Speaking Volumes
3:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Pleasure Reading: Alive and Well on RMU Campus

Young people these days. Too busy to read books. Too worldly to seek meaning in fiction. Too addled by social media to read anything critically. Right?

Wrong.

Robert Morris University sophomores Mark Polcha, Marulla Quirk, and Annie Kandray (left to right) are all proud members of RMU's Honors Book Club.
Robert Morris University sophomores Mark Polcha, Marulla Quirk, and Annie Kandray (left to right) are all proud members of RMU's Honors Book Club.
Credit Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most beloved and influential books of the twentieth century.

-HarperCollins

J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? 

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

-Little, Brown Book Group

Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years -- except Biff, the Messiahs best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Saviors pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But theres no one who loves Josh more -- except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala -- and Biff isnt about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

-ChrisMoore.com