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01 Apr '13

2013 Summer Reading List

Posted by Sarah Potter

Welcome to the 17th annual Bates College Store "Good Reads" list!

We invite you to browse and enjoy.  We hope you'll find the perfect summer reading on this list.  As always, we are eager to hear your thoughts!

 Receiving 3 or more recommendations on the 17th annual list!

Bring Up the Bodies (Hillary Mandel)

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)

My Beloved World (Sonya Sotomayor)

Salvage the Bones (Jesmyn Ward)

State of Wonder (Ann Patchett)

Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)

When We Were the Kennedys (Monica Wood)

Wild (Cheryl Strayed)

 

Submissions are listed alphabetically by surname of the submitter.  In an effort to conserve paper, we have condensed the list with very little regard for design or spacing!  We apologize for overcrowding, typographical errors or other misrepresentations.

Speaks the Nightbird, The Queen of Bedlam, Mister Slaughter, The

Providence Rider by Robert McCammon

This is a mystery series set in the early 1700's.  Young Matthew Corbett starts out as Clerk to a Magistrate in South Carolina, and ends up as a "Problem Solver" (i.e. detective) in New York City.  The characters are well-developed and quirky, the mysteries are compelling, and Matthew himself is young, witty and finding his way as we all do - maybe less gracefully than some of us do.  It does get violent, but otherwise it's a fun series.

State of Wonder by Anne Patchett

Another mystery with some biology in it.  A young scientist who works for a drug devo company goes off to the jungles of Brazil to find her Ph.D. mentor who has disappeared there.  The mentor is supposed to be developing a drug that the company has great interest in.  Discovering what she is actually doing proves to be quite an adventure.  It kept me reading on a long plane ride, although it was not my favorite read of the year.

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

I liked this book way more than I thought I would.  It's a true story about the author, a journalist who gets interested in exploring memory (mostly because his own is so bad) and sets off to learn more about the people who compete in "memory competitions" (you know, the folks who can memorize the random order of a deck of cards or a list of 2000 times in 3 minutes).  So ultimately Foer decides to compete himself (and describing his year of preparation makes up a good part of the book), but first he describes some of the psychology, neurobiology and experiential stuff that we know about the brain, memory and learning.  It was an easy, interesting read with a conclusion that made me feel good about my own (somewhat questionable) memory.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

This is the second in Follet's Century Trilogy (the first is Fall of Giants) and it picks up where the first book left off.  Follett follows 5 families from America, Germany, Wales, Russia and England through WWI in the first book and WWII in the second installment.  With these strangely connected families, we see the Nazis, the Spanish Civil War, the rise of women, the atomic bombs, and much more.  This is the kind of historical fiction that takes you through the high points through the eyes of fictional characters (which is probably like learning about virology by reading "The Demon in the Freezer", but I'm OK with that).  The trilogy is typical of Follett's epic novels, and I will certainly read the third part when it comes out. 

     Lee Abrahamsen, Associate Professor of Biology

 

 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys  

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I laughed, cried and thought at times, I was losing my mind too.

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillmanby Jon Krakauer

Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army and became an icon of post-9/11 patriotism. When he was killed in Afghanistan two years later, a legend was born. But the real Pat Tillman was much more remarkable, and considerably more complicated than the public knew...

Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Don Fendler and Joseph B. Egan

I read this with my 8 year old and recommend it to all Mainiacs!

     Sheila Anderson, Asst. Director, Operations and Analysis, Bates Career Dev. Center

 

The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth.  A multi-generational novel tracing the melancholy fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

     Martin Andrucki, Professor of Theater

 

I just read the sweetest little book.  It's Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott.  Not deep, just a quick, uplifting, rambling set of thoughts about what praying means to the author.    

Jenny Bergeron (lab rat with us this spring/summer) recommends Doomsday Book by Connie Willis and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  

I'm reading the Sonya Sotomayor autobiography My Beloved World which I am enjoying very much.  I completely related to her experience being the first generation in her family to go to college.  

      Linda Archambault, Lab Research Assistant, Dana Chemistry

 

I thought the three books by Oliver Potzsch about the hangman's daughter were a fun read. Mystery books which they take place during a bloody time in Europe's history. 

