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01 Apr '11

2011 Summer Reading List

Posted by Sarah Potter

Each year, as a gift to the graduating class, the staff of the College Store solicits suggestions from the Bates community for interesting summer reading.

The list, famously known as the Non-required Reading List, or Good Reads for Leisure Moments, is now in its 15th edition, with more than 110 contributors this year.

And as always, we lead off with our "alpha" contributor, Associate Professor of Biology Lee Abrahamsen.


For a couple of years I have been hooked on the novels of Bryce Courtenay. His stories of boxing and Australia and his wonderful character development hook me every time. The newest of his novels, The Four Fires, is another good one. About an Australian family working their way up from poverty in the 1950s-1970s, this story is particularly good to listen to as the audiobook is narrated by Humphrey Bower (a fantastic weaver of tales and voices).

 

I am also 2/3 of the way through his Australian Trilogy, which is historical fiction that chronicles the change of Australia from the land of Aboriginal people, to a place where England's convicts are exiled and struggle to survive. The three books in the trilogy are The Potato FactoryTommo and Hawk and Solomon's Song. The characters are engaging, and the action is non-stop. The books include bawdy stories about whaling, pickpockets and beer-making in Van Dieman's land -- what more could you want?

Lee Abrahamsen, Associate Professor of Biology


Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is the story of twin brothers who are born to a young nun and a surgeon at a mission hospital in Ethiopia. Their mother dies in childbirth, and their father disappears, so the twins are adopted and raised at the hospital by two other physicians. The twins learn medicine by osmosis - then one goes on to attend medical school, while the other stays behind to work with his mother in the clinic. As Ethiopia teeters on the brink of revolution, the characters learn about politics, relationships and the many ways we care for others. A great book that leaves you thinking about your own life and how you choose to live it.

 

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo, late of Colby College, is a great read for academics. It's about a guy whose parents were English profs and who can't get their voices out of his head. Funny and truthful.

Martin Andrucki, Professor of Theater


OK, I haven't read it yet but I have it on good authority that this is a good read: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

 

Every night I read one or two selections from The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks. I read the same selections again the following morning or as soon as I get to it. The second reading is heaven!

Linda Archambault, Lab Research Assistant, Dana Chemistry


I have two recommendations, both of which center broadly on the immigrant experience - one in the US, the other in France. The first one is Zeitoun by Dave Eggars and the second one is A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar Ben Jelloun.

 

Áslaug Asgeirsdottir, Associate Professor of Politics


A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks (autobiography/photography)
Musashi
 by Eiji Yoshikawa (historical novel)
Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems
 by Ryokan (poetry)
Japanese Pilgrimage
 by Oliver Statler (out of print) (history/travel)
Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage
 by Chet Raymo (science)

 

Will Ash, Assistant in Instruction, Imaging and Computing Center


The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life by Tom Reiss
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street
 by Naguib Mahfouz
The Museum of Innocence
 by Orhan Pamuk

 

Senem Aslan, Assistant Professor of Politics


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I had no idea that the Channel Islands of Britain had been occupied by the Nazis in WWII. This whole book is in the form of fictional letters through which we learn about the lives of ordinary people during that time. It seems odd to use a word like "charming" to describe a book about wartime occupation, but it is.

 

The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior by Paul Strathern. I vaguely knew that DaVinci, Machiavelli and Borgia lived in Italy around the same time, but I didn't know that all three interacted extensively. Really fascinating history... real life tales of intrigue, science and art.

Pam Baker, Professor of Biology/Director of Faculty Research and Scholarship


One of the best books I read this year was Just Kids by Patti Smith. It's a remarkable "coming of age" story, a love story, and, most importantly, the story of a young woman as artist. The writing is clear, free of nostalgia, cliche, or cynicism. The memoir is a beautiful evocation of what it felt like to discover art and music at the time.

 

I'm currently re-reading and enjoying Annie Dillard's Teaching a Stone to Talk. It's a collection of exquisitely written essays on human relationship to the natural world.

Misty Beck, Writing Specialist


Non-fiction....Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

 

Chronicles a boy's life with Tourette's Syndrome, OCD and depression from age 5-18. Hal (co-author) is Cody's dad. Unbelievable what the family managed to survive in those 13 years and especially, Cody.

