2012 Summer Reading List
Welcome to the 16th annual Bates College Store "Good Reads" list!
We invite you to browse and enjoy...and let us know your thoughts (email@example.com).
This year's titles receiving three recommendations or more:
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
As always, the list is presented in alphabetical order by contributor's surname.
16th annual "Good Reads for Leisure Moments"
Joe Coomer: Pocketful of Names
A story set on an island in the gulf of Maine, about an artist who has her solitary life all figured out. Until a dog washes up on her island. And then a wayward teen-aged boy comes to live with her. And then the boy brings his girlfriend. And then her pregnant half-sister shows up. It turns out to be an odd and wonderful cast of characters, who ultimately make it all seem perfectly normal. I love Coomer's comfortable and sensitive writing, and (on Sarah P's advice) am currently reading another of his novels, "Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God". This one is set on the harbor in Portsmouth, NH. It's about dealing with grief, and finding solace in unlikely places. So far I like it.
Elizabeth I - Margaret George
I like historical fiction, and Margaret George does a good job of making Elizabeth I (daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) come to life. George's beautiful descriptions of England in the 1500's make the story of the "Virgin Queen" come to life. Surrounded by the likes of William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake, Elizabeth is portrayed as a strong and willful character, who even as a powerful woman suffers from the limitations of her sex (if you'll pardon the double entendre).
11-22-63 A Novel - Stephen King
I am not a rabid King fan, but this was a great read. The story is about time travel (I LOVE time travel), in which a regular guy gets hooked into traveling back to the time Kennedy was assassinated to try to stop the whole thing. If you are old enough to remember 1963, you'll like the references to the dances, the music, the newscasts. If you're not that old, you'll still like the way the story is intricately woven of many disparate threads. It will make you think about best intentions, how one tiny variable can shift a whole story, and "what if"......
Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
I told you I'm a sucker for time travel. This one is about a young archeologist from the 21st century who travels back to the 1300's as part of her graduate research. It has a great cast of very human characters - a spunky heroin, a smart and caring professor, a fabulous teen-aged boy - and an engaging mystery or two. If you like the idea of the ultimate in experiential learning and thinking about how you would convince people from another century that you are one of them (despite the fact that you are immune to all of their diseases....), you'll love this.
Lee Abrahamsen, Associate Professor of Biology
Novels, in order of publication date:
- American Falls, by John Calvin Batchelor (1985)
- Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn (1989)
- Baltasar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago (1982)
- The Green Knight, by Iris Murdoch (1993)
- The Night Manager, by John le Carré (1993)
- Last Orders, by Graham Swift (1996)
- Jack Maggs, by Peter Carey (1997)
- The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood (2000)
- Anil's Ghost, by Michael Ondaatje (2000)
- The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany
- The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson (2002)
- By Ian McEwan: Atonement (2001) and Saturday (2005)
Magazines: The New Yorker. Still the most literate, insightful, entertaining and regularly compelling magazine read I've ever encountered.
Newspapers(online or print): The New York Times. Still simply the world's finest daily newspaper, cover to cover.
Were you to ask me for some recommended film titles, you'd probably wish you hadn't. The lists would never stop coming.
Roland Adams, Senior Communications Adviser and Director of Media Relations
Two titles by Charles Mann: 1491and 1493, the former about what was going on in the Americas before Columbus; the latter about what happened afterwards.
This year's Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, Clybourne Parkby Bruce Norris, looks at what happens fifty years later to the house the Youngers buy at the end of A Raisin in The Sun. Funny and smart.
And I'll add The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, a three-generation novel about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, a non-fiction account of the life of the American ambassador & family in Berlin during the early years of the Nazi regime.
Martin Andrucki, Professor of Theater
Favorites from this year:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts
Hayley Anson, Assistant Director of Annual Giving
I've listened to lots of books in my car on my commute. The best this year was the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. I haven't had great luck finding something good to read this year. Can't wait to see other people’s suggestions.
Linda Archambault, Lab Research Assistant, Dana Chemistry
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
An incredible description of life in Annawadi, an illegal settlement of poor people who live and die near the Mumbai, India airport.
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
A highly readable book about how political institutions play a central role in explaining the current inequality in wealth between nations. For a book about a complex subject, it is very well written.
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
A wonderful graphic novel (recommended to me by Dennis Grafflin in History) that really captures the absurdity of the North Korean regime.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
If you are a fan of Patti Smith and/or Robert Mapplethorpe, this book is a must read. It is simply wonderful.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
The story of Germany as the Nazi's were consolidating their power in the early 1930s told through the eyes of the US ambassador to Germany and his twenty-something daughter.
A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar Ben Jelloun
A story of a Moroccan immigrant to France and his desire to return to Morocco. An interesting-- and somewhat sad--take on the immigrant experience in Europe and the challenges of returning "home".
Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage by David Ignatious
A fast paced spy novel/thriller about a CIA operation in Pakistan gone horribly wrong.
Aslaug Asgeirsdottir, Associate Professor of Politics
All out of print. Four books of photography and one of interviews.
River Of Colour: The India of Raghubir Singh. A fantastic collection of color documentary photography. Singh was inspired by the likes of Henri Cartier Bresson but chose color, rather than black and white, to record the life around him.
Portrait of Nepal, Kevin Bubriski. Very rich large-format images of Nepal. Bubriski made deeply personal portraits of the ethnic groups living in that country.
Legacy of Light: 205 Polaroid Photographs by 58 Distinguished American Photographers. An eclectic group of photographs organized in genres. These are not your father’s Polaroids.
Chaos, Josef Koudelka. Dark panoramic landscapes by one of Europe’s leading documentary photographers. Koudelka takes the photo-reportage style, but uses a format more associated with the landscape tradition.
Dialogue with Photography: Interviews by Paul Hill and Thomas Cooper. An interesting collection of interviews of some of the 20th century’s most influential photographers and photo historians.
Will Ash, Assistant in Instruction, Imaging and Computing Center
A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz
An excellent read about all the Europeans in America before the Pilgrims. Goes beyond the propaganda of the Pilgrims.
Dave Baker, Acting Director of Academic Operations-Finance
Two books that take place in France (mostly in Paris). Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. First takes place during WWII, second is present day. Has France changed?
Pam Baker, VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty
I highly recommend Steve Jobs. Great insight to the history of Apple and the pc industry.
Jim Bauer, Director of Network and Infrastructure Services
2011-2012 was apparently a year indulging myself...all I read was fiction!!! Perhaps I needed a good escape......
I would highly recommend Left Neglected by our own Lisa Genova. Excellent...could not put it down, just as good as Still Alice. With Lisa's neuroscience background, so much of the "fictional" is actually real.
I then submerged myself in Tess Gerritsen mystery novels. Her books grab you from page one. Unlike other suspense/mystery writers, you don't really know what is going to happen until the end. Wonderful writer and she lives in Maine. Body Double, The Sinner, The Keepsake are great choices.
James Patterson is always a quick read, great for the beach, train or plane rides...anytime. I, Alex Cross and Worst Case were good choices. The Christmas Wedding was a delight to read and NOT a murder mystery...
Robin Cook's medical mystery Foreign Body...a "should read" if you like medical mystery.
Female fiction suggestions are Jennifer Weiner's Certain Girls and Then Came You. Also, Debbie Macomber's, A Turn in the Road...(NOT from her romance collection)
I read 16 novels last year, but I will stop here.
Jane Bedard, Admission Office Specialist
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: If you love New York City and savor relational entanglements that intrigue, you will love this novel.
Quest for the Living God by Elizabeth Johnson: This post Christian book of theology by a Christian nun is a real page turner, if you like such godly things. The pope and his lieutenants warned good Catholics not to get near this apostasy! And that did not hurt sales.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone: Another great book of theology. Cone argues convincingly that Americans have not embraced (save the Harlem artists) the obvious--lynching is America's execution of God.
Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? by James K. A. Smith: The author introduces Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to the church as balm rather than bile.
Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer: A relational salve for a broken nation. A one-step-at-a-time, step-by-step journey of civility.
The Rev. Bill Blaine-Wallace, Multifaith Chaplain
Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
I'm a racehorse owner, so I love writing that offers unsentimental insights into the backside of a racetrack that isn't the kind you see for two minutes every year on the first Saturday of May. The story is lyrical and a touch diffuse, and unglamorous. Racing is like that.
Jay Burns, editor, Bates Magazine
Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein (2009). A debut novel about an archeologist in Israel who risks her career to excavate beneath the home of an Arab couple who believe that restless spirits are communicating with them. Interesting and light reading, with an exploration of religious and personal tensions throughout.
Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz (1966). A Nobel Prize winning author. This book explores the lives of various characters living in one of the back alleys of Cairo, as they intertwine with each other, creating a story rich in culture and place. Beautifully written.
Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga (2008). This set of short stories captures vignettes of life in a city in India, bringing to life (as written on its back cover) “a mosaic of Indian life.” The characters are often down-trodden and morally conflicted, and a complex portrait of the city of Kittur and its people emerges.
In the Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan (2008). Another volume of short stories that take place in India. Some of the stories were better than others, but gives another portrayal of Indian life through these vignettes. A light read.
The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim (2009). This one takes place in Korea at the first part of the 20th C, when Korea is overtaken by Japan. It captures the tension between the “old” and “new” ways, the traditional culture and the “modern” one demanded by the Japanese. The story focuses on a young girl who grows up and becomes educated, defying her father. The story is well written, with a fascinating exploration of the history of the time and place.
