Professors share their must-read books: Part 2
RELEASED: December 13, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—Professors at Centre College are known for handing out reading assignments—just ask their students! But what books do they recommend that everyone read before another year passes? Here's Part Two of their answers. Click here for Part One.
Milton Reigelman, J. Rice Cowan Professor of English
1. Jeremy Paxman's "On Royalty"
2. Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick"
3. Maxwell Bodenheim's "Naked on Roller Skates"
Phyllis Bellver, assistant professor of Spanish
1. "Wanderer of the Wasteland," by Zane Grey (1923): It's about a young man who, believing himself a wanted man, wanders the Mojave Desert and Death Valley for 14 years. I've lived in both of those places, too, and Grey understood the desert. Behind the melodrama, there's just that man and the empty landscape and the humming silence, page after page—kind of amazing.
2. "The Book of Ebenezer Le Page," by G.B. Edwards (1981): From a manuscript found after the author's death, it's the first-person fictional narrative of a simple man's life on the Island of Guernsey at the end of the 19th century. That's all! As John Fowles mentions in the introduction, the novel's "voice and method are so unusual that it belongs nowhere on our conventional literary maps." And to think I found it at a yard sale!
3. "Obabakoak," by Bernando Atxaga (2000): I like this book so much. It overnight has become the most important book written in Basque, a language that has scanty literary representation. Second, I like the fact that the book has "caught on" and has quickly been translated into many languages, including English. Most public libraries have a copy! It's a kind of light-hearted metaliterary novel composed of 26 independent fables all engendered in a mythical Basque country town called Obaba. Some internal titles are "How to Write a Story in Five Minutes" and "In Search of the Last Word."
Ken Keffer, H.W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Modern Languages
1. Immanuel Kant’s "Analytic of the Beautiful" (1790): This is a short section of a larger critique of our ability to judge purpose. It compares the irrational feelings we have for the beautiful in nature with logical thinking. Logic is a metaphor!
2. "Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching": This work, written by the "Ancient Child" around the sixth-century BCE, provides excellent first-aid for those of us tired of the push to success and incessant activity, for those tired of leaf-blowers and lawn-mowers.
3. Aristotle's "De Anima or On the Soul": This is metabiology and has little to do with the abstractions we often associate with the word soul (psuché). In the fourth-century BCE, Aristotle develops a marvelous theory of living as "being-at-work." Got soul?
Stephanie Dew, associate professor of biology
1. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen: Just a great novel.
2. "The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien: The ultimate in epic fantasy. Much more complicated and richer than the movies (though they're good, too!).
3. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum: A great American fairy tale. The 1939 movie is a classic, but the book is even better, and quite a bit different! Also, there are 13 sequels if you want to know what happens next.
Rosa Slegers, assistant professor of philosophy
1. "Warlock," by Jim Harrison: This book is absolutely hilarious—I kept cracking up when I was reading it on the plane, and the person next to me thought I was deranged. This book is guaranteed to make you 1) feel better about your own life, 2) pity men going through a mid-life crisis, and 3) wish that you had as good a sense of humor as Harrison. And, perhaps 4) secretly hope that one day the local mafia will present you with a giant dead, yet fresh, fish with a rose in its mouth.
2. "Cheese," by Willem Elsschot: Written about 70 years ago, this novel captures Dutch/Belgian humor at its best. I recommend you read this book on a train. It'll make you crave Edammer cheese. It'll also make you want to go to the lowlands. I'm always a little sad that so few good Dutch novels have been translated into English, but this little book makes up for some of that. It's an excellent translation that does justice to the understated tone of the original.
Allison Connolly, assistant professor of French
1. "The Bridge of Beyond," by Simone Schwarz-Bart
2. "Le Petit Prince," by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
3. "Thich Nhat Hanh: Essential Writings"
Schwarz-Bart weaves a beautiful, heart-wrenching story about growing up in Guadeloupe and the importance of family ties; Saint-Ex teaches us about compassion and keeps us connected to childhood; and Thich Nhat Hanh reminds to appreciate and enjoy the present without getting caught up in the past or future.
Julie James, visiting assistant professor of language
1. "Crime and Punishment," by Fyodor Dostoevsky: for the author's amazing insight into the torments of the human psyche.
2. "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo: for the suspense-filled interplay between Inspector Javert and his nemesis, the novel's hero, Jean Valjean.
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. 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/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422