2004 Summer Reading List
Each spring, the College Store solicits from members of the Bates community their suggestions for good summer reads:
Selected Poems 1950-1985 and His Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999, both by Philip Booth
The first book of poems of the Castine resident are as consistently modest as the poet himself, who declines public attention at every opportunity – modest, yes, but lit from the inside because of the clean, hardworking words he always chooses. Although the latter book is out of print, it can be found online or perhaps in your favorite out-of-the-way used bookstore. It incorporates much ofRelations, however, and includes poems from his other collections – probably the more sensible buy.
— Judith Robbins, Learning Associate, Dean of Faculty’s Office
The Half-Life of Happiness (novel), by Jon Casey
The Big House (non-fiction/memoir), by George Howe Colt
Tar, Repair, Flesh & Blood (poems), or any other book by C.K. Williams
The Invention of Clouds (science/history), by Richard Hamblyn
— Rob Farnsworth, Lecturer in English
Jung: A Biography, by Deirdre Bair
If you are interested in the history or psychology, analytical psychology in particular, Carl G. Jung, and/or issues that surround him, i.e., the Jungfrauen, anti-feminism, anti-Semitism, or the conflict between Jung and Freud, this is a must read. It’s an extremely well-documented look into the life of Jung by a biographer who was given incredible access.
Ms. Bair spent years documenting the personal papers of many of the people who were there with Jung, surrounding him as his life progressed. To my knowledge, hers is the only biography of Jung to be written by someone who did not have a psychological ax to grind, or who comes from either the Jungian or Freudian camps (I know, that’s redundant).
I came away from this book with the first picture of C.G. Jung as a very human being with many foibles, as well as a good look at the humanity of him and many of those in his life. My hat is off to a truly great biographer.
— Richard Fochtmann, partner of Laura Juraska, Associate College Librarian for Reference Services
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
An interesting take on an interesting family, and a very enjoyable read.
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I’ve just started it, but I like the way it is written, and I’m eager to get back to it.
The East End Plays, by George Walker
For those who like to read plays, this series of very dark comedies is intriguing.
— Ellen Peters, Associate Director for Institutional Research
The Liberated Bride, by A.B. Yehoshua
The author is a magnificent storyteller who ponders the personal and political in unforgettable ways.
— Phyllis Graber Jensen, Senior Staff Writer and Photographer
My reading this year has been devoted to reading lesser known books by great writers. Among my favorites are the following:
A Mother’s Recompense, by Edith Wharton
A book about a mother and daughter, it’s full of tension and love.
A Pair of Blue Eyes, by Thomas Hardy
This is harder to read, but very fulfilling.
The Master Butcher’s Club, by Louise Erdich
I also loved this book. It was almost impossible to put down, and I was very sad to finish it. I wanted it to go on and on.
From Here You Can’t See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant, by Michael S. Sanders
Dick Williamson recommended this final selection, an account of a Maine family’s year in a remote French village. If you love France and cooking, it is a fabulous book.
— Vicky Devlin, Vice President for College Advancement
Harvard Yard and Back Bay, both by William Martin
A long historical college novel, Harvard Yard wraps around you and pulls you into the lives of the people (both real and fictional) who built Harvard. It will have special meaning for those who have spent their lives in academia, and who may have fantasized about writing the comprehensive novel about Bates…
If you like Martin’s style and want more, try his earlier novel, Back Bay, which involves some of the same characters as the city of Boston developed. A sidelight for me was the realization that Back Bay was once a saltmarsh—just reinforcing how many of our Eastern coastal saltmarshes have been filled and destroyed in the name of progress since European settlers came to North America. “Waste-land” indeed!
On an entirely different note:
The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, by Marti Olsen Laney
At last, somebody understood!
— Judy Marden, Director, Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area
Digital Fortess, by Dan Brown
One of the other books from the author of The DaVinci Code, this was also very good.
The Eight, by Katherine Neville
This is excellent too.
— Jim Bauer, Director, Information and Library Services
I know it’s somewhat disreputable for a person working in the library to have such a…let’s just say “challenge free” little list, but this is what I like to read!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling
This is Book Five in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. What can I say? You probably got this one on just about everyone’s list!
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, from the ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy, all by Philip Pullman
I might love them more than Harry Potter! It’s hard to decide since there are only the three.
The Path of Daggers, by Robert Jordan
This is Book Eight in the ‘Wheel of Time’ series. I’m falling a little behind with this series with all these kids’ books stealing my attention. This is a great fantasy series, very complex, with a cast of hundreds that you get to know very well.
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, all by Madeline L’Engle
These are old school favorites of mine, but I really enjoyed re-reading them last Fall.
Baseball by the Rules, by Glen Waggoner et al.
Copyright 1987, it’s not the most recent, but is still one of the most fun anecdotal tomes around.
— Brenda Reynolds, Library Assistant, Public Services (Audio)
The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, by David Halberstam
Ted Williams is ill in Florida; three Red Sox friends—Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr—want to visit. This is the story of the trip and the reminiscing about their parallel careers, especially on the great Red Sox teams of the 1940s. An easy and enjoyable read.
Spies, by Michael Frayn
A delightful novel with a serious backdrop. Children in World War II Britain try to help the cause by spying in their neighborhood while everyday life and school go on. Beautifully written with a light touch.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
A novel based on the comic book craze of the late 1930s and early 1940s, it centers around two fascinating young cousins and their entry into the world of creating comic book characters. Starting in Prague and then moving to New York City, it’s deeply evocative of those cities at that time and then as World War II intrudes. The first two-thirds of the book is terrific; the last third is quite different.
The Perfect Mile, by Neal Bascomb
The story can be summed up as three athletes, one goal, and less than four minutes to achieve it. Just published, it should be a good tale, being the background and story of Roger Bannister, John Landy, and Wes Santee and their efforts to break the four-minute mile in 1954.
— Jack Pribram, Professor of Physics
Lost Nation, by Jeffrey Lent
A rather (okay, very) grim and bloody but wonderfully written story of life on the margins of the New Hampshire frontier. A man fleeing his past and the young prostitute he won in a card game move to rural New Hampshire and set up shop. Its themes include community, struggle, and ultimately, love and forgiveness… not a light beach book, but a rewarding read.
Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses, by Bruce Feiler
An American journalist decides to literally walk in the footsteps of Moses and the biblical giants depicted in the Five Books of Moses. Traveling with Israeli archeologist Avner Goren, Bruce Feiler visits historic biblical sites in Egypt, Jordan, and throughout the Middle East—the possible site of Noah’s Ark, where Moses crossed the Red Sea, the monastery where the burning bush grows—and writes about what he sees, how he connects this land to the stories in The Bible, and how he can (or cannot) connect this land to God. I learned a lot reading this book last summer, and still find myself thinking about it almost a year later.
Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky, by Esther Averill
For those young (and younger) readers on the list, my five-year-old adores these stories. Jenny Linsky is a small, slightly timid black cat with a bright red scarf. These very sweet (but not saccharine) stories are about her adventures with the neighborhood cats and their Cat Club. For example, the cats must do something special to gain membership, and Jenn can ice skate beautifully. I don’t mind reading them over and over and over and over…
— Stephanie Richards, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
Blood Brothers, by Elias Chacour
This is a deeply moving and wonderfully told autobiographical account of the life of a Palestinian Christian who is a Melkite Catholic priest and works for peace and reconciliation. He was designated “Man of the Year” in Israel in 2001.
— Mehrene Larudee, Visiting Associate Professor of Economics
Liverpool Lullaby, by Anne Baker
I don’t have enough time to read… or I do, but I don’t. Anyway, I got this novel, a fantasy “what if” story about The Beatles, as a Christmas present for my husband, John Smedley. He hasn’t read it, but when I broke my arm, I did. I don’t know as I’d label it “phenomenal,” but I think it’d be fun for Beatles fans.
Rosie, by Ann Lamott
This is an older novel which I enjoyed. I’d recommend any of the author’s books.
Love, by Toni Morrison
I’m currently reading this, and enjoying it.
— Carole Parker, Library Assistant, Acquisitions
Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
I was desperate for reading material one day, and pulled this out of my middle schooler’s backpack, thinking I was getting some juvenile lefty moralistic dreck. But it turned out to be one of the most captivating books I’ve read this past year! It’s both a tender sendup of teenage angst-filled romance and an off-the-wall image of what high school would be if sexuality weren’t taken so seriously and could stretch to accomodate us all. It’s funny— very, and though middle school students can certainly read it, I think adults will appreciate it even more!
— Liz McCabe Park, Director, Maine Campus Compact
Walking Shadow, Small Vices, and Hush Money, all by Robert Parker
Three of the excellent ‘Spenser’ novels, the last involves murder, blackmail, and skullduggery on a tenure committee.
Uniform Justice, by Donna Leon
Her newest novel, it features Commissario Brunetti of the police in Venice, Italy.
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling
Library: An Unquiet History, by Nathan Battles
A rare book librarian at Harvard, Battles has written an intricate history of the library as a social institution.
The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World, by Guillaume de Laubier
This is perhaps the most beautiful collection of photographs of libraries.
The Bowmen of England, by Donald Featherstone
This is a history of the English longbow—a weapon so technically superior to any other at the time of its use and made more so by its being in the hands of English yeomanry.
God’s Secretaries, by Adam Nicholson
Nicholson describes the scholars who produced the King James Bible as a “…group of near anonymous divines, muddled, drunk, self-serving, ambitious, ruthless, obsequious, pedantic, and flawed…; but who, nonetheless, put The Bible into language that was ‘boisterous, elegant, subtle, majestic, finely nuanced, sonorous, and musical…’”
— Sawyer Sylvester, Professor of Sociology
At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, by John Gimlette
Ever been to Paraguay? Ever heard of Paraguay? This is a delightful, amusing, irreverent but affectionate tour and history combo by an English tour writer. I feel I really know Paraguay now. I am almost convinced that a visit would be worthwhile. Almost! If you have any Latin-America-philiac sentiments, you will enjoy Gimlette’s explorations of this country that was a haven for many WW II bad guys, that took on Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia all at once—leaving a 10-1 female to male population ratio after the war, that suffered through some of the most ludicrous dictatorships in Western hemisphere history.
— Dick Wagner, Professor of Psychology
The Shape of Water, Voice of the Violin, The Snack Thief, and The Terracotta Dog, all by Andrea Camilleri
These titles are the English translations of works by Italian novelist Andrea Camilleri, and I recommend anything by him. Camilleri’s mysteries starring the blunt, intuitive Inspector Montalbano are fast-paced, earthy, and very funny. I find the insights into Sicilian culture particularly engaging. The books are popular in Europe, and poet Stephen Sartarelli is translating the series for the Anglophone readership, even providing helpful endnotes.
— Doug Hubley, Staff Writer, Office of Communications and Media Relations
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, by Alice Steinbach
For pure summer entertainment, I recommend this delightful travel/memoir by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from The Baltimore Sun. Engaging characters, fine wines, and a bit of romance, although I honestly don’t recall exactly which European cities she visited!
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, by Lorna Landvik
When I want a book to give me humor, humanity, and close-to-home truths, I read Lorna Landvik. This novel takes five women through nearly forty years—and focuses on the value and saving grace of friendships.
Selected Writings, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
To keep my brain cells active, I am reading an old Modern Library version of this book. Unlike in my undergraduate days, I am trying to absorb theses writings in a measured and thoughtful way. From the dust jacket: “These selections span Emerson’s career as author and traveling lecturer, and chart his evolving thought: the concepts of the “oversoul,” individualism without egotism, and antimaterialism; a belief in intuition, independence, and “the splendid labyrinth of one’s own perceptions.”
— Sarah Potter, Bookstore Director
Journey Back to Eden: My Life and Times Among the Desert Fathers, by Mark Gruber, O.S.B.
— Paul Kuritz, Professor of Theater
Anything by Nora Roberts! Guilty summer reading! Meant for leisurely summer days at the beach or in the pool (floating on an inner tube, drink in the other hand).