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton (1994). A dark novel about loss and the ways in which lives can tumble from the illusion of safety. A compelling read, hard to put down.
Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay (1994). Another dark novel about a loveless and stifling household of two children, their parents and grandparents. I just started it, but haven’t been able to put it down.
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (2000). A story of survival, the book takes place in North Carolina after the Civil War. Julie Harmon narrates the story of her life, chronicling her marriage at age 17 and the move to Gap Creek where she takes care of an elderly man who eventually dies, with unforeseen consequences.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2008). A strange and fascinating story about a hostage situation in a South American country, where an opera star provides the interweaving thread that ties the characters together. A great read.
House of Sand and Fog by Audre Dubus III (2011). In this book, two people find themselves struggling desperately to hold onto the same house, each with his/her own claim to it. The story’s inevitable and dire ending is a result of stubbornness, pride, and passions that allow emotions to win over reason.
Anita Charles, Lecturer, Education
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Kristen Cloutier, HCCP, Assistant Director of Center Operations
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
This story involves a computer virus that encrypts your files then demands a ransom, Russian gangsters, spies, computer hackers, and terrorists. After some initial background information this turns into a non-stop action story about a hostage dragged around the world and the attempts to rescue her by an international cast of characters.
11-22-63 A Novel by Stephen King
If it was possible would you go back in time to prevent a tragedy from happening? A high school teacher from Lisbon Falls, ME enters a portal to the past with the goal to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Widely considered the first sensational novel as well as one of the first mystery novels, written in the mid-1800s. A mystery told from the points of view of several main characters, each continuing the tale where it was left off by previous narrator. Very compelling with truly devious villain. (If you read ebooks: this is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg.)
The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) by Steig Larsson
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Read this book as part of the Staff Enrichment last summer--fantastic story.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
An authorized biography of Steve Jobs, warts and all.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The title just about says it all. A nonfictional account of the use of cadavers throughout history that is surprisingly informative and mildly entertaining.
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
Again, the title says it all.
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John Barry
This book is not only an account of the Spanish Flu during the early 20th Century but also includes history on the American medical school system at that time.
Grace Coulombe, Director of the Math and Statistics Workshop
Another alumni author, because, how could I not? Lisa Genova's ('92) Left Neglected is touching and insightful, getting into the emotions of the main character and patient as only Lisa has proved she can, again, with humor, tenderness and understanding.
Marianne Nolan Cowan '92, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement
Thinking of summer and all the time I will hopefully have to read.
For once I am attempting to get my list in on time.
I recommend the following:
The Vault by Ruth Rendell - one of the best English mystery writers with quirky characters.
The Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke - a great read.
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard - James A. Garfield's assassination with a tragic tale of medical incompetence.
Spies of the Balkan by Alan Furst - Greece at the beginning of WWII.
Finding Nouf and City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris - two murder mysteries set in modern Saudi Arabia, both underscoring the difficulties of being a modern woman in that culture.
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo - Norwegian mystery- similar in feel to Stieg Larsson.
Orange is the New Color Black by Piper Kerman. Story of a white female Smith graduate who is arrested, convicted, and jailed on charges of selling drugs- a revealing analysis of female prisoners in modern US jails.
Jerry Davis, Class of ‘61
Here are a few. I can't believe how little reading I've done lately! Arrgh.
Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerny
This falls squarely in the 'beach reading' pile. Not thought-provoking, and requires some serious suspension of disbelief. But if you want a light-hearted, non-creepy murder mystery that's set on the Maine coast and has the workings of a B&B (with detailed food descriptions) as a backdrop, then you might find this mindlessly relaxing.
Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
Darker and less side-splitting than his academic satire Straight Man (which I confess to having read repeatedly). The various screwed up relationships in Nobody's Fool are sadly realistic and filled with unrealized potential. The main character is likable but also his own worst enemy. More tragic than comic.
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
It was actually a few years ago when I read this, but I still think about it -- tensions between desire and responsibility, freewill and expectations, plus father-son dynamics, tradition, complicated friendships, the Holocaust, and Zionism. Lots to chew on.
Don Dearborn, Professor and Chair of Biology
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--Helen Simonson
The Wild Trees--Richard Preston
The Imperfectionists--Tom Rachman
Every Last One--Anna Quindlen
The Warmth of Other Suns--Isabel Wilkerson
Luka and the Fire of Life--Salman Rushdie
Doc--Mary Doria Russell
Marty Deschaines, Assistant Director, HCCP
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A fun short read, like most Gaiman books, it’s a darker take on the fanciful. Like a steampunk Sherlock Holmes fantasy.
