Faculty summer reading list

Submitted by Sarah Kremen-Hicks on

Summer Reading Recommendations from Faculty:

Marc Cohen:

Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg. An absolutely captivating and revealing account of the long and deep friendship between the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the court's foremost contemporary chronicler. In the process, Nina shares her thoughts about friendship and some of the details of her own distinctive life history.

The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. Of all the many books I've read about Trump's disastrous presidency and his threat to American democracy, this is by far the best. The amount of detail is astounding, as are the revelations about the depth and extent of Trump's depravity and narcissism. It is also extremely well-written.

Karen Emmerman:

Inciting Joy by Ross Gay

I’ve just started this book from the poet and author of the wonderful The Book of Delights. No one writes like Ross Gay. Even without ever hearing his voice, I can hear him in my head as I read his thoughtful, beautiful, and deep prose. He is the master at finding the tiniest elements of joy and delight while acknowledging their existence along with all the world’s suffering. Every time I read Ross Gay, I learn something new about how to see and understand the world.

Wintering by Katherine May

I know, I know. It’s weird to read about wintering in summer but hear me out. I’ve just finished this book of personal essays and it is the perfect little book. May considers the ups and downs of life in terms of the very natural process of wintering – of cutting back on activity, storing up resources, and conserving energy for new days ahead. Recasting the periods of our lives where most of us consider it a humiliation to slow down due to illness, grief, loss, or…May sees these period as not only a very natural, but an essential part of being alive.

Things I haven’t read yet, but that are on my shelf awaiting me:

Happily: A Personal History – with Fairy Tales, Sabrina Orah Mark

Properties of Thirst, Marianne Wiggins

Signal Fires, Dani Shapiro

Human Voices, Penelope Fitzgerald

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

The Men, Sandra Newman


Carina Fourie:

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. I am interested in how injustice can damage everyone in society, including those who are privileged, so this recent non-fiction book was a must-read for me. It's well-written and quite compelling, I thought - it focuses on the ways in which anti-Black policies and practices in the US harm Blacks, quite obviously, as well as most others in society including white people. For example, she discusses how white elites in the South cut public investment in order to prevent desegregation, leading to the closing of public facilities like swimming pools.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, the 2022 Booker Prize winner, is horrifying, yet funny, a page-turner, yet original and intelligent. It's set in the afterlife and in Sri Lanka during the civil war.   


Sara Goering:

Inciting Joy by Ross Gay – This is a great book of short essays on figuring out what binds us together and allows us to thrive despite life’s incredible challenges. Joy is not about organizing our closets or getting a promotion, but rather is “what effloresces from us as we help each other carry our heartbreaks.” Stay tuned also for his forthcoming The Book of (More) Delights.

Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want by Ruha Benjamin – Benjamin, an African American Studies and STS scholar at Princeton, where she runs the Just Data lab, visited UW this past academic year for a talk, and she was amazing! Her book recounts stories of individuals and collectives creating transformed communities through small acts of justice. “Spreading justice,” she says, “entails not just ‘including’ those who’ve been disposed of but fundamentally transforming the societies into which they’re included.”

 Rose Novick:

The Eternal Ones of the Dream by James Tate

Tate's poetry slides effortlessly from the droll to the sublime: a fearsomely uncontrollable three-year-old who spends his nights at "work on his novel about the frailty of the human race and the unwhisperable starry night sky", an encounter on a plane with a paranoid international arms dealer, a man who offends horribly the fish at the aquarium. Throughout it all, Tate never loses sight of the thread that binds them all: "Life is as fragile / and as beautiful as a spiderweb and the / wind is blowing, always blowing."


Amelia Wirts:

Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition Feminism by Leigh Goodmark

This book has made a big impact not only for academics who study the criminal legal system, but also amongst those who work directly with victim-survivors of gender-based violence in rape crisis centers and DV shelters around the US. 

Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights by Erwin Chemerinsky

Far from a left-wing radical, Chemerinksy is widely regarded by legal academics of all political persuasions to be *the* constitutional law scholar (my conservative con law professor, who proudly displayed a photo George W Bush and himself is just one of many scholars who hold Chemerinsky in this high esteem). This book, then, is an extremely convincing and thorough explanation of just how badly 4th Amendment jurisprudence has gone and how much police need to be reigned in. 

Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run by Martinus Evans

Martinus Evans provides a fun and approachable book about running. I started following him on social media after an injury slowed me down significantly as a runner, and I was feeling very defeated. I have been loving this book as I begin to enjoy running for its own sake, without judgment about my pace. As a 300 lb marathon runner, Evans has dedicated himself to building a running community for people who have been left out of the (predominately white, thin, non-disabled) running world. He also insists that we divorce running from the goal of weight loss. Check out his NYT profile here: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/02/well/move/martinus-evans-slow-af-run-club.html

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