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Chaparral 2016-2017: 25.2 What Are You Reading?

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?

Enjoy!

The Dopaminergic Mind in Human Evolution and History

The Dopaminergic Mind in Human Evolution and History, by Fred Previc.

Some parts, especially early on, were overly technical for me (and, I suspect, everyone except you biomedical types out there).  However, if you can power through them, the book as a whole has its rewards.

A speculative, but well-documented, theory is advanced that modern humans are best distinguished not by our genetic evolution but by epigenetic developments -- primarily those related to the brain's dopamine systems.  Unlike significant genetic changes which can take many generations, epigenetic alterations can occur rapidly, and are accelerating in modern times.  The author generates many interesting implications and predictions from the theory, although some are real stretches, and potentially offensive.  Caveat lector.

Michael Allen
Mathematics

Americans on the Road, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, Into Thin Air, The Tree Army

My reading this summer ranged from the scholarly to the easy read.  I read four books that were based on travel and/or places I visited.

In the scholarly area, I read a very well researched book that was a good read.  This book was entitled: Americans on the Road.
Author:  Warren James Belasco
This book talked about the changes in the traveling habits of Americans in the first half of the 20th Century.  I found it to be very interesting and informative.

In the fun area and the I am perhaps jealous area I read: The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
Author:  Rinker Buck
I read this book on the suggestion of my wife you was fascinated about the journey, but was more intrigued by the fact that I had taken her to many of the places in the book.
This book was about a man's 21st Century journey across The Oregon Trail and his wrestling with his demons both real and imagined.  A great read!  Inspirational!  Who knows I might even try this myself one day!

In the extreme travel category and the possible Study Abroad department: Into Thin Air
Author:  Jon Krakauer
I read this book on the recommendation of my mother.  I have always been fascinated by the Himalayas and thought that one day that I  like to visit them and perhaps climb Mt. Everest.
After reading this book I am reconsidering my climbing of Mt. Everest, but still think it would definitely to trek through the Himalayas.  Who knows we possibly could do this as a possible Study Abroad Trip.

In the easy to read department and  places I visited department.
The Tree Army
A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942.
Author:  Stan Cohen
I read this book because I saw this book and bought it when I was at Mt. Baker, in the North Cascades National Park, in Washington State.
Mt. Baker was one of the places the Civilian Conservation  Corps worked.  This book is a tribute to the men who served in the CCC and to their legacy as well as to all of the great things they built that are still being used and enjoyed today.

Brian Reff
Technology and Aviation

Drive

I am reading (for the 2nd time) Drive by Daniel H. Pink. This is an overview by the New York Times:

“The New York Times bestseller that gives readers a paradigm—shattering new way to think about motivation.
Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.”


Arpi Amirian
Student Equity

Orhan's Inheritance

I am reading Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian.

Set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, this story is filled with love, anguish, history, betrayal and murder. It gives a voice to all the victims that suffered during the genocide, both directly and indirectly. I would certainly recommend this novel to everyone, as it speaks to the humanity within all of us. Orhan's Inheritance has been chosen as GCC's One Book text for 2016-2017, and Ohanesian will speak at our college on April 13 at 12:30 p.m.

Lara Kartalian
English
____________

I'm reading Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanessian and would highly recommend it. It's well-written and I found myself immediately placing myself in the main character's place. It gives perspective to the tumultuous past with Turks and Armenians in novel form!

Theresa Lorch
Kinesiology

Destruction - Days of Revolt

I am reading Days of Destruction - Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. Chris Hedges was a Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times and Joe Sacco is a cartoonist with several book prizes.  This book chronicles places in the US that have been abandoned by the rest of America for the sake of profits and politics.  Written and illustrated in 2012, it is helping me make sense of the powerlessness felt by people who have felt left out of the American Dream and why perhaps Trump got his unexpected victory in the election.

Dennis Doyle
English

A Different Kind of Daughter

A Different Kind of Daughter by Maria Toorpakai

This is a memoir of a girl who was born and lived in the harsh, tribal Wazir lands of Pakistan amidst the Taliban. As a child she resented being a girl and having to follow "girl" rules and her (surprisingly liberal family) allowed her to dress as a boy and even allowed her to roam the street as a boy. As a 12 year old, her changing body makes her finally register as a girl and she goes on to be one of the top girl squash players in the world.

There's a short youtube video about this too.

Fatema Baldiwala
English

A Gesture Life

Chang-Rae Lee's A Gesture Life

I'm a big fan of Chang-Rae Lee's most recent novel, On Such a Full Sea; so when I heard that the Faculty-Student Book Club at GCC was reading his novel from the 1990's, I had to pick it up.  The narrator  examines his life as an older, Japanese American in a small town, who has always tried to maintain respectable, safe and distant in his relationships, including the one with his adopted daughter.  As he slowly reveals his past traumas from WWII as a medic in the Japanese Army, he begins to reexamine his choices. Both the reader and narrator better understand how his life has shaped his outlook.  Unlike many plot-driven novels today, Chang-Rae Lee offers introspective, thought-provoking storytelling.

Caryn Panec
Parent Education

Interesting, historically-based books

    

     

I’ve been retired from GCC’s Noncredit ESL program for 2 years now. I’ve had the luxury of reading many interesting, historically-based books. I especially found helpful for history-knowledge the following:

  • Empire of Cotton: A Global History of the World through Cotton by Sven Beckert (Historian and Professor Harvard University)
  • Austerity, by Mark Bluth (Economic journalist and instructor Brown University)
  • Brothers (Kennedy Years), by David Talbot
  • Beyond Outrage, by Robert Reich
  • Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
  • The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren
  • The Devil’s Chessboard, by David Talbot
  • The Making of Donald Trump, by David Cay Johnston
  • Orphan Train, by Christine Baker Kline
  • Saving Capitalism, by Robert Reich
  • The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  • Sisters in Law (Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg), by Lind Hirshman

I especially found Empire of Cotton gives an excellently told story of our global economic history through the production of Cotton.

Debbie Tannenaum
GCC retiree
 

Body of Work

Body of Work (2007) is a fascinating, sometimes heart-wrenching, and beautifully written memoir by Christine Montross—a former writing instructor and poet—about her years as a medical student. Her story is framed around her first semester anatomy course and the dissection of a cadaver, but also takes us into the history of human dissection and even vivisection. Most compelling to me were her meditations on developing the necessary equilibrium of professional detachment and empathy when treating patients. This prompted my own reflection on what I can now see as my pediatrician father’s similar struggle. I highly recommend this book, with the caveat that some of the content about human dissection is quite graphic.

Nancy Getty
Library

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