[Editor's note: Carrie Robison, a government major from Greenville, S.C., wrote this article.]
DANVILLE, KY—For some, summer is a time to relax, go to the beach, and generally forget all the useful bits of information they learned during the school year, but for many members of the Centre College community--students, faculty and staff--summer is a time to curl up with a good book.
With no classes this summer, students have nearly three months to catch up on reading they didn't have time for during the school year. Ben Sheene, a rising junior from Danville, Ky., has already finished reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Modern World , both by Michael Chabon, and has started in on The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. Among the other books still left on his summer list, he says, are Voltaire's Candide and Henry and June by Anais Nin.
Also catching up on pleasure reading, Carrie Robison, a rising senior from Greenville, S.C. (and your humble author), has just started reading Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore, which has so far proven to be "sort of sick, pretty dark, and very humorous." If all goes well, she might re-tackle The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, now that she has the time to finish it.
Professor of language Karin Ciholas has been inspired by a meeting with novelist Pat Conroy to read and in some cases reread everything written by that prolific writer. Of her favorite book by Conroy, The Water is Wide , she says, "it's an autobiographical book about his first teaching experiences on an island off the coast of South Carolina. The most amazing fact about this upbeat and hilarious book is that it is a true story.... When some of the inevitable drudgeries of teaching get to me, this book serves as an inspiration."
Department of Public Safety officer Charlotte McConaha is using some of her downtime to learn about local history. She's hoping to read two books about Danville this summer-- Early Days in Danville by Calvin Morgan Fackler and A History of Danville and Boyle Country Kentucky 1774-1992 . Also in the history vein, outgoing vice president of academic affairs and dean John Ward is reading a biography of Winston Churchill by Roy Jenkins and both Carrie Frey, interlibrary loan librarian, and Keeta Martin , instructor of education and coordinator of instructional technology, have just read The Devil in the White City . Both women gave positive reviews of the book and Frey said, "It is non-fiction and absolutely fascinating. Erik Larsen juxtaposes the laborious process of bring the first World's Fair to life in Chicago with the hideous story of the first documented U.S. serial killer, who just happened to live in Chicago when the World's Fair began. It's very well written and I enjoyed it immensely."
Sometimes summer reading choices can affect more than just the reader, or so Adam Johnson, assistant director of annual giving, allows. He has spent his time recently finishing up The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, a book that has, he claims, made him something of an annoyance to his coworkers. "I know my friends and co-workers are tired of me telling gruesome Chicken McNugget and beef tallow stories," Johnson admits, "so I think they're glad I've finished it as well. But if you love food and love to eat, I would classify it as mandatory reading, since you'll never eat or shop for food the same way again."
This summer isn't all fun and food for everyone though. Assistant professor of religion and philosophy David Hall is reading some pretty heavy philosophy by Nietzsche and Zizek while Robert Ziemba , assistant professor of biology, is preparing for several classes for next school term, including a class on evolutionary genetics. Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations, is looking to add a Ph.D. to his already extensive credentials and thus doing a lot of reading for his doctoral dissertation. Trollinger say his dissertation "will focus primarily on the roll of philanthropy in shaping the American system of higher education. I'm looking at how social/public policy influences giving (expressions of pro-social behavior)." His latest read is The Gift Relationship by Richard Titmuss--a book that looks at the nature of philanthropy and human blood a commodity and as a gift.
Whether for pleasure of for preparation, stacks of books are just waiting to be read by Centre community. But despite the millions of words to be consumed before the expanse of warm summer days is over, no one is complaining much and most of them seem to be enjoying it!
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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