Summer is the perfect time to dive into a book

By News@TheU

Summer is the perfect time to dive into a book

By News@TheU
University faculty and staff members share the titles of books currently on their reading lists.

For many, summer marks the time to kick back and relax. After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress surrounding it, many of us are now looking forward to a vacation—or at least to spend some time on the porch or the couch and enjoy a good book.

Some readers may be attracted to a spy thriller or a romantic novel. Others may take the time to explore more serious topics, indulge in a biography, or reflect on social issues.

News@TheU asked several University of Miami faculty and staff members to tell us what they are reading this summer. The following vignettes are their answers. Dig in. It may unearth some good prospects.

I’ve recently gotten my hands on “Heaven” by Mieko Kawakami. It’s a literary novel about a teenage boy who is bullied by classmates. It’s honest and beautifully observed.

—Chantel Acevedo, professor of English and director of the creative writing program

I recommend “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein to anyone who is interested in learning about the history of housing in the United States. The author shares stories and data based upon how government entities, the banking and realtor industries, as well as major organizations, deliberately enacted and enforced policies and practices that resulted in disparities that we see today. The book resonated with me because I subsequently found out that my childhood home and neighborhood also had property deeds that prohibited Black people from being in the neighborhood overnight. The information shared in the book is not ancient history. It is lived experiences for many of our relatives, including mine. “The Color of Law” is a must read to better understand how major metropolitan areas (including Miami) continue to have segregated communities.

—Renée Dickens Callan, executive director, Student Life

Now cued up: “Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters” by Andrew Morton. It’s very easy, but fascinating. I also plan to read “After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made” by former White House aide and Barak Obama confidant Ben Rhodes.

—Stephen Cantrell, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and director of the Institute of the Mathematical Sciences of the Americas

“The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race,” by Walter Isaacson—because I want to understand the science behind the vaccines that have literally saved the world.  

“How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi—because we need to be so much more than simply not racist—we need to stand up to racism.

“Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don't,” by Sukey Novogratz and Elizabeth Novogratz—because I need more peace in my life.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” by Charlie Mackesy—because we are never too old to be reminded about the important things in life. 

—Serona Elton, professor, director of the Music Industry Program, and associate dean of administration at the Frost School of Music

The first book I have on my summer reading list is Lauren Wilkinson’s “American Spy.” It is a novel about a young Black intelligence officer, Marie Mitchell, set during the Cold War. The narrative revolves around her assignment to a task force charged with destabilizing a Communist government in Burkina Faso. Wilkinson has received wide acclaim for crafting a gripping espionage story that explores U.S. racism and foreign policy. I always read spy novels during the summer for pleasure, and I am excited to read “American Spy,” as numerous colleagues and friends have recommended it.

—John Funchion, associate professor, Department of English

“Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst,” by Robert M. Sapolsky, exquisitely applies biology, neurology, evolutionary psychology, zoology, and game theory to examine and explain how we humans evolved to have the capacity for brutality on the one hand and generosity on the other. 

“Hybrid Hate: Conflations of Antisemitism & Anti-Black Racism from the Renaissance to the Third Reich,” by Tudor Parfitt, expertly and insightfully chronicles how, for five centuries, Black and Jewish people have been linked.

“Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans,” by Melanie Mitchell, is a superb and accessible introduction to a form of technology that will be increasingly important, if not essential, in human learning. 

—William Green, professor of religious studies, Fain Family Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies

“Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment,” by Daniel Kahneman (winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”), Cass Sunstein, and Olivier Sibony, explores how randomness in human behavior affects the outcomes of peoples’ decisions. 

—Alex Horenstein, assistant professor of economics, Miami Herbert Business School

I am reading Marcia Bartusiak’s “The Day We Found the Universe,” an historical account of the discoveries leading to an understanding of the startling size and nature of our universe. Other scientists provided famed astronomer Edwin Hubble the foundation for his well-known discovery of the true size of the Universe. One of the lesser-known scientists was Henrietta Leavitt, whose work allowed for the measure of distances between various points in space. Without her work the true size of the Universe would have been impossible to measure. 

—David S. Kushner, a clinical professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Miller School of Medicine

I’m enjoying an unexpected gift I received: “The Women of the Bible Speak: The Wisdom of 16 Women and Their Lessons for Today,” by Shannon Bream. I have really loved the book and the way the stories are told from each of the women’s perspectives. It makes you reflect on how each of them felt and goes deeper into their life stories. Each of us can relate to them in one way or the other. It also demonstrates that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those who are called.

Also on my nightstand: “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts,” by Jennie Allen, which was recommended by someone I follow on Instagram.

—Marianne Mijares, executive director of commencement and special projects

“Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment.” The recently released book was co-authored by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his groundbreaking work in behavioral economics. The book explores how humans make poor decisions in every facet of life, why they do, and how to stop them from doing so. It is pretty illuminating. 

—Alex Piquero, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology

I can’t wait to read Ijeoma Oluo’s latest book, “Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America.”

I am excited to read it because her book, “So you want to talk about race,” was so impactful in my antiracist efforts and teaching. Thank you to One Book One U for highlighting her work.

Also, “You are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience,” an anthology edited by #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke and author Brené Brown—who taught me the power of vulnerability, the problem with blame, the importance of empathy, and the pressing need for #MeToo.

—Andrew Porter, assistant professor of clinical at the School of Nursing and Health Studies

I’m reading Michael Lewis’s “The Premonition.” He writes nonfiction that is as compelling as the most spell-binding novel. His latest book is a fast-moving tale about some little-known aspects of the pandemic. He tells the backstory about closing schools, wearing masks, and social distancing through a handful of brainy mavericks. It’s not the full story of the pandemic. But it’s a great read.

—Joseph B. Treaster, professor, School of Communication

I cannot limit to just one! Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Klara and the Sun,” Ian McEwan’s “Machines Like Me,” Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House,” and Ira Rosen’s “Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes.”

—Karin Wilkins, dean of the School of Communication