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?
The Girls in My Town by GCC's Angela Morales
Wonderful essays by our own English instructor, Angela Morales. These are engaging stories drawn from Angela's life.
Highly recommended for its provocative and often funny stories about growing up in California.
The Girls in My Town by Angela Morales.
Even if the author were not my close GCC colleague and friend, I would be treasuring this collection of essays. The speaker's voice is beautifully, viscerally descriptive and largely free of the cynicism so common in contemporary writing. Anyone who has grown up within ten years of her or in a similar-grade LA suburb will find much to relate to.
I just finished The Secret River by Kate Grenville. It's a beautiful and haunting tale about those first convict arrivals in Sydney, their families, and the interactions between those transplanted Englishmen and the aboriginal Australians. It's lyrical, compelling, and as morally complicated as you might expect. Highly recommended, especially for those with an interest in the Antipodes. Winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
I'm reading The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt. It's not something I would recommend reading all in one sitting, but it is definitely worth taking to the beach this summer. It is comprised of transcripts of interviews with Oglala holy man Nicholas Black Elk -- a one-time performer with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, but so much more.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
This novel written about Harold Fry, who appears to have a milquetoast life, has a bit of Forrest Gump flavor as he sets out on a walking quest to see an old friend who he believes will wait for him and not die from cancer.
I'm currently reading, Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, by Martin Lindstrom. The book was recommended to me by a student. It's a FASCINATING discussion about the myriad ways that branding, marketing, and advertising professionals are now able to use neuroscience data to compel consumers to buy things. As consumers, we often act in unconscious, counter-intuitive, and irrational ways when we make our purchase decisions. With the new MRI brain-scanning technologies available, neuroscientists (and marketers!) are beginning to discover why. Some of it is startling, some of it is horrifying, and all of it is fascinating.
In conjunction with the One Book/One GCC event series, I am reading Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The text is extremely fascinating, and recounts how a small group of high-level scientists and advisers manipulated the public into denying well-established scientific facts. Ultimately, it was proven that these scientists had strong affiliations in politics, and with some of the largest oil and tobacco industries.
Author Erik Conway will be speaking at GCC on April 27 from 12:20 - 1:30 in the Auditorium.
For further information, please see our GCC Campus Guide and the Merchants of Doubt website.
I am reading Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. This very approachable novel about a group of young adults from Sinaloa seeking help from expats in America for their drug lord-besieged town is by the Pulitzer-prize winning author and poet. He writes with humor to approach a very serious subject.
1. Walking the Nile, by Levison Wood
3. If you like extreme travel adventure writing, then Levison Wood is your guy. He literally walks the entire length of the fabled 4,000 mile Nile River by foot over 9 months, traversing through six war torn and/or conflict rich nations-Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, and Egypt-as he forages his way through perilous rain forest, swamp, savannah, and desert. I mean... who does that? Both pragmatic and quixotic, Levison Wood's feat is just as amazing as it is stupid. And I love him for it.
1. Death Is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
2. I would definitely recommend it for Bradbury fans, noir/mystery fans, and anyone looking for books set in L.A.
3. I love Bradbury's horror and sci-fi, but I was not as familiar with this one when I picked it up; sure enough, it's got Bradbury charm and style all over it. Even more interesting, it's set in Los Angeles, specifically the Venice area, in 1949, so it's fascinating to feel the different vibe of the area back then. The main character is also based on Bradbury himself as a younger, struggling writer. Add this one to your bookshelf!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is a non-fiction story about a group of cells identified as He La (first two letters of the donor's name) that has an amazing ability to replicate itself in the thousands, millions, and billions. From the 1950's when first this cell was harvested without the patient's knowledge to today, this group of cells has been utilized to find a vaccine for polio, uncovered secrets of cancer, shown the effects of the atom bomb on cells, helped advance in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping, even traveled outer space to see what the lack of gravity does to cells, and been sold and traded in the billions.
Yet, no one knows the story of the unsung heroine from whom these cells first originated till it is revealed and told in this book by Skool. Her family was unaware of it because the doctor who first harvested it, deliberately omitted her name. Henrietta Lack's cells lives on till today even though she is long dead and buried in an unmarked grave. She was a black tobacco farmer and a hardworking mom of 5 kids born in rural poverty. Her family did not benefit from her 'immortality" but the multi-billion industry that trades in humane tissue did, and so did the scientific community.
This story is a must read for anyone interested in the question of equity. How fair is it to advance and progress on the backs of a poor African American lady who did not even know these cells were taken out of her body, and who benefited the least from her "donation"?
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