Music Professor Gena Greher is especially enthused about one title on her lengthy reading list: “Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World” by Steven Johnson. The book explores the idea of how the pursuit of play, novelty and curiosity drives long-term technological change and shapes society. “I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and he had me with the fact that one of the chapters is devoted to music,” Greher says. Like the majority of UML bibliophiles we surveyed, Greher is a traditionalist: “Since I spend an inordinate amount of time glued to one kind of screen or another, I'm reading an actual tangible, tactile, tree-based book.”
Assoc. Prof. of English Maureen Stanton, an award-winning nonfiction author herself, is doing some background reading on juvenile delinquency and crime for an upcoming memoir. On her list are "The Girls" by Emma Cline and “The Brain Defense” by Kevin Davis. “’The Girls’ is a gorgeously written novel loosely based on the Charles Manson cult, told through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl who becomes misguidedly enthralled by the commune. ‘The Brain Defense’ is a nonfiction book about how new discoveries in neurobiology are being used in court to mitigate guilt and guide sentencing, especially for juveniles,” Stanton says.
Hunter Mack, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, is reading the recently published “Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost" by Erin Osmon, a biography of one of his favorite recording artists. A Rust Belt singer-songwriter, Molina was a talented yet complicated musician who died in 2013 at age 39. “His music continues to accompany me, so learning about his progression as an artist is an absolute treat,” Mack says.
Maureen Martin, office manager in the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, is reading “No One Cares About Crazy People” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Powers. “I read a review about it in People magazine and am interested in the books about mental health.”
Ha Pho, entrepreneurial initiatives project manager with the DifferenceMaker program is reading the novel “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. The New York Times bestseller is set in World War ll France and tells the story of war through the experience of two sisters.
The bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance is on tap for Assoc. Prof. of Public Health Lee Ackerman: “I am reading it because it portrays a community in America that faces many difficulties and is often ignored in terms of public policymaking.”
Some people are mixing literary genres and themes. Kennedy College of Sciences Dean Noureddine Melikechi is reading “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, which looks at how computer algorithms can be used to solve life’s big questions — from finding a parking spot to picking a spouse — and two novels: “The Mersault Investigation” by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud, which is a retelling of Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” and “What the Day Owes the Night,” a wartime novel set in Algeria by Yasmina Khadra.
Computer Science Prof. Holly Yanco also has a varied list: “Cumulus,” a high-tech dystopian thriller by Eliot Peper; “Unflattening” by Nick Sousanis, an exploration in comic book format of how humans construct knowledge; “Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information” by Manual Lima, a curated sampling of groundbreaking work in information visualization; and “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder.” “I read and re-read the Little House on the Prairie series many times as a child, so I'm looking forward to reading this annotated autobiography,” Yanco says.
Renee Barrile, a lecturer and program director in the College of Health Sciences, will also be spending time with the Ingalls family this summer. “My daughter is at the age where she can read chapter books. I am looking forward to revisiting my favorites with her: Ramona Quimby books and the Little House on the Prairie series. I still have them from the dinosaur ages when I was a kid and there was no such thing as Kindles, smart phones, or tablets,” she says.
Cultivating accountable children, spirituality and fruit trees are topics that Scott Stapleton, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will be reading up on this summer. Stacked on his nightstand awaiting his attention are "Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, How to Say No" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, "The Book of Mormon," "The Bible" and "Obstbaum-Schnitt" by Martin Stangl, which is about fruit tree pruning. “My old neighbor in Germany gave me this book last April when we were talking about my unruly apple tree. I've already gleaned some great tips and brushed up on my German at the same time,” he says.
Rising senior Julie Lun snagged some breezy summer reads on the sale rack at the River Hawk shop. Lun bought “Who Do You Love?” by Jennifer Weiner and “The Camel Club” by David Baldacci. Another reader who likes the feel of a book in her hands, the criminal justice major says, “Someday, I want to have a house full of books.”
Gleaning insight into the behavior of investors is the goal of Asst. Prof. of Finance Tunde Kovacs, who is reading “Adaptive Markets” by MIT researcher Andrew Lo. “In his book he is promising to explain when financial market participants act rationally and when they are driven by emotion. He says it has something to do with evolutionary biology and flight-or-fight response,” Kovacs says.
Alec Golas, a rising junior studying nuclear science and engineering, is finding enlightenment in the pages of “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief” by Jordan B. Peterson. “His interpretation of religious and political ideologies and the conflicts between them is enlightening and also helpful in understanding the conflicts between people I know of different belief systems,” says Golas.
Noy Thrupakaew, journalist and UMass Lowell’s 2017 Greeley Peace Scholar, is reading “Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America” by Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy. The bestseller studies the plague of homicide in a Los Angeles neighborhood and the relationships between police and victims' relatives, witnesses and suspects. “After my time in Lowell, and my immersion in the city's fascinating history and unfolding political story, I realized just how little I know about the city I live in. This book will hopefully help me better understand the city where I live,” the Angeleno says.
An ambitious mix of classics and contemporary fiction are on the reading list of Elizabeth Cole, budget coordinator in the Kennedy College of Sciences: “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” both by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; “The Obscene Bird of Night” by Jose Donoso; “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers; “Everything that Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor; “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” by Junot Diaz.