either tome will get readers ready for King's on-campus talk in December.

Believe in Me: A Teen Mom's Story,” Judith Dickerman Nelson
Written from journal entries, photographs and poems created when alumna Dickerman Nelson discovered she was pregnant as a teen in the 70s, her debut novel shows that life-altering events and adversity don't always turn out badly.

History buffs and alumni will get an illustrated look at UMass Lowell and the community that has made it the University it is today. From female students playing basketball in Victorian garb in Coburn's attic to the mysterious former home of the student activities office – a photo of the building exists but can't be placed – through today's campus expansion, the best pictures in our history are included in this book. Take a trip through time and see if you can identify some unnamed faces and places.

Unlikely Brothers,” John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks 
As a young man, Prendergast became involved in the human rights movement in Africa. That didn't stop him from building a lifelong friendship with Mattocks, a teen at home in Washington, D.C.,  who taught him as much about life as an entire nation. Prendergast will be back on campus in the fall continuing his work as our current Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies, so read up on his work before meeting him in September.

What It Is,” Lynda Barry
While cartoonist and painter Barry likes sharing her own illustrated stories, she wanted to help others get the same satisfaction out of a pencil, paper and creative thought. Her creativity workbook takes readers through a series of writing prompts. Dozens of students and community members tried her process when Barry visited as the Artist-in-Residence for the Center for Arts & Ideas at UMass Lowell and all came away with a new way to interact with their memories and creative processes.

Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens
In celebration of what would have been Dickens' 200th birthday, Lowell's Pollard Memorial Library is hosting a community-wide book club focusing on the classic novel. Programming runs throughout the summer; details are available on their website.

River Muse: Stories of Lowell & The Merrimack Valley,” published by Lloyd Corricelli of Sons of Liberty Publishing
Featuring three previously unpublished works by Jack Kerouac and writingn by nearly 40 authors inspired by the Merrimack River and Valley, the anthology is an excellent overview of established and new authors in the region. Alum Corricelli is donating all profits to veterans’ organizations including the Wounded Warriors Project and UMass Lowell’s Office of Veterans Services.

The Sea is My Brother,” Jack Kerouac
For readers looking for a Kerouac fix before the new “On the Road” adaptation hits movie theaters, pick up his first, previously unpublished novel about life at sea with the Merchant Marines.