Fiction....The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
She is a "page-turner" author!!!!! Her story tangles in so many directions that it is near the end when I started to figure things out. This book makes me anxious to read more Tess Gerritsen....

Jane Bedard, Admission Office Specialist


My attendance April 2010 at the 50th Anniversary of The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee inspired a year of nostalgic, moving, and informative reading. Three great ones:

 

1. Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (Holsaert, et. al.)

2. Blues for Mr. Charlie (James Baldwin)

3. Letters From Mississippi: Reports from Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer (Elizabeth Martinez, editor)

And a really great read about the art of peace-making: The Moral Imagination (James Laderach)

Bill Blaine-Wallace, Multifaith Chaplain


Of the books on the schedule for the Boston Bates Alumnae Book Club this year, the one that we all seemed to agree upon as a great read (not an easy thing as we have such divergent tastes) is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Beautifully written and a fascinating story of family, medicine and politics.

 

Boston Bates Club via Lisa Romeo '88


I'd like to recommend Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed. While his ideas are applicable to other areas of life, this is really a book about the success of elite athletes. How do they perform at what seems to be other-worldly levels? How do they squelch self-doubt and why do they sometimes choke under pressure? Mr. Syed, who is himself a world-class table tennis player, has some pretty counterintuitive answers to these questions. This is an engagingly written book with some wonderful examples of both "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," but combined with relevant scientific findings from sports psychology, neuroscience, and other fields. This book will change the way you think about what it takes to be successful.

 

Helen Boucher, Assistant Professor of Psychology


The following are a series of three books by author Stieg Larsson: great adventure, murder, mystery and intrigue, suspense. You must read the first one as each one refers to the prior book. This is also out in video but after reading the book it is a bit graphic, so be warned. My husband liked the videos as he is not a big fan of reading.

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The following is the write up from the publisher on the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
"The disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden, gnaws at her octogenarian uncle, Henrik Vanger. He is determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder. He hires crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, recently at the wrong end of a libel case, to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance. Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness--assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism--and a surprising connection between themselves." --From publisher description.

Jane Boyle, Ladd Library, Library Assistant-Public Service


I enjoy reading...maybe too much. If I have a good book, the world could disintegrate around me. I would not notice and I would not care!

 

Under the Dome - Stephen King
I've been staying away from Stephen King the last few years but my daughter left this at the house. I wasn't thrilled with the way the ending, but the first 800 pages were great!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Received this one for Christmas. LOVED IT!
Forced myself to wait until I was traveling to pick up the 2nd volume in the trilogy.

The Girl Who Played with Fire
I finished this and wanted more! But the 3rd book wasn't out in paperback.
The next long plane ride, I'll be getting

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest even if I have to buy the hardcover.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
I picked this up because the movie was coming out. I still haven't seen the movie but
the book lived up to what I have come to expect from Connelly.

Barbara Buck, Program Analyst


I have not personally read this book but my father (who has read just about every non-fiction adventure book in existence) could not recommend this book enough for those who like adventure novels!

 

Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventureby James West Davidson and John Rugge (This has been taken off Amazon.com: "In 1903 Leonidas Hubbard set out to cross the Ungava-Labrador Peninsula, and to forge a name for himself as an adventure writer. He took a friend, a guide, a canoe, a ton of equipment, and scads of naive hope. Months later, the friend and guide staggered out of the snow, and Hubbard starved to death in his tent, too weak to attempt the 30-mile trek to safety. And that's just Part I.)"

Amy Bureau, Administrative Assistant Alumni and Parent Engagement


I recommend The Master Switch by Tim Wu. A detailed account of information empires -- telephone, radio, movies, and television and cable. Each one was thought to be the invention that would change everything. Then money pours in, the grassroots industry consolidates hugely, and small handful of companies control the 'master switch' to reach consumers by that communications medium. Do you think the internet will be different -- that broadband changes everything? Then read this book. Lots of detail about the outsize personalities involved.

