Rutgers Book-lovers Gearing Up for a Summer of Reading
Faculty, staff members share their favorite titles
For many, the coming of summer means time to read that book they’ve been eyeing for months, maybe catching up with a new author or revisiting old favorites. Rutgers Today asked faculty and staff what one book – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novel, whatever – is No. 1 on their must-read list for the summer of 2012.
Carolyn Williams, chair, English Department, New Brunswick:
I will be reading: Are You My Mother, by Alison Bechdel, a graphic memoir about the author’s relationship with her mother. It’s a companion to the earlier best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home, which mainly focused on her father. I loved Fun Home and loved the reading Bechdel did when she came to Rutgers as part of the Writers at Rutgers reading series. (See wh.rutgers.edu for a video from that visit).
Chris Rose, professor, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Rutgers’ Wireless Information Network Laboratory:
The book I want to read is Herding Cats: Being Advice to Aspiring Academic and Research Leaders, by Geoff Garrett and Graeme Davies. I learned firsthand this year that persuading academics to pull in the same direction is hard work -- harder than maybe it should be. I'm hoping to pick up some pointers about how to be part of (and gently lead) groups of colleagues for developing exciting, high impact and long-lasting programs.
Karl Herrup, professor and chair, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology:
I admit it: I'm the consummate nerd. I was hoping to reread Power, Sex, Suicide. This sounds like a real page-turner until you hit the subtitle, Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's one of my favorite books ever, right up there with Frog and Toad are Friends.
Ann Jurecic, assistant professor, Department of English, New Brunswick: I'm looking forward to reading Jonah Lehrer's Imagine: How Creativity Works. Lehrer has a talent for connecting neuroscience to culture, education and even business in ways that are compelling for general readers. In a recent issue of the New Yorker, for instance, he explained why group brainstorming doesn't actually work. I'm especially drawn to Imagine because I'd like to know how to help my students become more curious and creative.
George Thomas, professor, School of Law-Newark:
While there are lots of books I want to read this summer, the one I'm most looking forward to reading is Stephen King's 11-23-63. Most of my research in the last few years draws on history, and I am fascinated by the apparent contingency of history. I take it that the King book is about an attempt to go back in time and "undo" the Kennedy assassination. I'm not a huge Stephen King fan but I do like some of his fantasy books (The Gunslinger, for one) and a friend told me that 11-23-63 is a lively, provocative read.
Pam Jenoff, clinical assistant professor, School of Law-Camden:
As an author, I'm frequently asked to read advanced copies of forthcoming novels for possible endorsement. So I will be looking at some of these, including a British manuscript set during World War II called The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow. I will also be turning from all of the heavy historical research I've been doing for my next novel, to be set in Paris and Berlin just after World War I, to the much lighter novels I've been waiting to read -- the latest by Anne Tyler, Lisa Scottoline, Rosamund Lupton and others.
Michelle A. Stephens, associate professor, Latino and Caribbean Hispanic Studies: I’ll be reading Toni Morrison's Home, her newest release. Morrison has this most amazing ability to write in both epic and lyrical terms simultaneously, big ideas and narrative plots of deep import paired with finely nuanced and evocative language. Every Morrison novel I expect to be intellectually provoked and emotionally moved, and this one promises to do the same.
Jill Friedman, director, Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs and adjunct professor, School of Law-Camden:
This summer will be one of my busiest ever at the office. So on the beach, besides Fifty Shades of Grey, I want to read Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. I have loved Quindlen all my adult life; she and I -- and all my friends — are getting more and more irreverent together.
Jean Philips, professor, School of Management and Labor Relations: This is going to be a very work-intensive summer for me so I won't be able to get much personal reading in. I do hope to read Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit when I can fit it in. I think habits drive a lot of what we do and look forward to learning how to proactively create more positive habits.
David Andersen, research associate, Eagleton Institute of Politics:
I wish I could say that I were planning on reading some hard-hitting political research all summer, but my honest plans for the summer are: 1) catch up on reading professional journals (Journal of Politics, American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and Political Psychology); 2) complete as much of the Ender's Game series as I can; 3) find some light-hearted fiction, in the line of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series; and 4) Richard P. McCormick's History of Voting in New Jersey and New Jersey from Colony to State, 1609-1789.
Mauricio Delgado, assistant professor of psychology, Newark:
I would probably say that I am looking forward to reading Goodnight Moon about 50 times this summer to my kids. If at all possible, I would also try to squeeze in a fiction paperback, such as a John Grisham-type of thriller.
Rebecca Reynolds, assistant dean, Douglass Residential College:
I recently read Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing, an astonishing book about race, identity, music, American history, love, and the physics of time. So I look forward to reading The Echo Maker this summer, also by Powers, who has a remarkable facility for layering his narratives (and exploring the vicissitudes of narrative itself) -- in this case with neuroscience. I also plan on thumbing again and again through Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast, a lovely photographic guide to weeds if you ever wondered about those yellow blossoms by the railroad tracks.
Patrick Wallace, coordinator of campus involvement, Camden:
Two books that have been on my "to-read" list are The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan and Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness? by Toure. They came out a little while ago, and I've been looking forward to reading both this summer.
Dennis Benson, associate dean, Mason Gross School of the Arts:
As an undergraduate, I read Montaigne in French Literature in Translation and loved it. More recently I read Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, which I also loved. So this summer I would like to return to Montaigne's essays. It will be interesting to see how the question posed when I was 20 reads now that I am 63 and retiring – it probably takes on a bit more urgency, I would assume.
Jack Bratich, professor, School of Communication and Information:
My summer book reading tends not to be that light-hearted (I leave that for television shows and social media). The book I've been waiting to read, and have just started, is a recent collection called Communization and its Discontents: Contestations, Critique, and Contemporary Struggles, edited by Benjamin Noys. It contains a number of contributions that seem to be influential on the recent European and U.S. uprisings.