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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.4 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?



I just finished reading Educated by Tara Westover. Her memoir of her pursuit of higher education defines both her external and internal struggle in coming to terms with her family's extremist views and isolated lifestyle. Growing up in a fundamentalist Mormon family preparing for the end of days, she received minimal home schooling and taught herself skills necessary to gain admission to college.  Throughout her academic pursuit of her PhD, she is forced to emotionally reconcile living a life of her own choosing.

Caryn Panec
Noncredit Business/Life Skills

Where the Crawdads Sing, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and A Year to Live

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I enjoyed the book, although for me it was a slow evolution to connecting with the characters.  Enjoyable read.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Also enjoyed reading this book but not compelled to sit down and read now, as I am with my favorite books.  It began as a screenplay and transitioned into a book and to me it read like that.  I could have used more internal discoveries.  The book is heavily based in dialogue.

A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last by Stephen Levine

On his deathbed, Socrates exhorted his followers to practice dying as the highest form of wisdom. Levine decided to live this way himself for a whole year, and now he shares with us how such immediacy radically changes our view of the world and forces us to examine our priorities. 

Mary Elizabeth Barrett

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

I am reading A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel.

An interesting look at investing fads over history and why investing in low-cost index funds is the way to go. I recommend it for anyone interested in stocks and investing!

Tobin Sparfeld

Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

I was familiar with the late Wallace Stegner’s poetry, but less so his fiction until a chance mention in a recent issue of Time caused me to pick up this 1987 novel. Through the decades-long narrative of two couples (the husbands are college English faculty) Stegner explores the themes of friendship, marriage, and taking charge of one's destiny.  The narrative is at once honest and forgiving about human foibles.  

Stegner’s prose is sensory and lyrical.  (He describes a moist Vermont morning: “I could wash my hands in the ferns.”)  He is one of those writers who can articulate those subtle occurrences in the human mind that most of us experience but which we don't consciously identify, or which we don't realize are universal.  Think of the first time you understood that deja vu is something everyone experiences.  This novel has many of those moments.

Susan Henry

Paying the Price

I read Paying the Price by Sara Goldrick-Rab and even got a copy of the book signed for GCC students. The librarian said she would make a note of it too.

Copied from website:

Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream. One of the most sustained and vigorous public debates today is about the value—and, crucially, the price—of college. But an unspoken, outdated assumption underlies all sides of this debate: if a young person works hard enough, they’ll be able to get a college degree and be on the path to a good life.

That’s simply not true anymore, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it. Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than twenty percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, even went without adequate food or housing. In a heartbreaking number of cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt.

We can fix this problem. Goldrick-Rab closes the book by laying out a number of possible solutions, including a public sector-focused “first degree free” program. What’s not an option, this powerful book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.

Fatema Baldiwala was lucky to have met Sara Goldrick Rab of the Hope Center, a research and policy institute, at Los Angeles Valley College’s event organized by LAVC’s Family Resource Center where Sara shared the results of her CA survey in which 40,000 students in 57 CA community colleges participated. The results showed that that 19% of California’s 2.1 million community college students have been homeless during the past year. From the above 19%, only 6% had self-identified as being homeless, while 13% were couch surfers. The most disadvantaged group were students of African American descent, and/or transgender, those who or belonged to the LGBTQ community.

Furthermore 50% were food insecure. This comprehensive result built on the earlier result that 1 in 5 Community College students were hungry. It is because of her study that GCC has the Food Pantry.

In the photograph is Vice President of the LACCD Board of Trustees, Andra Hoffman, who also teaches at GCC. Fatema got GCC’s library copy of the book signed (with permission from the librarian).

Inspired by her reading of the book, Fatema created a diagnostic which she shared on GCC’s English OER canvas shell for other teachers to use.

Having used the diagnostic this Spring, Fatema says it has been eye opening the experiences her students go through in order to attend class. It has helped her really understand where her students come from, thereby, by asking them to share their stories of what College really is like she can better serve her student population.

Fatema Baldiwala

The Widows of Malabar Hill

I just finished Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill (January 2018). The novel is a mystery set mostly in Bombay, India in 1921, and its central character is Oxford educated Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in the country, inspired by real-life solicitor, Cornelia Sorabji. While dealing with the inheritance of three widows living in purdah, Perveen’s story also exposes the reader to the Parsi community in Bombay and Calcutta, the nascent Indian independence movement, and the terribly sexist opposition educated and professional women experienced in that time and place. The author herself is half Indian, and this is the beginning of a series. I was fascinated by the book’s background as well as the story—this isn’t just a suspense novel.

Lynne McGrath

A Feast for Crows

I am currently reading A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, which is part of the Game of Thrones series. If you love the Game of Thrones TV series, I highly recommend reading the books. I love the vivid storytelling, wit, and awesome female characters.

Marissa Pico

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

I just started reading, and recommend, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel. The book looks at why some women have careers that don't take off as a result of biases that exist in the workplace. Frankel looks at ways to help women discover what's holding them back and how to address those issues.

Rory Cohen

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

I would highly recommend this book.

I’m very late to the party, as this has been around since 1979. I have been substitute teaching a Humanities 115 course and, needless to say, had a lot of reading to do in order to fulfill my obligation. Carter offers innovative, Gothic renditions of fairy tales that are incredibly wrought and deeply seductive. I'm a new fan.

Gannon Daniels

Dear Committee Members

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

This book has been out for a while but I just discovered it. It's a farce on all the issues of writing recommendation letters, as well as college politics and faculty issues in general. I found it hilarious, spot on, and I suspect all college instructors will identify with it. (Julie Schumacher has recently published a follow up, The Shakespeare Requirement, which is wonderful too.)

It will make you laugh; I highly recommend it!

Beth Pflueger

The Bone Garden

The book is called The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen. It’s a historical suspenseful “whodunit” with fascinating period detail into the early 1800s. A quick read—although, I listened to it.

Rosemarie Shamieh

Thirteen Nocturnes, The Girl in the Road, and Maps of the Imagination

I’ve got my bases covered this month with a book of poetry, a novel, and a nonfiction book.

Thirteen Nocturnes by Oliver Sheppard

I discovered this poetry collection published in 2018 during my reading for the Bram Stoker Awards, and was incredibly impressed. Horror poetry is usually, well, not that good, admittedly… but this book absolutely blew me away. Sheppard’s attention to the music of language, as well as his visceral images, make this a haunting collection of contemporary poetry that has clearly come out of the graveyard, gothic, and cosmic horror traditions. Ravenous black holes, corpses floating through space, and even some mathematics abound here.

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

Initially skeptical of a title that seems to be jumping on the “The Girl in/on/with…” bandwagon, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this book. Sci-fi meets contemplations on society’s energy use meets bipolar disorder meets ghosts meets a floating bridge between India and Africa… definitely a high-concept page-turner.

Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi

Melding cartography and creativity in a unique, enlightening, and engaging way, Turchi offers an examination of the writing process and how we map creativity. This one scratched an itch I didn’t know I had.

Joanna Parypinski

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