2017 Summer Reading List

Wondering what to read this summer? We've compiled a list of reading recommendations, courtesy of OCOM staff, faculty, and library student workers. The library owns everything on this list, so just click on each title to place a hold or check library availability. And if there is a fun summer read that you'd like to check out but we don't carry, feel free to submit a request using the Interlibrary Loan Request form!


The Circle

by Dave Eggers; recommended by Randall Payton

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The Buried Giant

by Kazuo Ishiguro; recommended by Joe Coletto

In post-Arthurian Britain, the wars that once raged between the Saxons and the Britons have finally ceased. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple, set off to visit their son, whom they haven’t seen in years. And, because a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, they can scarcely remember anything about him.

As they are joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight, Axl and Beatrice slowly begin to remember the dark and troubled past they all share. By turns savage, suspenseful, and intensely moving, The Buried Giant is a luminous meditation on the act of forgetting and the power of memory, an extraordinary tale of love, vengeance, and war.

We Are Okay

by Nina LaCour; recommended by Candise Branum

“Don’t let the small book size deceive you into thinking this queer YA novel won’t mangle your heart. LaCour’s words are like poetry, and I felt Marin’s emotional journey in my bones and under my skin. It is about grief, loss, love, and letting people in. Author Siobhan Vivian calls it, ‘As beautiful as the best memories, as sad as the best songs, as hopeful as your best dreams.’”

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.

All the Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr; recommended by Joe Coletto

“A fictional story set in world war 2 about connections both known and unknown.”

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Martin Marten

by Brian Doyle; recommended by Joe Coletto

“Delicious language and images.”

Dave is fourteen years old, living with his family in a cabin on Oregon’s Mount Hood (or as he prefers to call it, like the Multnomah tribal peoples once did, Wy’east). Dave will soon enter high school, with adulthood and a future not far off―a future away from his mother, father, his precocious younger sister, and the wilderness where he’s lived all his life.

And Dave is not the only one approaching adulthood and its freedoms on Wy’east that summer. Martin, a pine marten (of the mustelid family) is leaving his own mother and siblings and setting off on his own as well.

As Dave and Martin set off on their own adventures, their lives, paths, and trails will cross, weave, and blend. Why not come with them as they set forth into the forest and crags of Oregon’s soaring mountain wilderness in search of life, family, friends, enemies, wonder, mystery, and good things to eat?

The Moonstone

by Wilkie Collins; recommended by Candise Branum

“I try to read a Wilkie Collins book every summer. Widely considered to be the first modern detective novel, this is a murder mystery steeped in Orientalism, romance and thievery. Also, Wilkie Collins was tight bros with Charles Dickens, was down with women's rights, despised the institution of marriage, and was into non-monogomy. He was known for writing strong and capable women, but his writing started to deteriorate along with his health (he battled gout and nursed a bad addiction to opium). His books are in the Public Domain, so you can download this (along with my favorite Collin’s book, Woman in White), for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/98

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, "The Moonstone" is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear.

Reaper Man

by Terry Pratchet; recommended by Nick Mendonca

“A great entry point to the 'Disc World' series of books by the late Satirist Sir Terry Pratchett. Most books are stand alone stories set in the same universe of a flat world resting atop the back of four elephants, who in turn, rest on the back of a giant turtle.”

They say there are only two things you can count on. But that was before Death started pondering the existential. Of course,the last thing anyone needs is a squeamish Grim Reaper and soon his Discworld bosses have sent him off with best wishes and a well-earned gold watch. Now Death is having the time of his life, finding greener pastures where he can put his scythe to a whole new use.

But like every cutback in an important public service, Death's demise soon leads to chaos and unrest—literally, for those whose time was supposed to be up, like Windle Poons. The oldest geezer in the entire faculty of Unseen University—home of magic, wizardry, and big dinners—Windle was looking forward to a wonderful afterlife,not this boring been-there-done-that routine. To get the fresh start he deserves,Windle and the rest of Ankh-Morpork's undead and underemployed set off to find Death and save the world for the living(and everybody else, of course)


by Cain, Chelsea; recommended by Dave Eshbaugh

“NY Times best-selling suspense novelist. She lives in Portland and the places in her books are in the Portland area. Quicky sense of humor. Heartsick is the first of a series of books featured around a Portland homicide detective and the serial killer who abducted him. Gripping suspense.”