— Kathy Peters, Costume Shop Supervisor
A Noble Radiance and Uniform Justice, both by Donna Leon
I’ve enjoyed reading these mysteries set in Venice.
The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazard
These two novels by Lahiri and Hazard also stand out. Both authors write so effectively to create believable worlds with unforgettable characters.
— Becky Lovett, Assistant Manager, Bates College Store
Foe, by J.M. Coetzee
This is a modernization of the Crusoe ale by the Nobel-winning South African author. HisDusklands is also a gem.
The Well of Lost Plots, by Jason Ffordes
The third installment in the ‘Thursday Next’ series… more from Bookworld, where grammasites and text runners roam, and literary characters come quite alive.
— Jim Lamontagne, Library Assistant – Cataloging
Dream of Scipio, by Iain Pears
This book is a lyrical mediation on the way small things can shape history. Through three layers of stories, Pears links together the development of early Christianity in Roman Provence, the Aligensian Crusades, and World War II. It’s a book to savor slowly, and to think about long afterwards for its insights into how someone can start out with good motivations and still cause unmitigated disaster and suffering. (For something lighter from Pears, try any of his ‘Jonathan Argyll’ mysteries, which are smart and amusing.)
City of the Mind, by Penelope Lively
A lovely book, it’s haunted by the layers of history in modern London. Lively makes much of the everyday in this quiet, but satisfying novel.
Knitting Without Tears and Knitter’s Almanac, both by Elizabeth Simmermann
These two classics for knitters are well-written and a pleasure to read, along with being full of useful ideas, suggestions and projects.
— Rose A. Pruiksma, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music
Daniel Deronda, by George Elliot
Since I am a faithful follower of the Bookstore’s Non-Required Reading List, I read this pick. Because it’s a million pages long (and wonderful), I scarcely read anything else!
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
This is the “favorite book” of an uncanny number of people I know. Best of times, worst of times, Paris, London, love, death, revolution, militant knitting, far, far better things—it’s all here and is, as they say, “well worth reading.”
That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx
This is a great book. Here Proulx intertwines the psyches of the Texas panhandle with the land itself, through a host of deadpan locals, carpetbaggers, and hogs.
The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
It tells two parallel stories: one, of the design, short life, and meaning of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; and the other, of the antics of a creepy serial killer on the loose nearby. The ambigious and fraught story of the fair was tale enough for me…
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory McGuire
A political satire in a fully honed world of Oz in which the witch was really just misunderstood, it gives you her point of view.
— Kerry O’Brien, Assistant Dean of the Faculty
Here’s a handful of favorites from the past year:
Prague, by Arthur Phillips
This novel’s an intelligent and witty examination of the life of young American expats in Budapest in 1990.
The History Man, by Malcolm Bradbury
Published in the early ’70s, it’s a wickedly funny portrait of an academic hustler at a British university in the late ’60s.
Carnage and Culture, by Victor Davis Hanson
It examines how the particulars of Western culture affected the practice of warfare in 10 crucial battles, from antiquity to the twentieth century.
Life at the Bottom, by Theodore Dalrymple
A physician uses essays to reflect on his experiences treating the “underclass” in a British prison.
Michaelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, by Ross King
It’s an absorbing and informative account of the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
The Adolescent, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The least known (to me, anyhow) of his big novels, it’s a great study in father-son tensions.
Prejudices, by Robert Nisbet
These are sharp little essays on a wide variety of central intellectual topics.
Some new plays worth reading:
Ten Unknowns, by Jon Robin Baitz
Topdog/Underdog, by Susan Lori Parks
The Late Henry Moss, by Sam Shepard
— Martin Andrucki, Charles A. Dana Professor of Theater
Some of my favorite reads this year came from family and friends’ suggestions.
Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult
This is a murder mystery with a fascinating portrait of Amish culture. Thank you, sister-in-law Sue!
Open House, by Elizabeth Berg
From my friend Elaine came this suggestion of a delightful story on how to rebuild a life after divorce, with humor, of course.
Praise the Human Season, by Don Robertson
I’d like to share a secret with all of you. If you look closely at faces in the Den while a person is reading, you can pick up a lot of “good reads.” Praise the Human Season was one of those, and it was one of the most delightful books I have read in a long time.
Printed in 1974, it’s a timeless and wonderful story of a man and the family, friends, and acquaintances that made up his life. The script is so well done as told in past and present form. We can all relate to the characters and that made it ordinary but so real. If you love the English language, you will treasure this story. Watching Lorelei Purrington reading this book made it a ‘must’ for me! Thank you, Lorelei, for sharing this wonderful novel.
— Lorraine Groves, Sales Floor Supervisor, Bates College Store
Out of Gas, by Daniel Goodstein
Out of Gas looks at the world’s supply of oil and the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels. This includes some nice descriptive science for non-specialists. For more detail on the history of the fossil fuel era we’re in, try The Prize by Daniel Yergin. The book selections don’t need to be necessarily comforting, I assume.
— John Smedley, Professor of Physics
The first two books are fairly recent; the third one older, tried and true.
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Three Junes, by Julia Glass
Animal Kingdom, by Barbara Kingsolver
— Sheri Kunovich, Visiting Instructor of Sociology
This year’s reading list has an escapist bent; no surprise, given the Maine winter and the state of the world.
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, all by Philip Pullman
A rollicking mix of fantasy, science fiction, and mysticism—far better than ‘Harry Potter.’
The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten, all by Jasper Fforde
Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jane Tennison… a promising new literary/horror detective series.
In the Bleak Midwinter, by Julia Spencer Fleming
The first entry in a new crime series set in a decaying upstate New York mill town. The author lives and writes in Portland.
The Great Influenza, by John Barry
Fascinating study of the great flu epidemic of 1918-1919. You’ll never forgo that flu shot again! The story encompasses the professionalism of medicine and the policial climate leading up to our entry into World War II. The Wilson administration and our current government have much in common, surprisingly.
Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
These stories glow from within and stay with you long after. One of the best collections I have ever read.
The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri
This novel about a Bengali family’s journey to and within America more than lives up to the promise of the author’s debut.
Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
I found this book when sorting through a box of graduate school texts. Hopelessly oldfashioned, but beautifully executed.
Undaunted, by Stephen Ambrose
If you can get past the purple prose, this story of the Lewis and Clark expedition is a great adventure story and a sad blueprint for our invasion of the continent.
The Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, by Stephen Puleo
A look at class issues and corporate malfeasance in the early twentieth-century Boston. Fascinating read.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Beautifully written. As an adolescent autistic boy, the narrator takes everything at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange and irresponsible behavior of the adults around him. Read this book.
— Andrew White, Director of Academic Technology Services
Here are a few, some old, some more recent:
Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller
There’s a brand-new follow-up to this memoir that I have yet to read— Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier.
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
An oldie but goodie!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Tme, by Mark Haddon
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Another memoir and an amazing story.
— Liz Sheehan, Assistant Curator, Museum of Art
My annual reading list is perhaps even a little longer than usual, but here goes.
A new generation of books—e-books, downloaded from Palm Digital Media and read on my Palm handheld PDA:
Inside the Tornado, by Geoffrey A. Moore
The author provides highly useful guidelines for moving products beyond early adopters and into the lucrative mainstream market,providing strategy lessons needed for introducing high technology products in the 21st century.
Angel’s Flight, by Michael Connelly
The man most hated by the LAPD has been found murdered and Harry Bosch is chosen to head the investigation. A gripping and suspenseful murder mystery.
Star Trek: The New Frontiers, Books 1-4, all by Peter David
Captain Mackenzie Calhoun takes command of the U.S.S. Excalibur, which is manned by Starfleet’s best and brightest, including some old friends from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Chronospace, by Allen Steele
The crew of the time ship Oberon, investigating the destruction of the Hindenburg, replaces two of its passengers with 24th-century chrononauts and then gets lost in a parallel universe. Their mistake will be felt by every single human being…
Why America Slept, by Gerald Posner
A thorough and detailed investigation into anti-American terrorist activity leading up to the 9/11/2001 attacks, and the missed opportunities to thwart them. “The story of the years leading up to 9/11 is the story of what might have been, and also serves as a call to the defense of America’s future. Since 9/11, one important question has persisted: What was really going on behind the scenes with intelligence services and government leaders during the time preceding the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks? After an 18-
month investigation that uncovered explosive new evidence through interviews and in classified documents, Gerald Posner reveals much previously undisclosed information.”
Prey, by Michael Crichton
A release of deadly, and seemingly intelligent, nano-organism in a desert research laboratory threatens to spread into populated areas.
God’s Debris, by Scott Adams
Written by ‘Dilbert’ comic creator Scott Adams, God’s Debris is not like anything you’ve read before. On the surface it’s an engaging fictional story about an old man who knows the answers to literally all of the “Big Mysteries” in life—everything from God to gravity to the bizarre qualities of the speed of light. The old man even explains how they all fit neatly together. Adams uses what he calls “the skeptic’s trick,” along with some hypnosis techniques (he is a trained hypnotist) to make the old man’s fictional explanation of reality so simple and believable that you’ll have fun trying to figure out what’s wrong with it.
Below are some “old-fashioned” printed books recently read, or works in progress. Some were passed by in my youth, but seem to be coming back into vogue, either via media productions, or politics. Others were read out of just plain curiousity about what I missed “back then.”
Catcher in the Rye, by J.D.Salinger
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, both by Ayn Rand
The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring, both by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Silent Takeover, by Noreena Hartz
This explains how multinational corporations are now running foreign policy and international affairs utilizing their dominant economic power.
— Gary Dawbin, Programmer/Analyst
There are a couple of historical books I recommend:
Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle, by Michael K. Jones
It retells the story of the Battle of Bosworth with some very intriguing new ideas.
The Perfect Prince, by Anne Wroe
A long detailed portrait of the so-called Perkin Warbeck, this book delves into the story of whether or not he was the younger of the “princes in the tower.”
Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian
When my oldest son strongly recommended the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I saw it twice and really liked it. Then I started reading some of the novels it was based on. So far I have read five, and plan to read some more. I recommend reading the first one (Master and Commander) first, as that sets up the meeting and characters of the two friends, but they can be read in almost any order after that. The little details of 18th-century life in the British Navy are beautifully portrayed.
— Lois Griffiths, Alumna and Retiree
My suggestion for the list this summer is a series of fiction:
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, and most recently, The Full Cupboard of Life, all by Alexander McCall Smith
I liked some more than others but have enjoyed them all. In particular, I recommend listening to these on tape. The narrator, Lisette Lecat has a wonderful voice and a special way of reading that I think has much to do with my enjoyment of these stories. It has been a new form for me; I hope others will enjoy the experience.
— Jill Reich, Dean of the Faculty
The Once and Future King, by T.H. White
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
— Marc Johnson, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs
Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
I just finished reading this. If it’s not on your list already, it should be. It was a great read. I lost a lot of sleep staying up late in the night to read as I couldn’t put it down.
— Terry Beckmann, VP for Finance and Administration and Treasurer
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
The DaVinci Code is a good read. Maybe everyone’s already read it as it has been on the best sellers lists for quite awhile.
— Shirley Govindasamy, Payroll Manager
Here are the ones I will suggest. I read a lot of books, but these are the ones I remember flying through!
For leisure and fun:
Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
As good as everyone said it was!
Pattern of Recognition, by William Gibson
More of a mystery, not really science fiction.
The Crazed, by Ha Jin
I liked this more than his book Waiting.
Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
One of the best mysteries I have read in awhile—great character development. Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller
Recommended last year by many, it was a quick and interesting read.
For all young adults:
Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke
City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate Dicamillo
— Paula Schlax, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
I actually have not done a lot of reading this year, but did greatly enjoy The DaVinci Code.
Murder in the Rough, by Judy S. Borthwick
It’s light reading, but enjoyable because it’s set in Maine and they mention all the local landmarks, Bates, and other items unique to Maine.
