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Chaparral 2017-2018: 26.4 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?


Gnomon and History of Wolves and History of Wolves

Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway

I'm still reading this, but I think I’ll be recommending it. It's as if Baudrillard and Adorno had an intersectional feminist baby who read a bunch of Philip K. Dick and Margaret Atwood and then had some intense, crazy dreams, and told them to William Gibson, who talked it through with Octavia Butler, who had just re-read 1984, and who wrote a manuscript that wound up being edited contentiously Julian Assange and N. K. Jemisin, but which eventually became this novel. Come to think of it, it’s possible I’m reading it while it’s still being written! If you decide to read it, or have read it, we should talk :-).

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

The novel’s protagonist is an outcast teenager who grew up on a commune and is now living with her family in poverty. The book is anchored by questions of faith and morality which play out as a slow-simmering psycho-drama against the wild, fierce landscape of rural Minnesota. The story is painful, and the characters overly opaque, but the writing is lyrical and gorgeous. I absolutely recommend it.

Julie Gamberg


I recently picked up Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Heleh Goh. It's the first dessert book by one of the U.K.'s biggest chefs and pastry chef Helen Goh (her Instagram feed is so much fun to browse through for those of us on social media). I've been "reading" the recipes and trying them out. My students often get to enjoy the perks of my baking sprees.

I would absolutely recommend this book. Not only are the visuals stunning and inspiring, but the recipes require little to no modification. That's very rare in cooking and baking, where so many cookbooks have recipes that have a harsh "reality" to them when we try out the goods.

What I love most about the book is the variety of the sweets – they come from all over. The pistachio and rose water semolina cake nixes so many different flavors. It reminds me of the Middle East – of my Syrian Jewish grandmother who could cook and bake like no one's business. Some of the desserts aren't too sweet. There's plenty here without butter and a lot that's more fruit-driven. 

Hope you enjoy!

Rory Cohen
Journalism, Language Arts

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality

I’m reading Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier.

I would highly recommend this book as well as his other books, You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future? Lanier is a computer scientist who has worked for most of the big companies of Silicon Valley. He had one of the first virtual reality start-ups in California. He is a very bright man who shares his feelings about the strengths and pitfalls of the digital revolution and the philosophical and moral implications of the new technology. Will it make us better people? Will we lose bits of our humanity to the machines? When virtual reality is better, will we be able to tell the difference between the real and the virtual world? At the deepest level has a new religion started? This, his most recent book, is largely autobiographical, but one can learn much about the thinking in the valley and why the history of the digital revolution has bent to certain trends.

Dennis Doyle

Math Books!

1. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman

2. Yes, to anyone!

3. Richard Feynman is one of the most brilliant and famous physicists ever. But he also has an incredible sense of humor and a knack for story telling! Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is an autobiographical collection of short stories spanning his entire life. Rather than tell us about physics, Feynman recalls the mischief he gets into while studying at Princeton, while working on the Manhattan Project, while a professor at Caltech. The stories are funny and thought provoking. Richard Feynman gives us a hilarious glimpse into the accomplished life he lived!

1. One-Variable Calculus, with an Introduction to Linear Algebra by Tom Apostol

2. Only for the mathematically inclined.

3. Apostol’s Calculus is the standard by which calculus books should be measured. It’s readable and every concept is completely developed and explained. Today, unfortunately, calculus books tend to focus too much on rote exercises. Apostol, instead, takes the time to provide motivation for the concepts and provides intuitive explanations for why the concepts work. I’ve been teaching calculus for six years, and I’ve learned a lot from just reading Apostol.

1. The College Mathematics Journal, a monthly peer-reviewed journal published by the Mathematical Association of America

2. Only for the mathematically inclined.

3. The CMJ provides exposition related to the undergraduate curriculum. I especially like articles written by students, articles that provide historical perspective, and articles that provide pedagogical notes.

Richard Neufeld

1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus

1. I just finished reading 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.

2. I highly recommend this reading for folks interested in learning about the Americas prior to the European invasions and Columbian exchange.

3. About 1/3 of the book is references! 

I just started reading the sequel to the book described above, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.

Franky Telles
Physical Sciences

News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This short novel follows elderly Captain Jefferson Kidd as he travels post-Civil War Texas, reading newspaper stories of faraway places to crowds in small towns. He is enlisted to deliver a ten-year-old girl, previously captured by Native Americans, to her relatives. They form a bond as they travel together, encounter dangers and make difficult decisions. Their relationship reveals the nature of courage and family bonds.

I personally found this beautifully written book riveting and historically fascinating!

Caryn Panec
Student Success Center, Parent Education

A Gentleman in Moscow, The Outside Boy, Beartown

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

My new favorite book about an aristocrat confined to living in the Metropole Hotel a majority of his life as he manages to connect to fantastic personalities working and visiting the Hotel.

Writing style is incredible and the story woven will leave you aghast. Sure to become a movie. . .


The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins

Recommended for reading about Ireland in 1950s through the eyes of a young man coming of age through his life as a tinker with his father and discovery of his mother's origins as he seeks to meet her.


Beartown by Frederik Backman (author of A Man Called Ove, also a movie you'd love about a man about to give up on life when neighbors engage him in their lives)

Recommended for insight on the values and definition of hockey as a sport and how it defines people whose lives orbit around the cultural identity of hockey in a small town near the Arctic.

Theresa Lorch

An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic

Daniel Mendelsohn's An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic

Prof. Mendelsohn's 81-year-old father takes his son's seminar on Homer's Odyssey at Bard College and then they decide to retrace Odysseus's voyage to Ithaca, setting in motion an emotional journey for both men, since they never had an easy relationship. It is a multidimensional journey of a father and a son in a classroom, a cruise, and in life itself, with Homer as their guide. The father challenges the son, the son sees his father under a different light and finally understands him, and this way at the same time the son learns more about himself. It is a beautiful memoir, funny, interesting, skillfully written, elegant and moving.

Eleni Tsaggouri


I’m reading Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer (about US imperialism in Central America, Cuba, Philippines, Hawaii, Nicaragua, Honduras). Historically based.

Also, I just read a great read: Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon. About a Jewish girl and a Catholic boy in Italy, and the saving of many Jews.

Also, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Pulitzer Prize winner 2016). About Blacks in the South at the beginning of English settlement in U.S. Slave trade. 

All excellent reads!

Debbie Tannenbaum
Noncredit ESL


I finished reading Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This novel is a must-read for fans of Star Wars episodes VII and VIII. Bloodline takes place a few years before Episode VII, The Force Awakens. The story, centered around Princess Leia, paints a vivid picture of the political climate and gives us a better insight into what lead to the rise of the First Order. 

Marissa Pico
Social Sciences

City of Bones

City of Bones by Kwame Dawes (poet)

Yes, I recommend it.

Beautiful poetry largely historical about the black American male (very, very male) experience.

Gorgeous narrative poetry. Rich concrete language.


Evan Stubblefield


We Found a Hat

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Turtles, hats – this book has it all. Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen is at it again, writing more poignant stories for children about animals finding and losing hats. Klassen’s style of hand-drawn and digital illustration is magical, and the story is a sweet and moving tale of two turtles who find a hat together, and the very human emotions this stirs in them. Truly, a 56-page tour de force.

Becka Cooling

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