Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Reading list - our favourites for the summer

The collections of Leiden University Libraries (UBL) not only hold academic material, but also many novels, collections of poetry, non-fiction works and even cookbooks. Is there still some space on your summer reading list? Take a look at the list below and borrow your book through the UBL.

Have you ever searched the UBL catalogue for a book to read for fun? It's definitely worth it. UBL has a large collection of English language literature that you can borrow through our catalogue. Many other collections also hold lots of interesting and fun fiction, non-fiction, biographies, poetry and even books on photography and cooking. In the list below, you can find our favourites for the summer of 2021, but there is much more to explore! Search the catalogue for your favourite author, title or topic and request your book. Have fun reading this summer!

Patrick Freyne, Ok, let's do your stupid idea


Patrick Freyne has tried a lot of stupid ideas in his life. Now, in his scintillating debut, he is here to tell you about them: like the time (aged 5) he opened a gate and let a horse out of its field, just to see what would happen; or the time (aged 19) he jumped out of a plane for charity, even though he didn't much care about the charity and was sure he'd end up dead; or the time (aged old enough to know better) he used a magazine as a funnel for fuel when the petrol cap on his band's van broke. He has also learned a few things: about the power of group song; about the beauty of physically caring for another human being; about childlessness; about losing friends at a far too early age.

Life, as seen through the eyes of Patrick Freyne is stranger, funnier and a lot more interesting than life as we generally know it.

Gabri van Tussenbroek en Tanja Holzhey, De laatste overval: Het onwaarschijnlijke leven van Reimund Holzhey (1866-1952)


For true crime and history enthusiasts, this book is an absolute must. The incredible life of Dutch Reimund Holzhey took many bizarre turns. He immigrated to the United States in 1882 at the age of fifteen, where just seven years later the newspapers were full of his violent robberies and subsequent arrest and criminal trial. While in prison, Holzhey underwent an astonishing change, which brought him into contact with the highest echelons of American society. This true story is told by historian Gabri van Tussenbroek and Tanja Holzhey, a descendant of Reimund, who accidentally found out that her relative was a notorious stagecoach robber in the nineteenth century.

Charlotte Kleyn, Trek - Eten onderweg toen en nu


Travel creates an appetite. Now, but in the past too, food was an important part of travel. What did people eat on the road in the sixties or on a ship in the fourteenth century? How long have we been picnicking? Charlotte Kleyn did her own research into, for example, the history of ship biscuits and the menus on luxury steamships, but was also curious about the travelling diners of today. What do people eat on a naval ship or an aeroplane? Trek (Appetite) contains over fifty recipes; inspired by the past, but with a modern twist. As a reader, you can easily make your own apricot almond tarts, ‘officer's balls’ or anti-scurvy cocktail with arak, and learn where these delicacies came from.

Seb Falk, The Light Ages: the surprising story of medieval science


Almost everyone knows the medieval era as the age of cathedrals, violent crusades and warring kingdoms, but the so-called Dark Ages also brought the first universities, eyeglasses and mechanical clocks. As in any other era, in the middle ages, people tried to understand the world around them. Pondering things like the passing of time and the stars in the sky, they developed a vibrant scientific culture.

Cambridge science historian Seb Falk takes the reader on a tour of medieval science through the eyes of a member of this scientific culture, the fourteenth-century monk John of Westwyk.

Nathan L. King, The Excellent Mind: intellectual virtues for everyday life


This book shows how intellectual virtues, such as curiousness, self-reliance, honesty, and perseverance, are critical to living everyday life, in areas as diverse as personal relationships, responsible citizenship, civil discourse, personal success, and education. Drawing from recent literature in philosophy and psychology, Nathan L. King considers what these virtues are like in practice, why they are important, and the reader can cultivate them in them.

Peter Burke, Polymath: a cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag

2021 (online)

From Leonardo Da Vinci to John Dee and Comenius, from George Eliot to Oliver Sacks and Susan Sontag, polymaths have moved the frontiers of knowledge in countless ways. But history can be unkind to scholars with such encyclopedic interests. All too often these individuals are remembered for just one part of their valuable achievements.

Renowned historian Peter Burke shows how the rise of scholars with an encyclopedic interest matched a rapid growth of knowledge in the age of the invention of printing, the discovery of the New World and the Scientific Revolution.

Caleb Femi, Poor


In Poor, Caleb Femi explores the trials, tribulations, dreams, and joys of growing up as a young black boy in South London's Peckham in the twenty-first century through poetry and original photography. He contemplates how his life was influenced by the concrete walls and gentrifying neighbourhoods that were the setting of his youth. Femi writes a coded, near-mythical history of the personalities and sagas of his South London youth, and pays tribute to the rappers and artists who spoke to his and his friends' lives.

Michael J. Sandel, The Tyranny of Merit: What's become of the Common Good? 


World-renowned philosopher Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the crises that are upending our world, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalization and rising inequality. He argues we must be more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and solidarity, and more affirming of the dignity of work.

Michael Chibnik, Scholarship, Money, and Prose: Behind the Scenes at an Academic Journal

2020 (online)

Ethnographic and historical descriptions of former editor-in-chief of American Anthropologist on the operations of the journal as well as engaging anecdotes of his experiences. In Scholarship, Money, and Prose, he writes a candid account of the complex and challenging work entailed in the production of a prestigious academic journal. Chibnik reveals how he assembled diverse materials, assessed contradictory peer reviews of manuscripts submitted for publication, and collaborated with authors to improve the legibility and clarity of their articles. He also examines controversies that emerged from his columns on open access and biological anthropology and the inclusion of politically charged material in the journal.

Maarten Corbijn, Corbino's Bijbel


Overview of 40 years of beautiful portrait photography by Dutch photographer and director Maarten Corbijn.

From homeless persons to the queen and from folk singers to classical conductors, every subject is thoroughly covered, no one escapes Corbino's gaze. Many of the portraits of this self-taught artist are now considered icons within Dutch portrait photography. In 'Corbino's Bible' 40 years of portraiture and encounters are brought together in ten Bible chapters. The beautiful photos are accompanied by texts that explain the oeuvre and origin of this pastor's son.

Contact us

Is an absolute favourite of yours missing on the list or would you like to suggest a title to be added to our collections? Don't hesitate to contact your subject librarian.

This website uses cookies.