Rover masthead shares favorites from summer break

Nico Schmitz, Editor-in-Chief: Appaloosa Bones (Gregory Alan Isakov)

In his newest album, folk artist Gregory Alan Isakov delivers a distinctively organic and soothing sound that reflects the American west in which Isakov works as a farmer. This slow-paced album features tracks titled “Miles to Go,” “Terlingua,” and my personal favorite, “Sweet Heat Lightning,” as Isakov brings listeners to the empty mountain highways of Colorado. The natural sound centers around complex but soft melodies centered around banjos and guitars. While Appaloosa Bones can serve as relaxing study or background music, its mystical and rolling buildups can keep a listener engaged for the album’s entire duration. The melancholic backdrop throughout all of the tracks is a breath of fresh air in a folk genre and music industry that often lacks depth and originality. I recommend this album to anyone looking for new music for driving or studying. I promise it will not disappoint. 

Paul Howard, Executive Editor: Untold: Swamp Kings

In the waning days of August before college football’s Week 0 start, Netflix released Untold: Swamp Kings, a four part mini-series retelling the glory years of Gator football at the University of Florida between 2006 and 2008. The game footage is grainy, the pre-game suits are ill-fitting, but college football enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to relive three seasons of hard-hitting football with commentary from head coach Urban Meyer (one-time wide receiver coach at Notre Dame), analysts such as Paul Finebaum, and star players Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow. The full range of emotions in BCS-era college football—a period in which a single loss jeopardized even the most dominant team’s chances at the national championship—are on full display in game clips, locker room footage, and retrospective interviews with coaches and players. If Colorado’s Week 1 upset of TCU didn’t rouse your excitement for the 2023–2024 season, queue up Swamp Kings, crack a beer, and brace for a fresh bout of Tebowmania.

Elizabeth Hale, Managing Editor: A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle)

After a successful career in advertising, Peter Mayle had had enough of the busyness of London and moved with his wife to a quiet town in the Luberon region of Provence. Mayle retells the story of his first year in France in the endlessly charming novel, A Year in Provence. I stumbled upon this book by accident while bored on a hot summer afternoon, but I was quickly taken by its lovely scenery and delightful characters. The beauty of the book is in its simplicity. An Englishman’s adjustment to the foreign, and sometimes outlandish, customs of the Provençal provides continuous amusement and plenty of situational humor. It will be difficult not to fall in love with personalities like Monsieur Menicucci, the amusing plumber, or Didier, the erratic mason. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this simply endearing novel.

Viana Schlapp, Culture Editor: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)

The novel Don Quixote has more to offer than being just another thick book on your shelf. This fantastic piece of literature repeatedly made me laugh out loud, feel bad for laughing, and come close to tears chapter after chapter. Don Quixote, our misguided protagonist, sets off on great adventures riding his ancient horse alongside his hilarious sidekick, Sancho Panza. This book could easily be read little by little if the thousand pages is feeling particularly hefty this semester. It’s impossible to read this incredible novel without seeing some of yourself in the madness of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. To further pique your interest, I leave you with this quote: “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?” 

Joseph DeReuil, Opinion Editor: Decline and Fall (Evelyn Waugh)

In this satire of the “modern aristocracy,” Evelyn Waugh poignantly ridicules many aspects of 1920s Britain through the eyes of a mild-mannered Oxford student who has “no business being the protagonist of a novel,” Waugh explains, were it not for the absurd circumstances modern life threw at him. In brilliant English prose, Waugh reveals the corruption of modern art, architecture, education, and, more generally, elite society, as his banal protagonist gets slowly entangled in more and more severe moral atrocities, seemingly through no agency of his own—simply because he trusts the “system” and high society to hold the moral on the inside that are suggested by their exterior civility. Waugh’s title parodies that of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the famous 18th-century history, suggesting through this light, witty comedy that perhaps—even in 1928— Western society is in a similar position as late-Rome. 

Michael Canady, Campus Editor: The Father’s Tale (Michael O’Brien)

In this lengthy but enthralling novel, O’Brien adds endless layers of wisdom about Catholic theology, Western civilization, and the depth of family relationships. O’Brien is a master of historical fiction, and although his other novels are also fantastic reads, this modern representation of the parable of the prodigal son truly displays all aspects of his personality, from Russian literary scholar to Catholic thinker. This work is not only a thrilling page-turner, but it also prompts insightful questions about our society and culture, especially in jarring comparison to communist Russia. Most importantly, it depicts the infinite value of paternal love, and it inspires readers to seek closer relationships with their family and friends.  

Kathryn Bowers, Religion Editor: Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton)

The first two Chesterton books that I read were The Man Who Was Thursday and The Ball and the Cross, and I was not especially looking forward to reading this nonfiction piece of his which details his personal journey to Catholicism. I ended up liking it, however, and his arguments for the faith were thought-provoking. Chesterton is well-beloved by Catholics, and this short classic of his deserves a read!

PJ Butler, Politics Editor: First Man

First Man is a cinematic masterpiece that authentically captures Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon. Directed by Damien Chazelle, the film’s dedication to historical accuracy, attention to detail, and practical effects create an immersive experience that transports viewers to the decisive effort of the space race. Ryan Gosling’s nuanced portrayal of Armstrong and Claire Foy’s compelling performance as his wife Janet add depth to the narrative. Chazelle’s direction, especially the use of handheld cameras during the sequences in space, enhances the suspense and emotional impact. Justin Hurwitz’s score is brilliant, complementing the cinematography beautifully. First Man is a cinematic achievement that resonates intellectually and emotionally, setting a high standard for modern biographical films and celebrating the first man to step foot on the lunar surface.

Madeline Murphy, Copy Editor: Sound of Freedom

The horrors of the sex-trafficking industry are exposed in this new movie that is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a man who left his job to save children across seas from predators. This heart-wrenching, action-packed film will have you on the edge of your seat as you watch Ballard traverse rebel lands in the Columbian jungle and narrowly escape death in his rescue missions, and it will inspire you to speak up for the victims of this debauchery: those innocent children who have no voice of their own.

James Whitaker, Humor Editor: The Innocence of Father Brown (G. K. Chesterton)

While Chesterton is known to many Catholics for his semi-theological works such as Orthodoxy and Everlasting Man, he is known to the world at large (like Lewis) for his fiction. And this is rightly deserved; his skill as a writer of mystery stories earned him the role as the first president of The Detection Club, founded by such significant authors as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. What the character of Fr. Brown forces upon the reader is the substantive difference between wisdom and cleverness—the vision of a simple and holy man is far keener than that of a clever and prideful man like Holmes. Chesterton’s thesis is that a detective detects all the more when he desires to know the suspect’s soul rather than the clues he leaves behind. Because Fr. Brown cared more about the criminal than his crimes, he is the only “detective” whose stories end not only with the criminal’s confession, but with his absolution and reconciliation. 

Madelyn Stout, Layout Manager: All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot)

In a series of memoirs written by James Alfred Wight under the pen name James Herriot, Wight drew upon his years as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales. With an uncanny gift for humorous and poignant storytelling, Wight captures the marvels of creation, great and small, as he relays his encounters with animals and their owners. In breathtaking detail, Wight describes not only the dales, but the traditional, hardworking community he finds himself in. Mentorship, love, and friendship stand as the cornerstones of Wight’s work and lessons for the reader to come away with. 

Photo Credit: In the Woods at Giverny, Claude Monet, Wikimedia Commons

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