Duma Key, by Steven King. One of his best, along the same vein as Hearts in Atlantis, King manages to blur the lines between reality and the fantastic superbly. The author manages to evoke in the reader the emotions the main characters are experiencing.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman. First novel for the author; a gritty take on what has become a generic theme of an “ordinary” person finding they somehow have special powers, the writing style is somewhat complicated, but world that the author creates makes up for the density of the text.
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. Somehow this book manages to be stupid, funny, poignant, and more stupid, an excellent airplane book.
Plant propagation; Principles and practice. 3rd ed. Hudson Thomas Hartmann, Dale E. Kester. A great reference, the title says it all, dry and to the point. Current edition is about $109.50 a used 3rd edition is $ 0.63 plus four dollars shipping on Amazon, you do the math.
American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood
A nice complement to Plant propagation; Principles and practice, but is somewhat lacking in content, more of a coffee table book… great pictures.
Phil Dostie, Assistant in Instruction, Chemistry
The Power of Habit. Fascinating read. Seeing it in my own life.
Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) – Carol Tavris and Elliott Aronson
In case you’re still taking submissions, I just started another book (prompted by an interview on Planet Money) and really like it. It's about our national debt and what we should do about it.
White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You
Glenn Dudley, Desktop Support Technician, ILS
The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
Classified as young adult novels, but I got hooked. These are the first two novels of a trilogy.
Donna Duval, Advancement
Port City Shakedown by Gerry Boyle. A mystery set in Portland, ME. A nice easy read.
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. Have read 5 of the 7 in the series. Even though these are long (over a thousand pages each), I never want them to end.
Olive Kitteridge by Batesie - Elizabeth Strout. This is an interesting style of book, as they are all short stories in their own right.
The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw. Gave me a new appreciation for the Lobsterman's way of life.
Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos by Donna Andrews. book 3 in the Meg Langslow Mystery series. This was set in a civil war reanactment was a fun to read.
Dead of Winter - Winston Crisp Maine Island Mystery by David Crossman. Was very timely, I read this during one of our few snowy days last winter.
The Murder of Mary Bean & Other Stories By Elizabeth A DeWolfe. Interesting time piece.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. Interesting true story where two cultures collide. The Hmong and our Western medicine.
The Plague by Albert Camus. Was one of the worst books I've ever read. Boring & too long. Only read it because of the book club I am in.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Giilman. A depressing book. Also read for the book club. At least it was interesting, going crazy.
Lost Trail (Comic Book) by Don Fendler. Got this for my 12-yr-old Grandson. We all loved it and can't wait for the movie.
Sarey by Lantern Light by Susan Williams Beckhorn. This is a great story, even had me teary eyed. Got this for my 10-yr-old granddaughter.
Melinda Emerson, Purchasing Sales and Accounting Specialist, ILS
Joseph Brodsky-- Watermark (memoir/meditation about Venice)
Tracy K. Smith -- Life On Mars (this year's poetry Pulitzer winner)
Chad Harbach-- The Art of Fielding (novel about baseball and small college life)
Richard Powers-- Generosity (a novel more interesting for its speculative ideas than for its characters, perhaps, but genomically troubling...)
Rob Farnsworth, Senior Lecturer, English
My book club read two great books. I had never heard of either author but everyone loved the books.
Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
The Wedding Gift Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Anita Farnum, Administrative Assistant, Concierge
Here is my contribution for the year:
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell
The Book of Salt by Monique Truong
Johie Farrar, Associate Dean of Admission
I am reading Dreaming in French, by Alice Kaplan (U of Chicago, 2012): it is an account of the Paris years of Jackie O, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, and a discussion of how these three women's experiences in France, in turn, changed America.
Sylvia Federico, Associate Professor of English
I enjoyed these two books recently;
Open by Andre Agassi - very revealing insight into a man who made the top of athletics and battled insecurity all the way.
Calico Joe - Nice light reading baseball novel by John Grisham.
Stewart Flaherty, Head Coach, Men’s Soccer
Jonathan Franzen's The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History
In this warm, honest memoir, Jonathan Franzen tells the story of his Midwestern childhood and his adulthood in New York. Particularly interesting are his analyses of the dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s and of his obsessions with birdwatching and environmentalism.
Katie Flinn, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
Predictably Irrational by Daniel Ariely. Ariely researches behavioral economics and writes about his experiments in a very accessible, entertaining way for the non-economist. He describes how "expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities." Really illuminating and thought-provoking.
Nancy Gibson, Senior Assistant Director, Bates Career Development Center
There are two books which really impressed me in the past year:
David McCullough, The Greater Journey - The amazing adventures of the creative young Americans who flocked to Paris in the 19th century, and lived through its tragedies and triumphs.