The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughters Tale

The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman's Daughters Tale

The Beggar King: A Hangman's Daughters Tale

     Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir, Associate Professor, Department of Politics

 

Chris Ware, Building Stories

     John Baughman, Associate Professor of Politics/Advisor to the President

 

Lisa Genova, Bates grad, is an incredible writer. Still Alice and Left Neglected would still be recommended by me, and now her third novel, Love, Anthony...is a wonderful read. You literally can't put her books down, they are written with such style and knowledge that it is hard to believe they are fiction...I highly recommend all three books.

As always, anything written by Tess Gerritsen if you like murder mysteries...and she lives in Maine!

     Jane Bedard, Admission Office Specialist-Operations

 

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Four Hour Work Weekby Timothy Ferriss
Stardust(audiobook) Written and Narrated by Neil Gaiman
Ulysses (audiobook) Written by James Joyce, Narrated by Jim Norton
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
     Rachel Boggia, Assistant Professor of Dance

 

Here are two suggestions from my Hungarian summer:
Dezső Kosztolányi, Skylark (NYRB Classics 2010)
Sándor Márai, Embers (Vintage 2002)
Raluca Cernahoschi, Assistant Professor of German

 

When We Were the Kennedy's by Monica Wood

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

     Kristen Cloutier, HCCP, Asst. Director of Center Operations

 

This is my lone recommendation: 

Nurture Shock:New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Emily Merryman

     Daphne Comeau, Administrative Assistant, Annual Giving

 

Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.  Harrowing and deeply committed work that crosses genres and media, between Hedges' impassioned histories/interviews and Sacco's graphic-novel illustrations:  native communities in the Dakotas, corrupt and imploding New Jersey urban cores, devastated mountain tops in West Virginia... and it all ends with the Occupy Movement.  I'd say it's depressing but it's not:  it's a work of passionate energy and truth-telling.

Geoff Dyer, Zona.  Any Tarkovsky fans out there?  Watch Stalker and then read this amazing book.... scene-by-scene and marvelous digressions that take you deep into the movie and into Dyer's life and sensibility.

Cheryl Strayed, Wild.  Much more about the wilderness in Strayed's troubled soul than the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail, but a great and funny read, especially when she's falling over because she can't pick up her 100-pound backpack.

     Jane Costlow, Clark A. Griffiths Professor of Environmental Studies

 

Blackout/All Clear (published two volumes) - Connie Willis

The last two (of four) books in the Oxford Time Travel Series primarily set in WWII during the blitz.  (A few years ago Lee A. recommended The Doomsday Book which is the first in this series.)

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

A dystopian novel, originally published in the mid-80s, that explores the subjugation of women.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Fun book for anyone who loves pop culture and video games from the 1980s.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
An 11-year old aspiring chemist solves a murder.
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
A classic worthy of another read.
Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
Nonfiction about the 1893 World's Fair and a serial killer.

     Grace Coulombe, Director, Mathematics & Statistics Workshop

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Interesting true story about a young woman with nothing left to lose and her struggle to hike over a 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Since I am an avid hiker and outdoors person, I especially liked this book but I think anyone can appreciate the difficulties life brings and our efforts to overcome obstacles.

Sisters of the Quilt by Cindy Woodsmall -- trilogy about the pull between Old Order Amish life, Mennonite life and the modern world. Great, well developed characters, interesting story. Easy read.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day, by Katrina Kennison. A mother's memoir about the importance of the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life. 

When Women were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. Another non-fiction (New Year’s resolution to read more non-fiction...) about a woman finding her voice and paying tribute to her mother and all women. Williams taught a class in non-fiction nature writing last spring at Dartmouth. My daughter remains awestruck.

     Karen P. Daigler, Senior Associate Director for Graduate and Professional School Advising

 

A High Wind in Jamaica (Richard Hughes)

The Judges of the Secret Court (David Stacton)

     David Das, Assistant Director of Off-campus Studies

 

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson...Someone previously recommended this in one of your former lists.  It is an excellent portrait of the movement of African Americans out of the deep south to the northern states between WWI and the 1960's.

The Patriarch- the biography of Joseph Kennedy by David Nasaw.  A thorough and fascinating history of the Kennedy clan.

The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor. The biography of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and the recovery of some of his stolen works (by the Nazis in WWII.)

Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson.  A wonderful look at Hemingway's Cuban years and his special love for his fishing boat Pilar.

     Jerry Davis, Class of ‘61

 

Books I have enjoyed this year include:

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibigiza

I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

When We Were the Kennedys and Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood

Wild by Charyl Strayed

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

     Marty Deschaines, Assistant Director, HCCP

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s the story of a young German girl caught in the path of the advancing Nazi regime during World War II. 

