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Chaparral 2015-2016: 24.2 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?


Without Blood and Silk

I read two book by an amazing author, Alessandro Barricco - both are novellas that engage the reader in intricate plots with fully developed characters.

The first book is Without Blood - a riveting book that I could not put down and described in a  review as "An unforgettable fable about the brutality of war and one girl's quest for revenge and healing." 

The second is Silk - exceptional, the style is unique. Silk is a tale that is spun around a Frenchman who makes a difficult journey to Japan through Siberia to obtain silk worms for his village. It is a story of " travel, passion and mysterious silent communication". Both are highly recommended.

Caroline Kaba
Economics Department

I Want My Hat Back

I like children's books, and recently read I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen ( I would recommend it to both children and adults. It contains some dark humor, but nothing inappropriate by any means. This is a beautifully illustrated children's book––when a brown bear is the victim of hat theft, who knows what will happen! Klassen is able to capture so many emotions with his images. There aren't many words, so even young children can follow along. Reading it as an adult is fun too, especially with the darkly comedic ending.

Laura S. Stoltzfus-Brown
Speech Department

Best American Short Stories 2014

Best American Short Stories 2014 by Jennifer Egan, Ed.

Big thumbs up from me, even though I generally don’t read collections that someone else has already deemed “the best” of whatever.  But I love Jennifer Egan as a writer, so I thought I’d check out some of the stories she likes and respects enough to call the best of the year.  Things I like about the collection so far:

  • I’m familiar with several of the writers included, so I devoured their stories first; but the refreshing and surprising thing is to be reading (and liking) authors or genres that thought I didn’t like.  How daring being out of my literary preference/comfort zone! J
  • The book includes an impressively broad range of subject matter, format, and authorial style.
  • I find that it’s difficult to read a novel during the semester because I need to split it into such fragmented chunks of that I lose the story’s momentum or (these days) my own recollection of what’s already happened; most of these short stories can be read in one relatively brief sitting, so I can get my literature fix a few times a week, even during midterm.

Monette Tiernan
English Division

Go Set a Watchman

I listened to the audio CDs of “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee.   It is not as powerful as “To Kill a Mockingbird”, but the narration by Reese Witherspoon made it seem quite Southern. 

I don’t want to spoil the book in case anyone wants to read it.  The action centers on Scout’s reaction to things she discovers while visiting her home town.

Kathy Flynn
ESL Division

The Bear Nobody Wanted and Between the World and Me

With My Children: The Bear Nobody Wanted, by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg

Yes, I would recommend it - what we've read so far has been wonderful. The writing is great - we were all drawn in right away. A very different perspective as well.

On My Own: Between the World and Me, by Ta Nahesi Coates

I highly recommend it. Again, perspective. It's giving me a new perspective and wonderfully written.

Mary Jane Biancheri
Child Development Department

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

I am reading Daniel J. Levitin's bestselling book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.  Dr. Levitin, a professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience, writes about attention, memory and how to best manage the hyper flow of information that comes our way each day. In addition to explaining the science of thinking, he also provides practical suggestions for increased focus, productivity, creativity, and calm.

This book is already changing the way I think about how I use my time and how I manage information. I highly recommend it.

Megan Ernst
Noncredit ESL

p.s. Diana Rehm interviewed him earlier this fall.  Click below for a link to the interview.

The Nightingale, The Night Circus, Big Magic, The Fourth Hand, The Little Paris Bookshop


I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It is a novel about the French resistance in France and one woman’s journey in particular. 

The Night Circus is a fun read. It is by Erin Morgenstern. Kind of a Huger Games theme but it all evolves very cleverly and takes place in a magical circus that is only open from sunset to sun up.

Now reading Big Magic, a non-fiction by Elizabeth Gilbert. Author of Eat Pray, Love. This one is about creativity.

Also reading a novel, The Fourth Hand by John Irving. A tv field reporter loses his hand in an accident while on assignment and it changes his life from the inside out. As far as I am concerned you just can’t go wrong with a John Irving novel.

Also recommended The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  A bookstore owner whose shop is on a barge on the Seine takes his bookshop on a journey via the rivers of France to make closure on his life.

MaryElizabeth Barrett
Student Services


Currently I'm trying to read through and understand this astronomy paper,, which is about what advanced alien structures might look like from thousands of light years away.

Astronomers have very recently observed some strange occlusions (blocking out of light) from a distant star apparently defying many natural explanations.  I'm not an astronomer by training so it's a tough slog for me but super interesting.

