2007 Summer Reading List

Each spring, the College Store publishes a list of good summer reads suggested by members of the Bates community.

In a new twist this year, submitters were also asked to suggest that one book they’d like to have with them if they were shipwrecked on a deserted, tropical island for several months. So, look for a few titles for desert-island reading in this, the 11th annual “Non-required Reading List, or Good Reads for Leisure Moments.”

Lee Abrahamsen, Associate Professor of Biology:

The Botany of Desire
, Michael Pollan
Interesting biology, history, philosophy and sociology. About how “domesticated” plants have changed us while we thought we were changing them. Great writing and some very provocative ideas. Just enough humor.

Rise and Shine, Anna Quindlan
A good story about two sisters and how they deal with life and each other. If you like Quindlan’s easy style, you’ll like this one. A good, not-at-all-taxing read.

Wickett’s Remedy, Maya Goldberg
This is a sort of historical novel about a fictitious character in Boston during the 1918 flu epidemic. It was a good story. Being the infectious disease geek that I am, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more about the flu epidemic itself, but normal people will probably be grateful for that. I also like Goldberg’s earlier novel Bee Season about a girl who finds that she’s good at spelling bees. Goldberg is good at creating believable characters with lots of familiar complexities.

• • •

Stefany Arsenault, VISTA Leader, Maine Campus Compact:

Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
An autobiography of sorts, also out on audio book read by the author himself. His self-deprecating humor brightens up a gloomy, rainy day. My favorite part is when he talks about his parents’ Great Danes. David Sedaris is known for is work with This American Life (Public Radio International).

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
This trilogy is juvenile fantasy. The first book, The Golden Compass, is expected to come out in the theaters in December 2007 (with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig). I urge you to read the book or listen to the tape before the movie comes out because these books are incredible. The second and third books are called The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same: The Life and Times of Some Chickens, Sloane Tanen
This is a funny picture book — the author photographed dioramas featuring little yellow chicks going about their daily lives. Sarcastic, witty and a bit cynical.

Desert island reading: One book that I have always loved is unfortunately out of print. It’s called My Friend Bear by Carol-Lynn Rossel-Waugh. It’s a comfort book.

• • •

Pam Baker ’70, Helen A. Papaioanou Professor of Biology:

Zorro, Isabel Allende
We (husband, Dave ’70, too) both enjoyed it very much. Lots of history about colonial California, and a swashbuckling (yet highly personal) good tale.

• • •

Jan Beaudoin, Athletics, Business Manager:

A World Lit Only By Fire
, William Manchester
An interesting read about the European Renaissance and Reformation focusing on early Catholic religion. It is based on research of various writings of those years and delves into the history’s darker side of that religious period. For those wanting a wider outlook beyond the usual. This was a borrowed book, so not sure if still in print.

• • •

Denise Begin, Staff Assistant, Dean of Faculty’s Office:

Golf for Women
A magazine with good tips for some. It hasn’t been all that successful for me yet!

• • •

Helen Boucher, Assistant Professor of Psychology:

Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation, Michael Zielenziger
This is a new book that analyzes several modern-day problems with which Japan is struggling: the highest suicide and lowest birth rates of any industrialized county, and a new mental disorder called “hikikomori,” in which young men (typically) shut themselves in their rooms for weeks, months and years at a time, among other trends. For anyone interested in the land of geisha, bullet trains, sushi, Zen and anime, this is a must read.

• • •

Jane Boyle, Library Assistant, Public Service:

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees

Pocket Guide with great pictures of tree trunks, bark and leaves all both in color.

Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections, Stephen Harrod Buhner
A lot of great info in this book. The library does not own this title but you can order through MaineCat.

• • •

Sean Campbell, Director of Leadership Gifts:

The Book of Ruth, Jane Hamilton.

• • •

Ned Carr, Assistant Treasurer:

Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States
, Chet Raymo and Maureen E. Raymo
Maureen Raymo gave a talk at Bates earlier this year. In readable format, the book tells the story of how the landscape of the Northeastern U.S. came to be what it is.

Reading the
Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, Tom Wessels. A walk through the woods will never be the same, as you’ll understand more of its language and what it’s telling you.
• • •

Gene Clough, Geology and Physics Lecturer:

A Philosophy of Play
, Luther Halsey Gulick
Everyone should read this book, published in 1920 by Scribners, although it is no longer in print and might be hard to find. An excerpt: “If you want to know what a child is, study his play; if you want to affect what he will be, direct the form of his play.”

• • •

Joanne Cole ’77, Peer Tutor Writing Pilot Program:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
Atonement, Ian McEwan
The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama

• • •

John Cole, Thomas Hedley Reynolds Professor of History:

I’ve recently encountered a pair of entertaining books on the odd postmortem histories of the physical remains of two notables from the era of the French Revolution:

The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA, Deborah Cadbury,New York: St. Martin’s, 2002
The “king” in question is Louis XVII (1785–1795), who reigned only nominally and briefly while being treated with abominable inhumanity by the republican revolutionaries who had executed his father in 1793. The book tells this sad story, which becomes paradoxically livelier after the boy’s death, with accounts of the succession of false claimants to be “the lost Dauphin” (including a half-caste American Indian, for instance) and the remarkable story of the true heart, “stolen” from the corpse by the physician who performed the autopsy in 1795, then re-stolen from him, and so on.

The Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine, Paul Collins, New York: Bloomsbury, 2005
This one tells the story of the author’s search for Paine’s remains, starting in a gay bar in Greenwich Village.

• • •

Grace Coulombe ’94, Director of the Mathematics and Statistics Workshop:

The Prestige, Christopher Priest
A story of intrigue and illusion surrounding the fierce rivalry between two stage magicians at the end of the 19th century. The story, told through journal entries, tells of each magician’s obsession with outwitting and outperforming the other as well as discovering the other’s secrets.

The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham
A story about a young, shallow British woman, Kitty. When Kitty’s husband, a bacteriologist, discovers her infidelity he volunteers to be a doctor in a remote region of mainland China in the middle of a cholera epidemic. Kitty is compelled to accompany him and eventually come to terms with her selfish existence.

• • •

Marianne Nolan Cowan ’92, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs:

Five Smooth Stones
, Ann Fairbairn
Four Spirits, Sena Jeter Naslund
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom, Slavomir Rawicz
An incredible story of endurance.

