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15 Sep '03

2003 Summer Reading List

Posted by Sarah Potter

Each spring, the College Store solicits from members of the Bates community their suggestions for good summer reads:

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks.
Engrossing novel, set in England 1666 during an outbreak of plague. Makes great use of language of the period and is in the tradition of picaresque tales, like Moll Flanders.
Blood Doctor, by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell). I take the risk of recommending a book I'm still reading because Rendell is such a good mystery writer. Her Barbara Vine series tends to be darker and more disturbing than her Wexford mysteries. This book follows two story lines--the research of a biographer into the life of his great grandfather (the blood doctor of the title), and the move to do away with heredity peerage in Parliament.
The 3,000-Mile Garden, by Leslie Land. I came late to this collection of letters exchanged between two gardeners. Leslie Land, then gardening in Maine, and her British friend (whose name escapes my addled and aged brain) exchanged letters over several years, discussing their gardens, struggles against encroachments on London's park squares, recipes, love and life. I read these letters over breakfast in the dead of this past winter--they got me through the worst of it.
And finally, for those who enjoy well-written books on gardens and gardening, I recommend Louise Beebe Wilder, who wrote between 1908 and 1935. A number of her books are available in reprint or in used editions. Many of the great standards in garden writing are by British authors, who contend(ed) with the mild (zone 7) climate of the UK. Wilder was an American, fully aware of the demands of gardening in our much more extreme climate(s). For the power of her descriptions alone, I'd recommend her works.
— Joyce Seligman, Director of the Writing Workshop

My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki.
— Leslie Winston, Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese

The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
Message in a Bottle, by Nicholas Sparks
The Redemption of Sarah Cain, by Beverly Lewis
Who Moved My Cheese? , by Spencer, M.D. Johnson
Self Help, by Lorrie Moore
All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
— Simone Marie Henderson, Government Documents Library Assistant

Anything by Nelson DeMille is a must-read. He writes crime fiction that usually revolves around the government and the military. His most recognizable book is probably The General's Daughter, because it was made into a film with John Travolta. However, while that is a great book (and of course, the book is much better than the movie), I do not think it is his best. My favorites are TheCharm School and The Lion's Game. His books are fast paced, edge-of-your-seat page-turners, perfect for the summer. The Talbot Odyssey is another great one, and like The Charm School, tells a tale of Russia-U.S. relations during the cold war days of of the 1980s. Happy reading!
— Kristen Andersen, Assistant Director of Annual Giving

Good Poems, collected and with an introduction by Garrison Keillor. "The Writer's Almanac" on public radio is part of my morning ritual, and this collection of short, accessible poems is a nice companion.
The Hours , by Michael Cunningham.
After all the fuss about the movie, I needed to read this and am glad I did in conjunction with rereading Mrs. Dalloway.
The Painted Bed, by Donald Hall. Poems about the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon, and his life without her.
And, for the beach, I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother, by Allison Pearson. Marred by a fairy-tale ending, it still has drop-dead funny moments -- such as the opening scene, which finds the heroine "distressing" store-bought goodies to take to the school bake sale so that they'll look homemade. Ouch! Too close to home!
Also for the beach (but cover it up with a towel so no one can see what you're reading), Martha Inc : The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, by Christopher M. Byron. Meow, meow.
— Beth Sheppard, Director,,Office of Alumni Relations

Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond
A fine example of the synthesis of science, history, and anthropology for the general reader. Makes a nice companion read for The Botany of Desire. You'll never look at an ear of corn the same way again.
Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie
A history of modern India and Pakistan filtered through the lens of fantasy, Bollywood style.
Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera
A familiar coming of age story, integrated with Maori creation myths. Read it before you see the film adaptation.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller
Unforgettable scenes and thoroughly unlikable characters.
— Andrew White, Director of Academic Technology Services