In Chelsea Cain's bestselling series debut, Portland detective Archie Sheridan has spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer. In the end she was the one who caught him, but after torturing him for days she mysteriously let him go and turned herself in. Since then the she has been locked up, leaving Archie damaged but alive in a prison of another kind―addicted to  pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days or Gretchen off his mind.

When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets, Archie has to pull himself together to head up a new task force, but even then he can't stop him without getting information from Gretchen―an encounter that may destroy him.

The Passage

by Justin Cronin; recommended by Ben Marx

“A post-apocalyptic vampire novel, written by an award winning author. Engrossing, visionary, and totally fun!”

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival,The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Assassin's Apprentice (FarSeer Trilogy, book 1)

by Robin Hobbs; recommended by Forest Cooper

“This is an excellent beginning trilogy of one of the best fantasy series around. George RR Martin calls it "a diamond in a sea of cubit zirconion" If you like fantasy at all, you'll love this. “

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

Mink River

by Brian Doyle; recommended by Deb Espesete

“Brian Doyle is trending!! This is the second of the local author’s novels on this list. Also check out Joe Coletto’s recommendation for Doyle’s newest book, Martin Marten.”  -- Candise

In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There's a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a crime committed, and there's an unbelievably huge picnic on the football field. Babies are born. A car is cut in half with a saw. A river confesses what it's thinking. . .

It's the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.



Fourth Uncle on the Mountain

by Quang Van Nguyen & Marjorie Pivar; recommended by Beth Mills

“True story of a Vietnamese Medicine Healer's journey.”

Set during the French and American wars in South Vietnam, Fourth Uncle in the Mountain is the true story of an orphan, Quang Van Nguyen, adopted by a sixty-four-year-old monk, Thau, who carries great responsibility for his people as a barefoot doctor. Thau manages against all odds to raise his son to follow in his footsteps and in doing so saves him, as well as a part of Vietnam's esoteric knowledge from the Vietnam holocaust. Thau is wanted by the French regime and occasionally must flee in to the jungle, where he is perfectly at home living among the animals. As wise and resourceful as Thau is, he meets his match in his mischievous son. Quang is more interested in learning Cambodian sorcery and martial arts than in developing his skills and wisdom according to his father's plan. Fourth Uncle in the Mountain is an odyssey of a single-father folk hero and his foundling son in a land ravaged by the atrocities of war. It is a classic story complete with humor, tragedy, and insight, from a country where ghosts and magic are real.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food

by Jennifer Lee; recommended by Veronica Vichit-Vadakan

This is a fun, engaging book about the history of Chinese food in America. It's a history lesson, geographical tour, sociological investigation, and tasty primer on a uniquely American cuisine.

If you think McDonald's is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendy's combined. Former New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese). In her search, Jennifer 8 Lee traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped our country. 

The Open Space of Democracy

by Terry Tempest Williams; recommended by Dave Eshbaugh

Terry Tempest Williams presents a sharp-edged perspective on the ethics and politics of place, spiritual democracy, and the responsibilities of citizen engagement. By turns elegiac, inspiring, and passionate, The Open Space of Democracy offers a fresh perspective on the critical questions of our time. "In a time of despair Terry Tempest Williams offers us hope. In a season of confrontation she provides connection. Against the passions of war she wields peace. To the bray of hubris she speaks quietly of reflection. And all, each magical phrase of it, is rooted in the land she loves."

--Carl Pope, Executive Director, The Sierra Club

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi; recommended by Nancy Grotton

“Powerful memoir by a young neurosurgeon, who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer just as he was completing his decade long training. I loved the book for its honesty and rich exploration of life's hard questions. Amazon review says in part ‘When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.’ “



Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

by Fuchsia Dunlop; recommended by Veronica Vichit-Vadakan

“Fuchsia Dunlop was the first Westerner (and one of the first women) ever to study at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and then later became the Western world's ambassador of regional Chinese cuisine. She's also a great writer, full of empathy and wit. This book is especially recommended if you are planning on traveling in China! Her stories give you a sense of what it's like to be an outsider trying to bridge the cultural gap.”

After fifteen years spent exploring China and its food, Fuchsia Dunlop finds herself in an English kitchen, deciding whether to eat a caterpillar she has accidentally cooked in some home-grown vegetables. How can something she has eaten readily in China seem grotesque in England? The question lingers over this “autobiographical food-and-travel classic”

--Publishers Weekly.