— Ken Emerson, Assistant Director of Human Resources
How Would You Move Mt. Fuji? Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle – How the World’s Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers, by William Poundstone
Ostensibly about the puzzle-oriented interviewing of job candidates at Microsoft, this non-fiction book actually covers much more, including interesting historical perspectives on measuring intelligence and predicting future success.
The Body on the Beach, and Death on the Downs, both by Simon Brett
I’ve always liked Simon Brett’s mystery series about Charles Paris, the bumbling and perpetually “resting” actor. His new series features an unlikely pair of women investigating bodies in the small seaside village of Fethering. The characters in the The Body on the Beach and Death on the Downs are very different characters, but just as much fun.
— Anne Williams, Professor of Economics
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to recommend this book, but I found it a really fun read, riveting, a pageturner—all that was promised! Being a mathematician, I especially enjoyed the cryptographic sleuthing and the way the pieces of the puzzle/mystery came together. I hear that the “prequel”— Angels and Demons—by the same author is even better!
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi
This is a book lover’s book, and really a ‘must read’ for anyone who belongs to a book club, or wishes they did (probably all the readers of this list!). The author, a writer and professor of literature in Iran (now at Johns Hopkins) tells the story of a group of women—she and seven of her favorite students—who met in secret every week for two years to discuss fiction: works by Henry James, Jane Austin, Vladamir Nabokov, and more.
Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand
I saw the movie on a transcontinental plane ride, and wasn’t all that keen on reading the book, but my husband convinced me, and I’m glad he did! The movie covers about one percent of what is in the book. A moving tale of courage, perseverance, love, and triumph over adversity.
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
I read The Jungle in sixth grade, and I thought it was gross and awful, but that was then and this is now, right? Think again! Beware, you may never want to eat a hamburger (or any other processed food) again, after reading this book. A thorough, well documented look at the fast food industry and the horrifying labor practices, health hazards, agricultural devastation, and the way it manipulates the eating and buying habits of entire populations. I was surprised and pleased to learn it was on the New York Times’ Best Seller List for many weeks.
— Bonnie Shulman, Associate Professor of Mathematics
I’m recommending two “older” books this year:
The Case of the Journeying Boy, by Michael Innes
Even though in theory I will read any piece of trash after a day of brain work, I find I can’t read thrillers that aren’t well written. I’ve just reread this classic Innes and it has to be one of the best ever of the genre. He writes like an angel, and the suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat. Plot involves boy fleeing to Ireland from would-be kidnappers because of his father’s fame as a nuclear physicist.
The Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson
I’d like to introduce Persephone Books to some new readers, in the hope that some of you will become as enthusiastic as I am about their elegantly produced reprints of books from the first half of the 20th century. You can find out more about them by going to their website at:http://web.archive.org/web/20041023213324/http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/.
Meanwhile, though, I recommend Miss Pettigrew as one of the world’s most charming escapist reads, described by Persephone as follows: “Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, a spinster who has led a sheltered life, is sent to the wrong address by an employment agency. Instead of finding a fraught mother with a fractious brood, she encounters glamorous nightclub singer Miss LaFosse who ‘had as many male admirers as Miss Pettigrew had
had children to watch over in her long years as governess.’ A fish out of water, Miss Pettigrew proves equal to the task of sorting out this flighty young thing’s life, deftly disposing of the cocaine (shocking then as now) which she finds in her bathroom. It is an enchanting version of Cinderella, an escape into laughter and joyful fantasy…the sheer fun, the light-heartedness…feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anything else I can think of.”
— Anne Thompson, Professor of English / Euterpe B. Dukakis Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
It’s a must-read. However, make sure you allow adequate time to read the entire thing in a short period of time, because it is truly a “I couldn’t put it down” book.
Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown
Once you get bit by the DaVinci Code bug, it’s hard not to get another fix of Dan Brown’s writing!
The 5 People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom
A lovely, uplifting little book—a short but meaningful read.
— Kimberly Hokanson, Director of Alumni and Parent Programs
The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women, Susan Aizenberg and Erin Belieu, eds.
Fighting the Lamb’s War: Skirmishes with the American Empire, by Phillip Berrigan (with Fred A. Wilcox)
Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education, by Derek Bok
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, by Marcus Borg
Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings, by Pema Chodron
Credo, by William Sloane Coffin
The Wisdom of Solitude: A Zen Retreat in the Woods, Jane Dobsiz
The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, by Paul Elie
Same-Sex Marriage? A Christian Ethical Analysis, by Marvin Ellison
Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande
Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living, by Peter J. Gomes
The Painted Bed, by Donald Hall
Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, by Elaine Pagels
War Talk, by Arundhati Roy
The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of War, by Elisabeth Sifton
Early Morning: Remembering My Father, by Kim Stafford
Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen, by Shunryu Suzuki
— Kerry Maloney, College Chaplain
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, by Wayne Johnston
Johnston’s historical fiction focuses on the premier responsible for Newfoundland joining Canada in 1949. It weaves together the history of the island with the character of the premier in an interesting way.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, by Mark Dunn
This one is an interesting take on censorship and unchecked authority of the government.
— Aslaug Asgeirsdottir, Assistant Professor of Political Science
For the summer list may I suggest the following:
Sacred Hunger, by Barry Unsworth
Nehanda and The Stone Virgins, both by Zimbabwean novelist Yvonne Vera
— Sue E. Houchins, Associate Professor of African American Studies
Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn
Dunn seems to enjoy himself hugely with language while at the same time spinning social commentary about the dangers of limiting speech.
Endurance, by Caroline Alexander
This is another story I truly love and think everyone should read. It’s the amazing tale of Shackleton’s survival in Antarctica for 20 months without any loss of life, accompanied by Hurley’s beautiful black and white photographs. Puts all my problems in perspective! I love this story and this book so much.
— Anna Broome, Lecturer in Political Science
A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
A rich, yet simple, tale of life in India soon after the partition of India and Pakistan. Good for a week’s vacation.
Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
A fine collection of short stories.
— Michael Murray, Charles Franklin Phillips Professor of Economics
Politics, Adam Thirlwell
Amusing reading in preparation for the election blitz in the fall. But certainly not just politics in the strict sense.