• • •

John W. Creasy, Professor of Geology:

A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage along the Yukon River
, Dan O’Neill
The Border Trilogy, Cormac McCarthy
The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Nightfall, Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
The Foundation, Isaac Asimov (series)
The Map that Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, Simon Winchester (as much social history as geology)
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, Simon Winchester
Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays, Joan Didion
The White Album, Joan Didion

• • •

Marty Deschaines, Assistant Director for Community Volunteerism and Student Development, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships:

Some books I’ve enjoyed reading over the past year:
Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace
Behind the Scenes at the Museum;Case Histories;and One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
The White Rose, Jean Hanff Korelitz
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

• • •

Vicky Devlin, Vice President for Advancement:

The Tender Bar, J.D. Moehringer
This is a beautifully written memoir of growing up under difficult circumstances and finding friends and role models among the characters who frequent a local bar. The author’s descriptions of his college years at Yale should help everyone understand that mentoring students from unusual backgrounds is essential.

Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky
As compelling a book about war as one can read. First, the author’s personal story and the subsequent discovery of her notes and publication of the book makes her story even more compelling. The author was not able to finish the book, but her rough notes tell individual stories about living through the German occupation of France from the taking of Paris to the movement of the Germans throughout the countryside up to the establishment of the Russian front.

• • •

Carol Dilley, Assistant Professor of Dance:

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
This is a life-changing book and amazing history of ideas through the tension between science and religion. I have not read any of his other works yet, like The Selfish Gene, but my guess is that I am a later comer to someone everyone else knows about already.

The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak
Germany during the war — a compelling story but with a narrator voice that some love and some don’t.

Ghost Dancer, Douglas Wright
Art and aids and amazing way with words. With this book I felt compelled to share phrases with friends on a regular basis because the writing was so glorious. He is a dancer, drug addict, reader, artist laureate of New Zealand, prostitute and generally big liver. His second book, Terra Incognito, is supposed to be even better but his books may not be easily available in U.S.

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink
Love and war on an intimate level.

Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates
Going over the bridge at Chappaquiddick. This unfolds in the most gripping way, looping back in time over and over again. It is short and powerful.

All of Kurt Vonnegut, again.

• • •

Members of the Educational Policy Committee:

Our Underachieving Colleges, Derek Bok.  A good read, easy and not too taxing. But, a book that raises provocative questions and interesting perspectives about what makes up an undergraduate education. Sometimes by being too simplistic and other times by being too dogmatic, Bok brings into focus the hard question of how to contribute to and organize a quality education for bright undergraduate students.

• • •

Melinda Emerson, Information and Library Services:

Stealing History, William Andrews.
A Maine author, and a book with a Maine theme (Bethel Historical Museum).

• • •

Johanna Farrar ’03, Assistant Dean of Admissions:

My Half of the Sky, Jana McBurney-Lin ’84. The novel gives an interesting look at women’s rolls in a ‘modern’ China. The fact that Jana is an alum made me proud when I read it!

Desert island reading: The Odyssey. It never bores.

• • •

Paul Farnsworth, Project Manager, Facility Services:

Underground History of American Education
, John Taylor Gatto
Very heavy reading; not your typical beach material. I liked it.

• • •

Laura Faure, Director of the Bates Dance Festival:

The Places In Between,Rory Stewart
About walking across Afghanistan.

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, Paul Theroux.

Holy Fools: A Novel, Joanne Harris
1610 Brittany, France
• • •

Sylvia Federico, Assistant Professor of English:

Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout ’77
Spunk, Zora Neale Hurston

Also, Jessica Mitford’s letters, collected as Decca, were highly entertaining and decadent.

• • •

David Foster ’77, Trustee:

Queen of Cups, Mina Samuels
Why would a strong woman choose to stay with a brilliant but abusive man? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

• • •

Jane K. Frizzell, Network Services Administrator:

No 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith.
This is a series of at least eight books about Mma Ramotswe, a modern Botswana woman who starts her own detective agency. The writing is beautiful, the point of view decidedly African, the plots interesting and the solutions feminine and fitting of the crime. Descriptions of daily Botswana life and the landscape are haunting and the growth and emerging abilities of the “Ladies” is delightful. Starting with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality of Beautiful Girls and, most recently, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, these books are not just for mystery readers.

• • •

Heidi Gagnon, Alumni and Parent Programs Coordinator:

One of my favorites is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

• • •

Leah Wiedmann Gailey ’97, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs:

Suite Française
, Irene Nemirovsky
This book was written in 1941–42, but the author was deported to Auschwitz in 1942 where she died. Her daughters preserved her manuscript for 60 years without realizing it was a masterpiece. It was published recently for the first time and is a wonderful account of France during the German invasion in the early 1940s.

The Last Days of Dogtown, Anita Diamant
A great read set in the early 1800s about a community of castoffs in Cape Ann, Mass.

• • •

Lois M. Griffiths ’51, retired staff:

Benedict Arnold’s Navy
, James L. Nelson
A lively history of Arnold’s retreat from Quebec in 1776, which gave America’s revolutionary army an extra year to organize.

Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian
And all the other 19 books of this wonderful series about the British navy in the Napoleonic era. I have been re-reading them in order, after skipping around the first time,
and enjoying them much more. Fascinating characters in adventures around the world 200 years ago.

• • •

Lorraine Groves, Sales Floor Supervisor, Bates College Store:

Astrid and Veronika
, Linda Olsson
An unusual relationship between two women several decades apart in age. Their histories unfold during a harsh winter in a remote Swedish village. Both women share secrets of their past and as the seasons change so do they. This is a wonderful story that left me in tears and wanting more from this new author. Read it in bed read it on the beach, but do read it!

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
We all know the Secret, but this book assists and helps to confirm how we can control our destiny, be it wealth, love, health, and life as we want it to be. I read it in small doses and will read it many more times. I have been a recipient of this formula and know that it works and will if you believe in yourself.

• • •

Claire Guyton, Area Coordinator, Philosophy and Religion:

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
, Peter Orner
It took me about 30 pages to get used to the unusual structure, but I was captivated by the language on page one. This book has it all — an exotic locale, rich characters, poetic and innovative language, plenty of philosophical notes to ponder. I just loaned it out, and now I’m sorry I did, because I want to read it again.

