Summer is almost over, but there is still time to read a book or two while relaxing by the pool. Cougar News asked a few professors what they are reading this summer and what books they would recommend to students in their fields.

If you want to get a jump start on the semester, this year’s Book in Common selection is Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse.


Deborah Cardenas

Reading: Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin

For biology students: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

“Most students in the biological sciences have heard of HeLa cells. I learned about HeLa cells in college and knew they were cells taken from a female named Henrietta Lacks.  I was fascinated to learn the story behind these cells.” 



Dr. Amina El-Ashmawy

Reading:  Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson

For chemistry students:

Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson, Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean and 1) Completely Mad Science, 2) The Elements, and 3) Molecules by Theodore Gray


Child Development/Education

Dr. Leda Cott

Reading: Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry: Loving v. Virginia by Peter Wallenstein

For child development and education students: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber


Dr. Elaine Zweig

Reading: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant and Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter

For child development and education students: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, an NAEYC Publication by Sue Bredekamp and Carol Copple



Dr. Carolyn Perry

Reading: Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth by A.O. Scott. “Scott is the chief film critic for the New York Times, and his book explores how criticism is essential to both creativity and critical thinking.” 

For English/humanities students: Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. “Set about 100 years ago on the cusp of WW1, the novel deals with a young person who, like our students, is trying to find his place in a difficult world.” 



Tony Howard

Reading: American Gods by Neil Gaiman   

For every college student’s bucket list:  The Road by Cormac McCarthy. “His prose alone is worth experiencing—lyrical, engrossing, concrete—but the story is timeless: a father and son travel toward uncertain safety during the apocalypse.”



Meredith Martin, interim associate dean academic affairs

Reading: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battle Giants by Malcolm Gladwell and In Love and War: The World War II Courtship Letters of a Nisei Couple by Melody M. Miyamoto Walters 

A great student read: Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni



Dr. Linda Sears


Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse, which is the 2017-2018 Book in Common

For humanities students:

The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times by Paul Loeb

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Athens to Silicon Valley by Eric Weiner


Integrated Reading and Writing

Dr. Pam Sawyer

Reading: One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

For students: Thinking about Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students by Robert Leamnson



Chip Galloway 

Reading: The Source Field Investigations by David Wilcock, The Nine Waves of Creation by Carl Johan Calleman and The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter by Jeremy Arnold 

For math students: Journey Through Genius by William Dunham and A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art and Science by Michael S. Schneider

Dr. Rosemary Karr

Reading: Number: The Language of Science by Tobias Dantzig and Joseph Mazur. “As the title indicates, the book discusses the development of mathematics throughout history through the primary concept of ‘number.’ As civilizations grew, they grappled with concepts such as: zero, pi, infinity, and imaginary and irrational numbers. This book is a good read (or re-read), providing insight into how cultural influences and exchanges led to the growth of mathematics, including the impact of technology. It is well worth the time!”

Beach reading: The Lake House by Kate Morton. “The Lake House kept me guessing with the “whodunit” until the end; and, of course, it has a happy ending.”

For math students:

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if you Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

“My first consideration for a recommendation was readability for a math novice. This book provides a ‘how to’ approach to learning, and it does so with ease and conversational tone. Oakley relates both productive and unproductive learning experiences to the cognitive science supporting them, potentially increasing an understanding of how the brain processes information, and (ideally) helping to unleash a student’s passion for learning.”



Dr. Lupita Tinnen, associate dean of Academic Affairs-PRC

Reading: Station Eleven a dystopian novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Next on my list is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

For all students who are fans of dystopian novels: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood



Dr. Mike Broyles

A good read: A rather interesting book that I read some time ago is The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley.  “To quote the review: ‘In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Taft, his own daughter Alice, and a team of congressmen on a mission to Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea with the intent of forging an agreement to divide up Asia.’ The result of this has had major consequences including wars. It is a really informative insight into the thinking of that administration at that time.”

Dr. Raji Kannampuzha

For physics students:

The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman

The Flying Circus of Physics by Jearl Walker   

Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality by Lewis Carroll Epstein


Political Science

Dr. Debra St. John

Reading: America’s Original Sin; Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

For political science students: Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent by E. J. Dionne Jr.



Pam Gaiter

Reading: The Whistler by John Grisham

For sociology students:The Pact by Drs Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt and Lisa Frazier Page is a non-fiction book about three African American men who grew up in urban, poverty-stricken communities but with support from each other and various mentors. All three are practicing physicians. I would recommend this book for sociology students because it addresses a lot of social and personal challenges these men had to endure and were able to overcome with certain opportunities and support.”