More Reading Recommendations
My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. James Thurber, a 20th-century American humorist, tells short stories from his own childhood, pausing to highlight the oddities of his relatives and friends, and observe the strange coincidences that make life so funny. His stories are light, well written, and short enough to read in one sitting. Good for anyone with a sharp sense of humor.
--Anna Kendig, '04
Ruth Reichl, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (Random House paperback). A memoir by the restaurant critic for the New York Times: about growing up in the fifties and sixties (boarding school in Quebec; student radicalism at the University of Michigan), food, family, and friendships. Humorous, thoughtful--and recipes are included! Reichl writes in her introductory note: "I learned early that the most important thing in life is a good story." She tells lots of them.
--Diana Postlethwaite, faculty
I would like to recommend Modoc by Ralph Helfer. It is a beautiful book telling the story of a boy and an elephant born in the same hour who grow up and lead extraordinary lives together.
--Liesl Werner, '04
I recommend Jumpha Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. Lahiri is an Indian-American (Asian-Indian) whose fiction explores cultural boundaries, exile, and ideas of home. This collection of short stories, Lahiri's first publication, earned her a Pulitzer prize. I just taught Interpreter of Maladies in my English 185. My students particularly loves the stories she wrote in the voices of children; I loved her brilliant attention to food. A sensual read.
-- Karen Cherewatuk, faculty
Getting to the bottom of human heredity and its implications is the focus of an exciting and remarkably readable recent book, Genome, by Matt Ridley. Its subtitle--"The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters"--hints at the structure of the book, but perhaps not at its amazing information. One example: "Paternal genes, inherited from the father, are responsible for making the placenta; maternal genes, inherited from the mother, are responsible for making the greater part of the embryo, especially its head and brain. Why should this be?" See "Chapter/Chromosome 15: Sex."
--Mary Steen, faculty
English Passengers, by Matthew Kneale
The New York Times reviewer describes this historical novel as "grim and hilarious," a pair of adjectives borne out by the reading. It features a hapless smuggling ship captain who is transporting a pontificating English cleric who has determined that the real Garden of Eden is in Tasmania. The novel is told in about eight different voices, including the captain and the cleric, plus a young scientist, the wife of the English governor of Tasmania, and an aboriginal half-caste. Possibly a book for a cruise, or en route to study in Australia.
--Mary Steen, faculty
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
I've been waiting months for enough free time to reread Nabokov's Lolita, and summer will offer just such an opportunity. Written in language so beautiful it makes my soul ache, Lolita continually defies any reader's preconceptions. "Lolita" is a well-recognized term, yet not enough people have taken the time to probe beneath the stereotype's surface. I'd like to read this while most of my body is submerged in my backyard kiddie pool. I'll have to keep a tight grip on the book to avoid water damage.
--Rachel Mykkanen, '04