The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts
I re-read this little gem every few years.

Desert island reading: If I were stuck on an island for three months I’d want my Norton Anthology of Short Stories. Is that cheating?

• • •

Amy Nadzo Haile, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs:

Saturday, Ian McEwan

Raising Resilient Children, Robert Brooks

The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
A children’s classic!

• • •

Elaine Hansen, President:

I don’t usually have time to read or write, but I actually read two fabulous books this year that were so amazing that I would add to the [list] if others have not yet mentioned them: Anne Tyler’s Digging to America, and David Lodge’s Author Author.

• • •

John Harrison, Associate College Librarian for Collection Development:

The God of Small Things
, Arundhati Roy

• • •

Nina Hicks, Student Services Specialist:

Why We Love, The Nature & Chemistry of Romantic Love, Helen Fisher
“For anyone who is in love, has ever been in love or wants to love, [this book] is a fascinating and eye-opening examination of the forces behind passion, attraction, lust and romance.”

• • •

Joan Houston, Facility Services Staff Assistant:

Dangerous, Nora Roberts
Great for easy reading; three stories in one book.

Sisters, Danielle Steele

• • •

Michael Jones, Christian A. Johnson Professor of History:

Mama Makes Up Her Mind, Bailey White
Terrific storyteller and humorist.

The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
These are the famous crime writer’s earlier Wild West stories.

• • •

Laura Juraska, Associate College Librarian for Reference Services, and Richard Fochtmann, partner:

Coroner’s Lunch,Thirty-three Teeth andDisco for the Departed, Colin Cotterill
For an absolute delight in crime fiction, try Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri Paiboun. Set in newly Communist Laos, the party, finding the old coroner has escaped by crossing the river to Thailand in a rubber tube, tells the 72-year-old doctor that he is too young to be retired and that he must now be the official state coroner, even though he has never done an autopsy before. Despite bungling party officials and lack of equipment and forensic lab, Dr. Siri, his poor but ambitious Nurse Dtui, and loveable Down-syndrome-with-a-perfect-memory-for-autopsy-details Mr. Geung make a remarkable team. If you, like we, like to have a book to read aloud to the driver or in bed before turning off the light, these are great choices, but do read them in order of publication.

Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
And speaking of mystery, Moonstone is “the first and greatest of English detective novels” (T.S. Eliot). This, the first tale of romance, theft, murder, was the inspiration for a complete new, in 1871, genre: the detective mystery, the whodunit! If you love mysteries and haven’t read this one, you are in for a delightful experience.

The Painted Drum, Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich is part Ojibwa and part white of European extraction, and her books’ characters speak of the conflict of native peoples, and especially those of bi-cultural parentage, caught between two worlds. The painted drum is sacred and becomes the object of obsession of an assimilated woman who is compelled to learn about her roots. Time shifts back and forth thru generations as Erdrich herself grows in knowledge of the story of the peoples of the drum.

The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic, Edward Beauclerk Maurice
Another book about the conflict of two worlds is a true story, recently published by the children of the author, about his adventures at his first real job, working for the Hudson Bay Co., and his life with the Inuit. The author, unlike many other whites, is sensitive and interested in the native people, enough to learn their language and how to live as they do, becoming one of them, without “going native” — the term used to indicate someone who has given up their cultural roots to become “one of the natives.” You will learn a good deal about the difference in cultural norms of a people who live with death constantly in the harsh environment of the Arctic versus those of a poor young man of Victorian England.

• • •

Margo Knight, Director of Advancement Research:

Five Thousand Days Like This One, Jane Brox
A memoir of her family and the family farm in Dracut, Mass., interwoven with the history of the Merrimack River Valley. She says that she is a poet first, and that is evident in this beautifully written book.

March, by Geraldine Brooks
The story of a fictional character, the absent father, Mr. March, of the “Little Women” in Louisa May Alcott’s classic. It is a well-written story about the Civil War and March’s struggle between his anti-slavery, Quaker beliefs and the realities of war. By the way, if you read her first book, Year of Wonders, I thought March was much better.

This year, I also re-read two favorites by Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety. His writing is beautiful and the stories are compelling. He is a joy to read.

• • •

James Elkins, How to Use Your Eyes.
A set of illustrated essays helping the reader to see more carefully and generously the natural and cultural phenomena around us.

David Kolb, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy:

Convergence Culture
, Henry Jenkins
An interpretation of the mixing of Internet, television and print to create new kinds of programming and new kinds of experiences that will change how we experience ourselves as “viewers” and “authors.” Jenkins cites the dynamics of “fan” involvement with TV shows, the creation of mixed media advertising and the increasingly active role of “the audience.”

This Land, Anthony Flint
A well-written, journalistic account of suburban sprawl, its causes, its history and movements to limit or to defend the current patterns and processes of development.

• • •

Nancy Koven , Assistant Professor of Psychology:

Melmoth the Wanderer
by Maturin
An often-overlooked classic.

• • •

Paul Kuritz, Professor of Theater:

The Language of God,Francis Collins
The Beginning of Wisdom,Leon Kass
How Green Was My Valley,Richard Llewellyn
Exclusion and Embrace,Miroslav Volf

Desert island reading: The Bible.

• • •

Jim Lamontagne,
Library Assistant, Cataloging:

Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison (Grove Press, 2007)
The Road, Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, 2006)

The latest titles from American lit’s two best living writers. I’m one of the few people east of the Upper Peninsula of Harrison’s native Michigan who read him. Everyone else’s loss, I say.

And my choice for the island stay: Encyclopaedia Britannica (latest paper edition). Why? Multi volumes, more pages, more reading, more kindling.

• • •

Alli Lambert, Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Programs:

Eye Contact, Cammie McGovern
Brief description from Publisher’s Weekly: “A parent’s worst nightmare becomes a crusade for justice in McGovern’s dynamite second novel (after 2002’s The Art of Seeing), set in an unspecified middle-class suburban community. Shortly after Adam, a nine-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder, and his friend Amelia, a 10-year-old diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified), disappear during recess from Greenwood elementary school, a traumatized Adam turns up next to Amelia’s body in the nearby woods. Cara, Adam’s 30-year-old single mom, helps the police unlock the clues in Adam’s mind to try to identify Amelia’s killer. Cara finds surprising assistance from 13-year-old Morgan, who’s determined to solve the crime in order to distract authorities from his own guilty secret—accidentally starting a fire in the wetlands his lawyer/environmentalist mom was trying to protect. Meticulously researched and emotionally absorbing, this provocative page-turner also addresses an important issue—how to educate and care for children with special needs.”

