Members of the UML Community Share What’s on Their Summer Reading Lists

Montage of books

By BCCS Staff

If books, as the author Stephen King famously said, are a “uniquely portable magic,” then members of the UMass Lowell community are in for an exceptionally magical summer. From novels to nonfiction and beach reads to bestsellers, students, faculty and staff have their summer reading picks lined up, and they’re ready to dive in. Many are also planning to catch up on podcasts during the coming weeks. We checked in to see what’s on people’s lists. Here’s a sampling:
Chancellor Julie Chen is digging into short stories this summer. 
reaching-inside“Right now, I’m sticking with a couple of short story/essay compilations, since I don’t have a lengthy plane ride planned where I can commit to a longer novel,” she says. At the top of her list is “Reaching Inside: 50 Acclaimed Authors on 100 Unforgettable Short Stories,” which was edited by English Prof. Andre Dubus lll. In the book, which was published last year, Dubus asked acclaimed authors such as Ann Patchett, Richard Russo and Gish Jen to write about short stories that changed their view of the world. 
Also on tap is “Northwest of Boston,” a book of short stories by Lowell writer Stephen O’Connor. And if this summer’s weather isn’t conducive to spending time outdoors, Chen says she’ll add a good spy or detective novel to her reading list. 
Rist Family Endowed Dean of the Manning School of Business Bertie Greer will be reading “Fool Me Once: Scams, Stories, and Secrets from the Trillion-Dollar Fraud Industry” by her friend, Kelly Richmond Pope. “I have had the book for a year. It's time to read it!” says Greer, who plans to invite Richmond Pope to campus to share her insights with students. Greer says “Shoe Dog” by Nike founder Phil Knight also “jumped into my hands” at the bookstore. “I love reading about profitable companies and how they came to be, especially the early evolutions and the many challenges it takes to get a business off the ground.”
Julian Zabalbeascoa, associate director of honors experiential learning opportunities and communication, is spending the summer in Europe leading study abroad programs. While there, he is reading “Glorious Exploits” by Ferdia Lennon.
“It is perfectly paced; each sentence is greatly cared for yet appears flawless,” he says.
New Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Sue Kim, is on an Anthony Horowitz mystery novel kick this summer. 
“Horowitz is really good at invoking classic Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, which are like comfort food for me,” she says.
dear-eliaShe’s also reading Mimi Khúc’s “Dear Elia: Letters from the Asian American Abyss.” 
“Khúc redefines unwellness in various forms – not as individual pathology, but as a product of systemic/collective structures and processes – and tries to imagine ways to do Asian American studies that don’t perpetuate this,” she says. “It’s a powerful book.” 
Women’s lacrosse coach Lisa Miller, who led the River Hawks to their first postseason berth in program history this spring, is interested in books that shed light on “how to build, maintain and grow a competitive, healthy culture.” With that in mind, she will be reading “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. “Recruiting for our sport requires a quick assessment of talent and character. This is an interesting take on the process of getting to know strangers,” says Miller, who also plans to read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. “Some of the most insightful comments from players have come from the ‘quiet’ ones, who tend to be far more observant and take in the perspective of others,” she says. 
quietEnglish Assoc. Prof. Keith Mitchell just reread Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for the first time in decades, inspired by Percival Everett’s new novel, “James.” Everett’s book revises Twain’s story from the perspective of Jim, the enslaved man who befriends Huck. Mitchell says that “James” deepened his appreciation for Twain’s book. “I love both of them,” he says. “If anything, ‘James’ enhanced my rereading of ‘Huck Finn.’”
Mitchell, who teaches classes in American and African American literature, also plans to read a pair of novels by James McBride, “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” and “Deacon King Kong.”  
Asst. Director of Club Sports Keith Jasie has “The Anxious Generation" by Jonathan Haidt atop his summer reading list. “The rise of anxiety and other mental health issues in America is probably multicausal, and I believe it is important to understand all of these variables to be able to relate to and help students today,” says Jasie, who also plans to read “The Algebra of Wealth” by Scott Galloway.
wellnessCatherine Nkwantah ’24, who received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in May and is now pursuing a master’s degree, is planning to read the New York Times bestseller “Wellness” by Nathan Hill.
“It is a witty and humorous novel about modern marriage and the ties that keep people together. It reimagines [college sweethearts] Jack and Elizabeth’s love story with insight and irony. I want to read it because it has received numerous accolades, and I want to see if it lives up to the hype.”
Marley O’Neil, operations manager in the Francis College of Engineering, says she’ll be reading “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie. Published in 1926, the mystery is set among England’s high society. 
“After watching a PBS documentary about the life and times of Agatha Christie recently, I realized that I haven't read any of her novels. The stories are supposedly easy, quick reads, which is perfect for summer,” O’Neil says.
Partha Chowdhury, head of the School of Graduate Studies, has a pile of books by his bedside, and "Dune" by Frank Herbert is the one he intends to finish first. “This sci-fi novel was recommended to me by a fellow grad student in the mid-70s, but I never read it,” says Chowdhury, who is also a professor in the Department of Physics and Applied Physics. “After watching the recent ‘Dune: Part Two’ movie, I started reading it, and am struck by how prescient the book was about present-day politics and war. And I love how he verbalizes the thoughts of the characters onto the page for the reader.”
"Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann is next in Chowdhury’s book pile. “I am a sucker for creative language, and I re-read sentences that wow me,” he says. “His metaphors are so original.”
Shaina Roy, the Kennedy College of Sciences director of student success, often spends her evenings reading Magic Tree House and Dragon Girls chapter books with her kids, but this summer, she is making time to read some books gifted to her on Mother’s Day by her own mom.
anxious-generation“The Anxious Generation” is also Roy’s list. “It is really eye-opening, the impact that smartphones and social media have had on adolescents since the smartphone was released,” says Roy, who is also an associate teaching professor for the Department of Biological Sciences. “It’s particularly interesting as I navigate when the appropriate time is for my own kids to get phones and what we as parents can do to reduce some of the negative consequences.”