 

Also recommend Zero History by William Gibson. The last of a trilogy (including Pattern Recognition andSpook Country). Quirky but highly imaginative plots. Almost science fiction in a completely recognizable world. The author is a close observer of modern culture, consumerism (same thing?), technology, the thrum of cities (especially Tokyo), spycraft and fashion. Zero History can be read alone, in fact each of them can be, but if you have time it's more satisfying to read Zero History as the capper of the three. I will never see an exuberantly decorated hotel again without recalling the amusing opening chapters of this book.

Ann Bushmiller, '79, Trustee


I do recommend reading or for many of us re-reading Jane Eyre. The book is a stunning portrayal of the power of authenticity and self direction, and the difference one person can make.

 

Nancy Cable, Vice President and Dean of Enrollment and External Affairs


Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Here If You Need Me
 by Kate Braestrup

 

Tammy Caron, Assistant Director, CMR, Creative Design


In no particular order of preference, here are my book reviews for this year!

 

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow: A "classic" that I had never read. I really enjoyed this book -- well crafted. And it gave a wonderful sense of history of a time/place. It was funny at times, poignant, and had a host of interesting characters weaving in and out of the pages.

A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster: Another classic and a brilliant book -- philosophical and literary. It reveals the tensions between the Indians and the British in the early part of the 20th century. I had never read this book, and I'm glad I finally did. Be sure to read the reflection/commentary at end -- it has great insights into some of the layers of the novel.

Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls: The story of Jeannette's grandmother, told from first person p.o.v. It was a good story, but I liked her Glass Castle book better. This one doesn't really explore the characters in depth -- more of a sense of vignettes in her grandmother's life. But I did enjoy it, and so did two of my boys, ages 14 and 16.

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks: A page turner. It traces, through minute details, an ancient Jewish text that travels around much of the world. My one complaint is that each chapter of discovery from tidbits never "go" anywhere -- it is disjointed, almost like a series of short stories.

A Year of Wonder, by Geraldine Brooks: I would give this 3 out of 5 stars. I would rate it higher, if not for the abysmal ending. The story is captivating, well written, and captures a slice of true-to-life realities from the 1600's in a small town infected by the plague. Based in a real historic town and set of events, the book was excellent overall. Unfortunately, the ending put a damper on my enthusiasm for this book and left me disappointed. Still, it's a good read if you overlook that one flaw.

March, by Geraldine Brooks: Clever take on the Civil War as seen by Mr. March, the father of the Little Women. It shows the complexities and brutality of both sides of the war, and it portrays what Mr. March goes through while away at war. A Pulitzer Prize winner.

The City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt: Nonfiction. I liked this book much more than I expected to. It is very well written, and it reads a bit like a mystery, a bit like a series of character sketches. It's all true, and it made Venice come alive to me, truly a character in its own right within the book. Fascinating story.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay: A good book in many ways, but it dragged a bit at the end, and I also felt that the writing quality decreased toward the end. A sad story about a girl who gets rounded up by Nazis and who promises to come back for her little brother who is locked in a cabinet... and the fall-out from that decision.

Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann: I enjoyed this book quite a bit -- The "background" story/thread is about a tightrope walker who walks between the Twin Towers (pre-9/11). But the "bigger" story is really about the everyday lives of people on the streets of NY -- and the ways in which those lives collide and intersect with each other. The contrast of the ordinary with the extraordinary, the mundane and the surreal, creates a tension that places all of us (readers) on that tight rope. Well written.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy: A sad and quick read about a post-apocalyptic world, where a father and son try to find safety, food, and warmth -- all of which is in very short supply. But, despite the inhuman conditions and the almost complete lack of hope, the father and son keep their spirits alive by staying focused on what matters -- their love for each other and the possibility of something "more" out there.

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins: These books are written for the "young adult" audience, but they are definitely "dark" -- about a dystopian world where children are chosen to participate in "games" to the death. This series is a real page-turner! Well written, and the characters, settings, and plot are well developed. The best are the first and second books, but the third wrapped up many details. However, the third book shifts the focus quite a bit away from the society as a whole, to the heroine herself. I definitely recommend the series.