• • •

Holly Lasagna, Assistant Director of Service Learning:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
I bought this astonishing book for my 15-year-old daughter who adored it (though it may be a bit old for some 15-year-olds). She gave it away to her best friend who loved it as well. She then bought another copy for my husband for his birthday and he read it late into the night. I just finished it yesterday and was stunned by it. I can’t explain it any other way. It speaks to familial love, loss, 9/11, the Holocaust and the wonders of New York City, among other things. The author uses not just words but text, typeface and photographs to “illustrate” the story. A line of the book summed it up for me (if anything could), “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” And all told mostly from the perspective of a troubled, intense, creative genius of an 8-year-old boy, Oskar Schell.

• • •

Charlotte Lehmann, Research Technician:

Understanding Our Mind, Thich Nhat Hahn
I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy, renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, Daniel Ladinsky
The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer, Carol Hill
The Time Quartet, Madeline L’Engle
Well Schooled in Murder, Elizabeth George
The Journey to the East, Herman Hesse
Undersong, Audre Lourde
The Everything Seed: A Story of Beginnings, Carole Martignacco

• • •

Becky Lovett, Assistant Bookstore Manager:

Eat the Document
, Dana Spiotta
This novel makes you straddle the past and the present of a fugitive radical
from the 1970s. The in-between is largely left for you to construct, on the way to understanding this woman’s life, defined then and now by an action taken.

• • •

Bill Low, Assistant Curator, Museum of Art:

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, Jonathan Harr
“Jonathan Harr has taken the story of the lost painting, and woven from it a deeply moving narrative about history, art and taste–and about the greed, envy, covetousness and professional jealousy of people who fall prey to obsession. It is as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to read.” — The Economist

Solo Faces, James Salter
Not a new one but a favorite. “Solo Faces contrasts a devotion to mountain climbing with the earthbound tugs of love and ordinary life…. A beautifully composed book that will remind readers of Camus and Saint-Exupery. It exemplifies the purity it describes.”

• • •

Kathy Low, Professor of Psychology:

The Echomaker, Richard Powers
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
, Michael Pollan
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
The Sea, John Banville

• • •

Maren Lowell, offspring of Seri Rudolph, Writing Workshop:

Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne

Wheeler Lowell, offspring of Seri Rudolph, Writing Workshop:

Swallows and Amazons
, Arthur Ransom

• • •

Judy Marden ’66, Director, Bates-Mores Mountain Conservation Area and Coastal Center at Shortridge

With No One as Witness, Elizabeth George
This was my mystery year, and I found myself involved with George’s complex characters and British law enforcement and class issues to such an extent that I wanted to find out the rest of the story — so set about finding and reading all her other mysteries. So far: 12 down and only Payment in Blood to go (if I can find it).

My Place, Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins
Thanks to David Scobey, a brilliant book for children (and others); the stories of the different “owners” of a particular place over 200 years of time.

And of course Mary Oliver — her visit inspiring me to go back, and keep up. What a joy to have her here in person!

• • •

Laurie McConnell, Area Coordinator, Carnegie Science:

Light, Margaret Elphinstone
I have a discovered a new author — she has written many books that I can look forward to reading! The year is 1831. A family headed by two sisters-in-law live on a very small island off the coast of Scotland. They tend the lighthouse there after the untimely death of the brother/husband keeper. There are three children who have never known any other life. Now their lives are about to change dramatically. The private owner of the lighthouse has died and the civil authorities are taking over and plan to rebuild and bring the lighthouse up to modern requirements — and assign a new keeper who, of course, must be a man. A surveyor and his assistant come to the island to start the process and the interaction between these two men and the women and children make up the bulk of the story — with lots of history and vivid description, each life is slowly revealed — just as if you were there interacting with them all, living their lives. Don’t know the ending yet, but the journey is so fine!

• • •

Bryan McNulty, Director of the Office of Communication and Media Relations:

The Guns of August,Barbara W. Tuchman
Published in 1962 and winner of a Pulitzer, it has a timeless style and eloquence. The story is about events and political intrigues leading up to World War I and the first month of the war. It provides unflattering insights into powerful royals — King, Kaiser and Czar — all related through Queen Victoria. It reveals the naivety, hubris and tragedy that marked the end of the European century and the bloody transformation to scientific warfare. It is one of those rarest of jewels from historians: fine history and an engaging narrative.

• • •

Jason Moreau, Programmer/Analyst, Information and Library Services:

I’m embarrassed to admit that I am not a heavy reader. Most of my reading happens in 10-minute intervals at night before falling asleep. That being said, I do want to contribute to this important resource. Here are a few suggestions, keeping in mind by background as a geek :-). All have been around for quite a while (the last, not so long).

The Design of Everyday Things, Donald A. Norman
This book helped shape my philosophy in my work as a Web developer and programmer, designing software that is easy for people to use. This book explores the design of doors, cars, appliances in an extremely enjoyable format. It’s a must-read for anyone whose job involves creating anything that others will need to interact with. I’d also suggest it’s equally valuable to people who have to interact with this “stuff” — and last I checked, that’s pretty much anyone.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The first book of a series adapted from the author’s radio series. I’ve yet to find anyone who can match Douglas’s dry wit in novel form. One-tenth sci-fi, nine-tenths humor. I read through three novels in the series during the course of one week back in high school. I was laughing so hard I didn’t want to stop reading.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Thomas L. Friedman
An analysis of globalization in the 21st century. An important read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the forces shaping our economy and world today.

• • •

Kerry O’Brien, Assistant Dean of Faculty:

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Last summer I read several Jane Austens, but this is the crème de la crème, a truly engaging, funny and wonderful book and a great read.

The Vision of Emma Blau, Ursula Hegi
Follows multiple generations of a German-American family obsessed with an apartment building-cum-schloss built by the patriarch on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Good Faith, Jane Smiley
Smiley’s satiric take on the get-rich real estate schemers of the 1980s. In spite of pretty unsympathetic characters, you get sucked into the maelstrom of the capitalists.

