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Community Reading List: 2016 Non-Fiction

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

Freedom DreamsEmpathy ExamsOyster War

Benjamin Anastas

From Benjamin Anastas:

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

From Benjamin Anastas:

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

Ron Cohen

Michael Dumanis

Dan Hofstadter

Sherry Kramer

From Sherry Kramer:

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

Katie Montovan

Ann Pibal

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

From Ann Pibal:

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:

Susan Sgorbati

Mark Wunderlich

Mariko Silver

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.

David Bond

Annabel Davis-Goff

Stephen Higa

Jean Randich

From Jean Randich:

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

Sue Rees

Isabel Roche

Stephen Shapiro

Liz White

Josh Blackwell

Lydia Brassard

Noah Coburn

From Noah Coburn:

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

From Noah Coburn:

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

Sarah Harris

Kirk Jackson

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

Kerry Ryer-Park

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.