Looking for Recommendations? These Readers Have Plenty of Suggestions

Collage of colorful book covers

By University Relations Staff

With summer officially upon us, it’s time for members of UML’s community to dive deep into their summer reading lists. From memoirs to mysteries, from beach reads to biographies, River Hawk readers are ready to settle in with a great book.  If you’re still searching for titles to tuck into your beach bag or carry-on, you’re in luck. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or escapism, enlightenment or entertainment, UML’s community of readers has some ideas for you.
finding-meAs a preamble to a family trip to Scotland, Jen Keene-Crouse, assistant director of college based advising in the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, is reading “Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other” by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, who are actors in the television show “Outlander”: “It’s full of all the pride and excitement that Scotland has to offer, and if you listen on audio, the book is narrated by the authors, with accents and all.” A self-described “nonfiction nerd,” Keene-Crouse is also reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle and “Finding Me” by Viola Davis. “I re-read Doyle’s book every now and then as a checkup of my own mental health, boundaries and empowerment. Davis’ book intrigues me, with her story of trauma, pain, hope, growth and inspiration.”
your-driverHonors College Assoc. Director Rae Mansfield looks forward to reading “The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise” by Colleen Oakley, a retelling of “Thelma & Louise” featuring a college dropout and an 84-year-old woman. She is also reading “Your Driver is Waiting” by Priya Guns: “I heard an interview with the author back in February and bookmarked this debut novel about classism, racism and the gig economy.” 
Chemistry Assoc. Teaching Prof. Khalilah Reddie is excited to dig into “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel. “I have been telling everyone I can about this book,” says Reddie, who purchased both a hard copy and an audio version. She plans on using its strategies in the classroom. Also on Reddie’s reading list is “For Blood and Money: Billionaires, Biotech, and the Quest for a Blockbuster Drug” by Nathan Vardi. From that book, she hopes to pick up some anecdotes that she can share with her students.
remarkably-brightAnne Maglia, vice chancellor for research and innovation, is ready to crack open “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. “It is about a woman who works in an aquarium and befriends a very smart octopus who helps her navigate through life’s many challenges,” Maglia says. “It sounds like it deals with a lot of issues, including loneliness, loss and empowerment. Mostly, I want to read it because I was a biologist, and a book with a ‘talking’ octopus just sounds awesome!”
Rising senior business major Justin Baez Peguero, president of UML’s Class of 2024, is reading “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Chris Gardner, a memoir of Gardner’s journey from homelessness to successful stockbroker. “I am inspired to read it because I can gain valuable insights and inspiration to pursue my own dreams,” Baez Peguero says.
Assoc. Prof. Winnie Wu of the Physical Therapy and Kinesiology Department plans to tackle the five-novel series, “The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. “It is a fun perspective of technology and sci-fi that I hope I can finish,” she says. Also on her list is “Mind Control” by Takashi Okada, a psychiatrist and writer in Japan: “I am always intrigued by how people's minds work and would like to learn about Dr. Okada's perspective and his observation of Japanese society.”
banana-ballThe first game of the River Hawks’ fall sports season is two months away, and Assoc. Athletic Director for Marketing and Promotions Jon Boswell is getting ready with Jesse Cole’s “Banana Ball.” Written by a co-owner of the Savannah Bananas, a former summer league team that has transformed itself into the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball, Boswell looks to draw inspiration from the book to improve the overall experience for fans at UMass Lowell athletic events. “We're always trying to be better, so you look at what somebody else is doing and say, ‘How could we make that a part of what we do? How could we take elements of what they do and make them a part of what a River Hawk game experience looks like?’” he says.
Mathematics Assoc. Teaching Prof. Roser Gine has a wide-ranging list. For nonfiction, she intends to read “Excursions in Number Theory, Algebra, and Analysis” by Al Cuoco and Kenneth Ireland, which sheds light on fundamental mathematical ideas, and “Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein, which explores the state of U.S. politics. For fiction, Gine has her sights set on “A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel” by Gaurav Suri and Hartosh Singh Bal; “So Shall You Reap,” the 32nd installment in mystery writer Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti series; and “The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan.
candy-houseEarth System Sciences Ph.D. student Ericka Boudreau is gearing up for a New England geology camping trip with her two children and partner. To help her kids understand some geology basics, Boudreau is reading “Under New England: The Story of New England’s Rocks and Fossils” by Charles Ferguson Barker with them. Boudreau plans to bring the book while she and her family explore the region’s rich geological history.
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but Dean of Student Affairs and Wellness Brenda Evans is making an exception for “Happy Place” by Emily Henry. “I have never read anything by her, but the cover is what first attracted me. It is bright and looks like the perfect beach read,” says Evans, who is currently reading “The Sunrise Sisterhood” by Cathy Bramley, a story of three generations of women, set in England. 
multipliersAssoc. Chief Information Officer of System Architecture Steve Athanas will be reading “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman and re-reading “Uncommon Service” by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss for professional development. But he is also leaving time for what he calls “brain trash” – in this case, “Surviving to Drive” by Guenther Steiner. “Our family got into watching Formula 1 auto racing during the peak of the pandemic,” Athanas says. “Reading the inside account from the principal of one of the objectively worst teams ‘on the grid’ is weirdly compelling in a schadenfreude kind of way.” 
Unsurprisingly, Director of the University Library Allison Estell always has several fiction and nonfiction books going. She is diving into “Laziness Does Not Exist” by social psychologist Devon Price after recently finishing his “Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity.” On the fiction front, she plans to read “The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro “because I have found his books so moving.” 
better-livingEric Si, communications specialist at the Office of Research Administration and Integrity, is planning to read “Better Living through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World” by Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher who was the target of false accusations in a 2020 Central Park incident that sparked conversations about racial bias. “His memoir traces back to his early life and career as a gay Black man in America,” says Si. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I find it comforting to learn about lived experiences, perspectives and approaches of those I resonate with, and I am eager to read more about Cooper’s life and point of view.” Si also plans to dive into Celeste Ng’s novel, “Our Missing Hearts.” According to Si, Ng always does a wonderful job of character development, especially sharing what it means to be Asian American and exploring issues of race and class. 
leaving-the-witnessNow that Philosophy Prof. Carol Hay can “slow down and just read” for the summer, she plans to examine the lives of author Amber Scorah and actor Elliot Page through their respective memoirs, “Leaving the Witness” and “Pageboy.” Scorah’s book details her experience in the Jehovah’s Witness religion and her decision to ultimately leave her faith and community behind. “What I find really compelling about this story is her ability and willingness to question everything that she held true,” Hay says. “This could be religion, but it could be anyone who's willing to step back and question all these long-held assumptions and risk it all to live authentically.” Page’s memoir, meanwhile, tells his story as a Hollywood actor who has recently come out as transgender. Hay says Page’s book is a “humanizing story” that would benefit students as well as the general public. “He's (under) this incredible microscope where every move he makes is being scrutinized,” she says. “It's hard enough to come out as trans if you're just a regular person who has some expectation of privacy, and of course, Page has none of that.”
psyche-erosChristos Protonotarios ’02, ’18, ’20, HEROES grants manager and Peace and Conflict Studies adjunct professor, is going to read “Psyche and Eros,” a debut novel by Luna McNamara. “This is a retelling of the classic Greek story with a spin towards a strong woman warrior,” says Protonotarios. “McNamara’s book was recommended to me by a friend of the author as a good option to explore classic myths in a modern way.”
A voracious reader and a writer of indie fiction, Sara Marks, assistant director for communications and user experience at the university’s library, has three books at the top of her pile. First is “How to Sell A Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix. “I’ll probably listen to this as an audiobook, because I love being told a scary story,” she says. Next up is “Romaine Calm” by Lisa Bouchard, the third installment in a paranormal cozy mystery series. “It’s set in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Lisa is a friend of mine. The entire series is out and (it’s) a perfect beach read,” Marks says. After that comes “Once More With You,” part of a series of contemporary romances by Elena Markem, who is also a friend of Marks. 
When she was a graduate student in the Manning School of Business in 2012, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute Director Holly Lalos ’11, ’12 met billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett. “That piqued my interest in investing,” says Lalos, who plans to read “The Warren Buffett Way: Investment Strategies of the World's Greatest Investor” by Robert G. Hagstrom Jr. 
running-while-blackCivil and Environmental Engineering Prof. TzuYang Yu is reading “Elements of Algebra” by Leonhard Euler. According to Yu, Euler, the 18th-century Swiss genius who is considered one of the greatest mathematicians in history, lost his eyesight at age 64 but continued working and making significant contributions to his field until his death at age 76. “It is truly amazing to imagine how he accomplished so much with his determination, persistence and ability,” Yu says. “I think everyone should read Euler's life, even if they are not a mathematician.”
Student Activities and Leadership Director Sarah Rine kicked off her summer reading with “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn't Built for Us” by Alison Mariella Désir. “This is an incredible story about courage and believing in yourself, but also exposes the very white world of running,” Rine says.