The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson: (The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl Who Played with Fire;The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest): All three of these books are real page turners, no doubt about that, and I couldn't put them down. A quirky heroine (most likely with Aspergers, which is near and dear to my heart as a parent) who defies all explanation and labels, who ends up on a set of tense adventures that create a complex webbing of characters and circumstances. However, these books are all extremely dark, not always my "cup of tea," and I also found my "willing suspension of disbelief" pushed to the max on many occasions. The second book was my least favorite, and I found myself impatiently trying to finish it. But the other two were better and kept my attention all the way through.

The Beet Queen, by Louise Erdrich: A 40-year saga that begins with a brother and sister abandoned by their mother who jump on a train. The boy, Karl, vanishes, to reappear later, and the girl, Mary, is raised by an aunt and uncle, vying for attention and friends with her cousin Sita. Slow-moving, with shifts of perspectives throughout. No real conclusion to the tensions, which works for the novel in many ways. This is a real "character" novel.

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe: A simply-told story of enduring complexity. A classic and a "must read" for many reasons. It captures the tensions of old tribal customs (Nigeria) and colonialism, and the costs of both in the intersections. Told in sparse prose, with an anti-hero trying to make sense of conflicting worlds, the story ends inevitably in tragedy.

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson: Nonfiction. Despite the recent controversies surrounding this text and the author (most of which I attribute to a somewhat-prurient desire to dig up dirt on heroes), I really liked this book and wish I'd read it sooner. While I have not yet read the sequel (Stones to Schools), I was taken in by the storyline -- a man who more or less "falls into" a situation where he makes a promise to build a school in the mountains of Pakistan, an occurrence that begins a lifelong mission to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg Mortenson never claims to be a details-person, an organizer, or a record-keeper (some of which faults have led to the recent criticisms), but he is a passionate and sincere visionary who works against all odds in the name of education for all.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley: Cute and clever, funny and quick -- a fun read. An 11-year-old precocious heroine who unwittingly finds a dead body in her garden and then works to free her father from the suspicion of murder. The writing is a bit stilted, the plot a bit contrived, and the similes are significantly overdone, but it's easy to forgive the flaws for an escapist mystery featuring a likable and quirky protagonist.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett: Really enjoyed this book -- well written with important reflections on women's roles in the south during the early '60's, and several women's courageous choices to step outside of their assigned identities to break down barriers.

The Insufficiency of Maps, by Nora Pierce: A novel about growing up Native American as seen through the eyes of a child who is torn between the people of the "res" (her own heritage), many of whom are broken and dysfunctional, and the white people who take her in as a foster child. Her mother's mental illness make it impossible for the child to stay with her, and we follow the disintegration of the spirit through the child's eyes. Good idea for a story, but not as well written as I'd like.

Anita Charles, Lecturer/Director of Secondary Teacher Education


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Here is synopsis from Amazon:

 

"Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm--and into Edgar's mother's affections.

"Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires--spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.

"David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes--the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain--create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic."

It's a wonderful book that many relate to a modern take on Hamlet. Being a lover of dogs, I was personally drawn to the brilliant description of the emotional ties between humans and their canine companions, as well as the parts of the novel that were told from the vantage point of Almondine.

Kristen Cloutier, HCCP, Assistant Director of Center Operations


Here's one I recommend: The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World by Ken Alder. It's an account of the efforts during the French Revolution to measure the size of the earth and establish the true length of the meter. Politics, history, science, cover-ups...everything you need for a good summer read.

 

Matt Cote, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Associate Dean of the Faculty


North and South- by Elizabeth Gaskell. I discovered this little gem last April. It was originally published as a 22-part weekly serial in a magazine in the mid 1850s. (Don't be misled, this is NOT the John Jakes series of novels centering on the Civil War.) The title of this book refers to the contrast between the wealthy south and the industrial north of England in the Victorian era. I have recommended this book to friends and all of them compare it to Pride & Prejudice. If you are a lover of Jane Austen then you will likely enjoy this book. In fact, you might even have a hard time deciding which characters you love more. Will it be Mr. Darcy or Mr. Thornton? [In the U.S. this book is in the public domain, so you can download a free copy of the ebook through Project Gutenberg or another such source of public domain books.]