The Brothers of Gwyneddquartet, the Heaven Tree Trilogy all of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, by Ellis Peters. I had read a few of these before, but wanted to read them again as well as try some new ones - she creates a compelling vision of 12th century Shropshire.
A Painted House, and The Client, by John Grisham
All of his books have a jaded view of the legal profession, but the plots are page-turners, and his childhood memories are compelling.
Peter Loon, by Van Reid
The author lives and works in the Damariscotta area. This is a historical novel of a teen-age boy in the War of 1812 era, living in the wilderness and then discovering the wider world. It has the most amazing description of traveling through the woods at night, in a "world lit only by fire."
— Lois Griffiths, Alumna and Retiree

Well, of course I would have suggested Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett as my absolute number one pick of the year, but was advised by the editors that EVERYONE will be suggesting Bel Canto. So I will refrain from gushing (but you MUST read it!).
Two less recent books but haunting and thoughtful: In the Fall, by Jeffrey Lent (begins in the Civil War and traces a biracial family across three generations) and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (amazing journey on foot but also through two people's lives during the Civil War).
My favorite not so new book by far was The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, a corker of a book about redemption amidst the kelp in Newfoundland.
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham (How did a man write this book about the ways women are defined by others and by themselves?).
In the really-not-so-new literary classics department, just finished Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis, which I had never read. You've got to love any book that uses terms like "swell" and "for the love of Mike" - and don't we all KNOW Babbitt himself?
Also read: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller. A memoir of growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and Malawi and in the years when white farmers in Africa were losing their century-old grip on the continent. Amazing, I highly recommend.
In the children's lit dept, I recommend many by Raold Dahl, but especially Esio Trot, a love story;The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar, in which goodness triumphs over greed; The BFG, in which goodness prevails over everything.
My next book is Three Junes by Julia Glass.
— Kerry O’Brien, Assistant Dean of the Faculty

For Children:
The Worst Band in the Universe, by Graeme Base explores a planet where music is censored and something happens to those who don't conform. The lyrical text and detailed illustrations are absorbing, as the exiled bands battle for their right to create music. A music CD is also included with a diverse collection of original songs.
— Andrea L'Hommedieu, Muskie Oral History Project

Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand
Read it before the July movie. Others have recommended this before; it's a great story and reads like a novel.
Trains of thought: Memories of a stateless youth, by Victor Brombert
Beautifully written memoir of life in Paris as a teenager in the 1930's followed by escape to the United States and back to Europe to serve in the US armed forces. Brombert is an emeritus professor at Princeton.
— Jack Pribram, Professor of Physics

Robert Cowley, Ed., No End Save Victory. Essays on W.W.II by 46 authors, some historians, some participants. A good book to read a chapter at a time or in any order. A helpful reminder for all of us who think of wars as having a few weeks duration.
John Adams, by David McCullough. 650 pages , arguably a fine read for the uninitiated into the Adams family or interested in the "life and times" approach, and less satisfying for a serious reader of revolutionary history. The voluminous Adams correspondence is partly due to John and Abigail spending about half their married life apart, as he helped invent America, and she, while providing him with constant political and moral advice, somehow kept farm, family and finances afloat for years at a time.
Personal History, by Katherine Graham. Published in 1997, it is a powerful and revealing book by a most honest journalist who was front and center at many of the important events of the 20th century. Born to privilege in 1917, she took over the Washington Post after her husband's suicide, and built the paper into a national institution. Annoying for name dropping of the famous, but admirable for her unflinching telling of painful experiences, both her own and the country's.
After the Fall, by Jeffrey Lent. A five-star historical novel that follows four generations of a farm family in rural Vermont, after the son comes home from the Civil War with a wife who is an escaped slave. Beautifully written, with subtle and complex characters.
— Bill Hiss, Vice President for External and Alumni Affairs

