What are YOUR Summer Reading Plans?

June 9, 2009

reading 2Before we take off for the summer, here’s  a piece of news for all to celebrate about! A recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that “For the first time in more than 25 years, American adults are reading more literature”! The biggest increase in reading rates is happening among young adults, ages 18-24. Hard to believe? For more info on the study, check for yourself NEA’s News Room.

While ConXn blog has been preparing for its own summer vacation (we will be back in September with more wonderful posts!), the editors of COCC’s blog invited COCC staff and faculty to tell us about their summer reading plans or other book recommendations they wished to share.  So, take a pen and add to your own list:

Stacey Donohue:

  • Straight Man by Richard Russo (a re-read: it’s truly The. Funniest. Academic. Novel. Ever.)
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I heard it’s a light, uplifting read)
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (different stories about people in a small Maine town—Olive is the recurring character in each story—it’s beautifully written so far)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (really, I’ve never read it!)
  • Home by Marilyn Robinson
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • Netherland by Joseph O’Neill (Obama was caught reading it recently)
  • The Women by TC Boyle (another novel about Frank Lloyd Wright’s various women)
  • The English Major by Jim Harrison
  • Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber
  • Things I’ve Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran)
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (another re-read—this is the “restored” edition with some of the deleted sections included)
  • Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James and Hemingway by Joyce Carol Oates
  • A Thousand Years Over a Host Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes and Remembrances by Laura Schenone
  • How Fiction Works by James Wood

Jonathan Esterman:

  •  Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
  •  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Holy Bible
  • Walking with God  by John Eldredge

Beth Wickham

  • The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Ann Schafer
  • The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Karen Huck

  • Dog Years by Mark Doty
  • Unleashed: Poems by Writers’ Dogs by Amy Hempel and Jim Shepard
  • Doggerel: Poems About Dogs (edited by) Carmela Ciuraru
  • Dog Training For Dummies by Jack Volhard and Wendy Volhard

Sara Krempel

  • The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Monica Vines

  • Tweak by Nic Sheff
  • Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
  • Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Rise Quay

  • First of all, I have a tradition.  At the end of each term, I read Momma Makes Up Her Mind by Bailey White.  It is a charming book and always makes me laugh out loud.  A friend gave it to me in graduate school and I find it (and a tall glass of iced tea) sets me up for summer. 
  •  I just received Into The Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  I read his The Hummingbird’s Daughter a few years ago—and found it to be one of my all-time favorites, so I have high hopes for this one. 
  • Also on my “starting list” are Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (a Pulitzer winner and author of The Namesake) and a non-fiction title, America’s Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation by Kenneth C. Davis. 
  • I rescued Pontoon by Garrison Keillor from the remainder table at B&N….and loved it. It would be a good summer read, too.

John Shannon

  • Just finished Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox
  • Inkheart, Inkdeath and Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
  • How Fiction Works by James Wood
  • The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown [the upcoming NEW book in the famous DaVinci Code series)
  • The Starter by Scott Sigler


  • Immortals by Tracy Hickman
  • Heaven Seasons 1 thru 5 by Mur Lafferty
  • The “Share” series by Nathan Lowell
  • Tales of the South Coast

Michele DeSilva

  • I am currently reading a book called Eating the Sun, about photosynthesis.
  • I am planning on reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith;
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides;  
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, because I’ve heard it’s interesting;
  • The Waves by Virginia Woolf;
  • and, because it sounded good in an NPR interview I heard, Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See.
  • I’ll also be catching up on all those back issues of the New Yorker and American Poetry Review that have been piling up around my house throughout the year.

Julie Keener

  • Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison 
  • Run by Ann Patchett
  • The Interior by Lisa See
  • Lucky Girl by Lei-Ling Hopgood
  • In Code by Sarah Flannery
  • Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?  By Anthony E. Wolf
  • Habits of Mind by Carol Dweck
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind – 16 Essential Characteristics for Success by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick

plus at several kids books, including, 

  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Beverly Adler

  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
  • Outliers : the story of success by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Amy Harper

  • With Respect to Sex: Negotiating Hijra Identity in South India by Gayatri Reddy
  • Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway
  • The Afterlife is Where We Come From: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa by Alma Gottlieb
  • In Amma’s Healing room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India by Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger
  • Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin
  • Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire
  • Murder on Waverly Place by Victoria Thompson
  • Dead Water by Barbara Hambly
  • The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
  • Catch up on the “…in Death” series by JD Robb
  • Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood series) by JR Ward
  • The Promise by TJ Bennett
  • Das Parfum: Die Geschichte eines Morders by Patrick SüsekindAudio books (for the drive to Montana and back)
  • Song Yet Sung by James McBride
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson an David Oliver Relin

Andria Woodell

  • The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston
  • Lincoln Child Deeper by Jeff Long (the sequel to The Descent–AWESOME read!)
  • Raising Atlantis by Thomas Greanias
  • A Primer in Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson
  • and pretty much anything else on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet!