 

The Pillars of the Earth - by Ken Follett. This is a sprawling epic in the 12th century about a community of people, in fictional Kingsbridge, who endeavor to build a cathedral. It's a roller coaster ride of highs and lows for the heroes of the story and includes truly evil villains. This summer I plan to read the follow-up, World Without End, which takes place in Kingsbridge two centuries later featuring the descendants of the characters fromPillars but set against the backdrop of the Plague.

Never Let Me Go - by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a unique and thought provoking story about the loss of innocence, accepting one's fate, and the meaning of humanity. This one contains heaps of great subtext. I could not stop thinking about this book for several days after finishing it.

The Remains of the Day - also by Kazuo Ishiguro. Tells the story of a butler in post-WWII England. He strives for perfection in his profession while failing to notice that his former employer was a Nazi sympathizer. Much of the story is told through his recollections. While attempting to achieve perfect dignity in his profession he makes sacrifices in personal relationships along the way. This is not a fast-paced book, but very well written.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson. It spans one day in the life of Miss Pettigrew who stumbles into a job as the social secretary of a singer/actress who lives a whirlwind existence. In short, it is a case of mistaken identity coupled with self-discovery. This is a delightful, fun, and quick read.

Split SecondHour GameSimple Genius, and First Family - by David Baldacci. A series of books about two former Secret Service agents, Maxwell and King, turned private investigators. The most recent installment, The Sixth Man, was just released in 4/2011. They are very fast reads--I squeezed the first four in during February break.
A Prayer for Owen Meany - by John Irving. I first read this book in the mid 90s, but I reread it every few years because it is one of my favorites. Tells the story of John and his best friend Owen. Most of the story is set in New Hampshire in the 50s and 60s. A central theme of the story is Owen's belief that he is an instrument of God, but just how is not revealed until the end of the story.

Grace Coulombe, Director of the Mathematics and Statistics Workshop


I read my Bates contemporary Ru Freeman '93's A Disobedient Girl this year - I think it was this year - enjoyed it very much, though the ending was a painful twist. Good illustration of the havoc wreaked by the class system in Sri Lanka on the lives of two women and their families.

 

I've been reading some pretty fluffy but good historical fiction about the Renaissance that I won't report about.
I bought Left Neglected but haven't read it yet...

And I've only read half of What the Dog Saw...

I know there have been some other good ones, just don't remember what.

Marianne Nolan Cowan, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement


Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

 

Karen Daigler, Bates Career Development Center


The Girls Who Went Away by Anne Fessler. Interesting, heart-wrenching stories of women who surrendered their children for adoption

 

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Study of the suppression of women in various cultures and the ways women have worked to overcome their circumstances to advocate for others.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Crazy by Pete Earley. A very readable book (by a journalist whose son struggles with bipolar disorder) about the broken mental health/prison system in our country.

Marty Deschaines, HCCP, Asst. Dir. for Community Volunteerism and Student Dev.


I am really interested in China. Ha Jin's Waiting shows how difficult life and love can be when a man lives in two places--in the city for his job with summer visits to his hometown with women in both places. He is caught between two cultures and two very different women. Lisa See's novels are quick reads. Shanghai Girlsfollows two sisters from Shanghai where they were carefree and "modern" until their father, who has lost all of his wealth, sells them to Chinese men from Los Angeles. There they live traditional lives in what some might call a Chinese ghetto. Finally Peter Hessler (whose previous books, River Townand Oracle Boneswere also terrific reads) takes the reader across today's China in Country Driving: A Journey through China from Farm to Factory.Hessler captures the people he meets and the places he visits with such detail, the reader feels as if s/he has been right beside him and learns a great deal about the lives and perspectives of diverse Chinese people.

 

Anne Dodd, Senior Lecturer Emerita in Education


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
This book recounts the experiences of Olympic Runner Louis Zampirini as an Olympic Athlete and World War II POW. Hillenbrand provides and extensively researched account of Zampirini's life as a child, airman and post war hero. I highly recommend this book.

 

Stephanie Dumont, Administrative Assistant, Advancement


Digging to America - Anne Tyler

 

The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
One of her earliest books, and deserves to be better known.

Bleak House - Charles Dickens
Yes, really -- it's been a different book every time I've read it. So far, that's been in my teens, 20s, and 30s.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies - Cecilia Galante
Ostensibly a YA book, but well worth reading.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Because it's probably been a while since most people reading the list read this book. My 8th-grade daughter was blown away by it this year.

Knitting for Peace:Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time - Betty Christiansen
For knitters (obviously). Short chapters on ways you can knit for others in the hope that every tiny act helps things get better.

Elizabeth Durand, class of 1976


I read one of the books being discussed during Staff Enrichment Week, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. It is a quick read and the messages are practical. For some reason it inspired me to proceed with getting our kitchen remodeled (something we had wanted to do for a long time) so I did get something out of it.

 

Ken Emerson, Associate Director of Human Resources


Following the Water- a Hydromancer's Notebook by David M Carroll
I read this during the winter and felt like I was transported into SPRING. It is a beautifully descriptive notebook with wonderful sketches, then again I love nature.

 

The Power of the Rellard by Carolyn F Logan
I got this for my grandson, but had to read it first. It is a young readers' adventure, much like The Golden Compass and Harry Potter.

Melinda Emerson, ILS Purchasing, Sales and Accounting Specialist


Justin Tussing - The Best People in the World -- a quirky, but engaging novel about young people on the lam back to the land in VT back in the day.

 

Jose Saramago - Blindness -- a ferocious but provocative apocalyptic novel by the Portuguese Nobel winner.

Aracelis Girmay - Teeth -- one of the most vibrant first books of poems I have read in some years. She read here at Bates this spring.

David Lodge - Deaf Sentence -- It's very British, and often excruciatingly funny-- you know, David Lodge.

Gregory Pardlo - Totem-- another excellent first book of poems, by a young poet coming to Bates to read in September.

Rob Farnsworth, Senior Lecturer in English


This might have been on the list before, but: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver

 

Johanna Farrar, Associate Dean of Admission


Life by Keith Richards.
I just finished Keith Richards' autobiography, which I totally enjoyed but am embarrassed to recommend for fear that the Bates community would think that I ever partook in such debauchery while young.
But it really was a fun read.

 

Joan Fischer, Leadership Gifts Officer


May I recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak?
I do not want to spoil this book for anyone. Let is suffice to say that I had not cried over a book for many a year until I read this one. But, oddly enough, it is not a sad book!! Set in a small town in Nazi-ruled Germany, this book describes the daily life of young girl. Amazon ranking with over 1000 replies is 4.5 stars. It may be aimed at the young adult reader, but it one of the best-written and well-plotted books I have ever read. Once I figured out who the narrator of the tale was, I was hooked. I would love to read this in a book club so that I could discuss it with others.

 

Also, for a sweet "cozy" mystery, I just found Carolyn Hart's 3 detective books about the ghost Bailey Ruth.Ghost at WorkMerry Merry Ghost and Ghost in Trouble. The well-dressed heroine is not a "ghost", but an "emissary" from Heaven's "Department of Good Intentions" who gets sent back to fix problems without interfering, but always interferes. Above all, she must not scare anyone by being ghostly or doing something unexplainable, but how else can she save the day? These stories are lots of fun with minimal mental aerobics required.

Jane Frizzell, Network Services Administrator


I just finished the Alex McKnight series of books by Steve Hamilton. The first book in the series is A Cold Day in Paradise, which won the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin's Press Award for Best First Mystery by an Unpublished Writer. Once published, it went on to win the MWA Edgar and the PWA Shamus Awards for Best First Novel, and was short-listed for the Anthony and Barry Awards. Great series.

 

Shirley Govindasamy, Payroll Manager


If you like mysteries, here's a good one for summer reading, centering on horses and a train trip across Canada:The Edge, by Dick Francis.

 

Lois Griffiths, Alumna and Retiree


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield : A mystery with magnetic pull.

 

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova: Interesting story of the impact of a brain injury that could happen to any of us. Character has lost the ability to perceive information coming from the left side. Enjoyed this story very much and if you liked "Still Alice" you will like this also.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Godrick: This is a thriller on the quiet side but an enjoyable read.

I Was a Dancer by Jacques d' Amboise: I have to promote my cousin's book!! But even if I were not related, I would love this book. Jacques speaks of a life well-lived with lots of hard work and much success. The back ground of the dance world in the US and in foreign lands is well documented. It is a joy to know that some famous people can live a good and healthy life in the entertainment world. He has accomplished a lot in his life with more to come I am sure.

