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Community Reading List: 2016 Complete List

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

Barbara Alfano

The story is set in 18th-century Sicily and narrates the life of a silent Duchess who, because of her inability to speak or hear, was granted more freedom than women usually were in her times, although she was fully a victim of the men who surrounded her. A historical novel written from a feminist point of view. Marianna Ucría was an ancestor of Mariani's. She has been a major author in Italy since the 1960s.

Lydia Brassard

John Bullock

I've been binge-reading Graham Greene novels. His fascinating character studies are combined with political intrigue and vivid portrayals of life in post-colonial locales. I particularly recommend:

Ron Cohen

Michael Dumanis

Stephen Higa

Katie Montovan

Mirka Prazak

Jean Randich

It just won the National Book Award. Brief, searing, eye-opening.

Ferrante tracks a fierce friendship of two imaginative girls, growing up in hardscrabble, post-war Naples through to today, and how they refuse to conform to docility, but struggle to find their freedom and power. Unforgettable page-turners.

Sue Rees

Stephen Shapiro

Benjamin Anastas

Required reading for our troubled times and an open letter to the nation in the best tradition of James Baldwin.

Pairing Ferrante's first novel (published in Italian in 1993) with the first book in her Neapolitan Novels tetralogy shows how her urgency as a literary artist has only deepened with time.

This underappreciated dissection of Nixon's election in 1968 tells us exactly how our political system has been debased by corporate money and the media's race to the bottom. McGinniss taught at Bennington only for a short time (1982 - 1984) but his influence on that generation of Bennington writers was enormous.

Michael Cohen

Marguerite Feitlowitz

Dan Hofstadter

Kirk Jackson

Dina Janis

Well written, mystery folktale-like prose

A powerful and poetic look at two black men, brothers in their search for love.

Thrilling, disturbing, not easy to put down - by one of my favorite writers.

Kate Purdie

Susan Sgorbati

Mark Wunderlich

David Anderegg

A little over the top in places, sort of like classical scholarship meets "Raiders of the Lost Ark." But what other book can make one desperate to read several different translations of the Iliad? Plus, Nicolson reveals the actual physical location of the mouth of Hell. The best book I read this year.

J Blackwell

Akiko Busch

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels:

Annabel Davis-Goff

Janet Foley

Sarah Harris

This book offers an introduction to the subversive possibilities in women's autobiographical comics. She includes chapters on Phoebe Gloeckner, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel. I'm also looking forward to reading Chute's upcoming book, Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form. 

For anyone with an interest in regional identity, European history, soccer, or sports in general, this is a very entertaining read. It shows that soccer is never really just about soccer.

I have read this dreamlike and self-reflective novel many times over the years, and it never disappoints. It's a little hard to get into, but don't give up!

Mary Lum

Ann Pibal

For FWT reading, I recommend the following books I have read and loved recently:

The Elena Ferrante novels - My Brilliant Friend is the best fiction I have read in a long time; Camille gave me a copy for my birthday and I am forever grateful to her! I'm planning to read the other three this winter.

Two books about environmental issues, the first written by a Bennington alumna.

Summer Brennan, Bennington Class of '01

From Ann Pibal:

And - two more memoirs:

Noelle Rouxel-Cubberly

A retelling of Albert Camus' 1942 novel, L'Etranger/The Stranger

Allen Shawn

I admit that these are "light" reading, in a way, but they are books that touch on extremely meaningful subjects. Yalom is a psychiatrist, now in his eighties, who writes about his experiences with patients, disguising their identities, but dealing in some depth with the life issues their situations raised. He writes extremely well (he has also written novels and is literary by nature), has a lot of wisdom, and has thought long and hard about such things as Love, Loss, and Mortality, making the best of the life one has, and adjusting to whatever reality people happen to be facing (for example, the reality that they didn't have a great childhood, or are dealing with serious illness). The first book is co-written with a patient, alternating his accounts of each session with the patient's own written accounts of each session. (There is a long story behind how this dual writing project originated, which I won't go into.) It is a long slog, but worth it. The other books tell tales of being a therapist/psychiatrist as gripping stories. Yalom also reveals himself in them to a refreshing degree (enough so that he can become annoying) and teaches you what it is like to try to help people cope with their lives. While not on the level of an Oliver Sacks (or a Freud), these are books that deal with universal issues and are quite fascinating and fun to read.

Mariko Silver

Doug Bauer

Three books of poetry:

David Bond

Noah Coburn

From Noah Coburn:

A scholarly study of U.S. military expansion that almost reads like a travel memoir.

A travel memoir that almost reads like an anti-travel memoir in which Newby's wife is the true hero.

Sprawling, elegant, and entertaining.

Kathleen Dimmick

Camille Guthrie

My brilliant friends had books come out this year - books that I had read in draft form, so I feel especially thrilled to see them out in the world.

If you like Harry Potter, but more sex, more violence, more religion.

If you like Kafka, but form a contemporary woman's perspective.

If you like exquisite poems about flora and fauna and subject-object relations.

Not my friend, but I, like many others, am also swept up by this series.

Sherry Kramer

From Sherry Kramer:

It's about of my favorite things to think about.

Andrew McIntyre

Really worth trying to read the original. Not that hard once you get the hang of it, and you can find many guides online. The joy of it is not the individual propositions, but how the whole thing fits together: there is narrative tension and plot development!

Not many car chases or explosions but still pretty OK.

From Andrew McIntyre:

The strangeness and difficulty of works of lateness.

Robert Ransick

Isabel Roche

Kerry Ryer-Park

Donald Sherefkin

Betsy Sherman

Liz White