Something to Declare, by Julian Barnes
Enlightening essays by an Englishman on the French during this anniversary of the “Entente cordiale.”
The Cheating Culture, by David Callahan
It’s happening not just at Bates!
Unveiling Traditions: Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World, by Anouar Majid
By a colleague from the University of New England who wants to diminish cultural misunderstanding.
— Dick Williamson, Charles A. Dana Professor of French
Why I Am Not A Muslim, by Ibn Warraq
Warraq, writing under a pseudonym to protect himself from the consequences of apostasy, clearly defines fundamental flaws in one of the world’s largest religions, from adherence to the Koran to systematized misogyny. The writing is lucid, rational, and is a welcome counterpoint to cultural relativism.
Why I am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell
Not as relentless as Warraq (it is more an essay than a book), but worth a read.
— Anthony Shostak, Education Coordinator, Museum of Art
Quicksilver and The Confusion, both by Neal Stephenson
If you want a long, slow summer read, Neal Stephenson has published two volumes of a three volume trilogy (called ‘The Baroque Cycle’) each over 600 pages. It’s a historical tale set in the time of Isaac Newton and the philosopher Leibniz, who both appear in the story. It’s about the development of science, the invention of capitalist stock markets, and half a dozen other things in English and Dutch history, and has some picaresque elements. The third volume, to be published this Fall, is The System of the World.
I’ve read the first volume, and while slow to get into, it is revealing about attitudes and ideas, and does put you into another time and place. It has some of Stephenson’s wit and linguistic gymnastics, though not as much as his earlier novels, also excellent, Snow Crash (about language and computers), and The Diamond Age (about nanotechnology and a new Victorian age). In some ways ‘The Baroque Cycle’ is a huge prequel to his World War II novel of a few years back about codes and high finance, The Cryptonomicon.
That novel shares a sort of ‘wandering Jew’ character with ‘The Baroque Cycle.’
The Aeneid, by Virgil
I’ve been rereading Virgil’s Aeneid, which is disturbingly relevant to our present world situation: forces beyond reason pushing people to do awful things for distant goals.
Libraries of the Ancient World, by Lionel Casson
This is an easy-to-read yet eye-opening survey of the prehistory of one of our important institutions.
We Have Never Been Modern, by Bruno Latour
Consider this a not so easy to read but very interesting challenge to standard discussions of tradition, modernity, and postmodernity. He writes from a background in the sociology and history of science, analyzing what the modern standpoint entails and why it was never what it claimed to be.
— David Kolb, Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy
Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay
Chapters on a range of colors, including Indigo, Ochre, Yellow, Blue, Red, Black and Brown, and Orange.
— Kimberly Ruffin, Assistant Professor of English
My reading this year has been greatly influenced by current world affairs…
The Demon in the Freezer, by Richard Preston
For those who like sci fi, here is a great read. But it ISN’T fiction!
Waiting for Snow in Havana, by Carlos Eire
Eire is currently a Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale. He was airlifted out of Cuba (as an 11 year old with his brother) during Operation Pedro Pan after Castro came into power. He wrote this memoir in response to the Elian Gonzalez affair.
Longitudes and Attitudes, The World in the Age of Terrorism, by Thomas Friedman
Friedman is a New York Times columnist and this is a collection of some of his columns, and other writings on the U.S. and the Middle East. I got the book after hearing him speak. He presents complex, thought provoking ideas and issues.
She’s Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Interesting work by a Colby professor.
— Karen Palin, Lecturer in Biology
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall-Smith
The first in a wonderful series set in Botswana. Touching and very funny.
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Hilarious and moving Pulitzer-prize winning epic of three generations of Greek-Americans, narrated by a hermaphrodite (and no, I’m not making any of that up!).
I Don’t Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson
Sad and funny chronicle of a British working mom trying to do it all.
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
This came out a few years ago but I only recently read it—SO worth the wait! An excellent book.
— Sarah Jones, Assistant Director for Science and Health Careers
The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, The Gardens of Covington, and From The Heart of Covington, all by Joan Medlicott
This set of books is a quick, enjoyable read primarily targeted for women. Geared around three upper middle age (mid 60’s) women and their growing relationship with each other and their families. I loved them and am looking forward to the fourth book coming out in paperback, I think in June or July.
— Kelsey Purinton, Accounting Specialist
Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages, by Mark Abley
Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq, by Tariq Ali
World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, by Amy Chua
A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan, by Christiane Bird
Ferocious Romance, by Donna Minkowitz
Embers, by Sandor Marai
The Way I Found Her, by Rose Tremain
The Matter of Desire, by Edmundo Paz Soldan
Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton
Troll: A Love Story, by Johanna Sinisalo
Out, by Natsuo Kirino
This is a fantastic new Japanese suspense novel!
The Little Locksmith, by Katharine Butler Hathaway
Dry, by Augusten Burroughs
Slave, by Mende Nazer
Tina Modotti: Between Art and Revolution, by Letizia Argenteri
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy
Truth and Beauty, by Ann Patchett
Burned Alive: A Victim of the Law of Men, by Souad
The haunting memoir of an ‘honor crime.’
Columbarium, by Susan Stewart
The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems, by Charles Simic
Owlshead, by Rosamond Purcell
Long Life: Essays and Other Writings, by Mary Oliver
The Translator, by John Crowley
— Perrin Lumbert, Library Assistant, Interlibrary Loan
Sunset in St. Tropez, by Danielle Steele
The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom, by Dr. Phil McGraw – aka ‘Dr. Phil’
I personally found GREAT motivation in this book to lose weight, and others may find it helpful too. (I’m in the process of losing weight—almost half way to goal and I will not be regaining it afterwards.) This book is terrific, nothing in it we probably don’t already know, but Dr. Phil is a powerful motivator. One thing he said has set me upon a more permanent healthy way of life… Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now, you get the picture!
