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Chaparral 2020-2021: 29.5 What Are You Reading?

GCC roundup column written by you!

  1. What are you reading (name and author and/or link if it’s on the web)?

  2. Would you recommend it?

  3. What do you like or find interesting about it?


My Year Abroad

I am currently reading My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee. If you are familiar with some of his other novels, On Such A Full Sea or Aloft, you will appreciate how he transports you into the world of his characters while illuminating deeper emotional truths about our society and its effects on us as individuals. He is such a master writer and one of my favorite authors, so I am savoring this reading.

Here's a link to the NY Times Book Review

Caryn Panec
Noncredit Business/Life Skills

Apeirogon, The Rosie Effect, and To Be a Man

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

It is a very interesting and engaging novel of the Israeli and Palestinian experiences. The personal view of characters in the novel gives an understanding.

An apeirogon is a generalized polygon with a countably infinite number of sides. One could say there are infinite ways of examining the Israeli Palestinian conflict to foster understanding and infinite points of view. The two major characters, a Jew and a Palestinian, both lose their daughters to senseless violence and join together to work towards peace by telling their stories all over the world. They become very good friends, almost brothers, working and traveling together. Using these fathers is a good way to discuss complicated situation. Though it is fiction, it is based on real people.

This is too simple a description of the book in which birds are a leitmotif and that is steeped in the cultures, histories, and literatures of the two sides. The book has 1001 chapters, all short and some with no words at all. The author is Irish, living in New York, so there's no sides taken by the author.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

This is a light and joyful book. It's a great read if you need a break from everything going on right now, but it's the second book of a trilogy, and I think you really have to read the first one, The Rosie Project, to understand everything in The Rosie Effect. This novel is definitely as quick a read as the first one, so catching up is easy. If you like the first one as much as I did, you'll probably want to read the rest of the trilogy.

The main character is a high-functioning autistic geneticist, though he doesn't see himself as autistic, despite some research on the subject. He is married to the woman he meets in book one, and he finds out his wife is pregnant. How he deals with impending fatherhood is the arc of the story, but seeing this through the eyes of this father-to-be with his limitations is very meaningful.

To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss

If you like short stories, these are very well written. The stories are a good exploration of human nature. I'm not usually a short story reader, but this collection is award winning, so I decided to read it. These stories feel like personal views of a small part in the lives of the characters. Though the title is To Be a Man, the men in the stories are not always the main characters but important to the arc of the story.

Emily Bergman

A Struggle for Power

I am reading A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution by Theodore Draper. It is a detailed look at the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War. It is a bit dry, but it gives tremendous insight as to what the colonists’ and British sentiments were leading up to the Revolutionary war. It is certainly recommended for anyone with an interest in this part of American history. I like its extensive citation of many primary sources from the time, as well as its discussion of the social, political, and economic issues that lead to the breakup. It certainly expands on my puny knowledge from high school of the reasons for U.S. independence.

Tobin Sparfeld

Persepolis and Dogs

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Both books were recommended to me by my son. These are both autobiographical books written in a graphic form. They deal with a young woman's coming of age during the early days and not so early days of the Iranian Revolution. I found them to be rather interesting and easy to read.

Dogs: Photographs 1941 – 1991 by Walter Chandoha

This book is strictly pictures of dogs by the pre-eminent pet photographer of the 20th Century. The pictures are works of art. This book was a nice diversion from the rest of what I read.

Brian Reff
Culinary Arts

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey

I'd like to recommend You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. As the sisters tell stories about their "everyday" experiences of racism, they offer the reader a touch of comic relief through their sisterly repartee. For me they achieved a delicate balance in their attempt to increase understanding: they made me cringe, they made me angry, but they also made me laugh.

Cathy Durham
Title V

The Poison Thread

I just finished reading The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell.

Called The Corset in the UK, this gripping, if tragic, story centers on impoverished Ruth in Victorian England, whose life goes from bad to worse when she becomes an indentured seamstress for a sadistic family. She also discovers that what she sews can be deadly... and it's time to take control of that strange power. We learn her story as it's told to a charitable socialite obsessed with phrenology who visits the prison to study the criminals' crania. Ruth, as it turns out, is in prison for murder. What follows is engaging, beautifully written, disturbing, and fascinating. It is not a happy tale, but it may linger in your mind long after you put it down. Her other Gothic novel, The Silent Companions, is another compelling read that I recommend.

Joanna Parypinski

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