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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.1 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?


Dreams of my Mothers: A Story of Love Transcendent

I’m reading Dreams of my Mothers: A Story of Love Transcendent by Joel L. a Peterson

Would you recommend it? Yes.

I like the historical theme that involves the U.S. involvement in Korea during the Korean war and the unaccounted for tragedies that are left in its wake. It also touches on children of biracial descent and how they are handled in each of the countries (Korea and U.S.) with the U.S. having the highest amount of adoptions coming from this country. It was interesting to read this story and to meet the author. He will be visiting GCC and giving a lecture on October 15. He is a local author who also works at Harvey Mudd at Claremont Colleges.

Ramona Barrio-Sotillo
Continuing Education

Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water

I’m reading Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner.

“The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West.

Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden—an Eden that may be only a mirage.” (Review found here)

The book is amazing and it has made me want to create a contextualized class on water sustainability and to apply for a grant.

Fatema Baldiwala

The Overstory

Now reading The Overstory by Richard Powers.

I would definitely recommend it for those who don’t mind ponderous reading. (No “action” in this text.)

It combines deep knowledge of science (particularly trees) with sometimes cryptic character vignettes that move around in time and place. It truly is "overarching" in a metaphoric way. One reviewer said that if Powers had written in the 19th century, he might have written Moby Dick. I'm only a quarter of the way through it, but I totally get the comparison. I will have a better sense when I'm through, but that might take quite a while! So, dive in if you dare and if you like reading that settles with you slowly.

Monette Tiernan

The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox

I’m reading The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox by author Shelby Foote. I have always loved Civil War history after watching Ken Burns’s PBS documentary as a kid, and it has been fascinating to read this three-volume tome that is historically thorough yet eminently readable. They are long books, though! 

Tobin Sparfeld

Private Paris

I'm currently reading Private Paris by James Patterson, and yes, I'd recommend it. I really enjoy the way he tells his stories from the first person view of the main character and then intertwining it with third person narratives of the other characters, chiefly the villain and to an extent with secondary characters. As a side-note, his chapters are usually quite short so the book is a quick read as are most of his novels. 

Michael Serot
Student Services

Fear and Outline

Fear by Bob Woodward, Outline by Rachel Cusk.

Dierdre Mendoza

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Maybe Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife is an unusual choice for an English instructor, but I found this book absolutely fascinating. It helps to know a little math as a foundation, but the explanations are so clear and engaging that I found myself understanding more about the reasons behind the math I did back in high school; however, the most interesting thing about this book is the way it delves into the history of how different cultures and civilizations approached and adopted (or denied) the concept of zero throughout history, the mythology and religious beliefs surrounding our notions of the abyss, and zero’s inextricable link with its twin, infinity. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the intersection of math, religion, and philosophy (and there’s even a bit about how zero changed perspective in art!).

Joanna Parypinski

Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones)

I'm listening to an audiobook of Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones) by Nataly Kogan. It's so good that I also bought a physical copy. I heard about it on this podcast.

I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is trying to live a happier life. I now believe happy is a practice. This book suggests to me concrete ways that I can practice happiness. I'm in the middle of reading, and I already do some of these practices (like meditating and journaling about what/who I'm grateful for), but I'm excited to learn more. 

Jennifer Van Hyning 
Credit ESL 

A Man Called Ove

I am reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman.

I would strongly recommend it.

This is the story of a man who in many ways has been left behind by the 21st century. Ove struggles to understand people in the modern era as they seem to be such the antithesis of the values and abilities he was taught. They confound and irritate him. His outlook is compounded by his past, which he guards carefully. His new neighbors and their needs draw him into situations that take an unexpected turn. Beautifully written, the story will have you both laughing, crying, and appreciating that people are not all that they seem.

Rita Zobayan

Summer Reading

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain (Eccobooks 2010)

This book was an interesting read, written by a man we know as a celebrity chef, but who was probably a better writer than a chef. I read this book a short while after the author’s death. I acquired this book as part of a collection of stuff I was given when I attended a conference this past summer. An interesting read, but not a great one.


The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (Vintage Books 2017)

I picked this book up as something to read on a trip with some very long airplane flights. I figured that if it wasn’t interesting, it might help me sleep! This was a very interesting book about a very different type of person.



 Australian Desperadoes: The Incredible Story of How Australian Gangsters Terrorised California by Terry Smyth (Ebury Press 2017)

This book was a very interesting read! It deals with a very important topic in the history of the State of California. What made it especially interesting was it was written from a non-American historian’s point of view. If you are into California history, this is a must read book.




 Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon (Back Bay Books 2013)

I had read the original edition of this book when it had come out in the early 1980s. I had enjoyed it then, so when I saw a new updated version had come out, I read it out of a feeling of nostalgia. This book was still a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it if you like to travel in the United States or lust to do so!



Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson (Picador 2016)

This book is about Black Elk, one of the authors of the book, Black Elk Speaks, and it deals primarily with the story of writing that book. Additionally, this book deals with Black Elk’s life before, during and after the writing of his book. I found this book to be a very interesting read about a man who lead a very multi-faceted life in a very complex region of America.  

Brian Reff
Culinary Arts

Paranormal True Crime Creepy Weird Dark Odd Bizarre Gothic Horror ???

Looking for some Halloween reading? Then the GCC library has something for you…

Our new book display is “Scary Reads.” After viewing the new exhibit at the Art Gallery, come in the library and check out our creepy reads. Remember to send your students too!

FYI: Staff and Faculty have semester-long check out privileges!

Susie Chin


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