Stephen King, 11/22/63 - I am not usually a fan of King's horror novels, but this one really captivated me. An ordinary young man in the 21st century discovers that he can go badk in time and change the history of the nation at a crucial point - what happens if he does?
Lois Griffiths, Alumna and Retiree
Long-time listener, first-time caller.
One suggestion: Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello. Many people have heard of Sally Hemings because of her supposed (and now effectively proven) relationship with Thomas Jefferson. What makes this book remarkable is that someone has dared to write about the lives of individuals who left almost no documentary trace. And she does it powerfully and sometimes lyrically. And I think she won something like 18 awards (including the Pulitzer and the National Book Award) in the process.
Joe Hall, Associate Professor of History
I want to put Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by first-time author Jesse Andrews on the Good Reads list. It was just published in May. It is in the young adult genre. The film rights for the book were purchased by the producer/director that made the film “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” I read it because Jesse is the brother of my best friend from high school, but it really is excellent. If a book about a young girl dying of cancer can be funny then this is it. It qualifies as young adult literature because the main characters are in high school, but I would say that based on the subject matter and the language that it is pitched at a much older audience.
Josh Henry, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry
I believe this is my very first suggestion to the Good Reads List. It is Nimo's War, Emma's War by Cynthia Enloe. It is an account of the Iraq war, and women's experiences of the war through the experiences of 8 women, 4 U.S. and 4 Iraqi. It's fascinating and compelling.
Leslie Hill, Associate Professor of Politics
Lynn H. Nichols: The Rape of Europa. A well-written account of the wholesale Nazi plundering of European art and cultural artifacts during WWII. Lots of detail at 450 pages, but the astonishing scale of the thefts lends to this treatment: tens of thousands of paintings and sculptures, libraries, rugs, tapestries, furniture, gold and jewelry, even 5000 church bells. The book is a portrait of the Nazis as monsters but also pathetic kleptomaniacs, convincing themselves that stealing European culture would fit out the future Reich with suitable decorations. The book is part art history, part WWII detective story as the Allied “monuments units” tried to find the immense caches of stolen treasures and return them to their owners.
The late Bates President Hedley Reynolds spent the second half of WWII assigned to a monuments unit, as an Art History major at Williams who was reassigned from a tank unit. The book has been made into a well-regarded documentary film of the same name, narrated by Nichols.
Ann Weiss: The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Some years ago, a tour guide at Auschwitz-Birkenau unlocked a storeroom everyone assumed was empty and found thousands of photographs that Jewish families had brought with them to the concentration camp, hoping to survive with their family treasures and keepsakes. With research, many of the photographs were identified, and the book is a photo album accompanied by profiles of those in the photographs.
Monique Truong: The Book of Salt. An imaginative historical novel, recounting life with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas through the eyes of their Vietnamese cook. A wonderfully piquant and humorous book, one of a number of admirable books by Vietnamese immigrants to the US adjusting to dislocations in unexpected locations like 1930’s Paris.
Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo: The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island. New theories on the Easter Island statues, offering evidence that the statues, like other Polynesian cultures that created large statues, got to their locations by being “walked” in an upright position. The culture’s collapse was likely due not to internal dissent but to contact with early explorers and whalers, quite parallel to the “American holocaust” of Native American tribes meeting diseases for which they had no resistance. Frequently mentioned is the work of Charlie Love ’66, a geology professor from Wyoming with decades of research on Easter Island.
Andrew Lam, Perfume Dreams. A set of moving essays by a Viet Kieu (those who fled Vietnam after the war) who went on to become a fine journalist for NPR and other outlets. Lam’s father was a skilled and professional South Vietnamese general whose family fled, and the essays are about adapting to a new culture, trying to keep values, and returning to Vietnam years later.
Adam Hochschild: To End All Wars: A story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918. This history of WWI focuses on the many families whose members had fiercely divided loyalties. The Field Marshall commanding the Western Front had a sister who led suffragette, pacifist, resistance and IRA efforts and went to prison for her commitments. Very well written for the weaving of the family histories during the war.
Vicki Baum: Love and Death in Bali. First published in German in 1935, this is a remarkable novel about the collision between the deeply religious and artistic people of Bali with a Dutch colonial administration.
Amanda Hale: In the Embrace of the Alligator. A set of connected short stories about a Canadian woman powerfully drawn to Cuba, and the contrasts between the beauty and grace of Cuba and its people with the lumbering weight of the Cuban government. Often cited as one of the most accurate portraits of modern Cuba by a non-Cuban.
Tony Williams: The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic that Changed America's Destiny. Cotton Mather is sometimes regarded as a Puritan divine hostile to change, but in fact he was one of the towering intellects of his age, and far more open to science than might be imagined. This well-written book is an account of Mather’s attempts to support the very early experimentation with vaccinations against smallpox in the midst of a horrifying epidemic in Boston, when ironically the brother of Benjamin Franklin was using the family printing press to attack Mather for not treating the epidemic surely as a scourge from God.