Lorraine Groves, Bookstore Sales Floor Supervisor


Great book, would recommend to all: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

 

Nicole Hastings, Assistant in Instruction, Physics


I can't remember if I already suggested this in a previous year (books are so timeless!)--An Imaginary Life by David Malouf. A very edgy imagination of what Ovid's exile in Tomis (on the Black Sea) might (not) have been like. Short but engrossing.

 

Also the field guides by David Sibley, the one I use when I go birding myself--The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.

Tom Hayward, Humanities Reference Librarian


Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Longish, telling short stories.

 

Judy Head, Associate Dean of the Faculty


Under the Dome by Stephen King. On a normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mills, Maine, the town is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

 

Laurie Henderson, Director of Offices Services


Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia. Part travelogue, part history of where the Czars and Soviets sent the millions of people who annoyed them. Beautifully written with a droll sense of humor: lots can go wrong on a trip through a land that includes 11 time zones, and it does, starting with buying a second-hand car for the trip.

 

Antonia Fraser, Must You Go: My Life with Harold Pinter. A great historian's elegiac account of her mid-life marriage to one of the great modern playwrights, up to his death. The wry sad title is reflective of the tone of the book.

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. A stunning book on the "HeLa" cells that form the basis of most modern cellular and genetic research. Part medical history, part social commentary and family portrait of a young Black woman who died of cancer in Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Her cancer cells, taken without her knowledge, were able to survive outside her body and were used for most modern medical research, helping to find cures for polio, cancer and viral diseases. The book includes Victor McKusick, a Bates parent and founder of modern genetics, who was a leader in the team who worked with the cells.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies. Another book on cancer, by a gifted and dedicated oncologist, with sections on the history of the disease and its treatment, layered with chapters on the author's work with his patients. Powerful writing, and ultimately hopeful about the disease.

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. A powerfully told story of the Black migration from the South to other parts of America, following three families. The Amazon blurb calls it "an epic, beautifully written masterwork," not an exaggeration for this book.

Peter Gomes, The Good Life. The great voice is stilled, but in this book are his rolling cadences and phrasing with the warm crisp insight from one who spent his life thinking about how to make a good life from the imperfect stuff we are given.

Bill Hiss '66, Executive Director for International Advancement and Lecturer in Asian Studies


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a great read!

 

Aislinn Hougham, Assistant Director of Annual Giving



The Wedding by Danielle Steele

 

Another great book, Vanished by Danielle Steele

Also--titles that are part of a SERIES aka THE SISTERHOOD series and the Lt. DALLAS series, these are GREAT and are ongoing.

Joan Houston, Administrative Assistant, Facility Services


To the End of the Land by David Grossman
This is a long and tender tale of an Israeli woman who hopes that a hike in the Galilee -- with an old friend and lover who has fathered her son but never met him -- will somehow protect the young man from his military service. If she's not sitting at home waiting for the delivery of her son's death notice, he can't die. Written by one of Israel's finest novelists and essayists who lost his own son to war, this book embodies the power of life and intimacy and rages against the idiocy of armed conflict.

 

Phyllis Graber Jensen, Director of Photography and Video, Communications and Media Relations


Half Broke Horses- Jeannette Walls this is the follow up to The Glass Castle which I would also recommend.
Another I would suggest is Room by Emma Donoghue. It's a difficult read in that it is about a woman abducted and abused by her captor, she has a son and together they escape and begin to live a normal life outside of Room. It's beautiful, dark and sad but uplifting when you consider the resilience of the human spirit.

 

A lighter, feel good read: The Art of Racing in the Rain Garth Stein. If you are a dog lover you will appreciate this book about the special bond between a dog and its human.

Ashley Jewell, Admission Coordinator, Campus Visits and Events


Has anyone recommended The Help yet? If you were raised by a Southern woman who came of age during the civil rights movement, this book will definitely provide insight into who she was. (I loved it!) Not a very lofty comment, but the book is a dang good read for the beach/airplane.

 

Beverly Johnson, Associate Professor of Geology


Cutting for Stone : a Novel / Abraham Verghese2009
Compelling story about a medical family - their relationships with the backdrop of Ethiopian's turbulent history.