She also plans to read “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by surgeon and bestselling author Atul Gawande. The nonfiction book looks into end-of-life care, hospice and nursing homes. “It provides perspective from both the elderly and their adult children that often care for them,” she says.

pachinkoChiara Ghezzi, an assistant professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department, is going to read the novel “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee. A National Book Award finalist that was made into a series on Apple TV, Pachinko chronicles the saga of four generations of a Korean immigrant family in Japan.
Her choice was inspired by a recent work trip to Korea, Ghezzi says: “I am interested in learning more about their cultural environment. Suggested by a very good friend of mine, this book seems to be a perfect continuation to dive more into the initial exposure I had during my trip.” 
Assoc. Prof. of Nursing Mazen El Ghaziri, who is captivated by the works of authors who blend historical insights with biographical and personal stories, plans to read “The Demon of Unrest” by Erik Larson. He’s also going to re-read “The Disoriented” by Amin Maalouf. “These authors provide me with a deeper understanding of history and the individuals who influenced it,” he says.

Fave Podcasts

Rist Family Endowed Dean of the Manning School of Business Bertie Greer will be listening to new episodes of her favorite podcast, “Revisionist History” by Malcolm Gladwell. 
Julian Zabalbeascoa, associate director of honors experiential learning opportunities and communication, is  keeping up with “One True Podcast,” which examines the life, world and work of Ernest Hemingway. “Each episode is loaded with revelations,” he says. 
Prof. Sue Kim, the new dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, recommends Steve Kornacki’s “The Revolution,” which is a look back at the 1994 midterm election, in which the GOP took the House majority for the first time in four decades. She’s also a regular listener of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” 
Asst. Director of Club Sports Keith Jasie enjoys “Advisory Opinions,” which “breaks down judicial rulings for laymen,” as well as “Re:Thinking with Adam Grant” and “Pod Meets World.”
David Cornell, assistant professor in the Physical Therapy and Kinesiology Department, enjoys listening to “The Drive” podcast hosted by Dr. Peter Attia. “His guests have expertise in the areas of disease and medicine, health and wellness, fitness and performance, and injury and rehabilitation.”