Hello everyone, and welcome back: to Hopkins, to the library, and to the Calarco Library Blog! In the coming days we’ll be filling you in on what we read this summer, but we wanted to kick things off with what you read this summer!
As you know, the librarians sent out a summer reading survey to the whole school, asking you to pick one book out of everything you read this summer – required or not – as your very favorite. We received about 300 responses from students, faculty, and staff, which proves just how much you like reading. Or us. Or how accustomed you are to filling out surveys.
To misquote one of this summer’s favorite reads: all books are popular, but some books are more popular than others. By far and away the most favored book was The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (you can read our review of TFIOS here). Fifteen people (14 students and 1 faculty member) said that it was their favorite book they read this summer. John Green was more widely popular as well: seven students said Looking For Alaska was their favorite summer read, two preferred Paper Towns, and one discerning individual liked An Abundance of Katherines best. And two students simply answered “John Green.” Overall, that’s 27 members of the Hopkins Community who liked a book by John Green best.
George Orwell also had a good summer: both 1984 and Animal Farm were beloved by 5 respondents. Also in the “five people love me” category are Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, and If I Stay, by Gayle Foreman, which may have gotten a boost from the August release of a movie version.
The Great Train Robbery, by Michael Crichton, I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak (of The Book Thief fame) and Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, got four votes for favorite book. (You can read our review of I Am the Messenger here.)
And rounding it off with three votes apiece were And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie; The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt; Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer; The Help by Kathryn Stockett; The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara; On the Beach, by Nevil Shute, and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
Although the survey reveals which books were most popular this summer, it also demonstrates the enormous variety of interests and tastes that illustrate the Hopkins community. For example, the Class of 2015 read non-fiction survivalist memoirs (Into Thin Air, Alive, Unbroken), “young adult” fiction (Every Day, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Eleanor and Park), classic novels (Catch-22, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Sun Also Rises), modern fiction (Little Bee, The Goldfinch, Hologram for a King) and a slew of other styles and genres. The trend permeates every class and is best reflected in the faculty and staff respondents. Is anyone surprised that the Faculty/Staff group (almost) did not list a single repeating title as a favorite?
So, Variety – check. Summer Favorites – Check. What does this mean? Looking at the respondent totals, the most interesting observation we can glean is that reading tastes overlap, despite enormous age gaps. Yes, 15 respondents like The Fault in Our Stars best. No, they were not all Junior Schoolers – every group had at least one TFIOS fan. Was TFIOS the only “age barrier breaking book”? Definitely not.
Let’s be honest, we librarians were moderately thrilled (or enthusiastically fist pumping) when we saw that 300 people responded to our survey. The moderate or wild celebration only continued when we realized how many people read multiple books this summer and how well our current collection matches what Hopkins loves to read.
Whether or not you took the survey, please check out the final fact-spread. Don’t see any of your favorites? Interested in reading a book that we don’t have? Please let us know if there is a book you want to read or you think we should own. The Calarco Library takes book requests and also downloads on-demand titles to our Kindles (see the full Kindle Book List here).
Book Survey Recommendations
Below is a spreadsheet of all the Summer Reading Survey favorites. Any items made available by the Calarco Library are color coded: blue = regular book, yellow = kindle book, green = both.
NEXT UP: Find out if Mr. Gette and Ms. Barrows held good on their promises and completed their summer reading lists