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  The Ultimate
Summer Reading List

From cultural edification to the pleasures of pulp ... the books recommended by the Homewood faculty and staff we surveyed are surefire must-reads for those langorous days of summer.

Compiled by Catherine Pierre
Illustrations by Hadley Hooper

Linda DeLibero, Associate Director of Film and Media Studies
"Peter Bogdanovich's Who the Hell's In It: Portraits and Conversations. And I would add to that its predecessor, Who the Devil Made It. The new one is a collection of his interviews and portraits of Hollywood stars. The first one was about directors. They're really for people who are interested in movies, not gossip. He's one of the rare writers who sees Hollywood from the perspective of both critic and filmmaker, and his approach to these stars/directors is usually insightful, touching, and erudite."

Ron Walters, History Professor
"My summer reading lists are usually works of fiction. I begin with great expectations that this will be the year I reread War and Peace and work my way through all the wonderful magical realist Latin American novels. Once I even had Finnegans Wake on the list. The sordid reality is that when it comes to summer reading for pleasure, I'm not going to end up with Tolstoy but more likely with a campy, charming Rex Stout Nero Wolfe mystery. This summer, for a change, I am making no pretenses. I am going to get in touch with my inner philistine and read mysteries, not even psychologically complex ones like those of P.D. James, Patricia Highsmith, and Ruth Rendell — three favorites. I'm going for the old hard-boiled private eye classics of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, with perhaps a reread of Kenneth Fearing's wonderful The Big Clock, if I can ever find my copy. Chandler's The Long Goodbye and Hammett's The Glass Key are already at my bedside, waiting for the semester to end. I may even buy a bottle of bourbon to sip while reading this stuff, even though I don't much like it. This summer, it's the pleasures of pulp."

Avi Rubin, Technical Director of the Information Security Institute, Whiting School of Engineering
"I loved Genome and The Red Queen, by Matt Ridley. These books convinced me that if I wasn't a computer scientist, I'd want to be a genetic biologist. The books are accessible, interesting, and fun. Right now, I'm reading On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins. It's the founder of the PalmPilot's take on where intelligence comes from and how intelligence works in the brain. I am thoroughly enjoying it."

Sandra Newman, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies
"I really recommend A Peace to End All Peace, by David Fromkin. It's an excellent description of the origins of the modern Middle East — very well written and a good foundation for understanding current events both regionally and on a country-by-country basis. I also liked The Empty Cradle, by Phillip Longman. He makes a compelling argument that falling fertility rates in every part of the world — Italy, for example, has been at less than replacement rate for the past 10 years, and rates are plummeting in the Middle East — are creating a global crisis. And finally, I found The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, to be a magnificently written coming-of-age book that provides stunning insights into Afghani culture and values, and the challenges of immigration to the U.S."

Tom Calder, Athletic Director
"After many years, I am getting back into early American and Canadian history. I'm saving Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage for a slower time, hopefully this summer. People need to know the real story of Lewis and Clark, and I've heard Ambrose does a great job of using Clark's journals to tell this incredible story. I would also like to get back into James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking novels. I haven't read the books since I was a kid growing up in Canada. If one can handle the style of writing, there is much excitement and adventure for people who enjoy that period of time and history."

P.M. Forni, Professor of Italian Literature and Co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project
"I am interested in the human inclination to associate, cooperate, befriend, and care. I am fascinated by the neuroscience of social interaction and social support. So this summer I will be rereading Matt Ridley's The Origins of Virtue and Shelley E. Taylor's The Tending Instinct. These two books are outstanding primers on the topic. Look for the evolutionary origin of co-operation in the former and for the wonders of oxytocin — the hormone of bonding and caring — in the latter."

Kathleen Keane, Director of the Johns Hopkins University Press
"Most recently I read and enjoyed Bethany Aram's Juana the Mad: Sovereignty & Dynasty in Renaissance Europe. Aram draws upon recent scholarship and archival research to offer a new vision of Juana's life. Known as Juana the Mad and conventionally viewed as sullen, Juana became heir to the realms of Castile and Aragon. As queen, Juana worked tirelessly to assure the succession of her son Charles V to the throne and thereby to establish the Habsburg dynasty in the kingdoms that others managed to govern in her name.

"I am looking forward to reading a soon-to-be-published book by James M. Lang, Life on the Tenure Track. Lang narrates the story of his first year on the tenure track and details his moments of confusion, frustration, and even elation. He describes the classroom, hours at his writing desk, office hours, departmental meetings, as well as thoughts about the lives and working conditions of faculty in higher education today."

Sharon Kugler, Chaplain
"Tops on my 'to read' list are Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, and Saturday, by Ian McEwan. One of my all-time favorite summer reads would have to be The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. Though a painful, sometimes heartbreaking read, it captures the dangerous territory of religious zealotry perfectly. However, it also offers the most beautiful story of hope and understanding between people from vastly different backgrounds. On a very basic human level it touches the soul quite deeply. The story is told largely through the eyes of a woman and her four daughters. They are American missionaries who move to the Congo during its fight for independence from Belgium in the 20th century. The father is nearly spiritually blind by his own fierce calling and dominates in many toxic ways for a time, not only his family but his flock. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the true righteous path is found in the most seemingly unlikely places, and the voice of God can be heard from and through the weakest among the human family."

Mavis Sanders, Associate Professor of Education
"Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, by Jeffrey Sachs. I recommend these books because they both address one of the most pressing issues of our time: the growing divide between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' in the U.S. and abroad. We owe it to ourselves to become more aware of the increasingly invisible condition of poverty that has such profound implications for people's lives."

Wendy Brody, Wife of President William R. Brody
"I find myself attracted to books about the Middle East these days, trying to understand this culture that is very foreign to me. At the top of my favorites in the past year is Daughter of Persia, by Sattareh Farman Farmaian; and Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. They should be read in this order! Over spring break I read The Kite Runner and loved it, and An Enduring Love: My Life with the Shah, by Farah Pahlavi, which I found very interesting. Next on my list 'to read' is Queen Noor's biography, Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life.

"Just last week I read Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, by Koren Zailckas. It is a terribly depressing but true story about drinking amongst young women today. I read it to try to better understand college drinking but now it is even more incomprehensible to me.

"A couple of years ago I read Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia, by Janet Wallach, and still remember it as one of my all time favorites. I have since read others about her, but this was the best!"

Craig Hankin, Director of the Homewood Art Workshops
"During the semester, the only books that I seem to finish are graphic novels. Recently, I've read both volumes of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis series, her autobiographical tale of growing up in the Ayatollah's Iran. I'm currently enjoying Epileptic by David B., the true story of a young French boy growing up with an epileptic brother. This summer, I plan to read Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan's De Kooning: An American Master. Right after I finish Hayden Herrera's Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work, which I started LAST summer...."

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