The story instantly travels you back to the time of WWII and holds your attention the whole way through. This book has a little bit of something for everyone. At some points it's haunting, some parts are extremely funny, and then of course there is the unbearably sad and heartbreaking parts as well. 

     Donna Duval, Asst. to AVP for Development

I would not have thought I'd like them but when my nephew recommended the Hunger Games series I started reading them.  I found them to be one of the quickest reads as the first person narrative really sucked me in.  Although I read The Healing of America by T. R. Reid in 2011, I did not turn it in last year and thought it was worth a mention.  If anyone needs convincing how upside down the U.S. Healthcare system is the Healing of America is a must read.  The author takes a journey to several other countries to explore how their health system works and what treatment they would recommend and cover for his ailing shoulder.  Where he found the care that best suited his needs (and the cost of that care) was an interesting highlight of his journey.
     Ken Emerson, Associate Director of Human Resources

 

Cleo: Helen Brown 

It's a true story about life/love and grief after her son dies.

Waterlily: Ella Cara Deloria

A novel on Indian Life (Dakota Sioux) just as the European settlers arrived. Written by a Sioux Enthologist in the 1940's, printed 18 years after her death. A real insight  into the beliefs  and culture of the Native American.

Princeton Murders: Ann Waldron

Fast moving mystery, great for a vacation. It's about a chance to teach a writing class at Princeton. It has all the diversity in faculty, staff and students all colleges have, making it a good read.

The War Brides: Helen Bryan

A different take on WWII in 1939, when 5 women's lives collide in a sleepy english village.

Knockdown: Sarah Graves

A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery- set in Eastport, ME

White Dog Fell From the Sky: Eleanor Morse

In an intense novel set in 1977, Botswana and South Africa, it brings home the message that our memories, love and hope cannot be beaten out of human spirit.

     Melinda Emerson, Purchasing, Sales and Accounting Specialist - ILS

 

The Man Watching:  Anson Dorrance and the UNC Women's Soccer Dynasty by Tim Crothers - A very insightful biography of Anson Dorrance, winner of 21 NCAA National Championship's as Head Coach of the University of North Carolina.  A very good read and certainly can be enjoyed by both soccer fans and non-soccer fans.  It deals with coaching, leadership, the relationships in sport and some interesting gender issues.  Dorrance describes a lot of the differences in leading men and women, and his personal evolution as he adjusted away from leading groups of young men to women.  He also gives his account of the Title IX revolution in college sports and admission, and played a key role as the USA rose from newcomers to being a world power in women's soccer.

     Stewart Flaherty, Head Coach, Men’s Soccer

Two time-travel novels (one is a sequel of the other) by Connie Willis:
Blackout, and All Clear
They are a wonderful evocation of the time when Britain stood alone against Hitler, before the U.S. joined her in World War II.
Lois Griffiths, Alumna and Retiree

 

Coe, Lewis.  The Telegraph: A History of Morse's Invention and Its Predecessors in the United StatesMacFarland and Company. 2003.
Dray, Philip.  Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America.  Random House. 2005.
Frost, Randy O. & Gail Steketee.  Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.
Mariner Books. 2012.
Hayes, Christopher.  Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy.  Crown Publishers. 2012.
Morse, Flo.  The Shakers and the World’s People.  University Press of New England. 1980.

     David Haines, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

 

Here are my two cents on two books:

Ruth Moore, The Weir.

This novel was written in the early 1940s by a wonderful Maine author. Take some time during your summer daydreams about island life to read about families fishing and fighting on a fictional Maine island. The novel is rich with its descriptions of the small details of relationships and the big questions about what holds a community together. 

Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs.

Maybe it's because, like me, he's a guy in his 40s with kids just shy of their teens, but I don't think the appeal of these essays is so small. He can write so deftly and eloquently about so many things, and his wit about contemporary life and his wisdom about the complex makes thinking recreational (in both meanings of the word).

Enjoy your reads, and have fun stocking the shelves.

     Joe Hall, Associate Professor of History

 

An echo to what must to be many recommendations for Monica Wood's When We were the Kennedys, phenomenal writing while it captures Maine and a piece of Maine heritage. 

     Judy Head, Associate Dean of the Faculty

 

Helen Hamlin, Nine Mile Bridge.  A lovely account of far northwestern Maine in the 1920’s as the wife of a game warden.

