Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

reviewed by Thom McClendon
Department of History

This is a story of the American dream and the dark currents that threaten to drown it in a militarized and extra-legal America after 9/11. Two stories converged in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the flood that followed in August and September of 2005. [more]


Old School by Tobias Wolff

reviewed by Larkin Tom
Foundation Relations

Old School takes place in 1960, as time drew a leisured breath before the rapid sprint of The Sixties began. The story is set in a boys’ prep school in a wooded arcadia a long train ride north of New York City. [more]


Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

reviewed by Dr. Alison Kafer
Feminist Studies Program

As an academic, reading is something I do without thinking much about it. I might plot out where I’m going to read (the sofa? the coffee shop?) or what I’m going to read when (novels on airplanes, newspapers with breakfast), but the act of reading itself is something I rarely contemplate.[more]


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

reviewed by Dr. Frank Guziec
Department of Chemistry

Water for Elephants deals with the life and hard times of Jacob Jankowski, both in the present as a 90-something resident of a nursing home, and in the Depression Era as an almost-veterinarian. Jacob, a Cornell vet student about to take his final exams, [more]


The Tour de France: A Cultural History by Christopher S. Thompson

reviewed by Dr. Aaron Prevots
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

With summer here how can former Lance fans fill the void until cycling’s Grand Tours? Christopher S. Thompson’s The Tour de France: A Cultural History ties a century of heroic challenges in the world’s most famous bicycle race to themes in the saga of France itself. [more]


The Road by Cormac McCarthy,

reviewed by Dr. David Gaines
Department of English and Paideia Program Director

A father and son, referred to only as “the man” and “the boy,” go on the road south by southeast through a post nuclear-winter America. [more]


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

reviewed by Dr. Carl Robertson
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

I have been reading and rereading The Joy Luck Club (and its Chinese translation Xifu hui) this summer for several reasons, but the most significant of them is genuine enjoyment. My previous reading was probably done more for duty. [more]


The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide and Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry by Robert Pinsky

reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth H. Piedmont-Marton
Department of English

Most Americans probably go through long stretches of their busy lives without giving a moment’s thought to the role of poetry in our culture and democracy. They assume that if poetry still has any breath remaining in its hoary body, it must be rasping away tethered to an oxygen tank in a musty corner of academia. Robert Pinsky disagrees. [more]


Thumbsucker by Walter Kirn

reviewed by David Olson
Department of Communication Studies

If you read Thumbsucker by Walter Kirn on the beach, the title alone should attract looks and comments. It came to my attention because the title alone had attracted the attention of Tom Wolfe… [more]


Aldo Leopold: A Fierce Green Fire by Marybeth Lorbiecki

reviewed by David H. Stones
University Registrar

One of my favorite reading techniques is to match the location of an approaching meeting with a book about the region. Michener’s books are especially appealing, and Chesapeake, Centennial, Hawaii, and Texas were chosen for trips to Baltimore, Denver, Honolulu and Dallas. My family, Boy Scout and school outings to the Desert Southwest have been enriched by many pertinent books. [more]


A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

reviewed by Julie A. Cowley
Associate Vice President for Academic Administration

In December of 1982, I had just finished my first semester of college. This is usually an interesting time for a young person and I was no different. I was challenged by my own independence at the same time that my parents were challenging it. [more]


The Children by David Halberstam

reviewed by Dr. Sherry E. Adrian
Department of Education

I am old enough to remember a sign on a laundromat door that said “Whites only.”This is a somewhat cloudy, dreamlike recollection, and I sometimes question whether my mental image is accurate. However, I am quite clear in my memory of the weekend bus rides I took with my grandmother… [more]


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

reviewed by Dr. Daniel Castro
Department of History

I always look forward to the coming of summer, the same way other people wait for Christmas. The first weeks of summer are my golden opportunity to catch up with all the reading I have not done during the rest of the year. The first few weeks of summers are dedicated to fiction… [more]


Body and Soul by Frank Conroy

reviewed by Lois Ferrari
Department of Music

Picture yourself a child prodigy. Then picture yourself seated at a piano. The piano is old and dilapidated, dusty and dingy, and, worst of all…out of tune! You’re sitting on a wobbly, splintered bench that secrets a stash of dog-eared sheet music and a few bloated spiders… [more]


Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

reviewed by Norma Aguirre Gaines
Office of Fiscal Affairs

I have a confession to make. I avoided Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes for years because I was intimidated by its status as a “classic.” I was not sure I was up to its age, length, and footnotes until several occurrences caused me to give myself and this wonderful book a chance. [more]


The Land Where the Blues Began by Alan Lomax

reviewed by Dr. Dan C. Hilliard
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Alan Lomax came by his interest in Southern folk music honestly. His father, John Lomax, previously a faculty member at both the University of Texas and Texas A&M, took Alan, his mother, and his three siblings along to assist in his field recording sessions during the 1930s… [more]


Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

reviewed by Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster
Department of Religion and Philosophy

Have you ever experienced the pleasure and awe-inspiring presence of a silverback gorilla? Their sheer mass, obvious wisdom and eerie likeness to “us” in their physical and mental presence is wild! Ishmael, a lowland gorilla and the central character in this novel, draws us into his unorthodox view of human history—and destructiveness. [more]


Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder

reviewed by Dr. James W. Hunt
Provost and Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Education

As a college student in the early 70s, I had a strong desire to do something that would make a difference in the world (it is my experience that this continues to be a primary desire for many college students). As I started to explore majors that might lead to an opportunity to make a difference, I began to think seriously about teaching… [more]


Chronicles, Volume One by Bob Dylan

reviewed by John J. Kotarski ‘93
Director of Web Development and Communications

Perhaps the first “savior of rock music,” it’s long been known that Bob Dylan fiercely resisted the labels thrust upon him by adoring fans and critics. If it took him some forty years to respond to a few of them, within the context of his autobiography, so be it….[more]


Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

reviewed by Maria Kruger
Office of Career Services

When asked to contribute to the Summer Reading List, I was very honored. Then the realization that I would have to make a decision on just one book seemed daunting. It was the kiss of death for an avid reader, choosing just one book to share with someone. [more]


Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller

reviewed by Dr. A. J. Senchack
Department of Economics and Business

Can the stock markets’ current “irrational exuberance” be perfectly rational? Some say it’s just the normal working of demand and supply. At the other extreme, others say the stock market is crazy, unbelievably dangerous, and captive to mass investor euphoria that outruns common sense. [more]


The Road Through Miyama by Liela Philip

reviewed by Patrick B. Veerkamp
Department of Art and Art History

My definition of summertime reading is admittedly rather broad. Basically, it can’t be too “heavy” but is has to have enough substance to keep me interested. It doesn’t have to be a novel. It might even be something challenging… [more]


Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

reviewed by Hong Yu
A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center

Like a brief breeze on a hot summer evening, with a lingering delicate fragrance of jasmine, the reading of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is refreshing and mesmerizing. The story is set in the exotic mountains of China in the 1970s during the Cultural Revolution. [more]