— Joan Houston, Staff Assistant, Facility Services
I’m a science fiction and fantasy buff. Here are some of my favorites:
Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
Songs of Earth and Power, by Greg Bear
Xenocide, by Orson Scott Card
The Ivory Tower, by Doris Egan
The War of Flowers, by Tad Williams
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune, by Frank Herbert
The Dark Tower, by Stephen King
—Preble Law, Interim Web and Systems Coordinator
The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren
— Tony Croteau,Staff Assistant, Alumni and Parent Program
Over the Moat: Among the Ruins of Imperial Vietnam, by James Sullivan
Let me recommend a new book by a Maine resident writer, James Sullivan. It is an autobiographical novel recounting a young man’s cross-cultural courtship of a woman from the ancient city of Hue, in Central Vietnam. A wonderfully written tale, and quite revelatory of life in the post-war Vietnam of the 1990s.
— John Strong, Professor of Religion
I strongly encourage everyone to read:
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Very clever and creative. The ending will leave you delightfully puzzled.
Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
About the Oakland A’s and their approach to baseball statistics.
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan
We all say we like to golf ‘just for fun,’ but deep down we all know that’s a lie. Everybody wants to be good, or at least better, and this book can help. A golf classic.
— Jen Bowman, Head Volleyball Coach, Assistant Softball Coach
Noah’s Garden, by Sara Stein
I’m going to recommend the book I am reading right now, even though I’ve barely begun—it is so fascinating! Subtitled “Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards,” it’a available in Ladd Library when I’m finished with it. If you love gardening but have been bothered by how much you have to fight with nature to get your chosen plants to grow; if you would like to have more wildlife visit your yard; or if you just want more time to enjoy your yard instead of constantly working in it, let Stein take you along on her journey to “Unbecoming a Gardener” (Chapter One). No, she doesn’t advocate just letting everything go wild. Heavens! What would the neighbors say? And, your yard would most likely be overtaken by invasive non-native species if you do that.
“Of all the plants I planted in my unlettered days, few survive… It was the mocking health of what I didn’t wish to grow in the graveyard of our garden that finally sent me to the books… One would think that the science of botany and the art of horticulture would necessarily merge, for surely what a gardener does is to give plants what they need to grow. What I discovered, however, were baffling divergences among the ways of plants and the ways of gardeners.”
“A gentle but important manifesto. It joins the ecologist’s vision to the gardener’s art in the urgent work of translating the American lawn into something more beautiful and interesting and alive.” — Michael Pollan, author of Second Nature
— Laurie McConnell, Area Coordinator, Carnegie Science
How to Work A Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online, by Susan RoAne
Well, we have all experienced the flutters of walking into a room full of strangers and feeling a bit uneasy. Sure, it is natural and most of us have overcome and grown through it. But, how many of us are really expert at this social skill? Susan RoAne gives us 18 valuable chapters of advice, insights, tips, techniques, and ways to become adept at networking be it at a trade show, on a plane, party, business meeting, in the check-out line, or electronic chat room. Conversations are part of our nature and doing them with grace, skill, style, and compassion (and the occasional seeking of useful information!) is what this book is about.
RoAne has a seasoned eye for what works and how to do it and an easy writing style to match: “As we watched the [Prom] Kings and [Prom] Queens being besieged with dates, Mom told us, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ Au contraire and gray hair comes to those who wait, and sometimes varicose veins if the waiting is done standing up.”
Her breezy writing style belies the common sense approach of her advice, advice aimed at empowering and animating our lives and those around us.
Landing on the Right Side of Your Ass: A Survival Guide for the Recently Unemployed, by Michael B. Laskoff
I recall one of the speakers in the Bates Seminar Series on Entrepreneurship mentioning that almost all successful new venture developers had experienced a serious professional failure at least one, or more times in their work lives. The speaker mentioned this by way of verifying that failures in new venture fields spurned future successes.
Michael Laskoff, a Harvard MBA with extensive success and failure under his belt, not only verifies the seminar speaker’s insights, but gives us sound advice and recommendations on how to survive and frankly thrive after being terminated, down-sized, right-sized, or just plain fired.
Never an easy process, Laskoff tries, and succeeds, in helping the reader understand the types of termination—personal and institutional—the self-sabotage trap, how to manage family, friends, and colleagues with the news of a termination and what reactions to expect, and dealing with the effects of time, panic, money, and place. Laskoff ’s book is not a resumé guide, but I particularly valued his ‘Five Content Commandments for Resumés:’ Support Your Goal; Cover the Basics; Be Brief; Intrigue the Reader; and Bottoms Up
His section on interviewing was too short, but very insightful and emphasized the role of mental preparation, and recognizing the different types of interviewers. A good read, a necessary primer for the inevitable in all our lives, this book will at least give you some firm survival principles when, and if, the ax falls.
Get Paid What You’re Worth: The Expert Negotiator’s Guide to Salary and Compensation, by Robin L. Pinkley and Gregory B. Northcraft
This monograph begins with some sobering facts: “According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, three-quarters of a million U.S. workers left their current jobs, over two million others reentered, and about a half million entered the U.S. workforce for the first time during one month in 1999.” But then the splash of cold water: More than 50 percent of these people will accept their next job offer without the benefit of negotiation. Consequently, the authors’ goals are to aid the reader in understanding which issues can be negotiated, how to prepare for negotiation, how to conduct a negotiation, and how to close a deal. Woven throughout the book’s 10 chapters, are advice from experts, folks who have successfully negotiated, some scientifically proven strategies, and strategic thinking, and some very specific actions for the serious negotiator. It is an easy read and worth the investment of time: the authors’ style is light and their advice substantial.
Yes, the entire process of job hunting is stressful and when the offer comes, it is a relief to just accept and end the agony of the process. But, consider this very simple fact and then mull over reading this book: folks who negotiate will receive $1,040,917 to $1,714,779 more in the course of their careers than those who do not!
Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton
The process of self-discovery really takes more than the 1,378+/- days a student is an undergraduate at Bates College; self-discovery takes a lifetime. Yes, there are ways to identify skills, motivations, work habits, personality traits, values, and intellectual interests: conversations with trained counselors, career instruments and data gathering tools, quiet reflection, and experiences in the work world, classrooms, and community. All of these techniques and activities are useful as is reading books on the topic of self-knowledge. The authors are well versed on the topic: a senior vice president of The Gallup Organization, and the father of Strength Psychology and designer of the Strengths Finder profile.