Oscar Hijuelos: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love and Beautiful María of my Soul, or, The True Story of María García y Cifuentes, the Lady behind a Famous Song. Hijeulos won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Mambo Kings…, the first Hispanic to win this prize, and Beautiful Maria…is a retelling of the story of the Mambo Kings from the very different perspective of the woman, now older, who inspired their greatest hit. A third novel with the revealing title of The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien is a rambling but very readable account of a large Irish-Cuban family in small-town Ohio over the two generations from the immigration of the parents to the old age of the fifteen siblings. Hijuelos has been a prolific author, with eight novels and a memoir, mostly around the themes of Cuban-Americans in complicated relationships with both their homelands.
Bill Hiss ’66, Senior Leadership Gifts Officer and Lecturer in Asian Studies
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge
Journey by Danielle Steele
Joan Houston, Administrative Assistant, Facility Services
Here's information about two books I've been reading.
In preparation for a trip to Alabama with a friend who worked for a newspaper there during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, I've been reading two compelling and intensely moving books about the Movement. The first, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It, is the story behind the boycott by Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, who, as president of a women's political club, gave the go-ahead for the boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Edited by David Garrow and published by the University of Tennessee Press, it's a fascinating story of how people worked together and persevered despite great hardship and persecution, and how what they did resulted in desegregation of Montgomery's city buses.
The second book, which I haven't quite finished, is Selma, Lord, Selma, and consists of the memories of two women who were little girls participating in the marches for voting rights in Selma -- and the attempted and actual marches from Selma to Montgomery. This book is so beautiful. The courage of those two little girls, Sheyann Webb and Rachel West, has brought me to tears several times. Sheyann was the first of the two to get involved, soon joined by her good friend, Rachel. Sheyann's passion for the cause, willingness to turn her life upside-down (she skipped school for the meetings and marches, and focused everything she had on the effort to gain equal treatment), and sheer incredible bravery have put her on my list of people I admire most. She was marching on Bloody Sunday, when state troopers charged on horseback into the group as they crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge, whipping and knocking down the peaceful marchers. It was probably only because an adult picked her up and ran with her that the little girl escaped injury or death. This book is published by the University of Alabama Press.
I loved these two books. I'm planning to go to some of the sites of the struggle on my trip.
Sue Hubley, Senior Researcher, College Advancement
I have been listening to books on tape on the drive to work and I heartily recommend the following series:
The Amanda Peabody Egyptology series by Elizabeth Peters - the first book in the series is Crocodile on the Sandbank.
The Brother Cadfael, medieval English series by Ellis Peters - the First book in the series is
A Morbid Taste for Bones.
The Aubrey/Maturin Napoleonic Wars (from a British Naval perspective) series by Patrick O'Brian - the first book in the series is Master & Commander.
On a less sheer exuberant indulgence but still very good note, I'd recommend
The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb which is a book about flaws in modern economic and statistical thinking due to the failure to adequately account for the highly improbable but important invent - it sounds dry but in fact the author has a very strong persona which makes the book a fun if occasionally snarky read.
The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick which is an intellectual and social history about the invention of calculus and quite fascinating.
Margaret Imber, Assoc. Professor of Classical & Medieval Studies
Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes. An unforgettable love story played out against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, with photojournalists/refugees Robert Capa and Gerda Taro as the protagonists in this short but stunning novel.
My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte. The compelling story of Belafonte's life pairs his commitments to artistry and social justice.
Call it Sleep by Henry Roth. A groundbreaking novel first published in 1934 that explores the early 20th-century immigrant experience through the eyes of a young Jewish child on New York's Lower East Side.
Phyllis Graber Jensen, Director, Photography and Video, Bates Communications Office
I haven’t been keeping good track of what I’ve read this year, and my memory isn’t what it used to be, so I’ll just toss out two fiction and two non-fiction works that I’m currently reading or read recently.
To Serve a Larger Purpose: Engagement for Democracy and the Transformation of Higher Education (edited by John Saltmarsh and Matthew Hartley). I’m finding some chapters of this edited collection more useful than others, but I appreciate its overall focus on higher education’s institutional-level responsibility to the public good and the institutional-level structures necessary to executing that responsibility.
No University is an Island (by Cary Nelson). Another analysis of higher education, this one focuses on academic freedom and the role of faculties in college and university governance, with attention to the implications of that role for higher education’s democratic potential.
The Distinguished Guest (by Sue Miller). This 1995 book was a nearly-random purchase I made at a used bookstore on a beautiful spring afternoon outing with a friend last year. I just recently got around to reading it, and enjoyed the gentle pace at which it explores aging, regrets, multigenerational family relationships, writing, memory and art.
