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Chaparral 2019-2020: 28.1 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?


A Beginner's Guide to the End

I'm reading A Beginner's Guide to the End by Miller and Berger, and it is an invaluable resource. Similar in format and style to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, this is a well-thought out guide to how to prepare and deal with all of the hoops that come with dying, including among many things how to deal with insurance companies, doctors, employers, creditors, well-meaning but illogical relatives, hospice care vs. home-care, probate lawyers, wills, and advanced directives. My mom gave it to me to help prepare me for what she is facing, and though it is sometimes hard to read, it would be harder not to. 

Paul Mayer
Noncredit ESL

Song for the Unraveling of the World

Brian Evenson’s Song for the Unraveling of the World is, like all of his work, eminently weird, engrossing, eerie, darkly funny, and brilliant. This collection of short stories showcases some outstanding work, from the image-driven short-short about a girl, who, no matter which we she turned, did not have a face, to smears on spaceships that drive astronauts insane. Skillfully crafted, surreal, and at times horrifying, this book is the perfect read as we head into fall. I loved every bit of it.

Joanna Parypinski

A Spool of Blue Thread

I just finished reading A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.

Would you recommend it? Yes! Perfect read for any time of the year.

The story is a multigenerational saga that could easily be the story of any of us. It made me laugh, cry, and really reflect on family matters. It’s beautifully written.

Diana Rivera

Galileo’s Daughter and Murder Below Montparnasse

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

If you have any interest in the history of science or Renaissance Italy, you’ll find it interesting, and Sobel is a very good science writer.

It’s not really about Galileo’s daughter, although her life as a nun and why she and her sister ended up in a monastery is interesting. Her letters to her father are the kernel of the book, but it’s much larger than that: Galileo’s life and scientific process, the Medici family, the Popes and the church and is involvement in accepting or rejecting scientific theories, and life in Renaissance Europe are the large scope of this book. Not being a science person, I wasn’t sure I really could get into the book, but Sobel’s writing has kept me engaged.

Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black

I’m not a mystery reader, so it’s hard to recommend it. I find the writing a bit redundant, and by a quarter of the way through, I’m not clear how all the threads are related, but that might be the nature of mystery fiction.

It takes place in Paris, so it’s nice reading about Paris. The detective is a young woman, and the story is believable. The murdered person is Russian and has a relationship to Lenin when Lenin lived in Paris, so that history is enlightening. He had a Modigliani painting passed to him from his father, so if you like art history, the description of the art world is also interesting.

Emily Bergman

A Man Called Ove

I’m reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. The cover of the book has a cat on it – enough said.

An endearing story to warm any heart.

Frankie Strong


I'm re-reading the Robot City series by various authors. Isaac Asimov put out a writing challenge to his legendary “Three Laws of Robotics” to other authors and the Robot City series was formed!

I'm currently reading the third in the series called Cyborg by William F Wu.

The Robot City itself is isolated and a couple of humans wind up on it – with undercurrents of sinister goings-on by a mysterious human that started it (and is nowhere to be found). The robots themselves are fascinating good-guys – under the Three Laws, of course.

Good series all in all with some interesting plot twists.

Tony Biehl
Computer Science/Information Systems

The Girl Before

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

This is a page-turning psychological thriller, which is already being made into a movie by Ron Howard. “The book spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception” (New York Times).

I could not put it down and went through it in two days! I have already given it to three colleagues to read and wanted to share with the rest of the campus as well.

Cindy Pollack
Noncredit Business & Life Skills

Tell No One

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books by the award-winning crime author, Harlan Coben. He writes mystery novels and thrillers. The plots of his novels often involve the resurfacing of unresolved or misinterpreted events in the past, murders, or fatal accidents, all of them boasting multiple hooks and twists.

If you’ve seen the Netflix miniseries The Five or Safe, you’ve experienced Coben's unique style that lures you in only to shock you in the end. It’s reported that a follow up series called The Four has been commissioned. (He is currently filming The Stranger based on his novel with the same name.)

To date, he has published 31 novels in 43 languages. I recently learned that his book, Tell No One (Ne le dis a personne) was turned into the renowned French film that won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and four Cesars (French Oscar). A box office hit, this foreign-language film can also be seen on Netflix.

Rosemarie Shamieh
Noncredit Business & Life Skills

How Safe Are We?

I’m reading How Safe Are We? by Janet Napolitano.

Though I’m only a few chapters into the book, I would definitely recommend it.

The book gives me better insight into the roles of the Dept. of Homeland Security and the people who run it.

Marissa Pico

The Postmortal

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

I’m reading this book with an intermediate ESL reading and writing class that I am teaching. I would recommend it for any English course, or for a simple pleasure read. The premise is that a cure for aging has been discovered. We can still die, though, but barring an accident, murder, or disease, we will love on, ageless, forever.

The most interesting part for me is that it forces us to think about what aging and death provide us, two inevitabilities that our society spends considerable effort and resources on delaying and/or stopping.

Chase Dontanville
Credit ESL

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World by Admiral William McRaven

I would most definitely recommend it.

This book is based upon a commencement speech Admiral William H. McRaven gave to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 – it is inspiring and thought-provoking.  These excerpts from the Amazon “blurb” describe it very well:

[Image result for Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World] Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better…

Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage. Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life’s darkest moments.

Tina Anderson-Wahlberg


Cats: Photographs 1942-2018 by Walter Chandoha

If you are into cats or photography or both? This is an awesome book. I saw a blurb about this book in email, so I bought it! Walter Chandoha was the preeminent cat photographer of the 20th Century. The photos are great if you like cats and are great if you like photography as an art. I like both. This is an easy read; it has lots of pictures.

Additionally, the forwards are in multiple languages.

Brian Reff
Culinary Arts

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