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Chaparral 2015-2016: 24.6 What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading: A GCC Roundup!
Chaparral’s new roundup column, written by … you!

Editor's Note

Chaparral is publishing short blurbs about whatever GCC employees might be reading right now. Each respondent answered three short questions:

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?


Eligible and Outlander

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.Image result for eligible by curtis sittenfeld
I highly recommend! It's a fun, breezy read, a modern adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Perfect for procrastinating end-of-semester grading.

Outlander by Diana GabaldonImage result for outlander by diana gabaldon
I know I'm late to the party here, and I actually started watching the TV series before reading the book. And, as usual, the book is so much better. Our fantastically frustrating heroine (Claire, a married nurse) finds herself transported from 1946 to 1743, in the highlands of Scotland. Fascinating to read how Claire reconciles her modern feminist sensibilities with the rough rules of pre-Jacobite Revolution Scotland.

Francien Rohrbacher

Harley & Me

Image result for harley & me by bernadette murphyHarley & Me by Bernadette Murphy

This book is interesting on so many levels.  First, Bernadette is an alumn of GCC and in fact credits her love of writing to taking a creative writing class here.

Visit her website to find out more:

Here is a review I posted on Amazon:

"Harley and Me" should inspire everyone to take risks that ultimately embrace life. It doesn't matter what the risk is. For Bernadette it was riding a Harley and other high risk ventures. For you, it could be going to a party, or flying on a commercial airplane, or ending a marriage that is empty, or changing jobs, or just walking out of your front door on a weekend to try something new. In this well documented, well written memoir, you will be inspired to be your best self. Highly recommended for everyone. Plus, the bonus is that you will learn so much about the Harley-Davidson world, which in itself is a fascinating culture.”

By the way, Bernadette will be doing a reading at GCC on September 15 for the Writer’s Series.

Lisa Brooks
Glendale College Foundation

All The Light We Cannot See

Image result for all the light we cannot see by anthony doerr1. What are you reading?

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

2. Would you recommend it?


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

This heart-wrenchingly beautiful story is set, mostly, in occupied France and a German mining town in the years leading up to and during the second World War. The main characters are two unique children, one an impoverished German orphan with a remarkable mind for math and technology, the other a young french girl who has lost her sight and her mother but is lovingly raised by a doting father. They live in and around the science museum where he works as a locksmith. Both children are deeply affected by the coming war. The book is painfully sad and yet beautiful at the same time. Like many books about war it encourages us to reflect on familial love, ethics, patriotism, and perserverance in the face of hardship. It's strangely good to be reminded from time to time, I think, of the horrible atrocities that Europe suffered in those years. It gives one a useful perspective on today's economic and military conflicts and on the plight of refugees and the victims of atrocities. As I read it I couldn't help thinking of the parallels today: 250,000 dead in Syria and the suffering of their families, not to mention the 40 million refugees in the world now. And, sad as these thoughts are, I found myself deeply lost in the lives of the two struggling, talented, and long-suffering protagonists. I needed to know what would happen to them. I yearned for them to survive and find themselves reunited with their loved ones and living up to their magnificent potential. I'm so glad I found time for this Pulitzer Prize winner.

Michael Reed

1. I've become a fan of the blog and have read many of the posts the author (Tim Urban) has made.

2. I recommend this blog for anyone interested in science and the future but it also has very good articles on a wide range of topics including human psychology and math (!) of all things.  In particular, I recommend his posts "The Fermi Paradox," "The Coming AI Revolution," "Why Cyronics Makes Sense," and "From 1,000,000 to Graham's Number."

3. The science is fascinating for those type posts and his perspective and humor makes almost all his posts fun to read.  He gave a TED talk based on his series of procrastination posts.

Mark Bowen
Physical Science

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Here is what I am currently reading: 

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine  (Author), Gabor Mate (Foreword) published in 2010.

If you want to understand human beings and think that you can do it by reading books, this particular one might just convince you that you can. You’ll learn, among a wealth of other crucial information, that human beings have two brains, one in the gut and one in the cranium, that they are in direct communication with each other through the large vagus nerve, and that 90% of what influences our actions comes from the gut brain, not from the upstairs brain. Unfortunately, as A. Damasio famously said, “we use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them,” especially when it comes to the stories that our body would tell us. What I love about In an Unspoken Voice is that it is the best refutation of the antiquated and inhumane “I think therefore I am” belief system that has misguided too many out of their humanity.  What I also love is that Peter Levine’s masterpiece helps you imagine what schools need to teach differently and how they need to do so in order to fast track humanity out of its collision course with life.

Dominique Margolis
English Lab

In Other News: Reporters on Reporting

Image result for In Other News: Reporters on Reporting by stephanie forsheeI'm reading, In Other News: Reporters on Reporting by my former SMC journalism student Stephanie Forshee and Rosie Downey. They interview journalists from the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, NPR, etc... about how they started their careers, developed their sources and got their big stories. "Not every journalist has a mentor to rely on. So we set out to solve the mystery of what it takes to be a solid reporter."

Sharyn Obsatz
Mass Comm/Journalism


Pollanology: A Fan’s Tribute to a Superstar Food Journalist

Image result for botany of desire Image result for omnivore's dilemma
Image result for cooked Image result for in defense of food

 Pollanology: A Fan’s Tribute to a Superstar Food Journalist 

Ever since I dedicated a class, “The Conscious Plate” to an examination of what we eat, I have become a fan of Michael Pollan.  This has led me to read all his books. 

Botany of Desire is absolutely a gem of a book that looks at four different species of plants and how they have colonized man by seducing us with their gifts. For example: Apple: Sweetness, Tulip: beauty, Marijuana: Intoxication, and Potato: Control. I love his retelling of history from the perspective of the said plant. 