These five short science fiction novels include clever revelations about the experience of consciousness, the soul, emotions, and individual rights, mostly as related to artificial intelligence and/or technology-based reality.
Archangel Protocol and Fallen Host, by Lyda Morehouse
In a complex, technology-dependent society, cybernetic manifestations take on lives and missions of their own. Humans socialize with angels, electronic page-identities assist humans against psychotic hackers, AI's discover "self," and rebellions bear fruit in freedom.
Technogenesis, by Syne Mitchell
An outcast from the plugged-in world discovers that the Net's human controllers are neither fair nor completely sane - and are possibly being controlled by an AI, the Net-consciousness itself.
Vectors, by Michael Kube-McDowell
A neuroscientist researches the existence of the human soul by utilizing "virtual reality" technology to map personalities and, finally, to explore the concept of reincarnation.
Body Electric, by Susan Squires
A hacker-turned-legit computer programmer creates an AI who must upload into a human body to survive. When electronic impulses trigger conscious emotion during the crisis, their love converts from virtual to real reality.
— Theresa L. Arita, Secretary, Development Services & Corporate and Foundation Relations

The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
For those among you who share my "shock and awe" and incredulity at this administration’s Middle East actions and apparent policy priorities, here is the definitive statement of rationale, including a blueprint that proposes a clear set of highest priority US actions and goals. That Brzezinski wrote this short, readable tome in 1997 as a parting gift to his foreign service "students" and colleagues and that it accurately "predicts" our nation's policies and actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, China and the Koreas over the past 3 years is just plain spooky. Whatever my opinion of the man and his politics, his command of historic and current geopolitical and geostrategic imperatives of global alliances and nation states is breathtaking. If you have a fairly strong interest in the topic, this can be beach reading. Honest!
Andorra, by Peter Cameron. A light, romantic mystery that is pleasant and easy reading with a surprising twist at the end.
— Dennis Brown, Director of Leadership and Planned Giving

Mysteries, Romances and Adventures: a wide selection is found in Lane's Hall Lunch Room on the ground floor. I have read many of these and new selections appear now and then.
RealSimple’: a magazine that features ways to simplify your life/home/body/soul. Lots of great information and relaxing to read. Even my fiance will pick it up now and then.
Sports Illustrated: my fiance gets this one but I do pick it up and read some of the interesting articles. This magazine is not just sport facts but also the human side of sports.
The Lewiston SunJournal - read it everyday to keep up with the local news and the Portland Paper on Sunday especially for the comics (it has different ones than the SunJournal).
— Denise Schreiber, Secretary, Dean of the Faculty’s Office

I'd recommend a book I just read after hearing a review on NPR. It's called Leaving Mother Lake: A girlhood at the edge of the world, by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. It's about a Moso woman in China who leaves her remote village to embark on a singing career. Very interesting perspective on her culture (in which there is no such thing as marriage) and her transition between her village and more industrialized settings.
— Amy Bradfield, Assistant Professor of Psychology

This year, in my reading I have looked for well written and books about the resilience of the human spirit. My favorites are:
The Secret Life of Bees and Bel Canto
Both are remarkable for their subtlety and character development. I would recommend reading them slowly and savoring them. I felt very alone after finishing them; it was hard to start another book because I knew that it couldn't be nearly as good.
Another must read--The Map of Love. It's a wonderful book, a story within a story and a look at Islamic Egypt in the 19th century and today.
— Vicky Devlin, Vice President for Development

I highly recommend:
This Present Darkness: Piercing the Darkness; The Prophet; and The Visitation, all by Frank Peretti
A Day Late and a Dollar Short, by Terry McMillan
— Monica Parker, Technology Support Specialist

I will be the 28th person to recommend Atonement, by Ian McEwan which is one of my new favorite books about forgiveness, atonement (strange...) and really good on the inner mind of a confused, creative and vengeful 13 year old girl. Reminded me of myself. Beautiful writing. I'll be the 290th person to recommend Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett which is about a hostagetaking in a South American country, a diva and the spell she casts on the imprisoned party-goers. The best prose description of music I've read. I think everyone who ever heard of South Park, Fear Factor or Jackass should reread Rabelais's Gargantua (16th century), a man who got bodily humor and satire really well. David Sedaris: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked. If you don't like him you're a bad person.
— Kirk Read, Associate Professor of French

