Johns Hopkins Gazette | January 20, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 20, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 18
What We're Reading Now

Want suggestions for your personal reading list? Ask an expert. Here, some of our Homewood faculty weigh in with titles worth checking out.

Richard Conn Henry, Physics and Astronomy: Want to get a better understanding of what the universe actually is? Then read Quantum Enigma, by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. The universe is NOT what you think it is, believe me! Every person on earth should read this book!

Edward Scheinerman, Applied Mathematics and Statistics: Although it's not new, Moneyball by Michael Lewis is a fun read about how mathematics can be used to analyze the game of baseball with dramatic results. Given many people's obsession with baseball and its statistics, it's interesting that the Oakland A's were the first team to use that data in a meaningful and highly productive way.

Adam Riess, Physics and Astronomy: The Big Bang by Simon Singh. It's the story of how we discovered the universe. One part history, one part detective story, and it's all true!

Howard E. Katz, Materials Science and Engineering: The new Thomas Friedman book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, presents a persuasive scientific, economic and ethical case for sustainability and is written with great wit and skill.

Stephanie DeLuca, Sociology: Annette Lareau's Unequal Childhoods. She conducts in-depth ethnographies with families to examine how parents from different social-class backgrounds raise their children, and how their parenting practices reproduce inequality. It's very well-written and compelling, showcasing what sociology has to offer at its best.

Douglas E. Hough, Business of Health: Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard. Gilbert addresses the issue of why happiness is such an elusive concept to measure, and why lottery winners and those who move to California are — after a few years — not much happier than those who didn't win the lottery or move to California.

Mariale Hardiman, School of Education, Interdisciplinary Studies: Jonah Lehrer's Proust Was a Neuroscientist uniquely blends science and the arts, showing how some of our favorite artists intuitively knew about the workings of human thought and human nature. My favorite artist, Cezanne, is one of the eight artists featured. Others include Marcel Proust, Walt Whitman and Igor Stravinsky. This book is inspiring and insightful, even for those of us who are not neuroscientists and not artists.

Amy Wilson, School of Education, Teacher Preparation: Paul Tough, a New York Times reporter, wrote a book released this summer called Whatever It Takes. The book recounts the inspiring story of Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, which offers comprehensive social and academic support for children and their families, with the goal of eliminating the achievement gap. It shows the power of what is possible when committed people put their minds together to do the right thing for children.

Celso Brunetti, Finance: The Coffee Trader by David Liss depicts, in a funny and intriguing way, the world of financial traders in Amsterdam in 1659. The perfect novel for the current financial crisis!


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