Barton Gellman,  Angler: the Cheney Vice Presidency.  An account of Cheney’s profound influence, little understood at the time, on war, the environment, and government finances.  In some ways Cheney comes across as less unprincipled—he apparently had no personal financial gain from the Halliburton no-bid contracts in Iraq, for example, when many assumed he got rich from those contracts.   But in other ways Cheney profoundly suborned the Republic by secretly sabotaging environmental legislation, creating no-warrant spying on American citizens, no-charges imprisonments at Gitmo, secret CIA prisons, and rewriting tax legislation to lower corporate, income and capital gains taxes that fueled America’s gulfs in income and budget woes.

David Traxel,  An American Saga: The Life and Times of Rockwell Kent.  An iconic 20th century painter known for his paintings of Monhegan Island, he was also a political radical who paid for his views during the McCarthy era, an unrepentant realist as abstract art became popular, and a most unreliable spouse.   Drawn to demanding physical environments, he painted in Alaska and Greenland as well as Maine.

Thomas E. Mann & Norman J. Ornstein: It's Even Worse Than It Looks : How The American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics.   An account from two observers of American politics, one at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the other at the liberal Brookings Institution.  Their thesis is that the tactic of resistance by the Republican Right to all proposals by President Obama has significantly crippled America’s ability to make decisions on almost everything. 

Pete Seeger:   Pete Seeger : In His Own Words.  Pete, now almost 100, has become the old man of American folk music, leftist international politics and river environmentalism.  A pack-rat, Pete saved copies of everything, and this book is a rambling collection of his letters, articles and songs.  Not a book to describe as “I couldn’t put it down,” but his accounts of resisting Joe McCarthy and HUAC in the 1950’s and his journey from communism to a more balanced internationalism are worth reading.  His great contribution may be the evolution of folk music into a medium of international understanding.

Sue Hubbell: A Book of Bees and A Country Year: Living the Questions.  Sue Hubbell would fit right into a MOFGA convention, though she raises bees commercially in the Ozarks.  An unrepentant back-to-the-land hippie, she is a marvelous, gentle, astute writer.  Both these books follow the cycle of the seasons, and can be read in an afternoon. 

Elie Wiesel: Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea.   Known as a Holocaust survivor and novelist, Wiesel was raised in the devout mystical Hasidim of Eastern Europe and spent decades as an international journalist for Jewish papers.  A longish book, more reminiscing than tightly edited, but touching, especially his comments on world events and major players (many of whom he knew) of the eight decades since his boyhood.

Don Perkins: The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Stories.  Perkins' book on Maine barns, just out, is a parallel to the well-known book on New England residential architecture, Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn.  Perkins' book is straightforward and descriptive, using particular barns from around the state to explain how different farm needs from mixed agriculture to dairy to potatoes led to variations in barn design.  Lots of photos to help the uninformed understand such terms as a "jowled post"--a vertical timber made from a single tree trunk turned upside down to get a thicker surface at the top, with the stump carved to create a wide space to tie other beams into one spot for support.  The peak of Maine farming was in 1880, but there are still a few immense agricultural barns being raised, most recently by Amish families moving into northern Maine for its affordable land.

     Bill Hiss ’66, Retired, and looking forward to more reading!

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

     Aislinn Hougham, Leadership Gifts Officer


Got a list for you this year:

Inn Boonsboro Series by Nora Roberts

Next Always

The Last Boyfriend

The Perfect Hope

Betrayal by Danielle Steels
The Innocent by David Baldacci

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Summer of Two Wishes by Julia London

All very different genres but most very good!!
Joan Houston, Administrative Assistant - Facility Services

 

My contributions for the year (I was on sabbatical):
Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master's Son
Candace Millard, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
Erik Larson, In the Garden of the Beasts
Erik Larson, Thunderstruck
Jon Sweeney, The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation
Eric Jay Dolan, When America First Met China
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Patrick McGovern, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages
     Jim Hughes,  Thomas Sowell Professor of Economics

 

I'd recommend, as a great beach book, the River of No Return, by Bee Ridgeway. It's a great romp through 18th-century England with an interesting sci-fi, time-travel twist. 

     Margaret Imber, Associate Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies

 

I've recently read three books by Maine author Paul Doiron who will be visiting campus on 12 June 2013.