For young adults and old adults: To laugh out loud without stopping, read Daniel Pinkwater, whose hysterical novels for teens only improve with rereading. My son and I never tire of them. The best are the Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death and the Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror, both featuring three teens caught up with werewolves, detectives, avocados and Wallace Nussbaum, the evil mastermind of the world, but other classics areBorgel; Slaves of Spiegel;Alan Mendelsohn, Boy from Mars; The Hoboken Chicken Emergency and its very funny sequel, Looking for Bobowicz; and the Worms of Kukumlima (in which a boy finds adventure in Africa with his grandfather, inventor of the “plastic-thingy-used-to-close-bread bags”). I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

• • •

Lori Ouellette, Administrative Assistant, Dean of Faculty’s Office:

This magazine actually has some worthwhile recipes and healthy living tips.

• • •

Karen Palin, Lecturer in Biology:

I joined a book group this year and we read some very thought provoking works, which I submit for non-required reading (although I am thinking that one of them might be fun to use sometime in a bio class!).

The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
I used snippets of this in Bio 101, to good effect.

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Might be considered science fiction but was unlike any science fiction I had ever read.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
Wonderful and powerful story about women and their friendships in 19th-century China.

Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
The author tries to work and live in several parts of the country, supporting herself with various poverty level jobs. Maine is one of the places she finds herself.

Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky
The author intended this to be a five-part novel, set in France during World War II. Early in the war, she was deported to Auschwitz and never came home. After the war, her daughters found this writing but did not read it, believing it to be her diaries, until many years later. This is book is the first two parts of the author’s intended book.

The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
Don’t read it while it is raining or gloomy outside.

Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson
Our last book, and we all agreed we need to re-read it.

• • •

Carole Parker, Library Assistant, Acquisitions:

Coroner’s Lunch, Thirty-three Teeth, and Disco for the Departed, Colin Cotterill
Great characters and rich interesting mysteries, recommended to me by Laura Juraska! I’ve also been re-reading the first three Madeline L’Engle fantasy juvenile books Wrinkle in Time (I remember from way back as my favorite book), A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet with my 10-year old son. They’re wonderful.

• • •

Christie Peterson, Muskie Archives:

Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic
, Alison Bechdel
I very, very enthusiastically recommend this relatively new book for reading, summer or otherwise.

• • •

Ray Potter, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator:

My list for this year is strictly escapist. I found a pair of authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, who have been around a while and can spin a pretty captivating tale. The stories are a unique blend of archeology, anthropology, science, forensics and relationships. Some are, admittedly, pretty blatant fantasy so if you are the sort of reader who can’t deal with the unreal these aren’t the books for you. The characters are strong and can be either likable or detestable, as the story demands. Since some of the characters carry over there is an order to the books though each story can stand alone very nicely. And there are more where these came from — very prolific writers. Each by Preston and Child:

Relic takes place in the New York Museum of Natural History and involves a chemical-dependent creature which has made its way into the underground catacombs of the museum in search of plant matter containing the chemical it needs.

Reliquary takes place in old tunnels and caverns below the subway tunnels in New York. There’s an underground subculture with a twisted connection to characters in the previous book. The search for and attempts to eliminate the cause of a string of mysterious, bizarre murders is intense and filled with twists and turns.

Cabinet of Curiosities presents a character prominent in the earlier books and places him at the heart of the story. There are references to historical natural history collection practices and lots of skulking about in dark dusty old buildings as our hero tries to end the long history of murders spanning decades.

Still Life with Crows takes us to Kansas where the FBI agent who has helped solve the mysteries on the previous stories finds himself on a “busman’s holiday” sort of vacation. There are murders occurring in a small town where competing economic interests and locals with secrets makes for a tale full of surprises.

Thunderhead takes us to the canyons in the heart of Utah looking for the lost city of gold with a truly unique group of misfits and some challenges with a supernatural sort of feel.

Douglas Preston has also written solo. I read Codex which has a similar sort of feel to stories he has co-written with Child. It takes place in the rain forests of Honduras with good guys and bad guys searching for an ancient codex which provides pharmacological uses for many of the plants in the rain forest. There’s a beautiful woman, a handsome guy, a dysfunctional family of brothers and some strange fish and animals. And of course, there is a deadline to meet if things are going to end happily. Hard to beat for a creative story.

Finally, I just finished two volumes of science fiction by Peter Hamilton. It had everything: faster-than-light space travel, travel through worm holes, friendly aliens, aliens programmed in their DNA to eliminate all other sentient life forms, relief clinics to restore people from the dead, beautiful first lifers, beautiful elders who had lived hundreds of years, electronic implants that allowed communication and computing within one’s eye, world-destroying weapons, and other endless surprises. In basic terms it was good versus evil stretched out over hundreds of years with social classes, issues and occupations recognizable across the ages. And you just never knew who to trust, right down to the final showdown. The books were Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained.

• • •

Sarah Potter ’77, Bookstore Director:

In an attempt to stay ahead of my son in our informal competition to read as many books as we can from 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (by Peter Ackroyd and Peter Boxall), I have read these titles recently and can recommend them:

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
This 1932 parody is a perfectly hilarious read. What’s not to love about cows named Feckless and Graceless, eccentric and charming human characters and the anticipation of “something nasty in the woodshed?” I agree with the reviewer who described the novel as a slapstick comedy of manners. I may need to see the movie now!

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
A remarkable story that I will need to read again, I think. Such a compelling first line: “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God;”
The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate,Nancy Mitford
A satirization of British aristocracy in the 1920’s and ’30s.

And in pursuit of my dream of coastal living, this summer I will read Sailing Days on the Penobscot by George Savary Wasson and immerse myself in life on the Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay at a time when the sailing industry was booming. Beyond Concord: Selected Writings of David Atwood Wasson,edited by Charles H. Foster, is also on my reading stack to tackle. This Wasson is the father of George and was a contemporary of Emerson and Thoreau, described as a “transcendentalist with a difference.” I hope I’m up to the task!

I’ll revisit E.B. White’s Essays, too.

• • •

Zach Potter, Bookstore alumnus:

Never Let Me Go
, Kazuo Ishiguro

Desert island reading: East of Eden, John Steinbeck.

