Summer Reading and Listening List 2019

June 27, 2019

Beat the Summer slump with these book, audiobook, and podcast suggestions from faculty and staff within the College of Education.

Jessica TosteJessica Toste

What are you been listening to?

I am currently listening to an original musical podcast, developed by John Cameron Mitchell, called Anthem: Homunculus. You may know Mitchell for creating and starring in the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, among other things. Anthem is a 10-episode podcast featuring 31 original songs. It captures a fictionalized live broadcast by Ceann, who is hosting this “tumor telethon” to raise funds to treat his brain tumor. There are also some amazing guests who pop up throughout the episodes—while Ceann wades through grief and trauma, layered with humor and song. The whole podcast is weird and masterful. Anthem is only available on Luminary, which is why I am listening to it now when it was released in April!

What are you currently reading?

I have been busy writing grants, so I am gravitating toward “lighter” reads this summer. I am a big fan of the young adult fiction genre. One of my current favorite writers is Maureen Johnson and her Truly, Devious series. The books are set at Ellington Academy, a private high school for exceptional inventors and creatives, and also the scene of a legendary unsolved murder. The protagonist, Stevie Bell, is a true-crime aficionado and she has one goal when she’s accepted to Ellington Academy—solve this case. I could not put these books down once I started reading. The characters are interesting, complex, and fun to follow through a twisty plot.


Karen FrenchKaren French

What have you been listening to this summer?

I have a long commute and an Audible subscription, so I'm more of a listener than reader. Here are some I've tuned into recently:

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

This is a really good read/listen about how pilots, surgeons, and other people who need to complete complicated tasks with no room for error can leverage checklists to reduce cognitive load. Excellent for those of us who can't leave the house without forgetting at least one thing per day.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

A Pulitzer Prize winner, and basis for the Ken Burns documentary on PBS, it includes vignettes of the author's practice as an oncologist. For anyone touched by cancer, it is a really good read – as it is for anyone interested in 20th and 21st Century social history.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Another really good book written by an oncologist. This one is focused on the complex interrelationship between medicine, aging, and death. I was particularly drawn to his discussion of Western nursing homes. In our quest to keep the medically frail safe, we take away the very things they enjoy. 

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

A thorough deconstruction of the process of diagnosing illness told through a series of cases. Narrated by the author herself, I was drawn to learn more about the inexact art of problem-solving. I was surprised at the active role patients played in many cases. Fascinating.

The 3-Day Effect: How Nature Calms Your Brain by Florence Williams

The author goes along with three different groups of people to see how being immersed in nature impacts their sense of self, feelings of anxiety, and the like. Listening to this made me want to grab a tent and head for the hills.

Alien III by William Gibson

It’s an Audible Original Drama that my husband and I are listening in small snippets in the evening. Who doesn't love aliens who burst out of people's chests?

Andrea KehoeAndrea Kehoe

What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading "White Rage" by Carol Anderson. It’s very interesting and an important piece in the current political climate. I really like how Anderson highlights African American advancements towards full participation in our democracy and the white reaction from a policy perspective. We see this modeled in the Women’s Rights movement and attempts to roll back Roe v Wade through legislation and current strategic political initiatives.

Photo of Deb KeltDeb Kelt

What did you recently finish?

I just finished Isaac Mizrahi's memoir, “I.M.: A Memoir”. He's one of my favorite fashion designers, and I adored his documentary "Unzipped," so when I heard he was publishing a memoir, I had to read it. I used to watch his YouTube channel, which made me feel less big and pregnant than I was at the time. 

The book was great and deeper than I thought it would be. It talked a lot about him coming out as a young man in a very conservative Jewish community. There’s also a lot of good information about New York in the 80s, which is when I lived there, things about his friendships with Sandra Bernhard, Madonna, Anna Wintour, etc. It was fun yet also really moving. 

What book is up next for you?

Now I'm starting a new book called 9th Street Women by Mary Gabriel. It's about female artists in the 40s and 50s who were part of the NYC abstract expressionist movement, but who never really got as famous as their male counterparts.

I started getting interested in these women after learning about Lee Krasner, who was Jackson Pollock's partner. She took care of him through all his drinking and womanizing in a not very healthy relationship, and I read that she would often scrape the paint off her own canvases to give him more material for his work. It’s dysfunctional but fascinating and I love learning more about art.