The Lotus Eaters (by Tatjana Soli). I’m only a few chapters in, but this novel about a photographer in Saigon during the Vietnam War is beautifully written so I assume I’ll continue to find it worthy of recommending.
Emily Kane, Professor of Sociology
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain--as an avid Ernest Hemingway fan, I was enthralled by this book told by his first wife and first love, Hadley. It shed a perspective of Ernest that I had known about superficially but appreciated more when narrated by Hadley. Reading this prompted me to re-read an old favorite, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, and made me yearn to live in a time of great writers, whiling away the days in Paris cafes.
Day of the Bees by Thomas Sanchez--Some of the best books I've read have come from picking it up randomly at a book sale and this is one of them. From almost the first page, I was sucked into the romantic prose of Sanchez's writing style. His descriptive use of language was intoxicating and I just found myself lost within this story. I really enjoyed reading this book, and it's letter form didn't irritate me as I thought it might. There are some slow parts, but it's definitely worth it to reach the end.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot--As a self-proclaimed sciencephobe, I found this book to be intriguing, thought-provoking, and fascinating. The language in which Skloot uses to describe such scientific and technical terms is so understandable that it makes it such an interesting read and compelling. It really got me thinking about my knowledge (or lack thereof) of medical history, including my own personally. This is a case of truth being stranger than fiction and covers science, relationships, race, and the ability to find and discern your roots in a clear way.
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue--Another booksale find. As the mother of a two year old, I didn't think I wanted to read about stolen children, but I opened this anyway and was immediately riveted by the story of a seven-year old boy kidnapped in 1949 and replaced by a mythical changeling who takes over his life and grows up haunted by the distant knowledge that he is not who he claims to be. Part fairy tale, part science fiction, part novel, this book illuminates messages of loss, loneliness, and the search for an accepted identity, based on the W.B. Yeats poem of the same title. This book was a total surprise to me.
Alison M. Keegan, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Dean of the Faculty
Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall) has a new book out [Bring Up the Bodies] that I hope to read and find as enchanting as the first one. But that is for next year.
John Kelsey, Professor of Psychology
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read it again after a few decades in honor of the book's 50th anniversary and was impressed by how much more I enjoyed it this time.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver - An historical novel with an amazing cast--Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, Leo Trotsky--and locations from Mexico to Washington to Ashville, N.C.
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe - Being reminded in The Lacuna of the rich literary history of Ashville, I decided to read Look Homeward, Angel again. The history and the characters are worth the effort. Thank goodness for Wolfe's editor, Maxwell Perkins.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall - an autobiography by a woman about how she and her siblings survived being raised by two eccentric, if not totally dysfunctional, parents.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan - An historical novel about Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - a novel about ex-pat doctors in Ethiopia, twin brothers, and what the true meaning of family is.
Zeitoun by David Eggers - an account of a Muslim family's experiences in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Bates '92 - A novel about early-onset Alzheimer's told from the perspective of the patient, a Harvard professor. I've read a number of books on Alzheimer's and experienced it through my parents' decline, and I thought that Lisa was able to capture the stages and symptoms without becoming cliched.
The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate - A Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Henry Ward Beecher. Beecher was a member of a large, influential family--Harriet Beecher Stowe was his sister--in the 1800s. He was an influential minister with what we would call a "mega-church" in Brooklyn, an adviser to Presidents and kingmakers. He was an abolitionist and an advocate for temperance and women's suffrage. But, it was also rumored that he fathered at least one child out of wedlock and seduced many women.
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks - a story about Harvard's first Native American graduate, set in the late 1600s. Another one of Brooks' super-woman main characters--learns Latin, Greek, and Wampanoag and midwifery by osmosis, it seems, and even her sheep were smart enough to survive a hurricane when everyone else's were killed--makes the book a little trying, but the subject is fascinating.
Margo H. Knight, Director of Advancement Research
One of the best books I've read recently is this one by a woman who will be here at Bates on Monday! [4/30/12]
Dr. Patricia Sullivan, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement (2009)giving a talk entitled "Brown is a Black Cultural Product": The NAACP and the Struggle for Equal Education.
Karen Kothe, Associate Dean of Admission
Saul Below, Mr. Sammler’s Planet
Michael Kranish, Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War
James t Farrell, Studs Lonigan
Robert Herrick, Wasted
Candace MIllard, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
James Clifton, The Coming Jobs War
Peter Hitchens, Rage Against God
Paul Kuritz, Professor of Theater
Tear down this myth: the right-wing distortion of the Reagan legacy
by William Bunch (276 p., New York, Free Press, 2010, c2009).