The Translator, by John Crowley--A novel set during the Bay of Pigs crisis, involving a college student/poet and her relationship with a visiting Russian poet whose political connections are ambiguous. Beyond being politically timely in its presentation of the various ways the crisis was spun for public consumption and the surveillance and subtle suppression of dissent, this novel is a thoughtful meditation on the act of translation.
Whistling Woman, by A.S. Byatt--The fourth book following the various members of the northern English Potter family through the turbulent sixties--following Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower.
The Master Butcher's Singing Club, by Louise Erdrich--A multi-faceted novel loosely based on the life of Erdrich's German immigrant grandfather in post WWI America. Erdrich's depiction of life in a small prairie town teems with life, mystery, and the sweetness of the every day.
— Rose A Pruiksma, Music Department

Beethoven’s Hair, by Russell Martin is a sort of mystery, the travels of a lock of hair - Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair - until it comes into the hands of forensic scientists who finally discover the cause of Beethoven’s chronic ill health, deafness, and death.
Mauve, by Simon Garfield is the story of William Perkins, a chemist, who tried to make artificial quinine and ended up making dye - mauve. The color became hugely fashionable, and Perkins stood at the threshold of modern chemistry.
In the Beginning, by Alister McGrath is the history of writing the King James Bible - surely a masterpiece of English literature and one of the few things ever done well by committee. McGrath also demonstrates that it was the product of bitter political strife within the Protestant Reformation in England.
Suspect Identities, by Simon Cole, although slightly redolent of Foucault, is probably the best history of the forensic use of fingerprints. Cole details the gradual acceptance of fingerprinting by the courts to the point of near infallibility - until our own time when DNA analysis has so raised the bar that some now question the very premises on which identification by fingerprints is based.
— Sawyer Sylvester, Professor of Sociology

A lot of my reading this year has been done in the company of children. Looking back, two books jump to mind. The first is called Who Will Comfort Toffle, by Tove Jansson. It is an intricately metered and rhymed book, mind-bogglingly translated from Finnish with beautiful illustrations. It's sort of a Scandinavian version of Dr. Seuss, but with more characterdevelopment. I've read it at least 20 times and haven't tired of it yet.
My second recommendation is much more well known. If you haven't read Oliva, or Oliva Saves the Circus, by Ian Faulkener, you should! It's the story of a sassy and classy pig and all of her big little adventures. Both books are great for the 4 to 84 year old set.
— Alison Hart, Dance Festival

Strong Motion, by Jonathan Franzen
Bel Canto (exceptional)
— Kathy Low, Associate Professor of Psychology

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight,, by Alexandra Fuller.
Somewhat opaque title but a wild truth-is-stranger-than-fiction account of a childhood in Zambia-Zimbabwe.
Yann Martel, Life of Pi. This year's Booker (fiction) Prize and I started it without expecting to like it much, thinking it sounded pretentious and dull. BUT, it turned out to be a very entertaining and imaginative yarn about a shipwrecked youth who spends nearly a year in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Go figure.
Sigh. Some of us never quite grow up so Ursula LeGuin's The Other Wind was kind of a nostaglia trip for the part of me that still loves to reread her Earthsea books. I think this one is really the last and it's a little sad to find Ged and Tenar getting old. It's probably not quite as good as the original trilogy but sometimes it's impossible to read objectively, especially when you've grown to love the characters over time.
— Anne Thompson, Euterpe B. Dukakis Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies

The Heart of the Soul, by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis
Three Club Juggling: An Introduction, by Dick Franco
Mindfulness, by Ellen J. Langer.
Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, by Dan Kindlow and Michael Thompson.
The Mathematics of Juggling, by Burkard Polster
The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond, by Patricia Evans.
Healing the Addictive Mind: Freeing Yourself from Addictive Patterns and Relationships, by Lee Jampolsky
Un mundo para Julius, by Alfredo Bryce Echenique,
— David Haines, Professor of Mathematics

Summer in Baden Baden, by Leonid Tsypkin, but you must read Dostoevsky's short work The Gambler.
— Dennis Browne, Associate Professor of Russian