Annemarie Hamlin

  • I just started a book called Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  A friend recently pushed this into my hands and said I had to read it. It is two interwined stories–one of a French girl taken away from Paris with her Jewish family during the Holocaust, and one of a contemporary American woman living in France. It looks like it will be a tear-jerker.
  • Next I’m going to read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, a book about the woman who had an affair with Frank Loyd Wright and lived a somewhat tragic life (I’m told).
  • I’m also going to catch up a little bit of recent juvenille literature so that I can keep up with my kids: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, and Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles.

Tina Hovekamp

  • Little Big Man and The return of Little Big Man by Thomas Berger  – American classics that everybody should read!
  • Sometimes a great notion  by Ken Kesey  – Oregon author;  wonderful book with powerful depiction of characters and of our state’s logging history/culture.
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis – another classic of the American literature with a critical look at the narrow-mindedness and unimaginative life of people in a small town in the Midwest.
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck – for me, one of the best of Steinbeck’s novels!
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison –truly a wonderful, powerful read!
  • A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park – this is one of the best children’s books I’ve read. It won the 2002 Newbery Medal, awarded for excellence in children’s literature; a great read even for adults!

Tom Barry

  • Lonesome Dove: Larry McMurtry
  • Consuming Kids: Susan Linn
  • The End of Faith: Sam Harris
  • Interaction Ritual: Erving Goffman
  • Born to Shop: Juliet Schor 



For more titles, visit the following links: The New York Times has posted their Summer Reading suggestions and NPR gives us Seattle’s librarian diva, Nancy Pearl’s, recommendations for summer reading (in addition to a list of summer books in general).

And don’t forget…  ConXn WANTS to publish you, too! We hope that summer reading will be an inspiration for your own writing on a topic that interests you. For more information on ConXn’s submission guidelines visit https://cocclib.wordpress.com/about/. Help us build our campus community!


Barbie Blunder, or an expert’s view on being a parent

June 2, 2009

blog entry by Amy Howell, Early Childhood Education, with introduction and conclusion by Tina Hovekamp, Library

dollsI recently visited Mommy Ph.D., a personal blog by one of our COCC faculty, Amy Howell.  As Amy herself explains,  her blog tries to connect her expertise in theories of child development with her actual daily experiences of raising her own children. Reading Amy’s blog reminded me of the recent news story of a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist and brain study expert, Jill Bolte Taylor, who herself suffered a stroke to become a first-hand observer of the deterioration of  the human brain. Personal experiences recounted by people with educational or professional expertise in the related areas can indeed offer such unique and interesting  insights!

So, here is one of Amy’s recent blog postings reflecting on her parenting experiences while being a professional in the field of education:

As teachers of young children, it is an interesting moment when our children see us out of the classroom context. I can recall the look of surprise and confusion on my students’ faces when they found me in the aisles of the grocery store and made the unbelievable discovery that I existed outside of the school. Young children are egocentric in the sense that they view the world from their perspective and understanding. It is difficult to consider events and situations from alternative perspectives, and children’s understandings reflect beliefs about how the world works. Teachers, in the example above, live and breathe in schools, of course. Upon talking, playing, and interacting with children, we have the opportunity to see and hear their understandings. In these moments we also have the opportunity to build on children’s understandings in new and meaningful ways. This morning I had the “opportunity” to build on my child’s new understanding that sometimes grown-ups are completely wrong.

What started off as a sincere effort to protect my child from anticipated frustration at school, turned into a great example of my own limitations in perspective.

My daughter decided to bring a toy doll to school. At home, this doll enjoys riding in a purple van and exchanging clothes with several Barbie dolls (dating back to my own childhood). (On that note, I think my children will forever associate Barbie dolls with detached heads and limbs as most of our 30 year-old dolls are frequently visiting the toy hospital for minor and major adjustments.) This particular doll is not a Barbie, in the Mattel sense; however, we call it a Barbie. When my daughter announced her plans to bring the “Barbie” to school, I made the erroneous parental leap to the moment when a child would point out to her and all her classmates that this was an impostor. To “save” her from this moment, I pointed out that this was not really a Barbie. In my effort to protect her feelings, I think I may have simply cut to the front of the line.

Following my ousting of the non-Barbie, I awkwardly tried to gather the tears and smooth away the mess I had instigated. I explained to my daughter that I had said the wrong thing: I had made a mistake. I tried to share my own experience with knock-off Strawberry Shortcake dolls and the feelings I had when a neighborhood “friend” pointed that out to me. In that moment, I realized I was the egocentric one, and I framed my daughter’s experience squarely in my own reflection. Sometimes, grown-ups make mistakes. Mommy said the wrong thing, and I’m sorry. There was that grocery-store gaze again!

How refreshing to connect with my daughter in this way–by letting her know that I was wrong, we were able to start a new conversation from a place of joint-perspective.

For more of Amy Howell’s insights on being a parent, visit her blog Mommy Ph.D.  Also interested in third party observations and advice on raising children?  Here are some good links for you to explore:

Parenting.org – this is a free resource for parenting help on all kinds of topics by Boys Town, a non-profit organization.

Parents Advice Center – this web site is a gateway to getting help and support for parents facing any kind of family difficulties.

And beyond theories and advice… do you really want to know how much it costs to raise a child?   Have a quick check on USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator.