It’s summertime, and the reading is easy

By Barbara Gutierrez

It’s summertime, and the reading is easy

By Barbara Gutierrez
It seems that this time of year is more conducive to leisure reading, especially with a break from academics and restful days at the beach. Find out what some of the deans at the University are reading, as well as watching or listening to, during their time off.

Summer has been traditionally a time to relax.

Many take time off from work to travel and spend vacations with family and friends. Some relax in a comfortable couch or by the seaside to read and enjoy books that draw their interest.

This season is also a time when they can indulge in binge-watching television series, catch up with the latest movies, or listen to podcasts. 

With that in mind, and as we head into the July 4 holiday weekend, University of Miami deans share what they are reading, watching, or listening to this summer. 

Charles ‘‘Chuck’’ Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries

What books are you reading?

“The Secret Place” by Tana French. I love French’s ability to create compelling, unique, complex characters and stories that make you forget everything else around you. “The Dark Hours” by Michael Connelly. I’m addicted to L.A.-based crime novels and Connelly. And “Every Cloak Rolled in Blood” by James Lee Burke. Because … James Lee Burke! 

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

“The Unforgotten” (BBC) because I’m a huge fan of actress Nicola Walker. 

Any podcasts?

“Southlake” podcast hosted by Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton. “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Sewers of Paris” with Matt Baume. 

Laura Kohn-Wood, dean of the School of Education and Human Development

What books are you reading and why?

Nineteen books have piled up on my nightstand. So, in the relaxed summer months I am looking forward to tackling as many as possible. I will first finish two that I started earlier: “The End of Bias: A Beginning” by Jessica Nordell, who I saw Zoom-interviewed for a virtual book talk a few months ago; and the classic “Night” by Elie Wiesel, which I started rereading after our virtual Holocaust Teacher’s Institute last summer—for which the keynote was Wiesel’s son talking about his father and their relationship. 

Another book I will simultaneously start is the first one from the McBride Sisters Wine Book Club (which I joined but for which I am behind on the reading and the wine tasting)—"Black Joy” by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts, because at this point, we all need a little more joy. 

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

Other than occasionally getting pulled in by my husband’s regular Netflix documentary viewings, I only watch news and sports on TV. I am looking forward to Wimbledon as well as World Cup friendlies, which have started. Also, I am now heavily rooting for Inter Miami after the School of Education and Human Development’s Annual Sports Industry Conference in April, presented by our Sports Administration program. They are winning now and have added a favorite player from my hometown—DeAndre Yedlin, who formerly played with the Seattle Sounders. 

Karin Wilkins, dean of the School of Communication

What books are you reading?

I am reading Johnny C. Taylor Jr.’s, “Reset: A Leader's Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.” This is an excellent volume with thoughtful advice, written by our School’s Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) co-chair,  who also serves on the University’s Board of Trustees. 

Also, Emily St. John Mandel, “Sea of Tranquility.” The time travel trope framing this narrative offers a helpful perspective on the challenging times in our world. 

Finally, Yara Zgheib, “No Land to Light On.” This book was recommended to me by Debra and Dennis Scholl. This is an insightful tale of home and belonging. 

Any television interests?

The television series I have watched recently offer depth in plot and complexity in characters. For challenging monolithic senses of villains and heroes, I appreciate “Ozark,” “Landscapers,” and “Mare of Easttown.” The latter feeling resonant with my own Pennsylvanian upbringing (seeing Kate Winslet wearing my high school’s T-shirt was fun). For the predictable and inspired release of tears, I watch “This is Us.

What podcasts are you listening to?

My podcasts tend to be news sources or commentary, such as NPR news and “Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!” and “The Problem with Jon Stewart.” I appreciate the podcasts and news from USA Today (Maribel Perez Wadswoth, co-chair of our DAC) and from CNN (Javi Morgado, DAC). And, I am a fan of our own UM student podcast productions, as well as our UMTV programs and other student media. 

Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

What books are you reading and why?

I am currently reading two books. One is “Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible” by Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer. It shows how the art of putting teams together can lead to successfully solving challenges and creating innovative solutions for a better world. 

The second is “Peak Mind” by professor Amishi Jha in our Psychology Department. I love reading books published by our faculty members. I have a generous list of them to read throughout the year. This one is for this summer.  

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why? 

As a soccer player and fan, I watched the last two seasons of “Ted Lasso.” I am looking forward to the third when it’s out. 

Pratim Biswas, dean of the College of Engineering 

What books are you reading and why?

“Patent it Yourself” by Robert Pressman. This is a good book, and I would like to share it with my research group and have them consider this for fast and timely patenting of their inventions. 

I also wanted to read some popular science books on artificial intelligence and have ordered this one: “The Book of Minds: How to Understand Ourselves and Other Beings, from Animals to AI to Aliens” by Philip Ball. 

I also want to read “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future” by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher. 

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

I do not watch too much TV, other than for live sports. Finished watching the NBA Finals, would have liked it more if the Heat were in the finals. I love watching sports on TV. 

Other things I am doing:

As I am relatively new to this region, I am catching up on learning about Miami and its sights. I hope to go to one new location every weekend. I went to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, and I visited Smorgasburg Miami. I am exploring the various farmer markets. And I will also be catching up on travel for pending work and some technical conferences—will make the most of the visit by exploring the places I go to. 

John Quelch, dean of the Miami Herbert Business School 

What books are you reading?

I am reading “The Art of Fairness” by David Bodanis. As a leader, you can’t remind yourself often enough what it means and requires to be fair.  

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

“The Courier.” It recounts the story of Grenville Wynne, a slightly naive British salesman recruited as a courier to transfer secret documents between Moscow and London. As a youngster, I recall reading about Mr. Wynne in the British newspapers. He could never receive any recognition for his vital work because the British government could never admit he was a spy.

Also, what podcasts are you listening to?

“Code Switch.” It is a terrific NPR podcast on race and ethnicity, and it gives me extra insight and perspective on issues I can never fully understand.

Guillermo “Willy” Prado, dean of the Graduate School, vice provost for faculty affairs  

What books are you reading and why?

I just started reading John Grisham’s new book, “Sparring Partners.”  I love thrillers in general, including legal thrillers. Outside of this, I am reading scientific articles, which I don’t get much of a chance to read during the academic year. 

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

The latest movie, I watched was “Top Gun, Maverick.” Why? Loved the original one which I watched when I was 10 years old! With respect to TV shows, it takes me a very long time to watch a season of anything, either because I fall asleep watching TV or I prefer to do something more social, such as grabbing dinner with friends. Having said that, shows that I have started but haven’t finished are: “A Million Little Things,” “Revenge,” and “Ozark.”  

Also, what podcasts are you listening to?

None currently.  Earlier this summer I listed to several episodes of “Imagined Life” and I finished “Dr. Death.” 

David Yellen, dean of the School of Law 

What books are you reading and why?

I usually have a fiction and a nonfiction book going. Right now, I’m reading “Cuba: An American History” by Ada Ferer. Coming to Miami, I wanted to learn more about the history of Cuba. And “The Match” by Harland Coben, one of my favorite mystery writers.  

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

“Better Call Saul” and “Barry.” 

Also, what podcasts are you listening to?

“Fresh Air” on NPR and “The Daily” from the New York Times. 

Cindy Munro, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies 

What books are you reading and why?

I usually have at least two books going at the same time—one nonfiction, one fiction. Science fiction is my favorite genre. 

Right now, I am reading “Shape” by Jordan Ellenberg. It’s a really interesting deep dive into the history of geometry. 

I have several favorite science fiction authors (Becky Chambers, Nancy Kress, Ken Liu, Neal Stephenson, and John Scalzi). Just finished “The Human Division” by John Scalzi. “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers is queued up next. 

What TV shows or movies are you watching and why?

I just finished the last “This is Us” episode. I have been spreading out season six because I did not want it to end! Also watching “Outer Range” (science fiction again!). My favorite movie so far this summer is “CODA”—a lovely story, and great cast. Even though I loved the book “Dune” when I read it as a teenager, I did not like the recent movie. “Dune” was a very rich and nuanced story, and the movie was too abbreviated. 

Also, what podcasts are you listening to.

I don’t usually listen to podcasts; occasionally I listen to a New England Journal of Medicine podcast if the topic interests me. My commute is a short trip from Miracle Mile, and at home I’d rather read or listen to music than listen to a podcast.