The books are: The Poacher's Son, Trespasser and Bad Little Falls:  A Novel.  He has a new book coming out on 6 July 2013 titled, Massacre Pond: A Novel.

As soon as I finished one book, I had to start the next one right away.  The books are about a Maine State Warden, the situations he has to deal with and, of course, a little romance.

His books are very well written and informative.  I can't wait for the next one---very difficult to put down.

     Rachel Jacques, Assistant to the VP for ILS

 

I have five: three are books I'm eagerly anticipating spending time with this summer, two more are books - recently published by Bates authors - that I've already read in drafts from their inceptions.

The first - strongly recommended to me by my daughter - just won this year's Pulitzer Prize for biography.  It is Tom Reiss's The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.  The second may be the most important book of the past twenty years on the U.S. war in Vietnam, Nick Turse's Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.  The third is a new biography of my second cousin twice removed, Barbara Ransby's Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.

The fourth and fifth are wonderful books by Bates graduates who were my students, research assistants, and honors advisees as undergraduates in the mid-late 1990s, before they became American History professors themselves.  They are Eben Miller's Born Along the Color Line: The 1933 Amenia Conference and the Rise of a National Civil Rights Movement and Erik Gellman's Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights.

    Hilmar Jensen, Associate Professor of History

 

The World Without You: A Novelby Joshua Henkin

A family with four adult children gathers for a weekend in Western Massachusetts to memorialize the youngest, a journalist who was killed a year earlier while on assignment in Iraq. Fine writing coupled with all the filial drama you might expect under such circumstances provides a powerful reading experience.

     Phyllis Graber Jensen,  Director, Photography and Video

 

Here are two non-fiction and two fiction suggestions from among many books I enjoyed this year.

Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs and the Micropolitics of Mothering (by Cameron MacDonald). This is an interview study exploring the lives of upper income professional women (largely white and heterosexually partnered) and the nannies (often lower income women of color, sometimes documented or undocumented immigrants) they employ. The analysis is thoughtful in its attention to the intersecting effects of gender inequality, racial inequality, class inequality and national/international public policy in shaping the daily lives of the families in the study.

Unequal Childhoods (by Annette Lareau, second edition). This observational study of how social class shapes parenting strategies in a manner that reproduces class inequality and unfairly privileges middle and upper middle class kids came out about 10 years ago, but the new edition is very recent. Lareau updates the stories of the families most centrally featured in the book, including attention to the children’s experiences as they grew to young adulthood. I used it in a course of mine this fall and students from a wide range of class backgrounds found the analysis provocative, and it has lots of implications for public policy and public life.

The Train of Small Mercies (by David Rowell). I enjoyed the way this novel captured a critical moment in US history, the assassination of RFK and the events of the broader set of events of the summer of 1968, by tracing the stories of fictional characters from varying backgrounds who all intersected with the funeral train that carried Bobby Kennedy’s body from  New York to Washington.

State of Wonder (by Anne Patchett). In this novel, Patchett follows the path of a US pharmaceutical researcher who is drawn into the Amazon rainforest to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a colleague. The story is compelling, and along the way she highlights the tensions of globalization and imperial power as they intersect with gendered patterns.

     Emily Kane, Professor of Sociology

 

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (I haven't read the rest yet, but if they're as good as this one the entire "Songs of Ice and Fire" series by George R. R. Martin can go on the list)

Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle (This is part of a series of which I haven't read the others, but if you like this one the others may be worth trying)

Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Animal Farm by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Anything by the following authors:

Susan Kenney (Graves in Academe, Garden of Malice, etc.)

Agatha Christie (Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express are my favorites, but all of her mysteries are great)

Hennig Mankell (The Kurt Wallander series in particular)

Helene Tursten (the Detective Inspector Huss Series in particular)

Stephen White (Alan Gregory Series)

As is probably obvious from this list, I'm a mystery buff.  Most of these are pretty light reading, but Mankell and Tursten (the Swedish Authors) tend to be very dark and heavier than the rest.  Any questions, feel free to ask.

     Jeff  Kazin, Library Assistant – Public Services

 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey—This gorgeously descriptive book combines the brutal reality of homesteading in 1920’s Alaska with a whimsical lesser-known Russian fairytale.  The lyrical prose is immediately captivating and so vividly imaginative that I pictured each scene so perfectly in my mind as I read.  I’m not usually a fan of debut novels, but this one remains unforgettable in a year of some decently read books.