 

The Sherlockian / Graham Moore2110
Sherlock lovers, for sure, and others will enjoy this debut novel intrigue about the interim period when Sir Conan Doyle had "killed" Sherlock to when he decides to write him to life again, and the modern Sherlockian search for the lost diary of the same period.

Octavia's Hill / Margaret Dickson1983
Margaret (Smith) Dickson '68 writes a haunting account of a fictional place in Maine and the historical relationships that continue to affect the present generation of occupants on the hill.

The Poacher's Son / Paul Doiron2010
I guess I'm on a Maine authors kick.... this is not as enthusiastically endorsed as the above ones, but I thought it was a good page-turner and an interesting look at the lives of those who live much further north.
Laura Juraska, Associate Librarian for Reference Services


Some years I offer more of a summary of my entries, but this year I'm especially tight for time so I'll have to settle for a few random selections with little description!

 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon: somehow I missed this book 10 years ago when everyone else was reading it, so I'll recommend it now to encourage anyone else who missed it to check it out (or anyone who forgot it because they read it 10 years ago to consider reading it again!).

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: I'm only about one-third of the way through this book, but one of my 17-year old sons is an avid reader who recommends it very enthusiastically, so I'll pass that recommendation along.

The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates: this is another one that everyone else was reading a few years ago and I only managed to get around to recently.

Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times by Margaret Nelson: a very engaging sociological study of class variation in parenting styles and the use of surveillance technologies in parenting; many students in my course on "Privilege, Power and Inequality" considered it their favorite of the 5 books we read because they recognized their own experiences in Nelson's analysis of her interviews with parents of teenagers (while I found it interesting both as a sociologist and as a parent of teenagers myself).

Winning by Francesco Duina: here's a plug for one of my colleagues in the Bates sociology department- his new book is written for a broader audience than just sociologists, and a very engaging read.

The 2010 Bates College Accreditation Self-Study Report: working on this was a large part of the reason I got so behind on everything else this year, and did less leisure reading than usual, so I'll include it on my list of what I've been reading, but I'm confident you'll find many better suggestions throughout this year's summer reading list.

Emily Kane, Whitehouse Professor of Sociology


Little Bee by Chris Cleave--Like the back of the cover says--it's simply a magical book that will leave you wanting to discuss with others, and if you're lucky, like I did when I discussed, learned totally different perspectives by the others who read. It's a fantastic book club, summer read.

 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett--This book has gained steady momentum since coming out last year. The author truly captures the Southern way of life, right down to the language, and at times can be laugh out loud funny, and as well as sad and heartbreaking. Each chapter is a different character voice that weave together to form an incredible story. Highly recommend!

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay--A different take on the World War 2/Holocaust era, it deals with the French occupation, and a little known event called Vel' d'Hiv. The story goes back and forth between 1942 and present day, and offers a heart wrenching take on loss and the destruction that family secrets can have, even across time. I read this book literally in 24 hours. I could not put it down.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo--This book is marked as a childrens' book, however, like so many others, has messages within that speak directly to the grown- ups. A little less magical or whimsical than The Velveteen Rabbit, but still manages to touch you from within, and give a lesson simply on the power of love.

Blindness by Jose Saramago--I read this book over a decade ago, and have read it again for two different book clubs. This book was unlike any book I had ever read, both in content and style of writing. It takes you to a place that is raw and emotional, and asks the reader to consider what would happen if society were to completely breakdown, where all rules are broken, and what happens when individuals are taken to the very brink of humanity. It is captivating yet sometimes difficult to read because of its content, but it will leave the reader repeatedly asking the question "what if...?" and remind us how easy it is to take for granted the societal structure and comforts that we are so used to.

The Puzzle King by Betsey Carter--Just a really interesting and well crafted story based on the authors own ancestors--the puzzle king itself can mean so many different things as you journey throughout 30 years during a Hitler regime and how the tentacles of that occupation reached German Jews in the US, the struggle to fit in, despite enormous wealth, and the fact that not everything is as it seems. Another fascinating story from that time period.


Compiled and edited by Sarah Potter, Bookstore Director, 5/11