Omnivore’s Dilemma is about the ethical and ecological effects of the choices we make about food. In this book he becomes a food journalist and tracks down the source from which our food emerges, and he finds that majority of food in the supermarket is derived from a single entity: corn. This book spans four ecological journeys: industrial farming, organic-Industrial farming, sustainable farming, and hunter gatherer beginnings. 

Cooked is his latest book and this has continued to evolve into a cooking food show. In Cooked, he looks at how food goes through a transformation by actively interactive with the elements of fire, water, air, and earth. 

In Defense of Food, Pollan comes up with a set of rules about how to eat right, but, as he ponders the question of what should we eat, it can be all synthesized into this mantra: Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.  

What I like about his books are the tone of surprised delight as he discovers new things in his investigative quest to educate the American public about what we ingest into our guts. His writing is witty and filled with irony. The subject matter of these books, I believe, is of paramount importance to anyone who is interested in food, its evolution, its effects, and its future. 

Fatema Baldiwala

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And The Middle Class Do Not!

Image result for Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And The Middle Class Do Not!I am again re-reading Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And The Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki. I think the advice in this this book, along with the advice in The Richest Man In Babylon, is the key to becoming a high net worth individual (i.e. someone who is worth more than $10 Million) for most people.

Akop Baltayan


I am reading Shakespeare by Bill Bryson.  It is actually an audio book--since I have to commute so much, it keeps me good company.  I am teaching a lit class at another school and this book has helped me tremendously to know more about the most important figure in the English language--that scholars still know so little about anyway!  :)

Isabela Riedel

Jane Eyre

Image result for jane eyre by charlotte bronteI just finished reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I would definitely recommend it. I love the character Jane for her fearlessness, wit, internal strength and integrity. She's my hero!

Marissa Pico

Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer's True Story

I had the pleasure of hearing the author speak about saving this iconic structure in the 1970s. Fascinating, and a happy ending!

Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer's True Story  by Rosemary Novellino-Mearns (Author)

Hardcover March 9, 2015

Marcia Hanford
Garfield Campus

Young Americans and All the Wild Children

Image result for Young American, Josh Stallings Image result for all the wild children by Mr. stallings

1. Young Americans Josh Stallings

2. I would recommend it – lots of local flavor and humor, at time dark.

3. A mix of a heist caper,70s glam rock and coming-of-age. I enjoyed Mr. Stallings’ All the Wild Children as well.

Janice Freemyer
Language Lab


Image result for Liar, a memoir by Rob RobergeI am reading Liar, a memoir by Rob Roberge, a local author and a mentor of mine in grad school. He faces many challenges including drug addiction and mental illness, and manages to maintain a layered life of writing, making music, (his punk band is called The Urinals) and teaching. His story is compelling, sad, and beautifully expressed. He writes about the act of storytelling itself, and I believe the book touches on issues that are crucial to many creative souls who face similar challenges.

Deirdre Mendoza

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

Image result for the dictionary of imaginary places by alberto manguel1. What are you reading?

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (Expanded Edition), by Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi

2. Would you recommend it?

I would recommend it to anyone who love literature and reference books like I do.  It is an especially good text for readers of fantasy

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

The authors discuss the locals as though they were writing a travel-book description of the magical places listed.  The tone of credulity is delightful but it is also written with flare.  If you ever wanted to know the layout of the City of the Immortals from Borges, or plan a travel itinerary for Buttonwood on the outskirts of Oz, then this book will satisfy many a wandering hour.

David Fulton

Contageous: Why Things Catch On; Still Foolin' 'em; When Breath Becomes Air

Image result for Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger Image result for still foolin em Image result for when breath becomes air paul kalanithi
Just started, Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. The book is about why some things get very popular while others don't. Some good examples so far - such as a restaurant that made a name for itself by offering a $100 cheese-steak sandwich! Still near the beginning of the book, but it's compelling so far!

Just finished, Still Foolin' 'em by Billy Crystal - funny, poignant, and moving. Lots of emotion, both hilariously joyful and richly bittersweet, about universal topics such as aging, parenting, career, etc.. I enjoyed this one as an audiobook, read by the author. Highly recommended.

Also just finished, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalaithi. The author was just about to complete his residency in Neurosurgery when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died shortly after graduating, but this book is filled with his insights into what it's like to go through medical school, internship, and residency as a doctor, and then become a full-time patient. Gripping. I hope every medical school on earth makes it required reading, if only to humanize the next generation of doctors.

Lynn Dickinson
Mass Communications

Conscious Company Magazine

Conscious Company Magazine

I've been browsing through a very young magazine called Conscious Company. It's very new, founded in 2015. Read more about it in the following excerpt from their website:

"Conscious Company Magazine, founded in 2014 by Maren Keeley and Meghan French Dunbar, is the first print and digital, nationally distributed publication in the US to focus solely on sustainable business. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the publication first hit stands nationwide in January 2015. With four issues in 2015, Conscious Company Magazine has quickly become a leading source of information for and about sustainable businesses. CONSCIOUS COMPANY’s mission is to make sustainable business the future of business as usual.

By leveraging the power of storytelling and great design, we aim to broaden the conversation about using business as a force for good. We believe that a new definition of success in business is emerging - a definition that is motivated by a growing dissatisfaction with the "status quo," an overall shift towards a values-driven economy, and one that is ultimately centered on a company’s ability to have a positive effect on society and the environment - taking all stakeholders into account - in addition to turning a profit. We want to celebrate these businesses by featuring the stories of companies that operate consciously, by providing their leaders with a megaphone to inspire other businesses to do the same, and by showing the world just how powerful business can be when used as a force for good."

Faye Lao
Hospitality Management

Chaparral May/June 2016

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