Living for Change: An Autobiography

by Grace Lee Boggs; recommended by Asako Chihaya

“Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) was a Chinese American author/political activist/philosopher/feminist. For over seven decades, she was active in grassroots organizing and tirelessly fought for equality and justice. She is best known for her work in the Civil Rights/Black Power Movement. This is her memoir, going back to her childhood in the east coast as the daughter of a Chinese restaurant owner and growing into a legendary human rights activist. She is also the subject of the documentary film, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs and has written four other books, including The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century.”



Birding Oregon

by John Rakestraw; recommended by Dave Eshbaugh

“Interested in knowing where to see birds in Oregon? Portland-based John Rakestraw's book compiles over 250 locations to visit or take visitors to see birds and other wildlife. This is NOT an identification guide, rather a guide to WHERE to see birds (and during what times of year). Great reference for those times when you want to get away from the city and be surrounded by nature.”



China Doctor of John Day

by Jeffrey G. Barlow and Christine Richardson; recommended by Dave Eshbaugh

“Book describing "Doc" Ing Hay and his life at Kam Wah Chung (John Day, OR) from 1885-1948. Informative to those who are interested in Chinese medicine in frontier Oregon, are planning to visit Kam Wah Chung, or are interested in learning more about the focus of OCOM faculty/staff Beth Howlett's research project.”

The remarkable story of Ing Hay, the "China Doctor" who became the most famous and capable frontier physician in the John Day country of Eastern Oregon. Serving patients from the late 19th century to 1948, he was a traditional Chinese physician who, with his herbal medicines, worked more cures than the laboratory-oriented doctors of the area.

Cutting for Stone

by Abraham Verghese; recommended by Rachel Taleff

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.


by Terry Tempest Williams; recommended by Deb Espesete 

Desert Solitaire

by Edward Abbey; recommended by Deb Espesete

A Sand County Almanac

by Aldo Leopold; recommended by Deb Espesete

“Observations and inspirations about people and place - how we fit into nature, or could. For the southwest deserts, mid-west and Pacific NW. I especially recommend these in context of Chinese Medicine's foundation built from observations of the natural world.”

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

by Rebecca Solnit; recommended by Asako Chihaya

“The book was published in 2004, around the time George W. Bush was re-elected for second-term in the White House and the country was at war in Iraq. The author, who is also an activist and a historian, looks at the history of activism and social change over 5 decades - from the fall of the Berlin wall to the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico to WTO protest in Seattle to the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq - and offers an inspiring, well-argued case for hope in the darkest of times. 13 years after the book was first published, Solnit's words are still relevant today and offers vision of hope and defiance in the age of Trump.

‘Your opponents would love you to believe that it's hopeless, that you have no power, that there's no reason to act, that you can't win. Hope is a gift you don't have to surrender, a power you don't have to throw away.’”


The Gene

by Siddhartha Mukherjee; recommended by Joe Coletto

“The fascinating story of genetics that is very well written and compelling.”

“Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost” (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.”  -- USA Today

Bridging the Divide between Faculty and Administration: A Guide to Understanding Conflict in the Academy

by James L. Bess and Jay R. Dee; recommended by Beth Burch

“Scholarly work on the challenges of faculty and administration working together.”

Conflicts between faculty and administration have become particularly virulent and disruptive in recent years, as institutions have struggled to adapt to intensifying pressures for efficiency and accountability. Analyzing common sources of conflict and challenges on campus that impede attempts to address these conflicts, Bridging the Divide between Faculty and Administration provides a theory-driven and research-based approach for authentic discourse between faculty and administration. This important resource presents a wealth of strategies for improving communication in colleges and universities, ultimately enhancing organizational effectiveness and institutional performance.

The Wandering Taoist

Deng Ming-Dao; recommended by Ben Marx

“Reignite your passion for Chinese medicine, Taoism, and kung-fu awesomeness while away from OCOM this summer.”





The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg; recommended by Karleigh August

“As students, the habits we have can make our academic careers easier, or a lot more difficult. This book talks about the habits of the individual, of the successful organization, and of society. The science behind this book is really interesting, but even better it is full of interesting stories that explain or employ that science. The stories cover things from personal stories, to the Montgomery bus boycott, to sports, to the founding of AA, to the King's Cross station fire, to how febreze became successful, to how Target decides what advertisements to send you. It might not be complete break from non-fiction its definitely a book I didn't want to put down!”



Heal Thyself

by Edward Bach; recommended by Jeff Thompson

Amazing history of the Bach flower essences by the creator of this powerful healing modality.  A short book but inspiring manifesto of his world view and thoughts on wellness.