What We're Reading This Summer
Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music, by Ted Gioia. This comprehensive history of the blues describes its beginnings in the Mississippi Delta and its progression to worldwide influence on contemporary sounds. “The best blues book I have ever read on the subject,” says Brian Torff, professor of Visual and Performing Arts.
The World Without You, by Joshua Henkin, “a gorgeously written story about familial conflicts and loss, and finally, a story about a family coming together,” notes Dr. Michael White, professor of English.
Another recommendation from Michael White: Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, “a lush, playful novel by an author who seems to be a chameleon when it comes to writing different kinds of fiction.”
Says Gail Ostrow, adjunct professor of English: “Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo, took me on a delightful road trip from Westchester to North Dakota, in the company of your average (is there such a thing?) New York area liberal, smart, married-with-children nice guy and his ditzy sister's spiritual teacher — a large, shaven head monk from somewhere far from here in purple robes with a big laugh and profoundly simple answers to the big questions. Charming, funny, serious — I couldn't put it down.”
For the history buffs among us, she also recommends The Passage of Power (Vol. IV of Robert Caro’s lengthy LBJ biography) “[The book] gives me the history and insights into eight years that shaped my life and the life of the country: I went from a naive teenager to a radicalized young adult and Lyndon Johnson went from being a powerful senator to an impotent vice-president and then president after Kennedy's assassination.”
And then there’s Midnight in Peking by Paul French, which uses the foil of a murder investigation to reveal what the last days of old China were like in 1937, “a time of terrible violence [as] the U.S. dug deeper into isolationism and Peking fought to keep control over the country.”
Virginia Weir, Advancement Communications, just finished reading My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, by Christian Wiman, the former editor of Poetry magazine who will be a Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature this fall at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music. “The book is a rumination on life, death, illness, love, poetry, and returning to 'faith' after many years of not being part of any church. I’ll be reading it again,” she says.
And finally, for those who love books, being surrounded by books, and the “battle” between real books and their online versions, grab hold of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, listed by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the 100 best books of the year. Says Martha Milcarek, assistant vice president of Brand Management and Public Relations, “It is a delightful read that pits old (print) books against new technologies woven into a wonderful yarn featuring a fascinating and lovable cast of characters. If you’re curious about what’s really served in the Google cafeteria and the origin of the font Gerritszooon, you’ll love this novel.”