Prince Edward: A Novel by Dennis McFarland—1950’s Prince Edward County, Virginia—a time of segregation in which PE County was the only county in the US to close its public schools for five years rather than desegregate them. This novel is told through the eyes of a 10 year old boy, who doesn’t completely accept the concept of the separation between blacks and whites, in schools or otherwise, despite being surrounded by family members who represent the other side. The characters in this novel are complex, flawed, and honest.  At times, it can become a little heavy in the historical lessons but still a wonderful read.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon—Another complex book about race relations, this time in the late 60s.  This is a love story between a developmentally disabled white woman and a deaf African American man who are both locked away in the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded and their quest to provide a child with a safe and protective upbringing, even if it means the chance of never seeing her again.  It’s beautifully written, with layers of courage and strength found up until the very last page.  A really good book club read that prompted very rich discussion.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy  by Margot Livesay—Jane Eyre fans, beware…this is a modern tribute to the classic, but is charming and captivating enough to stand on its own.  This time we’re in 1950s-60s Scotland, and we follow Gemma’s footsteps of life from the time her parents pass away at her young age of 3, while raised by an adoring uncle and tyrannical aunt and her resilience to endure a crappy boarding school until she can finally make it out on her own.  Gemma is a likeable character who you find yourself rooting for against all odds.

Chef by Jaspreet Singh—This book explores a cultural writing style that is vibrant and at times, achingly beautiful as we follow Kip’s journey back to his war-scarred Indian homeland after a 14 year departure from being a cook in the northern Indian army during the India-Pakistan conflict.  This book is told through Kip’s memories and his mind’s eye as he travels on a train back to Kashmir to provide the wedding feast for the daughter of his former General.  The characters, landscape, and food descriptions weave together to form a really lovely and poetic novel. 

A must-have children’s bedtime book:

Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler—Received this book when my son was born three years ago but really only began reading it to him within the last year. It is rip-roaring fun, filled with clever word play, nonstop rhyming, and awesome illustrations.  We literally read this over and over and can’t get enough of it.  Definitely a must in any child’s growing library.

     Alison M. Keegan, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Dean of the Faculty

 

A Delicate Truth by John LeCarre: The newest book from one of my favorite writers. A relatively quick read as much of the book consists of his superb ability to write dialog. The plot centers around a joint anti-terrorist operation between British standard armed forces (off the book) and American mercenaries and the moral dilemmas created. Most of the characters are less internally conflicted about their roles than usual, but the conflicts between characters and puzzles created kept me very engaged. 

I love Hilary Mantel's two books on Thomas Cromwell and Henry the 8th, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Her writing is, in my opinion, superb and interesting, and, although much of the story is well known, she makes it all seem new. I can't wait for the last book (about Cromwell's ultimate demise) in this trilogy.

The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard is an engaging history of the Maine Coast beginning in the 1500s. I am surprised by how much I am enjoying this history of this important part of our (and other New England) state(s). My naive notion that our ancestors were better to our New England indigenous peoples than they were to those in the plains and southwest was certainly shattered.

For those who like simpler moral dilemmas, and are not tired of the Lance Armstrong saga, I would recommend The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, who was Lance's teammate during most of his Tour victories. As much as Mr. Armstrong has tried to discredit Mr. Hamilton, this has the ring of truth.

     John E. Kelsey, Department of Psychology and Program in Neuroscience

 

The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard.

     Don Kimmel, Bates spouse and friend

 

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

     Meg Kimmel, Associate VP for Communications

 

I don't know if you've listed this one before, but it is a wonderful read for anyone interested in nature, healing and the meaning of life. A student gave it to me a couple of years ago (I work on snails), and I passed it on to a good friend with health issues.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

     Nancy Kleckner, Associate Professor of Biology

 

Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light by Jane Brox

From the stone lamps used in the caves of Lascaux to LEDs, this is a story of the social, political and environmental effects of human's attempts to light our world. It was a surprisingly good read.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden

The story of two friends brought up in well-to-do families and educated at Smith, who weren't ready to settle into the married, society life that was the expected path for them in 1916. So they took jobs as schoolteachers in a new settlement in Elkhead, Colo., deep in the Rockies. This is a delightful story, based on letters found by one of their daughters (Dorothy Wickenden), newspaper articles from the time, and oral histories.

A Fine Balance  by Rohinton Mistry

A novel about four people and their entertwining paths between 1975 and 1984 in Mumbai, India. You learn about the turmoil of "The Emergency" called by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi through their experiences, but it's the story of how they deal with the different hands that they have been dealt and the unlikely bond that they create that makes this a good read. 

Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andre Makine

A boy, growing up in a drab industrial town in Communist Russia in the 1960s and '70s, learns about his family through his grandmother's stories during his summers with her in a small town on the Russian steppe. This is a French novel, translated by Geoffrey Strachan. Through the stories of about his French great-grandmother and Russian great-grandfather and his grandmother's experiences as a nurse and young wife as she travels from Paris to Siberia, the boy gets a romantic, dream-like view of Russian history. The stories she tells start in Paris during the flooding of 1910 and continue through a Russia consumed by war and famine.  This was not one of my favorites, but it was worth the read.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomicby Alison Bechdel

This book was my first experience with the graphic novel style and I was pleasantly surprised. Alison Bechdel is a talented artist and storyteller and shows her skill in this touching story about her late father and her attempt to understand and come to terms with him as a father and as a person struggling with his own identity.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Need I say more? Maybe I do. I love this book! This is the second time I've read it and convinced my book group to read it with me this time. (I like to suggest classic literature every once in a while.) Don't be intimidated. Even if you read it just for the history of whaling and the knowledge of whales and their habitat during that period, it's worthwhile. If you're still reluctant, I found that reading a critical edition helped me understand the metaphors, literary and historical references, and the detailed descriptions of ships and whaling. I read the Longman Critical Edition, edited by John Bryant and Haskell Springer.  An excellent read!

     Margo Knight, Director of Advancement Research

 

The River Swimmer  -  Jim Harrison (NY : Grove Press, 2013, 198 p., 22 cm.)

The master returns with only two novellas which are nonetheless as rich in character development and fine-tuned language as any in his previous trilogies.  Gosh, can he turn a phrase!

The Fall of the House of Dixie   - Bruce C. Levine (NY : Random House, 2013, 439 p., 25 cm.)

A new look at the Civil War South and its flimsy framework where slavery was not an happenstance but a central pillar of the region’s social and economic culture, and both were doomed.

     Jim Lamontagne, Library Assistant – Cataloging

 

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

 http://www.amazon.com/dp/0425247856

Just finished reading this book after a trip to the Southwest. Very interesting read which acknowledges the sacrifices of this little known group of people who changed the outcome of the war in the pacific.

     Michael LeComte ,Technology Support Specialist

 

Cod: Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

     Lynne Lewis, Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics

 

I like a story that brings a sense of place, and so I recommend J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country.  Standing beside Tom in the cool of a country church, watching his progress restoring a mural, I joined him as place wove into his story. Be ready to be changed by what this Great War veteran shares as the layers of the mural are revealed.

     Rebecca Lovett,  Assistant Bookstore Manager

 

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, a book about a rural African-American family and community in Hurricane Katrina's path is a powerful and wonderful novel!
"Without a false note . . . A superbly realized work of fiction that, while Southern to the bone, transcends its region to become universal." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

     Bill Low, Curator – Museum of Art

 

When We Were the Kennedys, Monica Wood
Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
Catherine the Great, Robert Massey
1493, Charles Mann
The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt
Kathy Low, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Psychology

 

This past year I focused on starting mystery series that have gotten high praise and started with the first book in each series.  These are two books that are the start of promising series:

Ice Hunter by Joseph Heywood

In this debut to the Woods Cop series, Grady Service, a Conservation Officer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, gets news that his nemesis, the head of a clan of poachers, is to be released from prison.  While tracking poachers, he discovers something even more troubling in the Mosquito Wilderness. Service must call upon his life experiences to track, stalk, and capture the “ice hunter.”  I really enjoyed the setting of the UP – very similar to Maine.  The story moved along well and you get to know the main character.  I finished the second in the series and enjoyed that as well.

 The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais

This is Robert Crais's first novel, the award-winning mystery that introduced Private Investigator Elvis Cole.  He is a wisecracking individual – similar to Robert Parker’s Spenser character – and in this novel he infiltrates high-society Hollywood, and crosses the line with the Latino drug trade in search of a kidnapped mother and her son. The adventure and the characters of this novel are exciting, and I really enjoyed this book.  The series has received many awards and many books in this series, including L.A Requiem, have been on the New York Times bestsellers list.