• • •

Jack Pribram, Professor of Physics:

A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888–1889,Frederic Morton
An idiosyncratic telling of a year in the life of the city and the Hapsburg empire with the brilliant Crown Prince Rudolph as the central personality. A year where the older Brahms, Bruckner and Johann Strauss are still creative, and the younger Freud, Herzl, Klimt and Mahler are struggling to define their life work. A remarkable year with turning points that will affect the early 20th century.

Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma, Jeremy Bernstein
Very readable. A full-length book written in the style of New Yorker profile (Bernstein did write many profiles). Bernstein is an excellent physicist and writer, knew Oppenheimer and was puzzled by the combination of brilliance and arrogance. There is emphasis on the remarkable physics programs he helped develop at Cal Tech and Berkeley in the 1930s, on his leadership of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s and on his security clearance trial during the height of the McCarthy era frenzy of the early 1950s.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, Bill Bryson
Just started this, but a hilarious description of growing up in one kind of America in the 1950s.

• • •

George Purgavie, Associate Professor, Physical Education:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
, Ishmael Beah
Very compelling book.

• • •

Lorelei Purrington, Area Coordinator, Pettengill Hall

Excellent memoirs:
Seed of Sarah, Judith Magyar Isaacson ’65
A memoir of Judith’s experience in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Amazing, sparkling woman who was a Bates College dean of students in our recent past.

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
A memoir of a white woman who was raised in Africa from the time she was 2 years old. The book is about her survival with wild Africa and with her unique, unconventional family.

Rita Will, Rita Mae Brown
Bestselling author of a number of books who is known for her political activism in the Civil Rights movement and the Gay Liberation movement and the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
An author who relates her amazing strength growing up in a very dysfunctional family. She manages to do so with a great sense of humor in such a sad situation.

Incredible, suspenseful novels that you cannot put down:

The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald and
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruis Zafon

Thank you Melinda Plastas for suggesting the following fantastic books:
Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner

Desert island reading:Clan of the Cave Bear series, Jean Auel

• • •

Kirk Read, Associate Professor of French:

My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prudhomme
This is a great book about this wonderful woman whom (sadly) many only know from Dan Ackroyd’s hilarious impersonation on Saturday Night Live. It is a love song to good food, France and her husband. The photographs, mostly by her husband, are truly wonderful. You will want to hop on a jet immediately and start eating.

Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky
I am still reading it but really love it. It may have been recommended before as I have several colleagues who have told me about it, assuming that I had read it. I am finally getting around to it and greatly enjoy both the story of exiled Parisian families in World War II France and the style which is reminiscent of the best of Balzac and Flaubert: keen observations on the human condition. French or English: same title! No one will know you’re reading in translation!

Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman.
Steamy summer reading. It is about longing, crushing and consumating and then more longing. And the cover is unassuming enough that you won’t have to cover the book in brown paper at Popham. The relationship ignites in an Italian, Mediterranean household of academics between the oldest son and a graduate student come to Italy to translate his dissertation for publication. The relationships between all of the colorful characters are well drawn and the romantic and erotic attachments, while mostly gay in this context, are often universal. The father-son relationship is truly wonderful. And everyone is fluent in Italian, French and English, and the son relaxes by transcribing Haydn sonatas and Latin poetry. He is a one-man humanities General Education Concentration.

The Last Life,Claire Messud
A nice companion to Call Me By Your Name. More Mediterranean shenanigans in a family that runs a hotel on the Riviera. Another colorful cast of characters. A wonderful coming of age story about a girl with a handicapped brother, philandering father, long-suffering mother, wacky American cousins and a grandfather fond of gun-play. Beautifully written and observed. I liked it much better than Messud’s latest, acclaimed novel, The Emperor’s Children, which was populated by lots of people I really couldn’t care less about.

Desert island reading: I would take David Sedaris’s Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day. I would rather die laughing than crying, I suppose. The essays are short and you could probably finish one before the shark did fatal damage. I know people who can recite Sedaris sentence by sentence like Bible verse. I have an aging mind like a sieve which, happily in this case, means that Mr. Sedaris is fresh every time I reread!

• • •

Julie Retelle, Assistant College Librarian for Access Services:

Deception Point, Dan Brown. Great suspense, as usual!

• • •

Julie Rosenbach, Environmental Coordinator:

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
It’s great. I would recommend it to folks.

• • •

Michael Sargent, Associate Professor of Psychology:

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
This wide-ranging and boldly written book is recommended to all independent thinkers. In addition to reviewing — and rebutting — various arguments for the existence of God (meaning a personal, supernatural god), Dawkins also describes reasons that a belief in God is unnecessary — unnecessary in accounting for the existence of the universe and of life itself and unnecessary in order to live a moral life. (And if you’re thinking, “What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?” then be sure to read his Chapter 8, titled “What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?”)

Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind, Simon Baron-Cohen
A very quick read (you can probably finish in one evening) that describes Baron-Cohen’s ideas on what psychological mechanisms are required in order for one individual to understand the mental processes of other individuals and which of these component processes he thinks are absent in some autistic individuals.

The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport, David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt, Stacey L. Brook

If you liked Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, then you’ll like this one too. Berri et al. are economists who apply econometric analyses to such questions as “Who’s the most valuable player in the NBA in any given year?” and “Who’s more valuable — Kobe or Shaq?” and “How much value (in wins) do high baseball payrolls actually purchase?” and “How are quarterbacks like mutual funds” (also a chapter title of theirs). For the right kind of sports fan, this could be a fun read.

• • •

Paula Schlax, Associate Professor of Chemistry:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
A great first novel.

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
The well written.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
A terrific and beautiful graphic novel.

and Love that Dog by Creech
Perfect for elementary school students.

Love, Rosie
, Cecelia Ahern
Very light but fun.

I also read a lot of Alice Munro on Sanford’s recommendation and enjoyed her work very much.

