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Dive Into Summer Reading With These Titles From UK Authors

Graphic of book covers
With topics ranging from food and beverages, history and geography to fiction and sports — there’s something for every reader in this summer reading shortlist.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 9, 2021) — Looking to lose yourself in a good book this summer? 

Thanks to University Press of Kentucky and librarians from the UK Libraries, we’ve compiled a short list to help you accomplish those summer reading goals with titles from University of Kentucky faculty members, alumni and local community members.

With topics ranging from food and beverages, history and geography to fiction and sports — there’s something for every reader and every interest. 

Athletics and Sports

Coach Hall: My Life On and Off the Court by Joe B. Hall with Marianne Walker

Joe B. Hall is one of only three men to both play on an NCAA championship team (1949, Kentucky) and coach an NCAA championship team (1978, Kentucky), and the only one to do so for the same school. In this riveting memoir, Hall presents intimate details about his remarkable life on and off the court. He reveals never-before-heard stories about memorable players, coaches, and friends and expresses the joys and fulfillment of his rewarding life and career. 

Joe B. Hall was the head basketball coach at UK from 1972 to 1985.

Marianne Walker is a retired professor of English and philosophy at Henderson Community College. 

Food and Beverages

Bourbon’s Backroads: A Journey Through Kentucky’s Distilling Landscape by Karl Raitz

Written by University of Kentucky geographer Karl Raitz using extensive research conducted at UK Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, “Bourbon’s Backroads” explores the vast history of the development of the Kentucky distillery industry. 

Karl Raitz is professor emeritus of geography at UK.

Cook Together, Eat Together” by UK Family and Consumer Sciences Extension

The no-nonsense, nutritious recipes in this cookbook are designed to get the whole family in the kitchen, enjoying comforting foods and making memories. “Cook Together, Eat Together” serves up tasty, budget-friendly dishes that home cooks and their kids can prepare with less stress.

UK Cooperative Extension Service, Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension represents a group of educators sharing the university's research knowledge with individuals, families and communities to improve quality of life. FCS concentrates on the community as the classroom, delivering programs focusing on nutrition, health, resource management, family development and civic engagement.

Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places” by Ouita Michel, edited by Sara Gibbs and Genie Graf

“Just a Few Miles South” serves up the recipes that patrons of Ouita Michel's restaurants have come to know and love. Throughout, the chefs responsible for these delicious creations share the rich traditions and stories behind the recipes. When you can't get to your favorite dining spot, this book will help you bring home the aroma, the flavors and the love of fresh foods made with locally sourced ingredients — and share it all with friends and family.

Ouita Michel is a UK alumna and a six-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee, including nominations for Outstanding Restaurateur and Best Chef Southeast. 

Sara Gibbs is a chef as well as a recipe writer and editor. 

Genie Graf is a UK alumna and the special projects director at the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants.


Juanita and the Frog Prince: Fairy Tale Comix” by Ed McClanahan

In the style of underground comix, Ed McClanahan and J. T. Dockery present “Juanita and the Frog Prince,” an outrageous tale adapted from McClanahan's novella of the same name, originally published in "A Congress of Wonders." Set in 1940s Kentucky, it features a cast of characters trying to get ahead at all costs. “Juanita and the Frog Prince” is a southern gothic psychedelic trip of a comic that will enrapture readers until the stroke of midnight — and the final KLANG of the clocktower bell.

A former UK Department of English faculty member, Ed McClanahan is a UK alumnus, native of northeastern Kentucky and the author of several books.

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

A lyrical exploration of love and loss, “The Birds of Opulence” centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern Black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness. Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love — and love that's handed down — can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.

Crystal Wilkinson is an associate professor of English at UK and the Poet Laureate of Kentucky.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter S. Tevis

This inspiration for the hit 2020 Netflix limited series is housed in UK Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, along with the screenplay by the same name writer by Jesse Kornbluth, as well as the Walter S. Tevis Papers, which consist of correspondence, literary contracts, photographs, newspaper clippings, and manuscript drafts documenting Tevis’ work.

Walter S. Tevis was an alumnus and former faculty member at UK Department of English. 

River of Earth by James Still

Best-known for writing “River of Earth,” which portrays the struggles of Eastern Kentucky coal mines, James Still was a poet, short story writer, children's author, novelist, folklorist, teacher, librarian and the 1994 recipient of the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement. Two versions of “River of Earth” are housed at UK Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, as well as the James Still Papers, which include manuscripts, published materials, biographical materials, financial records, correspondence, interviews, book reviews, promotional materials and memorabilia.


A Simple Justice: Kentucky Women Fight for the Vote” by Melanie Beals Goan

In “A Simple Justice, UK's Melanie Beals Goan offers a new and deeper understanding of the women's suffrage movement in Kentucky by following the people who labored long and hard to see the battle won. This timely study introduces readers to individuals across the Bluegrass State who did their part to move the nation closer to achieving its founding ideals.

Melanie Beals Goan is associate professor of history at UK and specializes in women's history in the United States.

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps by Amy Murrell Taylor

Drawing on a large survey of slave refugee camps throughout the U.S. using archives like the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center, the award-winning “Embattled Freedom by University of Kentucky faculty member Amy Murrell Taylor unveils the experiences of slavery refugees making their way through these army-supervised camps during the Civil War. 

Amy Murrell Taylor is the T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences at UK.

Our Rightful Place: A History of Women at the University of Kentucky, 1880-1945 by Deirdre A. Scaggs and Terry L. Birdwhistell

Published by the University Press of Kentucky and co-written by UK Libraries' Deirdre Scaggs and Terry Birdwhistell, this book provides a closer look into the fight for gender equity in higher education between 1880 and 1945 by examining yearbooks, photographs and other private collections associated with UK housed in the Special Collections Research Center. 

Deirdre Scaggs is associate dean of the Special Collections Research Center and director of the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center at UK. Terry Birdwhistell is senior oral historian of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at UK.

Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky: Migration, Identity, and Transnationality” by Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno, Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson

Following historical and theoretical overview of African immigration, the heart of this book is based on oral history interviews with 47 of the more than 22,000 Africa-born immigrants in Kentucky. The compelling narratives reveal why and how the immigrants came to the Commonwealth — whether it was coming voluntarily as a student or forced because of war — and how they connect with and contribute to their home countries as well as to the U.S. 

Francis Musoni, born and raised in Zimbabwe, is associate professor of history at UK.

Iddah Otieno, born and raised in Kenya, is professor of English and African studies at Bluegrass Community and Technical College where she also directs the Kenya Exchange Program. 

Angene Wilson is professor emerita of education at UK where she chaired the secondary social studies program for 29 years. 

Jack Wilson spent more than 35 years in public service, first with the Peace Corps in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Fiji, and then in Kentucky's Natural Resources and Environmental Cabinet. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.