The Divinity of Dogs by Jennifer Skiff

“My dogs have been the reason I have woken up every single day of my life with a smile on my face. I am among the ranks of millions of people who appreciate the souls of dogs and know they are a gift of pure love and an example of all that is good.” —Jennifer Skiff The Divinity of Dogs is about the moments you learn something profound about life from an experience with a dog.  This book contains seventy short stories from people all across the country who share their true stories of life with their dogs, many of which have led to spiritual enlightenment.  I liked that I could pick up this book and read a few heartwarming stories and then come back to it sometime later to read a few more.  A wonderful read!

     Mary Main, Asst. VP of Human Resources

The Outsourced Self: intimate life in market times by Arlie Russell Hochschild.  Last summer, Arlie Hochschild, who owns the conserved land I steward in Turner for the Androscoggin Land Trust, gave me a copy of her latest book.  Little did I realize how pertinent it would prove to my own life, and I'm recommending it here because I know that at Bates, there are many people who are scattered far from the traditional support systems of families and home towns; people who have moved here for work and chosen to make a home here. Independence is great, until trouble strikes and you need help.  Without the framework of people who 'have" to help you out, where do you go?  In our mobile society, the question is pervasive--and a whole new group of careers has emerged to fill the void.  At first I rolled my eyes over the idea of people hiring a "Wantologist," but came to realize that perhaps the best advice might be from someone without a stake in the outcome. See what you think!

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  She had me from Page 1.  It's not about the butterflies.

Life Everlasting: the animal way of death by Berndt Heinrich.   A beloved naturalist examines recycling of a different sort--and made me re-examine my burial plans. (not that I'm planning to put them into effect anytime soon, but it's good to have a plan.)  The thought of continuing on to nourish other lives is very appealing; an immortality of sorts.

In Sunlight and In Shadow by  Mark Helprin.  Helprin continues the kind of magical romance that captivated me in his Winter's Tale. Two uncommon people glimpse each other on a brilliant May day in 1946, and their lives are turned upside down and transformed.  What could be a more romantic beginning? The novel could have stopped there.  But it goes on, to lives beginning, and ending, and dancing through postwar New York City.

     Judy Marden '66 ( and retiree)

 

Big Data, A Revolution That Will Transform How we Live, Work and Think  by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier. 2013

     Brad MacCachran, Bates Gift Officer - College Advancement


I have two books by Ha Jin
Waiting: A Novel
The Crazed
     Maggie Maurer-Fazio, Betty Doran Stangle Professor of Applied Economics

 

Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

Read the books – haven’t seen the movie(s) - and not sure that I want to now.  Enjoyable and gripping adventure story – Ms. Collins offers a futuristic look at life after an apocalypse with political intrigue.  I agree with the previous readers who recommended this set of books and pass along my referral.

Pocketful of Names, by Joe Coomer

The back cover offers this description, “Coomer offers the rugged yet stunning beauty of Maine and the lobstermen and their families who are dependent on the sea for survival. . . Inhabiting an island off the coast of Maine, left to her by her great-uncle Arno, Hanna finds her life as a dedicated and solitary artist rudely interrupted one summer when a dog, matted with feathers and seaweed arrives with the tide…”

I enjoyed reading this story because of the ease in which the author pulls the reader into the lives of the characters.  The dramas that Hanna and her visitors endured were easy to relate to and provided an extra bit of connectivity with living in Maine by aptly describing the trials and celebrations of people living in a coastal town.

The Great Coat, by Helen Dunmore

I picked this book up at Ladd Library recently for a quick read for a break while working my way through Tolstoy’s, Anna Karenina.  And it was a quick read – described as “the perfect ghost story” and “Intensely gripping” – I found it disappointing.  The story moved along well, but I wasn’t left “gripping” the book to see what was going to happen next.   I’m not a suspense genre fanatic, but Ms. Dunmore has a long way to go to meet with the suspense of Stephen King’s stories of the supernatural.  Maybe it’s just me – check it out for yourself.

     Monica McCusker,  Office Coordinator, College Store

 

I would recommend, if someone already has not:   My Beloved World by Sonya Sotomayor. See cut and pasted (from Amazon) description:

The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.
Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself.  She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-invention and self-discovery.

It really has been a fine and fascinating read!

     Amy McDonough, Biology Dept.

 

The Start-up of YOU. Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

http://www.thestartupofyou.com

     David McDonough, Director - Bates Career Development Center

 

Compiled and edited (well, tossed together, really) by Sarah Potter, Bookstore Director 5/13