After this read, you’ll never look at the current crops of conservatives in the same light, or at least not in the carefully chosen glorious beams in which they, self-serving as ever, now seek to bask. In the process of exposing Reagan’s self-proclaimed adherents, Bunch re-examines his presidency and legacy in a clear-headed and factual fashion. It’s about time!
Into the silence: the Great War, Mallory, and the conquest of Everest
by Wade David (655 p., New York, Knopf, 2011).
Along with other early explorers of the region such as the Italians, the British had no idea what they faced in the highly un-Alps-like Himalayas. They all learned of the vast differences in height and climbing conditions quickly enough, and in the case of the British tragically so.
Jim Lamontagne, Ladd Library
Lest you think Economists don't read....
This last year I really, really enjoyed
Cutting for Stone
The Trilogy of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Lynne Lewis, Professor of Economics
Originby Diana Abu-Jaber
Without you really noticing, the author slips in beside you and suddenly you realize that you are walking alongside her main character, Lena. Lena is a fingerprint analyst in a crime lab and, on the personal side, is wrapped up in myths of her early childhood. Or are these truths? Her job brings her work on a series of crib deaths that pulls her deeper into her own story. As a reader, you will surely begin to look at your own myths.
Another character of the book is Syracuse, New York, complete with the depths-of-winter colors, temperatures, smells and dangers. A good book to read in either a mild non-winter or in the bright sunlight!
Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France by mother and daughter team Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
An interesting work that alternates chapters by the two and is based on trips together during times of change for both of them. They reflect on each other, share their personal introspective thoughts, and weave in visits to places related to their individual work. One generation learns from another and it works both up and down the age ladder. If you liked The Secret Life of Bees, you will learn wonderful insights into its creation. Grab a map and settle in for a good armchair traveling experience as well as a thoughtful and thought provoking memoir.
Rebecca Lovett, Assistant Bookstore Manager
Rings of Saturn by W. H. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse
"Ostensibly a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," as Robert McCrum in the London Observer noted, The Rings of Saturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay. . . . The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might say hypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work."
Bill Low, Curator, Museum of Art
Sisters Brothers, Goon Squad, Buddha in the Attic, George R.R. Martin series, Game of Thrones
Kathy Low, Professor of Psychology
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
Set in a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, it is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing the nation. Tensions simmer as an Afrikaner police officer is found dead and emotions boil to the surface. This is a page turner and the setting in South Africa makes it a very different murder mystery. The main character, Emmanuel Cooper, is a complex and interesting police officer, and the South African setting makes solving a murder even more interesting. Sequels recently released are Let the Dead Lie and Blessed are the Dead.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
This is a murder mystery where the past meets the present. In the late 1970s, tragedy strikes when one of the main characters, Larry, takes a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she is never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the small town— most of all, his friend, Silas. His friendship with Larry is broken, and then Silas leaves town. More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.
Iron Lake by William Kent Kreuger
I like finding mystery series with a main character that develops throughout the series, and I was so pleased to find this one! There are twelve books in this series so far and it starts with Iron Lake. Set near an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota, this series follows former Chicago police officer, Cork O'Connor. He is part Indian and was raised in this small Minnesota town. In Iron Lake, the disappearance of an Indian newsboy, coincides with the suicide of a former judge, and Cork clashes with a newly elected senator (who also happens to be the judge's son); the town's new sheriff; and some tribal leaders getting rich on gambling concessions.
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
This is Tropper's newest book, and I think one of the funniest to date. Judd Foxman is wandering between a sea of self-pity and a "snake pit of fury and resentment" in the aftermath of the explosion of his marriage, which ended "the way these things do: with paramedics and cheesecake." Foxman is jobless (after finding his wife in bed with his boss) and renting out the basement of a "crappy house" when he is called home to sit shiva for his recently departed father. This means seven days in his parent's house with his incredibly dysfunctional family. The shiva scenes are hilarious, and in the end this is as much about a family's reconnecting as it is about one man's attempt to get his act together.
Mary Main, Director of Human Resources
Through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New England Naturally Curious: a Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey by Mary Holland. Exactly what its title implies, this new field guide alerts you to what to look for outdoors as the months progress. In our busy lives, the days fly by so fast that before we know it, the times to look for natural seasonal changes and wildlife behaviors have slipped away without notice. Naturally Curious is a perfect reminder: a little bit of every month to whet your appetite for what’s out there so you won’t miss anything!
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry. A respected psychotherapist returns to the Salem of her childhood, revisits her past, and reevaluates her present. Zee Finch is an appealing young doctor, launched on a brilliant career and about to make the perfect marriage. A patient’s suicide and her father’s illness bring her home again, as she deals with issues of caregiving, sexuality, responsibility, and guilt—all those familiar issues that make a fascinating story.
Compiled and edited by Sarah Potter, Bookstore Director, 5/12