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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.2 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?


How to Change Your Mind

 I’m reading How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan.

It’s a fascinating take on psychedelic drugs – a topic that has become somewhat taboo since they’re illegal in the U.S. The book discusses their history, pharmaceutical applications, and also gets into the more mystic side of the lasting effects that users sometimes see. It’s really interesting – I recommend it!

Kimzey McGrath
Credit ESL

Origin and a Dutch book

I just finished Dan Brown’s Origin. Despite Dan Brown’s books being formulaic, I’m always curious to see the countries he goes to, the problems he faces, and how he uses his knowledge of symbols to solve the problems. Sadly, I found this book dull, preachy, and very predictable. Nothing he presented was new to me, so that was a disappointment, too.

I’m now reading a Dutch book. The title translates as At Starbucks They Call Me Amy. It’s a Dutch author/reporter’s take on her life in New York City. So far, it’s interesting and funny. I’m not very far into it yet, but I’m curious where she’s going to take me.

Dennis van Bremen
Noncredit ESL

The Darkness That Comes Before

I am currently reading The Darkness That Comes Before, a fantasy novel by R. Scott Bakker. I would recommend this book primarily to fantasy enthusiasts. On the one hand, I am very much enjoying the author's writing, which has a very poetic quality to it. (I have an app on my phone that I use for keeping book quotes that I enjoy and this book has provided several keepers). On the other hand, fantasy authors will occasionally inundate readers with difficult to pronounce or difficult to remember names of people and places. This book hits you early and often with them. I found myself wishing I had a legend or appendix to keep all the nations, peoples, and histories in context. Still, the writing is so fluid and colorful that I'm a fan. I will be reading the following two books in the series. 

Trevor Pudvan in the Lock shop

Trilogy & fiction

For those fellow travelers out there in the land of GCC, I have been on a spiritual journey for 20+ years, read a plethora of metaphysical and spiritual texts including A Course in Miracles (twice).

Over the past 2 months, these three books have been my 5:15 am reading wake up call. 


They are mind-blowing in the best possible way. Paul Selig is listed as the author of these books. In fact, he served as a channel for these books. This is some deep and revelatory spiritual work full of humanity and even some humor. As a person who has been “traveling” for a while, and loves a good chuckle even in my spiritual work, I have found these books to have shaken and re-aligned my connection with myself and with others. I don’t use the words “truly enlightening” as a rule, but I use it here.

I start reading the first book of the second trilogy Monday! 

I am also reading fiction. 

The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton. In this book, the author transports contemporary social issues to the 17th century where a costume drama rich in historical detail is embellished with supernatural intrigue. What's not to like?

My latest read is a classic favorite of many that I have finally gotten around to reading, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. And a nice surprise is that a lot of it takes place during the summer holidays in the grand mansions of Newport, RI where I grew up. It is wonderful to be transported back with these characters. I am sure many of you have already appreciated the rich prose, the beautiful imagery, and the amazing story telling of a time that certainly had its problems, but also romance. Need I say more?

Elizabeth Barrett

A People's History of the United States

I'm finally reading Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States, which was first published in 1999.  It details the parts of American history that got left out of our school textbooks, and it’s both enlightening and enraging.  Zinn’s purpose was to give voice to those without power and tell America’s story through their eyes and experiences.  A well-researched book and one, I feel, that everyone should read, especially now in this political climate of “alternative facts.”

Janet Langon
Credit ESL

What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire by Charles Bukowski

I highly recommend it.

The affinity I feel with Bukowski's views on life, in its every day sense and its meaning.

Glenn S Gardner
Credit ESL



A haiku to describe Deepak Chopra’s Buddha:

Meditative voice
Adventure to one’s true path
Brings calm to my day

Frankie Strong

Damnation Island

 I am reading Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th Century New York by Stacy Horn.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

What do I like or find interesting about it?

It’s a quick read and provides an in-depth history of how those accused of crimes or experiencing poverty or mental illness were imprisoned on Blackwell's Island in New York and how the good intentions of the original planners went awry from the beginning.

Along with detailing the lives of those imprisoned on the island, the book focuses on the various people who dedicated their lives to improve the treatment of these people and the journalists, including Nellie Bly, who exposed these institutions thorough their writing.

Andrea Zollman

Last Days of Night

I would love to recommend Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. It is historical fiction that tells the story of Edison and Westinghouse’s “Light Bulb Wars” through the narrative of Westinghouse’s attorney. Other historical figures in the novel are Nikola Tesla, JP Morgan and Alexander Graham Bell. Moore condenses a period of 15-20 years into about 2 – but the result is a thriller-type story which makes the book hard to put down. What I especially appreciated is at the end, Moore informs his readers on what parts were actually true (like the opening scene of a man being electrocuted while working on the city’s wires) and which events he fabricated for story-telling.

Beth Kronbeck


HERZOG by Saul Bellow

Yes, I recommend it unless you are a depressive.

A self-obsessed, narcissistic New York intellectual ranting on the absurdities of love and life – what is not to like? This is at least the fifth time I have read this (I do not like to start anything new during the semester in case I can't put it down), and I always discover something new.  By the way, the book on tape is one of the best I have come across.

John Lynch

We Have Always Lived in the Castleand The Haunting of Hill House

We Have Always Lived in the Haunted House…

I’ve recently been re-reading Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House and falling in love with her work all over again. Both books are compulsively readable, whimsically dark, and utterly engrossing. They’re also great choices for October, this season of darkness, with their fixation on the occult. I’m re-reading both because I was deciding which one I wanted to assign next semester for my Gothic/Horror themed English 102; I’m planning on doing We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

“’Merricat,’ said Constance, ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ ‘Oh no,’ said Merricat, ‘You’ll poison me!’”

Joanna Parypinski

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