This book is not only for the self-explorer, but the manager who wants to realize the potential of the organization by strengthening the dominant skills of all employees. Essentially, the book is devoted to profiling the 35 dominant-signature themes or talent orientations (Achiever, Activator, Empathy, Futuristic, Strategic, etc.) with thousands of possible combinations—and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success.
Connected to the book is a unique identification number that allows the reader to access the Strengths Finder Profile on the Internet. The profiles and suggestions for managers are good and insightful. Clearly, no instrument or profile can capture the uniqueness of an individual but once we have a sense of some of our dominant skills, we can more effectively and assuredly achieve the success we desire in the world. A good read with a nice Internet connection to a user-friendly instrument.
— Charles Kovacs, Director of Career Services
The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.
The autobiography of an amazing woman, and a summary of her conclusions from studying many cases of people who returned to life after being pronounced dead.
Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes, by Walter Gratzer
A fabulous collection of vignettes of a wide range of scientists. Fact is truly more amazing than fiction; the real processes of science, as revealed in this book, are amazing.
— Mark Semon, Professor of Physics
The Master of St. Petersburg, by J.M. Coetzee
This year was so busy that I retreated into mysteries by Elizabeth George, which are excellent if you like the genre. My one great discovery was this book by Coetzee.
— Kathy Low, Associate Professor of Psychology
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray
Solar Storms, by Linda Hogan
Eco-Economy, by Lester Brown
— Diana Pendergrast, Assistant in Instruction in Physics
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss
Who knew that punctuation could be so entertaining?
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Maguire weaves themes of evil, loyalty, and redemption into a really good read and proves that it’s not easy being green. If you can’t get to New York to see the musical version before the critics close it, read the book.
I’m Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking, by Alton Brown
Fabulous recipes and the science behind them. And, he makes it funny. Brown is the star of “Good Eats” on the Food Channel.
—Beth Sheppard, Director of Alumni Programs
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
— Melinda Harder, Lecturer in Mathematics
Hot Six, by Janet Evanovitch
Since the memory has gone forever—I’ve started reading quick, funny, interesting paperbacks. Evanovitch has written a series of books about Stephanie Plum, an out of work woman earning money as a bounty hunter. The reading is fast-paced, funny, a little steamy and every character seems to become real. All titles have a number in them. I’m also still reading titles by Nicholas Sparks, Nelson DeMille and Dan Brown.
— Rachel Jacques, Assistant to the Director, Library & Information Services
A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin
I can’t speak for myself, but Peter Lasagna is in the midst of reading this amazing novel.
— Holly Lasagna, Service Learning Program Coordinator
Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong
It was written a few years ago, but is remarkably useful in understanding what is at stake for the Shiis in Kerbala and Najaf.
— Tina Malcolmson, Professor of English
Since I use the list to suggest books for my book group, I guess it’s time for me to make a submission! Take a trip to Africa this summer. I highly recommend these books that give a wide view into the continent:
Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
A classic about apartheid in South Africa, beautifully written, at times heartbreaking, but it reinforces your belief in the capability of people to heal, change, and grow.
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
Fun, funny, heart-warming, suspenseful!
Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
This is becoming another classic. A fascinating look at the Congo from the different perspectives of five members of a missionary family.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller
A memoir of a childhood in war-torn Africa, from the 1960s to the 1990s. She has a talent for description, especially sounds, smells, heat. It’s an interesting complement to The Poisonwood Bible, since her family (Fuller’s) are definitely not missionaries.
— Margo Knight, Director of Advancement Research
The Story of Lucy Gault, by William Trevor
As sad, tear-jerky, and hopeless as the best of those Irish ballads, but compelling and beautifully written.
Running With Scissors and Dry, both by Augusten Burroughs
These are memoirs of a young writer with an extreme childhood of abandonment and all that it entails; tragic, riveting, very funny. The second book is the most riveting description of alcoholism and recovery I could imagine. Not light or happy reading, really, but page-turners. He is a character you come to love and enjoy despite whatever disconnection you might feel with his harrowing journey.
Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust
Summer is perfect for meandering, lush prose about people with way too much money, free time and neuroses in their lives. Bathe in it.
— Kirk Read, Associate Professor of French
Love, by Toni Morrison
I am enjoying this, but I can’t be the only one to mention it.
The other books I read recently have either been work related or none-too-great.
Life of Pi and Trans-sister Radio were both sufficiently interesting to keep me going, but neither thrilled me.
My son is very much enamoured of the not too well known ‘Pendragon’ series, and eagerly awaits the next (fifth?) offering. He also very much enjoyed the ‘His Dark Materials’ series, quite popular, I hear.
— Elizabeth Eames, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Virgin Blue, by Tracy Chevalier
This book by the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring takes an interesting format as it tells parallel stories of a 14th century young woman and her 20th century descendant.
Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A good reread every few years.
Rabbit Proof Fence, by Doris Pilkington
If you missed her on campus, read the book anyway. If possible, read the book, THEN see the movie.
Empire Falls, Richard Russo
Read it or reread it before you see the movie filmed in Maine (which will come out in spring of 2005).
Bondwoman’s Narrative, by Hannah Crafts
The Concubine’s Children, by Denise Chong
Anything by Emily Dickinson
Quaker Book of Wisdom
The Self Taught Gardener, by Sydney Eddison
— Sue Martin, Center for Service Learning
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, by Marcus Borg
The Virgin Blue, by Tracy Chevalier
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling
Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss
— Marty Deschaines, Administrative Assistant, Center for Service Learning
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
It’s a novel about a young boy who, upon discovering a dead dog with a garden fork run through it, decides to solve the mystery of the dog’s murder. In so doing, and doing so quite doggedly (forgive the pun), he sets in motion a remarkable chain of events and learns more than he bargained for. That the child narrator is autistic only adds to the novel’s impact. I highly recommend it.
— Michael Sargent, Assistant Professor of Psychology