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Join our fun summer reading program hosted by New Brunswick Libraries and Summer Session. The program promises short mental breaks from coursework through a fool-proof method of distraction: reading short stories and poems.

What is Summer Tales?

Started in the summer of 2020 to respond to new needs, we created virtual communities for students taking classes remotely. Invited by the Rutgers Summer Session, we at Books We Read first launched the Summer Tales Reading Club in the summer of 2020. Delivered in Canvas, the program’s main goal was to respond to new needs in the online learning environment as it evolved during the pandemic. The program turned out to be successful and created virtual communities for students taking classes remotely throughout the summer.

Events in 2020 included a live discussion seminar on How to talk to girls at parties by Neil Gaiman, reading a classic with thought-provoking online conversations, and a live meeting with renowned author Joyce Carol Oates. Participants can attest that they benefited from the experience in many ways.

In 2021, upon popular request, we added poetry to the mix, reading and reflecting on contemporary poems for a whole month. We discussed two short stories and four poems in a Canvas course and had some great moments. We were delighted to meet readers of different tastes and backgrounds in this virtual intellectual community. We were also fortunate to host two guest authors, Carmen Maria Machado and Natalie Díaz at two well-attended events, also available for the public.

See more on the program in our guide.

New in 2022

Inspired by one of the most successful, student-initiated practices at the previous Summer Tales Book Clubs called the “Virtual Book Exchange,” we have collected books recommendations for students of the Summer Session. Instead of discussion, this summer we will simply recommend books to read––but a lot more of them, both in quantity and variety. The intention is to help find something to read for everyone in the next three months, whether just one book or several titles. Talking points related to a featured story or book are also listed in a “Reflection Pool” in the guide for those who like to reflect on anything and everything, like some of us at Books We Read.

The following parts of Summer Tales will make sure that everyone will benefit from our shared experience and expertise related to reading for fun.

1. How We Read series: One would assume, correctly, that anyone who works in a library likes to read. We decided to go the extra mile: in addition to asking around about reading preferences, we also interviewed our colleagues (librarians, library staff, and students working in the libraries) about the setup, the environment, time of the day, and more. After finding out how we read, there’s no excuse to procrastinate developing your own reading habit (which can be a pleasant form of procrastination in its own right)!

2. So you want to go to grad school? Another assumption, based on previous summers, is that students taking summer classes are highly driven and dedicated. Moreover, many of them told us that they were considering grad school. Books We Read members, still in grad school or just graduated, provide a glimpse of what it takes to start and finish grad school. We hope these first-hand accounts will help you assess your options and inspire you in whatever course you take after college.

3. Summer Tales 2022 Reading Guide: The guide with curated resources collected in one place was a staple of our programs in the past years. In 2022 we feature four authors who were popular in 2020 and 2021, but with a significantly expanded scope of their works. The guide offers links to texts and videos, primary resources and background information, among them our own experiences with three guest authors at the Summer Tales Author Talks that we had shared in various blog posts.

4. Author Talks: A guest author will visit Summer Tales virtually for a discussion on their work and related subjects. Available for the public upon registration, the one-hour event will be moderated by Nick Allred, an experienced Summer Tales moderator of Author Talks events. Questions to the author can be submitted along with the registration. Read more about the featured author.

5. The Recreational Reading Collection at Rutgers-New Brunswick: Since fall 2021, Books We Read has been in charge of selecting popular titles for a unique print collection of 1,200 books physically located in the Carr Library on Livingston Campus. In our reviews we have featured many titles under the tag Staff Picks that can be found in this collection. We also posted useful information under RecRead related to the collection––for example, on how to find books which can be delivered to your favorite library or home address.

6. Research help from Rutgers Libraries: The idea, of course, is not brand new; library assistance has been available forever. But again, in our experience, fast-paced and demanding summer courses need a different approach from full-semester studies, hence the brand new Summer Session Research Guide with quick links, best practices, and fun videos.

7. New Brunswick, as we see it: Last but not least, for those studying online and unable to visit the beautiful New Brunswick campus, our in-house artist and Books We Read author, art librarian Megan Lotts has been “urban sketching” around for two years. Her artwork grasps the essence of “town & gown,” i.e., our diverse campus and the town surrounding it. You can enjoy her sketches in the Books We Read Gallery, along with other galleries (yes, cute puppies and cats too!), as well as illustrating Summer Session blog posts here.

Wishing you all a fun and rewarding Summer Session!