There’s never a bad time to melt your mind into a good book. But lazy summer days
especially make for quality reading opportunities, whether it be on the beach,
under a shady tree in the park or on your deck with your morning coffee within
You won’t have to worry about losing interest with these eight relatively new books
– all with a West Virginia University connection – to fulfill your quiet and intellectual
intervals over the scorching summer.
If you have a favorite book pertaining to our grand university or written by a WVU author, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.
The Mermaid's Daughter: A Novel
So maybe don't assign this to your 8-year-old as complementary reading to the Disney
Kathleen, the main character, is an opera singer tormented by a mysterious stabbing
pain in her feet, bouts of depression and a curse that’s wrecked the lives of women
in her family. The only thing that eases her pain is the touch of seawater.
A trip to her family’s native land of Ireland unravels the mystery behind the family
curse, and Kathleen must choose between the sea and her lover.
“I love some of [Hans Christian Anderson’s] stories,” said author
, MFA '10, English. “They’re so crazy and they’re really weird
and dark. I definitely felt like the ending [of “The Little Mermaid”] was wrong.
I wanted to fix the ending.”
Claycomb is assistant vice president for strategic and academic communication in
the Office of the Provost at WVU.
The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll
Is there anything more delightful than bread stuffed with pepperoni?
We’ve heard about the origins of the pepperoni roll. Italian immigrants conjured
up the snack food so it could be easily consumed underground in the coal mines
of north central West Virginia.
Candace Nelson, BS ’11, Journalism, BA ’11, English, MS ’13, Journalism, a social media editor at WVU, digs into this
Mountain State staple by exploring its history and evolution
, including the controversial
sticks vs. slices debate.
Nelson is making several
throughout the state this year to promote her book, published by
. And before you ask her to sign your book, try to hide that pepperoni
grease stain on it.
Fifty Cents and a Box Top
When you think of famous West Virginia musicians, you might instantly gravitate toward
Brad Paisley, Bill Withers and Kathy Mattea.
National Public Radio labeled McCoy a “musical quarterback of 1960s Nashville.”
But his influence certainly transcends Nashville.
Born in Oak Hill, W.Va., McCoy has performed with legends ranging from Bob Dylan
to Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash to Ringo Starr. The Grammy Award-winning musician,
known largely for his magic on the harmonica, also served as music director on
the country variety show “Hee Haw” and played with the Million Dollar Band.
In this WVU Press book, which takes its title from an ad McCoy read in a comic
book selling harmonicas for 50 cents and cereal box top, the Country Music Hall
of Famer recounts stories of his life with the help of Travis Stimeling, MM '03,
Music History, assistant professor of music history at WVU.
Early Native Americans in West Virginia: The Fort Ancient Culture
It’s believed that the Fort Ancient people, a maize-based agricultural society of
Native Americans, lived along the Ohio River and predominantly in southern West
Virginia long before the first Europeans settled there.
a Native American Studies professor at WVU, unearths the culture
of the Fort Ancient population
and tries to set the historical record straight
on who lived in West Virginia before the first white settlers arrived.
“Growing up in West Virginia, we were not taught in school about native people
living here except those that built the mounds,” Spencer said. “Even today, people
will tell me that they were taught that West Virginia was merely an Indian hunting
ground with no permanent occupants. One reason for writing this book is to finally
put this story to rest.”
Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia
featuring 63 fiction writers and poets, many of whom are associated
with WVU, pays heed to modern West Virginia and Appalachia in a literary sense.
“These stories and poems, all published within the last 15 years, are grounded
in what it means to live in and identify with a complex place,” according to the
And the collection published by WVU Press captures all elements that exude throughout our
state, from environmental beauty and peril to the hilarious and bleak.
The Rebel in the Red Jeep: Ken Hechler’s Life in West Virginia Politics
If you’re a West Virginian of at least 30 years old, a red jeep is synonymous with
one of the state’s most iconoclastic politicians in history. Though Ken Hechler
probably wouldn’t appreciate being dubbed a “politician.”
A Democrat and Long Island native, Hechler was first elected to Congress in 1958
after arriving in West Virginia just a year earlier to teach government at Marshall
He went on to serve nine terms in the House of Representatives as a champion of
civil rights and fighter for coal miners and mine safety. Hechler also served as
West Virginia secretary of state and once worked as a speechwriter and researcher
for President Harry Truman.
He’d often be seen roaming the hills and hollows of West Virginia in a red jeep.
The Charleston Daily Mail in 2010, “I was always contrasting it with the Lincoln
Town Cars and limousines that big shots were driving around in.”
Unless you’re in hiding, by now you know about “Hidden Figures,” the story of a team
of three black female mathematicians who helped calculate flight trajectories for
groundbreaking space projects, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.
The leader of the group was White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.-native Katherine Johnson,
also the first black woman to desegregate graduate studies at WVU in 1938.
“Several of the real-life women who are central characters in this important book
have close ties to West Virginia, including Katherine Johnson, now 98 years old,”
Provost Joyce McConnell said when it was announced that “Hidden Figures” would
be the 2017-18 Campus Read
, a book that all first-year WVU students will read and
study this coming year.
The book reached No. 1 on
The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers list.
The Industrialist and the Mountaineer
It’s time for the Hatfields and McCoys to step aside for a moment.
Six years after the end of that feud emerged a new bloody encounter between rural West Virginia residents that garnered national media attention.
The setting: Tucker County.
The characters: Robert Eastham, a nature lover and former Confederate; and Frank Thompson, an industrialist, timber magnate and northern Republican.
Thompson angered many of the locals, including farmers, with his lumber company blocking access to the Blackwater River. So when Eastham saw Thompson riding a train from Parsons to Davis, he confronted him. Gunshots were exchanged and one man was left dead, leading to political, environmental and legal ramifications in West Virginia at the turn of the 20th century.
Written by Ronald Lewis, professor emeritus of history at WVU, “The Industrialist and the Mountaineer
” from WVU Press captures a clash of the cultures and a power struggle over the Mountain State’s pristine land.