• • •

Sagaree Sengupta, Lecturer in Asian Studies:

Desert island reading
: On a desert island, I’d want something with me that would be very difficult to read, in order to keep my mind occupied — something that would help me structure my days, that would give me hope and amazement. The Rig Veda, with its myriads of vanished nature-gods, questions about the mysteries of the universe, and admiration of colorful cattle herds, is a natural choice. (Isn’t it?) Since my own Vedic Sanskrit is not very good, I’d keep busy on my island decoding the commentaries on each verse. And any time life got really strange, the Rig Veda would always have something stranger and more wonderful to offer. Wendy Doniger’s Penguin paperback, The Rig Veda: An Anthology of One Hundred Eight Hymns is recommended for those not prepared to dive into Vedic Sanskrit.

My 8-year old recommends There’s a Chef in my Soup by Emeril Lagasse. It’s a children’s cookbook with really tasty food in it that certain adults could enjoy too. The instructions and layout are really clear, and the ingredients in the recipes are decent. My daughter says it would be good on a desert island because “there is lots of stuff in it to memorize and it has tons of recipes.” She points out that the few recipes she’s tried have been very good.

Other recent leisure reading I can heartily recommend, on a desert island or not:

Assassinating Shakespeare: The True Confessions of a Bard in the Bush, Thomas Goltz
The well-known war correspondent of Chechnya Diary, etc., reveals his most amazing youthful adventures. Goltz hitchhiked through Africa after college performing impromptu Shakespeare with puppets he carved himself — no kidding! Technically, he was looking for his sibling-rival brother, who was also traveling in Africa, but with a guitar. He does find the brother, finally, but their eventual meeting is a minor event compared to the other close encounters Goltz has with locals, ex-pats, civil conflict and the law. The account is almost a textbook of what not to do when abroad, nevertheless it is a boon that Goltz did not throw his travel journals into the Avon river (as he almost did) once he returned to Europe.

Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert
Speaking of youthful indiscretions — reading it for the first time I was blown away by Flaubert’s crystal-clear observations of the many shadings of sexual passion, the having and not of money, the workings of class, the details of the 1848 uprising, the realities of politics…all folded into a story you want to follow wherever it leads. My copy was the Penguin translation by Robert Baldick. Worth carrying on a trip, if only to the beach.

• • •

Lavina Shankar, Associate Professor of English:

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
, John Grogan

• • •

Beth Sheppard, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs:

I’ve had lots of time to read this year, and lots of wonderful friends have supplied me with books. I am grateful to all of them except the person who introduced me to the work of James Patterson (Jack and Jill, Along Came a Spider, Beach Road, et al.). I am appalled to admit to having gobbled up a couple dozen Patterson thrillers. Thanks a bunch, buddy. (You know who you are.)

I’ve also discovered (and read everything by) Elizabeth Berg and Chris Bohjalian this year. Especially loved Berg’s The Art of Mendingand Bohjalian’s Before You Know Kindness, both of which deal with family loyalties. Another great book about families is The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home. A nonfiction account of the author’s family’s New England summer house, it covers history, architecture, sailing, local politics, reading lists, family stories, building techniques, economics — fascinating stuff. I read it twice then bought copies for several people on my Christmas list.

Based on recommendations from last year’s list, I read Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex and loved it for all the reasons that everyone mentioned last year: It is a novel of amazing depth and breadth. Put off by hermaphrodites? Don’t be. Finally, a more personal choice: I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wantedand ALS, by the late Darcy Wakefield ’92.

• • •

Anthony Shostak, Education Coordinator, Museum of Art:

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
, William McDonough and Michael Braungart
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan

• • •

Bonnie Shulman, Associate professor of Mathematics:

I have recently been introduced to Lois McMaster Bujold, an award-winning science fiction writer, and her hero Miles Vorkosigan. There are many books in the series, and fans argue over which is the best order to read them in. You can check out this Wikipedia article for more details. Bujold’s writing is wonderful, loaded with humor, wisdom, compassion and well-researched. She gets her biology, physics, mathematics, psychology, medicine right, and weaves intelligent consideration of profound ethical issues deftly into her exciting stories. Each volume is a page turner, but not like reading the same book over and over. The characters evolve and develop, and the themes change.

I also highly recommend the short stories of Alice Munro, in particular the volume Runaway. Munro’s prose is delicious, and she is a master of the short story genre. In Runaway she paints portraits of women of all ages and their relationships with their families, friends, lovers and themselves, always with an unexpected twist. Even though the circumstances are sometimes strange and haunting, I feel like I’ve met these people, they are so real.

• • •

Sara Stone ’06, VISTA:

The Culture of Make Believe
, Derrick Jensen
Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution, Derrick Jensen

I have found the writing of Derrick Jensen, my new favorite author, very engaging and thought-provoking. If you’re looking for an “escape,” this probably isn’t the choice for you, but if you’re looking for something interesting and challenging to dig into, check out these books!

• • •

Sawyer Sylvester, Professor of Sociology:

Letter of the Century
, Lisa Grunwald and Stephen Adler
From the first letter, written in 1900 by Joel Chandler Harris, in which he says of letters that in them “we commit our thoughts, as it were, to the winds,” to the last letter in 1999 from a married woman who wistfully confesses she has an online lover, the letters in the book, of the famous and the less so, hold a mirror up to what we have been.

The Victory of Reason, Rodney Stark
Stark claims that the rationalism characteristic of Christianity as a whole, and not just of Protestantism, led to the West’s technological, political and economic supremacy. I think Max Weber would take more convincing.

After Elizabeth, Leanda de Lisle
De Lisle offers a rich account of the political storm that raged in England after the reign of Elizabeth and of the successful passage through the storm to the throne by James (of doubtful ability and even more doubtful morality). He still was once called “the wisest fool in Christendom”— and there was the book that he commissioned, which just might make it on to my “desert island” list.

Amo, Amas, Amat…and All That, Harry Mount
If the terms “passive periphrastic” and “ablative absolute” still chill your blood, you must have taken high school Latin. (You would have done better to wait and come to Bates.) Mount claims that his humorous review of the essentials will exorcise the remaining demons. I haven’t quite finished it, so we’ll see.

Jacquard’s Web, James Essinger
A short time after I arrived in Lewiston, I visited one of the abandoned textile mills which still had a power loom with a Jacquard head. This was a device into which was fed a series of heavy, punched fiberboard cards that caused the warp threads to be raised and lowered in a planned sequence so that the shuttle would weave patterns. It was an invention of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, and Essinger has traced the idea behind it from the loom to the Hollerith card to the first modern IBM computer.