Leading Quietly. An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing, by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr.
Leadership can be studied but in the final analysis, it must be lived. Courageous risk taking, the larger-than-life tabloid and hero stories, are not discussed in this book. Rather the author takes a look at the "quiet leaders" folks like most of the people we meet every day "... who choose responsible, behind-the-scenes action over public heroism to resolve tough leadership challenges." There are abundant lessons and case examples of quiet leaders in this book. It is easy, and challenging, to realize that we all can be and in fact are called on to be responsible, ethical, moral decision makers every day of our lives. Well written, easy read, and an eye opener.
The Tipping Point. How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell.
The author - a former business and science writer at the Washington Post; currently a staff writer for The New Yorker - takes us on a fascinating journey into the biography of an idea. In essence, according to the Gladwell, "...the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or...the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers...is to think of them as epidemics." Gladwell traces the evolution of trends as behaviors - virus really that infect and spread - that have predictable growth curves and points. We need just to read the clues each phenomenon presents to understand when at what point it will "tip in" to a trend. The book, like its subject matter, is infectious. Smoothly written with many "ah ha!" discoveries.
— Charles Kovacs, Director of Career Services

The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff. A "gender bender" with lots of provocative passages about art, love, and some disturbing questions about what constitutes the self. The writing is lyrical and at times stunning. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I'm sure others will also recommend this one. Many people told me to read it, but when they told me what it was about, I resisted: a group of people in a nameless South American country are taken hostage, and bond with their captors. It sounded like it didn't end well (I saw my husband crying when he finished it). But finally, yielding to pressure, I read it. It was as good as everyone said. And THEN I found out it was based on a "true story" (liberties taken, for instance there was no opera singer involved in the actual takeover in Peru). This made the epilogue even more poignant. Finally, let me recommend an old one, Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood. An absolutely despicable female villain and the havoc she wreaks on the lives of her three "best friends"--I kept thinking, there's going to have to be some redeeming quality in her--but there wasn't!!! Riveting and characters that stick to your ribs long after you've finished reading.
— Bonnie Shulman, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Among the books I have found provocative and engaging this year are the following:
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul
Power Politics, by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life , by Phillip Simmons
The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, by Dorothee Soelle
Firebird: A Memoir, by Mark Doty
Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally, by Marcus J. Borg
Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver
Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue, by Paul Woodruff
— Kerry Maloney, College Chaplain

I just finished a book by Margaret George called Mary, Called Magdalene, which is written in the first person (from Mary's perspective) about the life of Mary Magdalene. The author took into account secular history and Biblical history when creating Mary's character. Margaret George has also written other books in the same way - The Autobiography of Henry VIIIMary Queen of Scotland and the Isles and The Memoirs of Cleopatra. All of them were also fabulous.
Another series I've recently read is called the Camulod Chronicles, by Jack Whyte. They are The Sky Stone, The Singing SwordThe Eagle's Brood, The Saxon Shore, The Sorcerer, the Fort at the River's Bend, The Sorcerer, Metamorphosis, and Uther. The books are about 5th century England and the probable "truth" underlying the legends of Merlin, Arthur, and Excalibur. Whyte set out to tell the story in a realistic and feasible historical context. In my opinion, he succeeded.
— Karen McArthur, System Administrator

I read and liked Rivertown by Peter Hessler(sp?). This is about his experiences teaching in China. I liked the book so much that I even gave copies to my dad and my mother-in-law. They can't stand each other, but they both loved the book...it must be good.
— Melinda Harder, Mathematics

I have a suggestion for summer reading--a collection of short stories called Officer Friendly; the author's last name is Robinson, I think, and he lives in Maine. Perhaps someone else has already suggested this.
My favorite story is called "Puckheads," in which high school students (at a school based on NYA) put on a production of "Oliver!" but with some hilarious variations in the plot.
— Lillian Nayder, Associate Professor of English

In a Dark Wood Wandering,by Hella Haasse. This historical novel, set in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, is the story of the life of Charles d'Orleans.
— Anthony Shostak, Education Coordinator~Museum of Art

