By Jennie Kroeger | September 6, 2017 | Posted in: Blog
A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe. ‘ Madeleine L’Engle
September 6th is National Read a Book Day. In a world where digital media is king, it’s important to remember the benefits of reading good old-fashioned books (think stress reduction, keeping your mind sharp, and better sleep).
We asked our faculty and staff here in the College of Education about their favorite books. Read on to learn about their must-reads!
Sr. Administrative Specialist, Educational Psychology & Learning Systems
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Part murder mystery, part nostalgia, part social commentary, and part coming-of-age story, Boy’s Life is told through the eyes of eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson, who is growing up in the 60’s in the small, rural southern town of Zephyr, Alabama. When Cory and his father witness an out-of-control truck careening into the local lake (formerly a quarry, so hundreds of feet deep), Cory’s dad dives into the lake to save the driver, only to discover that the driver is a corpse, handcuffed to the wheel!
The search to discover the identity of the stranger in the truck, who killed them and handcuffed them to the truck to dispose of their body in the lake, and the post-traumatic stress the entire experience has on Cory’s father and their family forms the through-line of the novel; subplots involving Cory’s interactions with his friends, neighbors, and other townspeople interweave and intersect the main plot to create a suspenseful, entertaining, and meaningful reading experience.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, every chance I get, and I’ve given numerous copies to friends as gifts over the years since the book came out (1991).
Teaching Faculty III, Elementary Education (Panama City Campus)
The Road to Character by David Brooks
“In the Road to Character, Brooks explores the deeper values and connections of some of the world’s greatest thinkers through their internal struggles and sense of limitations in their life’s journeys. Throughout the book, Brooks challenges the reader to examine the lives of inspiring leaders like Francis Perkins, Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, and others toward the building a strong inner character.”
“In A?Basta de Historias!, Oppenheimer, one of the most influential Argentinian journalists and graduate from Columbia University in New York, challenges us to see how education, science, technology, and innovation are not impossible tasks, but rather extremely necessary. In his book, we learn about different educational challenges in some of the world’s countries like Finland, Singapore, China, India, Israel, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela.”
Professor, Visual Disabilities Education
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This sensitively written novel explores the impact of war on both civilians and those who wage it during and after conflict. It is filled with dichotomies’people who persevere and people who are devastated by conflict, light and dark, good and evil, the rare and commonplace, war as an escape and war as confinement.
One of the reasons I especially liked the book is that one of the two main characters is a young adolescent who is blind. Her blindness is realistically depicted as an important characteristic of who she is and how she responds to her situation and creates her future, but it doesn’t limit her ability to participate in life as a human being. In my opinion, the author does an impressive job of describing how one who doesn’t see experiences the world through sounds, touches, and the nuances in others’ expressions. For that reason alone, it is worth reading.
Assistant Professor, Sport Psychology
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
This is one of my favorite books because it explains how success is largely influenced by the way we think about our skills and abilities. People with a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset are more likely to flourish in many aspects of their lives (e.g., work, school, sports, relationships). A growth mindset is undergirded by the belief that talents can be developed and cultivated, rather than being born with it or not. This is a must-read (and an easy read) for college students and professionals alike.
Receptionist, Office of Academic Services and Intern Support (OASIS)
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
It’s a true crime murder mystery about the murders committed against the Osage Indian Nation, the birth of the FBI, and one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.
Assistant Professor, Reading Education/Language Arts
How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia
This book is fun to read and has great recommendations for improving academic writing productivity!
Associate Professor, Psychological and Counseling Services
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Although the subject matter was painful, the book was an easy read. The overall theme has to do with trying to live a normal life when life was anything but normal. It paints a picture of hope during calamity, but doesn’t sugar coat pain and loss. It’s a story that stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Associate Professor, Higher Education
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This is an amazing autobiography of a rising young neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 36, and his sudden transition from doctor to patient. He raises thought-provoking questions about what matters most, and how to live life to the fullest.
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bakman
Ray Bradbury said, The good writers touch life often,’ and A Man Called Ove does just that. The characters are so real, both loveable and hate-able. It made me laugh, cry, and stay up way too late finishing it ‘ all the things I want in a book!
Teaching Faculty II, Sport Management
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
An easy and quick read, but thought provoking on many levels.
Assistant Professor, Higher Education
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Read something that invites you to broaden and challenge your perspective. In college, those books for me tended to be historical, both international and domestic. Most memorable were those from my courses on women and race. Of those books I selected for myself, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States stands out. Rather than organizing history around wars and famous figures, it zooms out to examine the role of everyday people who were generally not in positions of power. Whatever the book, it is important to engage in critical thinking about the world around you ‘ how it got there and how to understand the present and future more sharply.
Assistant Instructor, Sport Management
Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo H. Galeano
Galeano poetically describes the beautiful game of soccer while intertwining history and politics. Whether or not you’re a soccer enthusiast, you will appreciate the literary imagery and be in awe of how historical events (as recent as the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks and as ancient as China’s Ming period) and sport are inextricably linked.
Professor and Dean, College of Education
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
“The NY Times says this about the book: ‘this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.’ It’s the most fun whodunit I’ve read in a long time!”
Associate Professor, Sociocultural and International Development Education Studies
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
“The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite novels. The story is set in the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s and deals with issues of crossing cultures, learning, development, shifting perspectives and the sheer strength of the Congo. I first read it in Egypt in the early 2000s when I was there working on an educational project; I did not want the book to end. It is an absorbing read.”
Assistant Professor, Special Education
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
“This is one of my favorite books. Solomon uses the stories of over 300 families to explore the question of to what extent parents should accept children for who they are and to what extent they should help them become their best selves.
Professor and Director, School of Teacher Education
Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students by Kathleen Cushman
“Told through the voices of students, this book provides advice for teachers on how best to engage and challenge them. The book serves as guidance for novice teachers as they approach their work, as well as experienced ones as they rethink their approach to teaching. The author and her myriad co-authors’ guidance pushes us all to pay closer attention to what our students say.”
Associate Professor, Learning and Cognition
The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need by Juliet Schor
“At a time when U.S. citizens carry massive amounts of debt (especially for education), Schor reminds this isn’t about ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ but people’s internalized views of what they feel is appropriate for them.”