The Book of Lost Books, Stuart Kelly
My final book selection is the story of the ones that got away. In an age when our friendly (for now) electronic servants remember so much, we tend to be unaware of how many manuscripts have gone missing, how many sequels didn’t follow, how many libraries just couldn’t find that last copy of that last book. Kelly offers examples from 80 or so authors in what he calls “An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You’ll Never Read.”

• • •

Anne Thomson, Professor Emerita of English:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan
I’m sure this will be on other folks’ list as well, but I can’t recommend it too highly. It’s nonfiction but reads with all the narrative pull of a thriller. I thought I already knew about the evils of corn — as seen in the prevalence of high-fructose corn syrup in just about everything — but the story turns out to be much more complicated, starting in 1947 when munitions plants had to decide what to do with the surplus ammonium nitrate used to make explosives. They began turning it into chemical fertilizer, which revolutionized the agricultural industry by making cheap corn the most profitable crop ever grown. So what’s wrong with that? Read the book and find out, but one overwhelming fact is that it takes enormous amounts of fossil fuels both to produce that corn and get it to our supermarkets. The chapter on “big organic” is a further revelation, not cheery, about the degree to which the success of chains like Whole Foods rests on bad farming practices. Let me emphasize, however, that reading this book is not depressing, just enthralling and informative, especially in the third chapter where Pollan describes a small organic farm in Virginia that will make you wish you could head down there for a visit tomorrow.

The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
Set in the 1980s in Kalimpong, a part of northeast India bordering Nepal, at a time of growing unrest. I love books that tell me something new about the world, and I knew virtually nothing about the history of this area. This novel, which won the 2006 Booker Prize, is also a terrific read, though at times it’s almost unbearably sad as it traces the fortunes of the many characters who are dealing with all the tensions and losses attendant on their post-colonial world. The humor and the small but real glimpse of light in the darkness keep you going, more because of the resilience and humanity of the characters than because of any great hope for a better future.

Finally (this is a plug for the Good Reads list!), if there’s anyone who hasn’t yet read Edward P. Jones’ The Known World, a novel set just before the Civil War in Virginia about a freed African American who himself becomes a slave-owner, it’s a must-read. When I saw that it had been recommended on the two previous lists, I decided to follow up — hope others will do the same.

• • •

Bonnie Trundy, Assistant to the Director, Office of Career Services:

Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, Jimmy Carter
Madame Secretary, Madeleine Albright
Saving Graces, Elizabeth Edwards
Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody
Rosa Lee, Leon Dash
What Can One Person Do? Sabina Alkire and Edmund Newell
An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore
Girl with Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

• • •

Pat Webber, Archivist, Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library:

The Inimitable Jeeves or Wodehouse on Golf, P.G. Wodehouse
Very smooth, very dry, and very funny.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
Book on which the movie Blade Runner is based. Reads a little dated now, but is still a classic story of paranoia and questioning who one really is.

• • •

Leigh Weisenburger, Assistant Dean of Admissions:

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
The Homeowners Guide to Energy Independence: Alternative Power Sources for the Average American, Christine Woodside

• • •

Andrew W. White, Director of Academic Technology:

Ghosts of Spain, Guy Tremlett
One anglosajon‘s view of life in post-Franco Spain

Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky
Beautifully written, heartbreaking and truncated chronicle of life in World War II France.

English, August, Upamanyu Chatterjee
Twentysomething angst transcends cultural boundaries.

Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
Excellent company during the long winter evenings

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Michael Chabon
Isaac Bashevis Singer crossed with Philip Marlowe.

Desert island reading: While this is cheating somewhat, I’d select all 12 volumes of Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. I’ve always wanted to read this saga, but could never find the time to commit; being stranded without any distraction except survival seems the optimal time. Would I have an espresso machine?

• • •

Gene Wiemers ,Vice President for Information and Library Services and Librarian:

For some readers who might want to mix mystery with the intricacies of book conservation or art detection, a couple of suggestions from the librarian geek in me. The Sixteen Pleasures, Robert R. Hellenga (New York: Soho, 1994) Blends romance and the intricacies of book and manuscript conservation. No kidding. Set in the aftermath of the Florence flood of 1966, it shows how saving manuscripts can be redemptive in other ways. Readers may be familiar with Jonathan Harr’s book A Civil Action, based on fact and later transformed into a movie. His book The Lost Painting (New York: Random House, 2005) tells the story of the discovery and authentication of a lost Caravaggio, now on view in Dublin. A surprising mystery read, hard to put down, with some extremely attractive smart people — and a rogue or two as well.

• • •

Dick Williamson, Professor Emeritus of French:

In retirement mode, I have read much this year. My first choice:

Skylight Confessions, Alice Hoffmann
Another superb novel by Hoffmann.

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
About the different and challenging life of a young Greek American who is a s/he growing up in Grosse Pointe, Mich., in the ’60s and ’70s.

For beach or deck reading: any novel by Carl Hiaasen, and Bill Buford’s
Heat about his apprenticeship in Italian kitchens and in a Tuscan butchershop.

Desert island reading: My book(s) for a lonely, lovely isle is, indeed, Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu. It has everything one could ask for in literature, and one can recommence the novel with Du côté de chez Swann as soon as one has finished Le temps retrouvé.

• • •

LaVerne Winn, Science Reference Librarian:

Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side, Rose Cohen
(Cornell University Press, 1995)
Written in 1918, this is a memoir of a young girl and her family’s experiences in New York’s Jewish Community. There is no grand, triumphant success story but a simple recounting of her life up to young adulthood, working from the age of 14, sewing coat sleeves, her struggle to get an education. I found it mesmerizing.

• • •

Phyllis Wisher, Security Officer:

The Four Agreements
by Don Miguel Ruiz
This book has taught me so much about myself.

• • •

Wayne Zimmerman, Associate Director of Advancement Services:

The Monkey Wrench Gang, John Abbey.
One of my all time favorite book, it’s a sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing work of fiction set in the American Southwest. While at its deepest level, it is a “man against the machine” story, on the surface it is an entertaining story about four well-intentioned but misguided people trying to change the world, or save the world — it’s your call. It’s one of a very small number of books that I reach for even though I have read it many times before. It is not War and Peace but it’s an enjoyable read and even has a message or two.

View Comments