CLAS Picks: Books

Sitting down with a good book (that's not required reading) is a great way to relax while still keeping your mind sharp.

We asked various members of the CLAS Dream Team to share what they read over the summer and to pass their recommendations on to you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope the more than 30 selections below, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, will give you inspiration for the next time you step into a bookstore or open your Kindle App.

In order by book title

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
"It's a great book for all African Americans (especially African American males) to read because it addresses to concerns, fears, and sorrows of Black men as they contemplate the value of their lives when facing police officers and other societal structures that threaten to destroy their bodies." - Patricia Andujo, Ph.D., Department of English

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
"This book is a great picture of being alive and being creative. This is a MUST read for anyone who creates anything in their life." - Marcela Rojas, Ph.D., Department of Modern Languages

Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
"Butler is one of the best writers of science fiction and fantasy out there. Her work should be read for its creativity and mastery of style. She's also one of the first Black writers of scifi in America." - Sarah Adams, Ph.D., Department of English

Brand Luther by Andrew Pettegree
"As we approach the 500 anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in October, there are many new biographies of Martin Luther. 'Brand Luther' takes a different approach by not only explaining the historical events of Luther's life but placing it in its commercial context. Luther helped develop the printing industry and benefited from it. He partnered with Lucas Cranach to maximize the benefits of the printing press and achieved an acute understanding of the printing business, which helped him establish a 'brand' name for himself, and become not just a theologian, but also a communicator." - Ismael Lopez Medel, Ph.D, Department of Communication Studies

Christians and Cultural Difference by D. Smith and P. Dykstra-Pruim
"It's short (part of the Calvin Shorts series) and so it is a quick and easy read. I like anything by David Smith and this one is filled with stories I can use to liven up my Intercultural Communication courses." - Mary Wong, Ph.D., Department of Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL

Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks
"Other than the similar time frame the two were alive, I had no idea there was so much that helped define the foundations of freedom for Western Europe and beyond by these two especially their work in the 1940's." - Chris Leland, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies

Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect by David W. Orr
"Orr does an exceptional job in articulating his keen insights into the predicament of higher education. Many aspects are considered such as the danger, problem and business of education, the principles of education and finally, rethinking education. I believe every educator in higher education should read and consider Orr's points as he initiates a most critical and timely conversation." - Louise Huang, Ph.D., Center for Research in Science

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece by Lesley M.M. Blume
"This book tells the true events on which Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Sun Also Rises, was based. I loved seeing what really happened and how Hemingway chose to fictionalize it. This book also shows Hemingway's struggles as a young writer to establish himself in the literary world." - Joseph Bentz, Ph.D., Department of English

For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care by Steven Bouma-Prediger
"For the Beauty of the Earth explores the neglected theology of environmental stewardship that mandates not just those who are interested or passionate about the environment, but all Christians to re-consider their position on stewardship. Bouma-Prediger systematically explores and explains crucial questions such as, 'What's Wrong with the World?'; 'What is the Connection between Scripture and Ecology?'; 'What Kind of People Ought We Be? Earth-Care and Character?'. I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to further understand the basis of Creation Care." - Louise Huang, Ph.D., Center for Research in Science

GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon
"Dixon's work is critical for writers of fiction. She offers clear, practical advice on the craft of writing. Writers of all genres can learn from this book." - Sarah Adams, Ph.D., Department of English

Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
"This is a great novel of the South of about a hundred years ago. It has a sense of layered reality about it that draws me deep into this Mississippi world, with all of its complexities of relationships, the inescapability of the past, race relations, and an unforgettable story." - Joseph Bentz, Ph.D., Department of English

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
"This is a fascinating and enjoyable novel, published in 1847, about an admirable and determined young woman. It's a classic but also as enjoyable as any current bestseller." - Joseph Bentz, Ph.D., Department of English

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (2017)by David Grann
"New Yorker staff writer David Grann, author of the bestselling The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (2009), has written an extraordinary account of the Osage Indian murders in the 1920s and '30s. This nonfiction book reads like a crime novel: a superb thriller." - Mark Eaton, Ph.D., Department of English

Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice by Ingrid Piller
"My student recommended this in a forum in my Sociolinguistics class, and it is quite a find. My favorite chapters are Linguistic Diversity in Education (Ch 5) and Linguistic Diversity and Global Justice (Ch 7)." - Mary Wong, Ph.D., Department of Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL

Must We Mean What We Say? by Stanley Cavell
"Cavell is a foremost living American philosopher. He works in the area of skepticism, but perhaps not in a way that many of us would recognize. Skepticism, for Cavell, is not characterized by excessive doubting but, quite the opposite, is suspicious of people who claim to know enough about something to express adamant doubt. He asks: how does knowledge of an other (claiming to know someone) actually subvert our experience of that person? Is true relationship found, rather, in a kind of acknowledgment of and exposure to another person that refuses to hide behind the wall of 'knowing' them? Cavell is notoriously difficult to read (he's Hegelian, after all). So I recommend beginning with the incredibly influential chapter on Shakespeare: 'The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear.' As a Shakespeare scholar myself, this essay changed the way I read, teach, and write about Shakespeare's plays and the moral problems they explore." - Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Department of English

Peace Education: International Perspectives by Monisha Bajaj
"Published in 2016, Peace Education a recent work that brings together 12 authors who discuss their success and failures in promoting peace several parts of the world. I'm still working my way through this one, but I'm delighted to see so many people using so many different ways to teach and promote peace." - Mary Wong, Ph.D., Department of Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL

Sincerity: How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We ALL Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull) by R. Jay Magill
"This book was rated by numerous organizations as one of the top non-fiction books of 2012. We read it in an MA English class I taught a couple years back, and I returned to it this summer while working on a special issue of the journal Christianity & Literature that Dr. Caleb Spencer and I are editing on the literary history of sincerity. As it turns out, many of the major shifts in the way westerners think and behave are due to evolving ideas about sincerity—what makes an action 'my own,' what constitutes 'my belief,' and what the relation between sincerity and morality is. The problem is that we haven't always been aware of the underlying influence of sincerity and authenticity as cognitive and social drives. Magill's book uncovers this influence and does so with an uncommon combination of accessibility and erudition." - Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Department of English

Stoner by John Williams
"Not a fast paced piece of fiction, but a very sobering look at the life of those of us who call ourselves 'Academics.'" - Chris Leland, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton
"Although the Biblical exegesis is questionable, good insights for leaders on listening to God and recognizing personal limits." - Richard Robison, Ph.D., Department of Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl
"Author does a great job of presenting a terrific blueprint for sharing and witnessing without the types of confrontation often experienced- and to put the burden of proof on whoever you are dealing with. Good easy read." - Scott Kinnes, Ph.D., Department of Biology and Chemistry

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple
"A very thorough look inside the workings of this relatively new position in the White House. I might suggest that the author is going to have a complete sequel once the current administration is done." - Chris Leland, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
"This is a wonderfully written history of genetics and its impact on us. It engagingly illustrates the process of scientific discovery and how people ask questions and design experiments based off of other people's work, and it soberly looks at some of the ethical issues that our understanding and practice of genetics raises. I think this would be enjoyable for anyone interested in history and genetics, from people with limited biology backgrounds to those who majored in biology." - Sarah Richart, Ph.D., Department of Biology and Chemistry

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
"I don't think I enjoyed this book just because I saw three groves of Sequoia trees this summer, though it is a possibility. This book helped me enter into the life of trees in a way I never could have imagined! This is a very detailed look at some of the recent research on trees and their communities (both with trees and many other species of life), and the author makes it engaging and accessible to anyone. I'm not finished with this book, but it's been fun to imagine life as one of God's other creations, and has certainly filled me with wonder and awe (for example, some trees, when being fed on by parasitic insects, can send out a signal that attracts the parasitic insects' predators!) It's amazing what kind of dramas are being played out in forests." - Sarah Richart, Ph.D., Department of Biology and Chemistry

The Myth of Liberalism by John P. Safranek
"This book works to show that modern liberalism is based upon to self-contradictory ideas of personal liberty. The book starts with an analysis of the moral and political ideas of Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill. The author contrasts this with the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas who ground morality and polity in the transcendent good. The author is an emergency room medical doctor who also has a Ph.D. in philosophy. I recommend this book to anyone who would like a clear treatment on the philosophical foundations of western liberalism." - Rick Sturdivant, Ph.D., Department of Engineering and Computer Science

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
"While this book was published in 2010, and groups of people at my church and some faculty at APU have read this years ago, it's just lately come onto my radar. Rarely do I read a book that I feel completely alters my way of looking at the world (and it certainly is not usually 'summer reading!'), but this one did. This was one of the hardest books I've ever read as a white person because it opened my eyes to some of the terrible racial injustices in America that affect African Americans on a daily basis that have never been part of my American experience. While some things have changed since the book was published, like changes to California's 3 strike rule for non-violent offenders, the author makes a convincing argument that from arrest to bail to court to sentencing to prison to life after prison, our judicial system is stacked against African Americans. Who should read this book? If not all Americans, than surely all American Christian people who are serious about loving one's neighbor as oneself and who care about true justice." - Sarah Richart, Ph.D., Department of Biology and Chemistry

"This book encourages/challenges us to rethink the way we see our judicial system, especially in regards to mass incarceration and race. Alexander says that criminals are the only people group that we are allowed, and in fact, encouraged to despise. As Christians, we are called to show love for everyone, but in order to do this, we have to understand what mass incarceration has done to a particular segment of our population." - Patricia Andujo, Ph.D., Department of English

The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison
"Jim Harrison, who died in 2016, is best known for his fiction, and probably out of all, Legends of the Fall—made into a movie in which Brad Pitt fights a bear. Lesser known is Harrison's food writing. Harrison's hedonistic and post-romantic combines with the world of dining in a magical combination. The Raw and the Cooked consists of essays he wrote for magazines, including especially Esquire Magazine. He began writings these while he was on a book tour and figured he'd take an aesthetic and critical interest in the food establishments he met along the path. The writing is just as mouthy and carnal as you can find in the food critic genre, but it's also more elegant and emotional than most. Chapter titles include: 'Eat or Die,' 'The Panic Hole,' and 'The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks.'" - Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Department of English

Trumbo by Bruce Cook
"Biography was basis for feature film about the writer and the Black List." - David Esselstrom, Ph.D., Department of English

When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman by Connie Bruck
"Hollywood has always been more business than art, but Wasserman knew well the art of the business. Sort of a Rise of the Planet of the Agents." -  David Esselstrom, Ph.D., Department of English

Words Can Change your Brain by Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman
"It's a fantastic guide into the neurological power of words, speech and language.
Read this if you have kids, a spouse or interact with humans ever." - Marcela Rojas, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages

Writers in Hollywood: 1915 - 1951 by Ian Hamilton
"Great overview, well-researched and thoughtfully argued, of the writer in the early years of the motion picture industry." - David Esslestrom, Ph.D., Department of English

Note: This information is current for the 2018-19 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.