Readers of a certain vintage will remember the pizza parties they earned by checking out library books and racking up reading points all summer long. Many of those summer reading program champions grew up to be adults who are just as voracious for books (and for pizza) as when they were kids. If you’re creating your own summer reading program this year, here are some incredible LSA alumni authors to add to your list. 

  • Mary-Alice Daniel (M.F.A. ’13), a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program (HZWP), recently published two books: Mass for Shut-Ins, a book of poetry that won the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Award, and a critically acclaimed memoir of migration across three continents in search of belonging, called A Coastline is an Immeasurable Thing.
  • In her book A Contested Caribbean Indigeneity, anthropology alum and U-M associate professor Sherina Feliciano-Santos (Ph.D. ’11) explores Taino/Boricua activism in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean diaspora in New York City, drawing on all four major fields of anthropology to show the ways that Taino/Boricua people remake and contemporize their indigeneity.
  • Daniel Hornsby’s (M.F.A. ’14) second novel, Sucker, was just released, and it’s already being praised as a rollickingly funny satire of Silicon Valley. 
  • HZWP alum Jennifer Huang (M.F.A. ’20) was awarded the Ballard-Spahr Prize for the poetry collection Return Flight. The New York Times Book Review described Huang’s debut as “[a]vid, observant … The poems here chart the path from past to present wherever it leads, coolly and curiously.”
  • In Nishanth Injam’s (M.F.A. ‘21) debut short story collection, intimately rendered characters from India and the Indian diaspora navigate love and the loss of home. HZWP professor Peter Ho Davies writes, “These hauntingly beautiful stories of arrivals and departures … are a reminder of the transporting power of fiction. The Best Possible Experience is quite possibly the best debut collection of the year."
  • Philadelphia Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews (M.F.A. ’13) has a new book of poetry called Bread and Circus (May 2023), a stylistically bold memoir-in-verse. As LSA poetry professor Linda Gregerson writes in her blurb of the book: “If you are not writing to save your life, you are not writing in Airea Matthews’s league. That simple.” 
  • History and English alum Stephen Schottenfeld’s (A.B. 1991) new novel, This Room Is Made of Noise, explores the issues of ethical ambiguity that arise from personal demons and desires, aging, and eldercare.
  • Residential college alum Michelle Segar’s (A.B. 1988) nonfiction book The Joy Choice, named “one of the best health books that experts read in 2022” by The Washington Post, relays emerging science, busting commonly believed myths about how to create consistent healthy eating and exercise decisions, and offering people a new way of thinking about their daily choices that is positive, purpose-driven, and playful. 
  • The Traces, by Mairead Small Staid (M.F.A. ’14), is a book of essays about memory, travel, art, and life, and earned Small Staid a Publishers Weekly “Writers to Watch” pick.
  • And a bonus book to preorder for your fall reading list: From Jesmyn Ward (M.F.A. ’05)—two-time National Book Award winner, youngest winner of the Library of Congress Prize for Fiction, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing; Salvage the Bones; Where the Line Bleeds; and The Fire This Time—comes a novel about an enslaved girl in the years before the Civil War. Let Us Descend will be released from Simon & Schuster in October 2023. 


Editor’s note: We’d love to hear about your favorite books, especially those that have a link to LSA faculty, staff, students, and alums! Email with suggestions.
Illustration by Aimee Andrion