Here's a popular account:

Mark Bowen
Physics and Astronomy Department

All the Light We Cannot See

I would recommend reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.


All the Light We Cannot See follows the story of two main characters in the years before and during World War II: a blind girl from Paris and a teenage boy from a mining town in Germany. In the end, the impact they have upon each other is life changing. Doerr weaves their stories together throughout the novel using poetic, flowing prose. 

Andrea Zollman

Life After Life and A God in Ruins

Two books by Kate Atkinson: Life After Life and A God in Ruins.

Good writer. If the existential possibilities become wearisome, details of citizen life during WWII in Europe are insightful and interesting.

Marcia Hanford
Garfield Campus

Long Walk to Freedom

I'm reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. I'm reading it because I'm leading a Study Abroad trip to South Africa in January. Mandela's life story is amazing and very inspiring. Two thumbs up and highly recommended.

Lynn Dickinson
Mass Communications Department

What Alice Forgot and The Rosie Effect

I read What Alice Forgot this summer and it made me think about how profoundly our experiences change our attitudes and approaches to life. Currently reading The Rosie Effect the sequel to the Rosie Project in which a professor diagnosed with Aspberger's systematically takes steps to find a girlfriend who is an unlikely, yet wonderful match as a wife.

Theresa Lorch
Kinesiology Department

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter ( by Greg Toppo, an education reporter at The USA Today. Greg and I were reporters together at the Santa Fe New Mexican. I trust his research, and I feel it is important to explore multiple points of view on the impact of video games. I admit I haven't finished the book yet.

Sharyn Obsatz
Mass Communications Department

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

I'm "reading" audiobooks from the public library. Right now, it's Syrie James' The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Yes, I'd recommend it for a light read when your brain hurts from writing grading midterms. I like Jane Austen, and though this isn't the real deal, it's entertaining. Besides, the main character in the plot that frames the Austen fan fiction is someone who started, but didn't finish a Ph.D. in English Lit. This young-ish woman has taught at community colleges, but now works as a research librarian in So. Cal. In her subconscious, she entertains a dream of going back to finish her diss., so that she can land a job in academia. It sounds like someone we all know. I want to tell her to keep her job as a research librarian. It doesn't sound like a bad gig! I don't know how it will end yet, but there are several love triangles involved. Undoubtedly, it will end happily.

Jennifer Van Hyning, Ph.D.
Credit ESL 

Murder at Cape Three Points

I am reading a mystery book, Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey. This is the third mystery by Quartey. I would recommend this book to those who like a well written mystery. I like his writing because it contains insight into the culture and geography of the nation of Ghana in Africa. Dr. Quartey is a physician in Pasadena.

Lee Miller Parks, Ph.D.
DSP&S and Kinesiology

Seeds of Change

I have been reading Seeds of Change by Henry Hobhouse.

An examination of the history of six commercial plants, Seeds of Change illuminates how sugar, tea, cotton, potato, quinine, and cocoa have shaped our past, emphasizing how plants are a central and influential factor in the historical process


Andrew Feldman
Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Nutrition Department

Why Kids Kill

I read: Why Kids Kill.  What was important about the book was that shooters leave signs before they act out. If they are taken seriously we may be able to prevent it from happening. I would recommend it. Teachers will get a clear understanding of potential shooters that may be in their classrooms.

The story was interesting because it examines the different types of people who commit these heinous acts and why they do it.

Teri Ismail
Parent Support Center for Child Development

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I would recommend it, especially to anyone looking to understand the Black Lives Matter movement.

I always appreciate it when I can learn a new/different perspective.  Mr. Coates writes about being subjected every February to Black History Month.  During this month in school, he was inundated with images of Black Americans fighting for their rights through non-violence means.  They were routinely subjected to verbal threats, being spat on, firehoses, being clubbed, being killed; all the while remaining non-violent.  What is the cultural message?  That Black Americans must accept this treatment and should never defend themselves in the face of hatred and/or danger.  Interesting, no?  Like I said, a “different perspective.”

Elizabeth Kronbeck
Social Sciences Division

Back Mechanic

Dr. Stuart McGill's Back Mechanic (

I’m currently reading his other books that are written for personal trainers, strength coaches, physical therapists etc but this one is written more for the general population. It’s about how to recognize the movement patterns that are causing back pain, eliminate those triggers and teach the body a new way of moving to prevent back pain altogether.

Erin Calderone
Kinesiology Department

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