Faculty Share Holiday Reading Plans
Several faculty members revealed what they will be reading over the holidays this year.
I am a devoted fan of Marilynne Robinson's fiction - "Housekeeping" (1980), "Gilead" (2004), and "Home" (2008). Her fiction presents ideas about theology and modernism that I do not fully grasp. To better understand the ideas in these novels, and her thinking more generally, I hope to tackle her theological and nonfiction work. That is collected in two books - "The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought" (1998) and "Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self" (2010).
I am planning to read "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese and "To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World" by James Davison Hunter.
I'll be reading "Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion," by Edward J. Larson.
I'm reading "Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History," by S.C. Gwynne and "The Comanche Empire," by Peka Hamalainen.
Jonathan Franzen, "The Corrections" (because I'm hopelessly behind the curve)
Karen Armstrong, "Islam: A Short History"
I have three books on my bedside table that I hope to start and/or finish this holiday season: "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese, "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout and our very own Jim Ryan's "Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America."
My reading ambitions for break: Michael Cunningham, "By Nightfall" and Jill LePore, "The Whites of Their Eyes"
Heading my holiday reading list will be Ron Chernow, "Washington: A Life." You would think that we don't need any more biographies of Washington, but Gordon Wood says that, with the appearance of Chernow's book, Washington is no longer the "most famously elusive figure in American history." No one understands the founding era better than Gordon Wood, so that's good enough for me. Next on my list is Seth Stern and Stephen Wermeil, "Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion." Steve Wermeil, who used to cover the Supreme Court for the Wall Street Journal, had unprecedented access to Justice Brennan and his papers. We have long awaited this biography of one of the most remarkable and influential justices of the modern court. Then, if time permits, I might dip into the "Autobiography of Mark Twain." We waited decades for the Brennan biography, but a century for Twain's memoirs. They should make rich reading. Washington, Brennan, and Twain - three perspectives on the American experience.