For Fordham University faculty, summer means having additional time to catch up on their reading. From childhood memoirs to volumes of poetry, faculty members share their top choices for the season.
“At the top of my summer book stack is Laura Kipnis’ new book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus (Harper, 2017). Kipnis’ investigation of the Title IX excesses on many American campuses has a personal side: When she wrote an article about a Title IX investigation at her own university, she found herself the subject of an investigation, too–and that inquiry helped to inspire this book. This is a book about current events, indeed.”
“My summer reading gets a double dip as I read sitting in the lantern room of a lighthouse we care for in Nova Scotia (Henry Island). This year I’ll be reading Enough Said (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) by Mark Thompson, the New York Times Company president and former BBC Director General. He has written a powerful book about what’s gone wrong with the language of politics. I’ll also be reading The Naked Now (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009) by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar who writes some of the most powerful meditative philosophy I’ve ever read. A lighthouse is a good place to read about God and the spiritual light.”
“As a father of three young kids, I’ve grown to appreciate books that offer a window into how children see the world–maybe in an effort to figure out my own kids. Therefore, my summer reading season begins with two childhood memoirs. The first is Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years a-Growing (J.S. Sanders Books, 1998), set on a remote island in the southwest of Ireland a century ago, and the second will be Carlos Eire’s Waiting for Snow in Havana (Free Press, 2004) which narrates his story as an immigrant growing up between Cuba and the United States in the 1960s. Then, I’ll pick up a book I started last summer but put down as the school year began, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. As to Dostoyevsky, I’ve long been embarrassed to say that I’ve never read him, so now’s my chance to put the embarrassment behind me.”
“A growing pile of books in my field has been staring at me balefully from my night table for some time, and before they topple over I hope particularly to read more sections of two of them that I have dipped into only briefly before: Brian Cummings’ The Literary Culture of the Reformation (Oxford, 2002) and Reuben Brower’s Fields of Light (Greenwood Press, 1980). I am in the middle of an extraordinary magical realist novel, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House, 2017), as well as some volumes of poetry, such as Alicia Ostriker’s latest, Waiting for the Light (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017).
“Since I am preparing to write a lot this summer, I tend to read fiction to help me ‘hear’ language better. Right now I am finishing a series of short stories by Mia Alvar, In the Country (Oneworld Publications, 2016) about Filipino migrations and relationships. I plan on finishing Luther Campbell’s’ memoir The Book of Luke: My Fight for Truth, Justice, and Liberty City (HarperCollins, 2015) about Liberty City, Miami, Florida. He’s a controversial figure, but his analysis of residential racism and segregation in Miami is fascinating. I am also going to read Underground Airlines (Random House, 2016) by Ben Winters, an alternative history of life in the U.S. had the Civil War never happened. [And] since I am teaching Congress in the fall, I’ll likely begin rereading Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate (Vintage Books, 2003), about my favorite president and brilliant congressman, LBJ.”
“My summer reading list is heavy with books on cities, a topic I’ve written a lot about. At the top is Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (Simon & Schuster, 2017), a novel set in New York in the 1940s, and I’m getting ready to devour it as soon as I get through my end-of-year reports. David Lida is a Mexico-City-based writer; I can dip into his book of short essays, Las llaves de la ciudad (Sexto Piso, 2008) [Keys to the City], whenever I need to be transported to one of my favorite cities in the world. And then there’s Small Spaces, Beautiful Kitchens (Rockport Publishers, 2003) by Tara McLellan; I’m downsizing to an apartment and trying to figure out how to cram all my cooking gear (fermentation is much on my mind) into a smaller space.”
“The number one book on my summer reading list is Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty (Scriber, 2017), by Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Kate Hennessy. When I was a high school student at Xavier, we sometimes went to the Catholic Worker House on the Lower East Side, and I had the honor to meet Dorothy Day a couple of times. When Kate Hennessy spoke at the Fordham Rose Hill campus this year, I was unable to attend, so I’ll make up for missing that event with reading her book.”
“Given our political climate and the rise of the alt-right, coupled with ongoing investigations and hearings surrounding Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign, my reading list is focused upon understanding this context and history. Having just read Dark Money and Trump Revealed (Doubleday, 2016), my summer reading list has included All the President’s Men (Pocket Books, 2005) and The Final Days (Simon & Schuster, 2005), along with Masha Gessen’s The Man Without a Face (Riverhead Books, 2012), a critical read to understand the rise and power of Putin. I plan on following this with a series of edited volumes about hope and moving forward from the resistance movement.”
“I will be reading The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015) by Bessel van der Kolk. The book examines holistic approaches to trauma work. I’m interested in the way that spirituality relates to stress related growth, which is the examination of positive psychological consequences of moving through stress. I have a book contract related to the topic. This book touches on related themes of trauma and whole body healing.”