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 recently read Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. I would recommend it because he explored many nuances of the emotional, relational and societal impacts African Americans experienced during slavery in the south. However, while the book examined many emotional truths, I took issue with his re-imagining of both history and the railroad as a unified, literal system. By setting the story outside the actual historical setting, he loses an opportunity to educate his readers about the truth of this dark chapter. In our current era of "alternative facts" and fake news, this alternative version did not do justice to our need to remember the true history of the slavery system.
Student Success Center
If you, like me, thought the werewolf genre had gone the way of vampires and zombies, that nothing new or interesting could possibly be done with them anymore, but are willing to be proven wrong, then give Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones a try. It’s really a story of family, struggle, survival, and coming of age masquerading as a werewolf story, with a distinctive voice narrated by the teenage protagonist, who roams the South with his werewolf aunt and uncle hoping that someday he, too, will transform into the wolf he was always meant to be.
I am watching a 1946 military training film called "Let There Be Light". This documentary follows WWII combat veterans undergoing treatment for psychological trauma. The film was suppressed for decades by the Army over concerns that it was demoralizing, but has since been named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry for its historical significance. This documentary shows that even after war ends, war related trauma continues in many soldiers.
Here is a link to the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiD6bnqpJDE
The Girls in My Town by Angela Morales
You may suspect me of just recommending this book because Angela Morales is such a wonderful GCC colleague, teacher, and friend - or because it just won the very prestigious PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award - but, trust me, after just a few pages of it, you will want to press it into the hands of everybody you know. From the description of that time she pulled a gun on her abusive dad, to the time she and her best friend brought their own version of "women's lib" to their elementary school, to her memory of a particularly compelling, if harrowing, relationship with one of her community college students, this collection is always absorbing and never predictable. You will be so glad you picked it up.
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Desmond, a professor at Harvard and an eloquent chronicler of poverty in America, spent years living among eight families in Milwaukee who were in the grips of a fruitless search for stable housing, and he tells their stories with respect, intelligence, compassion, and, quite appropriately, outrage. His careful reporting lucidly illustrates how eviction is not just a result of poverty but also a cause of it. In the book's epilogue, he makes a persuasive pleas for commonsense solutions to the affordable housing crisis, which are within our reach to implement. And you don't just have to take my word for it that this is a fantastic read - it just won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Just started reading it, very different style of storytelling and history combined.
Sheryl Sandberg has a new book out now, but I finally got to Lean In, her breakthrough non-fiction work about women in the workplace. It is an accessible read, and has some enlightening reminders for women as they navigate their lives and careers. One main ideas that sticks out is to not avoid taking on new opportunities or promotions just because the position may require some skills yet to be developed. Another point she stresses is geared toward mothers. Sandberg wants future mothers and new mothers who value their jobs to keep their feet planted in the workplace up until the time they take maternity leave, and to assert their rights to advance or pivot in their careers, even as they balance motherhood and their professional life.
What Kinda Cactus Izzat? "Who's Who" in the Desert
by Reg Manning
I picked this book up over my Spring Break Trip. The book is a very lighthearted book with cartoons about Desert Plants. The book is a rather easy read and if you have children who are able to read they might enjoy this book.
Hospitality & Tourism
I'm in the (late) middle of reading, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, by Daniel L. Everett
This is part memoir, part linguistic study of 30 years spent living with and learning the language of the Pirahã (Pee-da-HAN) Amazonian tribe, using monolingual field techniques. I've been riveted by the linguistic discoveries: The Pirahã have no words for numbers (and do not count), they have no small talk, no color terms, and no oral history or creation mythology. On the other hand, they have suffixes that attach to the same root sentence and indicate the level of certainty of most statements (essentially whether knowledge has been gained through direct experience or secondhand). I have mixed feelings about the book. The subject matter is compelling, and as Everett makes a series of discoveries, he carefully traces his linguistic and cultural assumptions and reveals both his methodologies and thought processes. On the other hand, I found it difficult that he uses a parenthetical to write about a gang rape and quickly glosses over pedophilia, yet devotes a section to gay fondling which he admits he personally found offensive. Everett is a missionary for most of time covered in the book. He is there with his family to learn the Pirahã language for the purposes of translating the bible and converting the Pirahã to Christianity, and this informs his perceptions. However, he has since become a well known linguist, thus many observations begin with "at the time I thought ... ". Still, I am finding myself mid-sentence, wanting to read the book his wife would have written.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles : In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. The count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. The prose is heaven, the story is mesmerizing and I absolutely fell in love with the Count. I burst into tears many times not only because of the events of the story but also because of the beautiful prosaic way the story was woven together. A MUST READ!
Also just finished Towles’ first book Rules of Civility. A good read about New York society (and those who try to sneak into it) set in the 1920s.
Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo: a road trip cross the country with a food editor and his sister’s gugu foreign husband. Funny, inspirational, touching and enlightening.
Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo Another road trip of a completely different and sobering reason. Great read.
Local Girls by Alice Hoffman…read it for the death scene if nothing else. I want to go out like that.
The Lion of Ireland, by Morgan Llywely is based on the true story of Brian Boru, 10th century Ireland. Out of the mists of Ireland’s most violent age, he merged all of Ireland’s tribes into one and created “Camelot.” The book is action packed, sexy, great strong women and men. Spans Boru’s lifetime from 8-88 years old. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this.
That’s it for now!
I'm reading Judy Carter's book, The Message of You. I'm learning a lot from this book about how to use personal stories in public speaking. It shows how powerful sharing personal experiences can be to connecting with people. I would recommend it for anyone with an interest in public speaking. A very enjoyable read!
1. What are you reading?
Privileged Hands: A Scientific Life by Geerat Vermeij
It is an autobiography about a blind earth scientist.
2. Would you recommend it?
Highly recommended. 5/5 stars!
3. What do you like or find interesting about it?
I like the fact that his physical blindness did not hinder him in becoming a successful earth scientist.
His extrasensory ability of identifying shells is uncanny.
Dr. Vermeig is a distinguished professor of marine ecology and paleoecology at UC Davis. I highly recommend it to readers in love with the earth and biological sciences, and of course, student equity.