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Community Reading List: 2021 Complete List

Each year the library compiles reading recommendations for the Winter Break.

Annabel Davis-Goff

Director of the Prison Education and the Incarceration in America Initiatives, CAPA. Faculty - Literature.

Rage Hezekiah

First-Year and International Student Counselor - Academic Services

I swooned over this lovely collection of gratitudes. This book is a joy and a gift.

I so appreciated the arc of this story, and the complexity of the central characters. I'm looking forward to following Reid's work for years to come.

After reading this book I discovered that "domestic fiction" is my ideal genre. Lombardo has a keen eye towards complex family dynamics, and I found her writing familiar and comforting.

Limón's tender observations and sharp turns keep me coming back to this book months after reading it. Her lines are beautifully rendered and often devastating, I'm so grateful for her generosity in bringing this power to the page.

Mary Lum

Faculty - Visual Arts

A wonderful new graphic novel set in Paris

Carol Pal

Faculty - Society, Culture and Thought

Written in 2014, this is a novel about an unprecedented global pandemic that spreads at a mind-boggling speed. No one is prepared, and there are no solutions. Sound familiar? It's a novel about humans doing human things.

This is a novel about the real-life Dozier School for Boys, a "reform" school where kids were beaten, abused, murdered, and dumped into unmarked graves. Whitehead's spare prose makes it all the more harrowing. It feels like necessary reading.

Saramago's beautiful and realistic novel is an exploration of the "lost" years in the life of Jesus, beginning with his conception. It is lyrical, skeptical, provocative and impossible to put down. I already want to read it again.

Özge Savaş

Faculty - Society, Culture and Thought

This novel is about the resistance, triumph and betrayal of memory, while telling the story of one Palestinian family. Each chapter centers around one family member, while moving across time and place. Not one but many wars shape the journeys of members of this family, causing intergenerational trauma, forgetting and remembering.

Oceana Wilson

Dean of the Library

Three characters, similar in their dreams of a different life, connected through a disaster. I found it hard to put down once I started reading it.

A page-turning thriller with nefarious botanicals = very good distraction from 2020.

Delightful details of urban design in short essays.

A beautiful written tale about family, biological and chosen, and the secrets held and revealed.

Michael Dumanis

Faculty - Society, Culture, and Thought

Dina Janis

Faculty - Drama

Excellent mystery escapism written by this stunning novelist- beautiful and informative prose that reflects an African American perspective on living in the south.

The first in a fabulous detective mystery series by this wonderful African American novelist- introducing the protagonist Blanche White, a middle-aged mother, domestic worker and amateur detective.

Lots of fun for us Shakespeare nuts! A fun take on the "true" story of Hamlet- set in Shakespeare's time.

Vanessa Lyon

Faculty - Visual Arts

If you haven't read Hartman (MacArthur genius '19), this is a phenomenal book with which to start. And if you've read this most recent of her works, Scenes of Subjection and Lose Your Mother are no less critical and revelatory--Hartman is perhaps the most important voice for understanding the afterlives of slavery in the US right now through a black feminist lens. She invites us to think both expansively and unstintingly about (histories of) race and gender in America and does so through wondrously poetic, emancipatory frameworks and methodologies centering--rather than adding on--black women.

Mirka Prazak

Faculty - Society, Culture and Thought

Stephen Shapiro

Faculty - Cultural Studies and Languages

Debbie Warnock

Faculty - Society, Culture and Thought

Emily Waterman

Faculty - Society, Culture, and Thought

From the class reading list from Magic of Adolescence, learn about the adolescent brain in this book for teens and their families.

Lizzie Gavrilov

Class of 2023

A mythological retelling of the story of Achilles, through the eyes of his best friend and lover Patroclus. Perfect for grown-up fans of Percy Jackson and and Greek mythology, or anyone who loves a good romance. Warning: this book WILL have you crying by the time it's over.

This mystery/historical fiction/adventure book jumps between the story of a sassy photo-journalist, and the object of her investigation, a trailblazing female aviator from the past. Both of the main characters in this story are witty, passionate, extremely complex and well-written, and SO powerful. If you liked Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein you will LOVE this story!

This book is the story of a family, magical and fantastic, and heartbreakingly realistic all rolled into one. The (very unstable) parents create beautiful dreams and imaginary worlds for the children, but in reality, can't keep the family out of poverty. The four children grow up scrounging for food, inventing games to distract and entertain each other, and sticking together throughout the many difficult situations they find themselves in.

Sherry Kramer

Faculty - Drama

Some nuns and the black plague and then the excitement of keeping a nunnery going in hard times.

Brian Michael Murphy

Faculty - Society, Culture and Thought

Brilliant and timely, it identifies the pressure points of power in everyday life, and emphasizes experimentation and play in ways that are wise and inspiring.

My favorite book cover designer and one of the most poetic illustrators I've ever seen.

Tackles the digital, gender, the limits of "connection" through technology, and so much more.

A classic autobiography, so full of adventure, honesty, and unforgettable vignettes.

Jean Randich

Faculty - Drama

Gorgeous book and bridge across generations of a shattered family that survives wartime Vietnam to flee to Hartford, CT, and beyond. It reads like cool water flowing through your hands....the miracle of survival and recovery.

When I read this memoir, I wrote the author whom I know: "From the definition of mental illness being a case where the known tackles and represses the unknown, to your ability to open yourself up to necessary truths, no matter the cost, to your brave acknowledgement of a puzzlement of truths, your witnessing opened my eyes and gives me hope and strength.....I will not give up altitude. I will not give up evolution. I will not give up the dream of freedom, liberty, tolerance, love, and justice for all. Thank you, magical man." If you are interested in the power of transformation and becoming, read P. Carl's raw, funny, intimate memoir. It will change your life.

Wilkerson prefaces her book with an epigraph from James Baldwin: "Because even if I should speak, no one would believe me. And they would not believe me precisely because they would know that what I said was true." This beautifully written and scrupulously researched book, dealing with the caste system in slave-holding America, India, Nazi Germany, and contemporary American society, uncovers so many things you would not believe but are all too true. Essential reading for everyone who wants to achieve a more perfect union, with liberty, opportunity, equality, equity, and justice for all.

Megan Tabaque

Visiting Faculty - Drama

Camille Guthrie

Director of Undergraduate Writing Initiatives

I've been reading all of Butler's books this year. They're all stunning (in every sense), and this collection is a great introduction. We read the title story in my "Scriptorium: Love" course.

Rage Hezekiah's poems are gutting, bold, tender, and loving. (And, she's a wonderful person in our community.)

Rankine has written another essential book of this time.

The marvelous poet Aracelis Girmay has edited an gorgeous collection of Clifton's poems.

Blake Jones

Faculty - Science and Mathematics

A blow-you-over imaginative fiction that is both primordial myth and futuristic fantasy

Julian Mitchell

Class of 2024

Reading a novel about being in college during FWT seems like a bad way to enjoy a break from campus- but I find that reading about a character who is living in a non-socially-distanced world has really been brightening my spirits. And aside from that, The Idiot is hilarious, sharply written, and impossible to put down.

This book only came out last year, but has again become relevant as Google goes on trial for trust violations and monopolization of the internet. It’s a long book but incredibly interesting, and provides an accessible look at the link between technology and large corporations.

Rankine is perhaps more well known for books like Citizen, but Don’t Let Me Be Lonely perfectly and beautifully encapsulates the divisive, chaotic, and isolating times we live in.

Sue Rees

Faculty - Visual Arts

Donald Sherefkin

Faculty - Visual Arts

Laura Walker


Liz White

Faculty - Visual Arts