Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 has a few of books on his reading list for Christmas break, starting by finishing off “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission” by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney.
Another, “Churchill: Walking with Destiny” by Andrew Roberts, is nearly 1,000 pages long. “You may want to ask me next Christmas if I’m still reading it,” McNulty said. “I’ll confess that I also have it in my Audible library so that I can listen to it on long car rides.”
The third is “On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts” by James K. A. Smith, an author who spoke on campus about a year ago. “I’ve read a few of Smith’s books and they are always insightful and challenging. I’ll jump to this when I need a break from 20th century conflict,” McNulty said.
What are others in the campus community reading over break? We asked some faculty members and they answered.
Dr. Gary L. Welton, professor of Psychology, said he’s planning to read “Across” by Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Peter Handke. While Handke’s Nobel win this year was tinged with controversy, Welton said he reads at least one major work by every prize winner. “My Nobel literature reading project has motivated me to read more international literature. I incorporate perspectives from this literature into my Cross-Cultural Psychology class,” Welton said.
Dr. Jason R. Edwards, professor of History, will be reading “None Shall Look Back” by Caroline Gordon. The Civil War novel concentrates on the Western theatre rather than the Eastern and is considered one of the best in doing so. “I’m eager to examine her exploration of the hero in society,” Edwards said. “I’ll be interested to see if it might prove even more thought-provoking for students than the brilliant ‘The Killer Angels,’ the Pulitzer Prize winning novelization of the battle of Gettysburg.”
Rev. Don Shepson III, professor of Christian Ministries, believes his life calling is to teach and train students toward godliness and ministry, so he plans to read a book that colleague Dr. Carl Trueman gave him, called “The Book of Pastoral Rule” by St. Gregory the Great. “This text hopefully will help me accomplish that work better,” he said.
Trueman, professor of Biblical and Religious Studies and Humanities, will be reading “John MacNab” by John Buchan, purely and simply for fun: “Escapism and wasting time are vital to human well-being,” he said. His list also includes Eamon Duffy's “John Henry Newman: A Very Brief History” and “The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914” by J.W. Burrow.
Dr. Tracy S. Farone, professor of Biology, will be reading “Plants Honey Bees Use in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys” by Shannon R. Trimboli. Farone, who recently became a beekeeper, is in the process of building a pollinator-friendly garden on campus. “I’ve developed an even greater sense of how all creation is entwined and that the health of our environment, animals and humans are all interdependent,” she said.
Dr. Joseph Hasper, associate professor of Music and director of Jazz Ensembles, wants to know the psychology of how and why of music means anything, so he has two books on his reading list: “Essays on Music” by Theodor Adorno and “Music in the Human Experience: An Introduction to Music Psychology” by Donald Hodges. “I was introduced to Adorno's essays in graduate school and I've recently become interested in his philosophy of esthetics in particular and wanted to get a more complete understanding of his perspective.”
Dr. Constance N. Nichols ’93, professor and chair of the Department of Education, will be reading three books, in addition to “the best book,” The Bible, which she says is a daily read. She has two copies of “The Power of Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy, one for herself, and one for her teenage daughter to read along with her. The other two are “Measure What Matters” by John Doer and “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark.
“Doer’s system could have powerful results for several of the organizations I work with,” she said – and Tegmark’s book because “I need to understand this emerging area more deeply.”
Dr. Kevin L. Shaw ‘95, professor of Chemistry, will be reading through the entire 2019 volume of the journal Biochemistry to update a database from which his students can choose an article to talk about. “It is a classic technique to get students talking about work, work they do not have to defend, before they have a large body of their own work to talk about that they must rigorously defend, or for just plain skill practice in one of the hardest bits of science,” he said. He did disclose that he does only have to read the titles, lightening the load at least somewhat.
Dr. Patricia S. Scheffler, professor of Education, has a five-book reading list this winter. Her picks include “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi, “Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ” by Timothy Keller, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “The Batboy” by Mike Lupica, and “Princess Ben” by Gilbert Murdock. The first two she’ll read as part of book clubs, and the last three because her students will be reading them next semester in her children’s literature course.
She won’t be the only one reading children’s books this winter.
In addition to the weighty tomes on McNulty’s list, he said, “I’m most looking forward to reading any children’s book to my two adorable grandchildren. If I can manage to get them to sit still in Pop-Pop’s lap long enough.”