John Adams,by David McCullough - History - the way it should be.
The Wild Flag, E.B. White - A series of essays on world government.
The Rapids, by Doris Provencher-Faucher - Second novel of Le Quebecois Series. The first was The Virgin Forest. Interesting historical fiction. Great for those interested in the French settlement of Canada.
Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, Bill Richardson - Reads like a Bibliophiles' Prairie Home Companion.
Anything by Jane Austen - reread every 5 years or so. The longer you live, the more you get out of them.
The Children's Corner:
Not Now Said the Cow, Joanne Oppenheim for grades 1-3, also loved by the preschool set.
One Morning in Maine, Robert McCloskey - Little Sal loses her first tooth.
Scrambled Eggs Super, Dr. Seuss - good for giggly preschoolers.
Ramona Forever, Beverly Cleary - great if you are prepping the kids to be in or attend a wedding.
— Carol Thomas, faculty spouse

I have discovered Kathy Reichs (at the suggestion of my niece) and I have read four of her five books (I have just started the last one). I would recommend her first book, Deja dead, but the others are equally as good (Death du jour, Deadly decisions, Fatal voyage, and Grave secrets). These make for wonderful recreational/vacation reading. The central character, Tempe Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist who teaches at UNCC but also does some work for the Laboratoire de Medecine Legale in Montreal. Tempe, of course, gets caught up in solving murders and it makes for some very suspenseful reading!
— Sarah Bernard, Programmer/Analyst

The Discworld Series, by Terry Pratchett - the first several books in the series are sci-fi/fantasy but they evolve into fiendishly funny satires that leave you chuckling (and thinking) for a long time afterwards. A wonderful cast of characters.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson - a vivid and compelling story of cryptography, soldiers and hackers in WWII and the present. Three years after reading it some scenes still make me laugh out loud and others still haunt me.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips - Nobody's Baby but MineHeaven, TexasDream a Little DreamThis Heart of Mine, etc. - intelligent, witty romances. You'll fall in love with her characters.
Nursery Crimes, by Ayelet Waldman - One in a series of "Mommy Track Mysteries" about a stay-at-home mom turned detective. The characters are funny and lovable and the mystery plot is high on twists and low on gore.
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy - a breathless, riveting adventure and romance all tied up in one incredibly fun package. Enjoyable and accessible.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris - a collection of autobiographical essays that left me laughing so hard I was gasping for air.
Founding Brothers, by Joseph Ellis - a wonderfully written history of the creation of our country and Constitution. I was amazed at Ellis' ability to make the reader feel the uncertainty of the times. Despite my years of schooling in American history I actually found myself wondering "will they be able pull it off?"
— Hilary Rice, Assistant Dean of Admissions

Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics, by Diarmid O'Murchu.
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path
, by Jack Kornfield.
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, by Fritjof Capra.
The Fourth Dimension: Toward a Geometry of Higher Reality, by Rudy V.B. Rucker.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbott.
Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension, by Michio Kaku.

— Jim Fergerson, Director of Insitutional Planning and Analysis

For anyone interested in knowing more about Afghanistan I can suggest West of Kabul and East of New York, by Tamin Ansary. It's a beautifully written book by an Afghan-American who tries to bridge the two cultures. In a much different vein, there's Ted Rall's To Afghanistan and Back. This is about his experiences covering the war in Afghanistan.
— Jan Lee, Audio Supervisor, Ladd Library

Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
— Cristina Malcolmson, Associate Professor of English

Three books by Peter Kreeft. The full titles are:
Socrates meets Jesus: History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ
The Best Things in Life: A 20th Century Socrates Looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth and the Good Life
A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist.
Paul Kuritz, Professor of Theater and Rhetoric

In preparation for #1 grandchild (Ethan Christopher, due May 14th), I have been reading and recording:
Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle
Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (to match Master Ethan's new little clothes) by Eric Carle
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
Sam and the Firefly, by P.D. Eastman
Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
The Far-Away Grandma, by Kathleen Haines
— Kathy Haines, Associate Director of Student Financial Services

