OP-EDS

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May 25, 2012

Novel ideas: Tips from a more tenured book club

A few of the U of C’s well-read professors just couldn’t resist assigning students some (optional) summer reading.

Ajay Batra / The Chicago Maroon

Read Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. It will remind you that the sense of justice is ineradicable.

— Thomas Pavel

Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor in Romance Languages and Literature

William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity: a book that everyone who is at all interested in poetry should read, and that I reread periodically.

Richard StrierFrank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor

Department of English, Divinity SchoolI noted the death of Paul Fussell in The New York Times on Thursday morning. His book The Great War and Modern Memory should be read again. And I shall do so this summer.

— James W. Cronin

Professor Emeritus

Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics

I would recommend Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is a luminary, beautifully written, can’t-put-it-down-until-I-finish-it tale of love, war, and human endurance. A must-read!

Rachel Jean-Baptiste

Assistant Professor of African History

I recommend Dale Carpenter’s Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas. This is a fascinating and readable account of the ins and outs of how the Supreme Court of the United States came to hold unconstitutional the criminal punishment of homosexual sodomy.

— Geoffrey R. Stone

Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor

The University of Chicago Law School

If you haven’t read it already, or even if you have (I’m on my third time through), I recommend Paul Scott’s four-volume The Raj Quartet, four interlocking novels exploring the last days of the British in India. The characters are subtly drawn; the sociological and historical observations about race, class, and empire are constantly fascinating.

Martha Nussbaum

Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics

Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts: a fascinating tale of University of Chicago professor of history and departmental chair William E. Dodd, who, by a strange twist of fortune, became the U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany in 1933. He was accompanied by his daughter Martha, who turned out to be no less fascinating than her father at this critical moment of 20th-century history.

David Bevington

Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Department of English, Department of Comparative Literature

As a newcomer (arrived in August, still unpacking) I plan to catch up on the history of Chicago with a few recent books: Dominic Pacyga, Chicago: A Biography; David Lowe, Lost Chicago; Carl Smith, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City; Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City; William Howland Kennedy, Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History, 1904-1930.

Haun Saussy

University Professor

Department of Comparative Literature

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