Faculty Summer Reading Recommendations 2022

Submitted by Kate Goldyn on

From the collapse of the Soviet Union to Black Futurist Sci-Fi, this year’s summer book recommendations by the philosophy faculty offer choices for everyone to ponder in the hammock. Check out the books our faculty members recommend or are planning to read this summer. We hope you find some great picks to add to your reading list!

Marc Cohen

Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, by David Remnick

Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine led me to pick up David Remnick's now nearly-30-year-old account of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Remnick's knowledge of the players in this sordid history is encyclopedic. The striking similarities between the autocracies of Stalin and Putin are chilling.


This Old Man: All in Pieces, by Roger Angell

Roger Angell's writing will be familiar to anyone who's read The New Yorker in the past 75 years, for that's how long Angell was a contributing author and editor. His recent death, at age 101, inspired me to go back to this collection of essays. A few of them previously appeared in The New Yorker, but some were published elsewhere, and many were previously unpublished, including a number of his letters. Angell's clear and precise prose is always a delight -- there's even some of the doggerel he was so good at in his annual "Greetings, Friends!" pieces.

Steve Gardiner

Dialogues on Climate Justice by Stephen Gardiner and Arthur Obst

A shameless plug - This is an attempt to bring some of the themes of climate justice to a wider audience in an accessible, and possibly mildly entertaining way. If you like it, you can help us get the word out. (If you don’t like it, you can also let us know - maybe we’ll suppress it and try to forget it ever happened.)

 Written both for general readers and college students, Dialogues on Climate Justice provides an engaging philosophical introduction to climate justice, and should be of interest to anyone wanting to think seriously about the climate crisis. 

The story follows the life and conversations of Hope, a fictional protagonist whose life is shaped by a terrifyingly real problem: climate change. From the election of Donald Trump in 2016 until the 2060s, the book documents Hope’s discussions with a diverse cast of characters. As she ages, the focus of her conversations range from establishing the nature of the problem, to engaging with climate skepticism, to exploring her own climate responsibilities, through managing contentious international negotiations, to considering big technological fixes, and finally, as an older woman, to reflecting with her granddaughter on what one generation owes another.

Sara Goering

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz

This is a memoir/philosophical reflection in three parts: Lost, about the death of the author’s father, and about reckoning with memory, relationships, and all the places he now isn’t; Found, about the author’s experience finding her life partner, and about the unexpected joys of discovery; and my favorite, And, which she calls “one of the most existentially provocative” words in the language, given its connection to the “chaotic abundance” of endless conjunction. I have read and re-read a page in the book about how “everyday remarkableness” can be overwhelming, as it spurs us to register our existential condition. This experience involves feeling of “gratitude, longing, and a note I can only call anticipatory grief” given that “all that we have, we will someday lose.”


Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change  by Angela Garbes

This book explores the meaning and power of care work, and the radical potential of mothering to create social change. 



The Hurting Kind  by Ada Limόn

This is Limόn’s latest book of poems, and she’s fantastic. If you get started and need more, try The Carrying and also Bright Dead Things.  


Carole Lee

An Outsider’s Guide to Humans: What Science Taught Me About What We Do and Who We Are by Camilla Pang,

Camilla Pang has a PhD in Cancer Bioinformatics.  She has also been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.


Colin Marshall

Bad Beliefs: Why They Happen to Good People by Neil Levy

Lots of people have false beliefs that fly in the face of historical and scientific evidence. It's tempting to chalk that up to widespread irrationality, but Neil Levy argues that there is a strong form of rationality even behind belief in far-flung conspiracy theories. The problem, in Levy's view, is instead with the context in which people use their rational capacities. I'm going into reading the book with a bit of skepticism, but Levy is one of the most important thinkers on these topics, so if he's wrong, it will be for subtle, interesting reasons. 

José Jorge Mendoza

I haven’t done much science fiction and fantasy recently, but this past year I read N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy and it got me hooked. So, this summer I plan to read a lot of N. K. Jemisin. I’m going to start with her earlier The Inheritance Trilogy, which consists of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods,  and then move on to her more recent Great Cities Series which include The City We Became and The World We Make. 

Rose Novick

Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

You undoubtedly know Williams' seemingly omnipresent red wheelbarrow poem, which is usually presented as a self-standing piece. Seen in this form, it comes across as minimalist: eight short lines capturing a single moment. Resonant, perhaps, and tightly constructed, but a small thing. But to see the poem like this is not to see it at all. It was originally published as one small moment, untitled but for the number XXII, in Williams' book Spring and All, a single long hymn to the Imagination. ("To whom then am I addressed? To the imagination.") The poem ranges over exuberant philosophizing, Shakespeare interpretation, reflections on the distinction between verse and prose, and, of course, conventionally recognizable "verse". In this context, section XXII appears, not as a minimalist masterpiece, but as a momentary crystallization of numerous energetic strands within an uncontainable maximalist explosion. That explosion, taken in full, is a sacred text. 

Andrea Woody

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman

This book explores the friendship of four female philosophers – Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe, Mary Midgley, and Philippa Foot – who did transformative work in moral philosophy starting in the middle of the 20th century.


Regeneration by Pat Barker
As war in Ukraine raises the specter of another global conflict, this novel (a Booker Prize nominee and the first in a trilogy) grapples with the immeasurable damage inflicted in World War I. The novel explores an actual occurence: after Siegfried Sasson, noted poet and decorated war hero, declared the war a senseless slaughter and publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer, he was classified as "mentally unsound" and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital, where anthropologist and psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers set about restoring Sassoon’s “sanity” and sending him back to the trenches.