My favorites this year are the series by Alexander McCall Smith (I think ) that starts with the book called The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. Second is Tears of the Giraffe. Third isMorality for Beautiful Girls.
They are mysteries, but more than that they are vehicles for gentle musings about cultures (Botswana in particular) and life in a changing world.
— Pam Baker, Associate Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of the Faculty

The Passion of Artemisia, by Susan Vreeland.
A novel about a female post-Renaissance painter in Italy. This book is a powerful portrait of woman who challenged the norms for women at the time because of her passion to paint. The author also wrote The Girl in Hyacinth Blue.
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett.
Who would think that a novel about a diverse group of people held hostage in a vice-president's house somewhere in South America could be so riveting? Instead of terror and hopelessness, though, the reader sees friendship and love develop and "hears" some beautiful music.
— Anne Dodd, Visiting Senior Lecturer in Education

 

Good Poems, selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor.
This is a selection of poems from the Writers Almanac, on NPR every morning. Lots of old familiars and some new ones, too.
Couldn't Keep It to Myself, by Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution. An amazing collection of work that defies easy description.
Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys. Story of a young woman's life as she grows up in the Carribbean and marries an Englishman. Narrated from several points of view. Easy read, engaging writing.
Any work by Alice Hoffman.
— Karen Palin, Lecturer in Biology

After fumbling around with different instruction programs for the Italian language, my wife, Gretchen Schaefer, and I have concluded that Hugo's Italian in Three Months is the best so far. What works for us is its light tone, a nice balance between conversational and grammar exercises, and a pace that convinces one that actual progress is being made. Trade-offs: lax copy-editing and a certain, probably inevitable, superficiality. An Italian-English dictionary and 501 Italian Verbs are good supplements, as is the Learn in Your Car cassette series. (The Hugo is available from Amazon.uk with cassette tapes that are of some use, but are too badly mastered to use in the car, and the price is shocking.) What could be better for a summer in Maine than preparing for a summer in Italy?
— Doug Hubley, Staff Writer, College Relations

Here is a book that gives you a first-hand experience and understanding of how ethnic and religious differences and nationalism destroyed the Balkans and how complicated it is for people like us Americans who might want to "fix it." Christopher Merrill's Only the Nails Remain tells the story of the Balkan wars through lots of brief vignettes of people he meets and works with in Slovenia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Sarajevo and Albania, letting them speak in their own words. He himself was there in a cultural exchange program as a poet, author and teacher of English that got cancelled. The confusion of views that emerge through the leaders and intellectuals, artists and ordinary people that he interviews is astounding. You come out of this reading with a good understanding of the political complexity created by nationalism and ethnicism (if there is such a word) in this part of the world. Each part begins with a brief history of the region in layman's terms, and because it is composed in short vignettes, it can be read in short snippets if, like me, you've only got brief moments for reading each day.
— Robert Allison, Professor of Religion

These four novels I discovered while teaching here on the CBB Cape Town program:
Dance with a Poor Man's Daughter/Jooste
And They Didn't Die/Ngcobo
The Heart of Redness/Mda
Madonna of Excelsior/Mda
— Elizabeth Eames, Associate Professor of Anthropology

PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHIES
The Years of Lyndon JohnsonVolume 1: The Path to Power ;Volume 2: Means of Ascent ; and Volume 3: Master of the Senate , by Robert Caro.
My summer reading project for 2002. You might think that this monumental biography is strictly for LBJ fans, or at least die-hard history fans. Actually, quite the opposite. Caro gives an amazing amount of detailed information and so much historical background, it's a great introduction for the history neophyte. All three books are riveting, but if you were to choose just one Vol 3 would be my recommendation. It opens with a mini-history of the U.S. Senate which every American should read.
Johnson himself comes across as a jerk, but a jerk on a grand scale. Caro's thesis: LBJ was the ultimate lying, scheming, cynical, vote-stealing, power-hungry politician, until the final attainment of power allows him to reveal his humanity. A grand, sweeping, eminently readable political biography.
President Kennedy, by Richard Reeves (1993)
Omnipresent fear of nuclear war; the Berlin wall; Cuba; nuclear test ban treaties; civil rights struggles in the South. The issues here are never boring ... well, until the end, when Kennedy and the book gets bogged down a little too much in Vietnam. Reeves' almost day-by-day "journal" format gives a good sense of Kennedy's almost surreal daily life. In a single day he might have a meeting about a test ban treaty, then one on Vietnam, then a phone conversation with Martin Luther King on civil rights; squeeze in a quick meeting with high school students in-between (including young Bill Clinton), and cap it off at the end of the day with a hot bath for his back and a secret liason with a mistress.
Truman, by David McCullough (1992)
Harry Truman, world's most boring man, is "accidently" thrust into the Presidency during some of the 20th Century's most interesting times. Funny how Republicans love him today, they hated his guts when he was President ...
TRAVEL ESSAY
Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going where Captain Cook has gone before (2002) Tony Horwitz
Truly an easy, fun, but informative read. Not a biography of Captain Cook, it is a compelling hybrid of two genres: travelogue and history. It's informative and interesting, while managing to maintain a light touch and breezy style. Not unlike Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods in its mix of breezy humor and serious research. This is exactly the kind of book I would love to write, if I had the talent for it. My only complaint with the book was that I wish Horwitz was a photographer as well as journalist; I wanted to see the places that he visited. After this, I had to read Horwitz' other books:
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the unfinished Civil War The formula of mixing contemporary travelogue with serious historical background again won me over. He has a terrific way of finding out ordinary people's attitudes about big topics such as history, race, oppression, and such, and does it with a deft, even light, touch. Horwitz is the perfect travelling companion, and he manages to ask the probing questions that I wish I was smart enough to ask people when I travel.
Baghdad without a map and other misadventures in Arabia
Although this book seems cobbled together from news reports that did not get published at the time he wrote them, the essays offer an interesting picture of the mix of cultures in Middle East, mostly before the first Gulf War.
One for the road: an outback adventure
Frankly, the Australian outback doesn't offer Horwitz much to go on. It's a whole lotta nothing, although he does his best with what he has. The book would be helped by an amusing sidekick, or at least a more interesting part of the world to visit. That said, it's still a pretty good -- and short -- travelogue of Australia and its people.
HISTORY
Look Away! A history of the Confederate states of America , by William C. Davis. I picked up this book thinking I would give the Confederacy the benefit of the doubt: "hey, this was an experiment where they built a new society and government! They must have had at least some interesting improvements and reforms on the American system." I came away simply depressed at the small-mindedness of the whole enterprise. Davis confirms that the Confederacy really was as bad as you thought it was, maybe even worse. Not only were Confederate ideals bankrupt, even immoral, they were compromised from the start. This book was so depressing that I could not finish it.
FUN
The Nanny Diaries: A Novel , Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
This best-seller about a NYU student who works as part-time nanny to a Park Avenue family is a really weak book, but a good guilty pleasure. In truth, I could not put it down; it was a wonderful distraction from *ahem* taking care of my own kids over a long Thanksgiving weekend. Definitely recommended if you take care of young children, or if you love to poke fun at the foibles of the ultra-rich.
Live from New York , Tom Shales etc
Absolutely compelling "oral history" of Saturday Night Live, as told by the show's performers, writers, producers, and guests over the years. Especially fun is seeing each of the stars revealed. Who is a major jerk? Who is a sane pragmatist? Who's a whiny insecure crybaby? Which performers were generous, which were screen-hogs? And of course there's all kinds of inside dope on celebrity excesses, drugs, sex, and the like.
FICTION
Empire Falls, byRichard Russo
At first I was blown away by the way Russo can add so much background detail into seemingly meaningless encounters and situations ... but frankly it started to annoy me about halfway through. Every conversation becomes an excuse for a page-and-a-half of expository background detail. And in the end, the characters seemed too calculatedly drawn to be real (our research tells us that most book buyers see themselves as smarter than their jobs, so let's make our main character like that! And we need a hot babe for him to lust after! And a crazy old man for comic relief!). On the other hand, it's by no means a bad book. Russo is truly talented, he just doesn't live up to the hype.
— Ken Zirkel, Web and Systems Coordinator