College faculty offer summer reading list, part 1

We asked Grove City College faculty to give us some recommendations for summer – or anytime – reading and they delivered a bundle of books so big you’d need a forklift to take them to the beach and a lot more than three short months to read.

We had so many suggestions that we’re going to have to issue a second volume of the faculty summer reading list later this season.

“I love reading, so I’m a big advocate for reading all year round,” Eric A. Potter, professor of English, said. “I almost always have a book I’m reading for pleasure. I like to read books I don’t have to be ‘smart’ about. I especially enjoy detective fiction for the sheer page-turning thrill of it.”

Potter said he’s starting his summer reading off with the latest C.J. Box mystery “Shadow’s Reel” and then moving on to the Agatha Christie classic “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” Like many professors, Potter’s “beach reading” includes boning up for the classes he teaches. That includes “The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis” by Alan Jacobs and “Mark Twain: Preacher, Prophet, and Social Philosopher” by Gary Scott Smith ’72, Grove City College professor emeritus.

Well-known for his own poetry, Potter said he almost always has a collection around to read, currently “Shade to Shine” by Jill Paláez Baumgaertner, one of his college professors, and the work of Irish poet Michael Longley.

Jason R. Edwards, professor of History and Humanities, said he is pairing his reading with a family trip to Arizona’s Monument Valley to indulge a fascination with American mythology and “the greatest western ever made.” Before it was a John Ford film featuring John Wayne, “The Searchers” was a novel based on Texas lore rooted in the 1836 kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker by the Comanches.

“I am looking forward to reading Glenn Frankel’s “The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend,” which promises to detail not just the making of the iconic film but also the tragic history of Cynthia Ann who would birth Quanah Parker, the last of the great Comanche chiefs,” Edwards said. “I naturally recommend watching the film, but I also highly recommend reading S.C. Gwynne’s best-selling – and not for the squeamish – ‘Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.’”

This summer, Professor of Chemistry Kevin L. Shaw recommends picking up “Basic Economics,” Thomas Sowell’s acclaimed and influential guide to the subject.

Sowell’s text provides a reminder “that ‘economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses,’ price-coordinate markets solve problems no central planners ever could, and when the tide rises, all boats float higher – we are all in this together,” Shaw said. “And it has the added benefit of being entirely English prose, no charts, no graphs, no equations.”

Joshua A. Mayo, associate professor of English, said his summer reading is for work, but a pleasure as well. “I will be reading a lot of mysteries in my Mystery Fiction & the Moral Imagination course this summer. Some Sherlock tales, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,’ Dorothy Sayers’ ‘Gaudy Night,’ etc. I can’t wait,” he said. “Francis Bacon said, ‘Reading maketh a full man.’ Isn’t that way of putting it exactly right? When I read a good book, I get that happy, sated, refreshed feeling that accompanies a good meal,” Mayo said.

He recommends readers who “enjoy the social commentary of Jane Austen and the humorous characters of Charles Dickens” try Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire series. “Reading these six novels is like taking a long vacation in a charming English hamlet. One feels that one has lived there. Trollope is way underrated,” he said.

Associate professor of English Adam J. Loretto  echoes his departmental colleagues’ passion for the literature he teaches.My reading priorities this summer are work-related, but they’re all areas I’m excited about.”

Loretto’s reading list includes prep for a science fiction course he is teaching for the first time this fall. "I’m working through classics from Asimov, Lewis, Bradbury, LeGuin and more,” he said. “I’ve also got a couple of newer works on my agenda that I think will provide interesting looks into what literary science fiction can do to help us understand who we are and what we might be doing to ourselves,” he said.

Loretto’s other reading focus is “Learning the Good Life: Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds That Came Before,” a collection of readings covering thousands of years of wisdom across multiple cultures introduced by current scholars, including former Grove City College professor H. Collin Messer and Loretto’s fellow English professor, Jeffrey Bilbro. “I’m excited to see how the book might be something that could get my writing students working to show how these different ideas form a conversation about what it means to learn well and act wisely,” he said.

Physics professor Jeffrey P. Wolinski said he “strongly” recommends reading “What Happened to You?” by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry. “Never in a thousand years did I think I’d ever read a book by Oprah, however, my niece, who is a counselor, recommended the book and I found it very worthwhile and insightful,” he said.

The book is a Q and A between Winfrey and Perry, a brain expert, about trauma and healing. “In our current climate of upheaval and uncertainty, we’re seeing more and more students with emotional injuries,” Wolinski said. “I see this book as not just interesting, but also strategic in helping us develop a proper understanding of the hurting people we increasingly encounter in our college, society, churches, and families. The resulting patience, humility, and compassion we find welling up in ourselves will go a long way toward nurturing healing and growth in those around us.”

College faculty offer summer reading list, part 1

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