posted May 31, 2005

Summer Reading Suggestions

A potpourri of books, fiction and nonfiction, recommended as companions for the summer months by members of the Hope College faculty and staff.

 

 

A Spiritual Field Guide: Meditations for Outdoors
by Bernard Brady and Mark Neuzil

"A compilation of meditative selections from authors ancient and modern, with pithy introductions by the editors, this fresh-off-the-press volume displays the truth that God's fingerprints can be seen in and through the natural world. Excerpts from, among others, Augustine and Confucius, Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux, Barbara Kingsolver and Annie Dillard, Ed Abbey and Wendell Berry."

(Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger '79, the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Religion)

 

The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown

"Both are 'can't put down' books. A hi-tech drama complete with murder, mystery, espionage and art history."

(Kristin Underhill '95 VanHaitsma, office manager, department of art)

 

The Five Love Languages
by Gary Chapman

"Great book on dealing with people--especially spouses and children (there is a Five Love Languages of Children, too). This has also been very helpful in motivating student employees and athletes. If I'd read this 15 years ago, I'd have saved a lot of headache and heartache."

(Tod Gugino '85, director of chemistry laboratories)

 

The Second World War
by Winston Churchill

(Dougas Dygas, records clerk, Registrar's Office)

 

ShoGun
by James Clavell

"A long but fast-paced epic novel about the first Englishman in feudal Japan, with Clavell's classic detailed character development and intricate plot twists, and an ending that twists just enough to make you want to reread the whole thing from a different perspective. The historic detail interwoven with depths of personal relationships as well as the fast-paced action and the question of what it is like to become integrated and assimilated into a totally foreign culture really made this a great ride and one of my favorite novels of all time. The only caveat - the frequent violence and graphic sexuality would earn this at least an R and probably an NC-17 rating if faithfully translated to film."

(Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry)

 

Good to Great
by Jim Collins

"This is a book about what characteristics are present in those organizations who make the transition from good to great. This is a fantastic book for any Christian who is in a position of leadership."

(Bob VanHeukelom, director of dining services)

 

Departures and Home Away from Home
by Lorna J. Cook

"This is a first-class writer with a first-class mind. Her prose is altogether her own and it works. I think she's shortly to bring a new book to market, but Departures and Home Away from Home are such pleasures to read that I can hardly wait."

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

Home Away from Home
by Lorna J. Cook

"This is a story of a young woman grieving the sudden loss of her husband. Lorna writes this story poignantly with great insight. She's sensitive to the emotions of grief, yet refreshingly humorous as the same time. I found myself laughing because I could imagine myself wanting to make some of the same choices this woman makes, yet never would. Lorna is Jack and Lee Nyenhuis' daughter, Hope grad, Class of '84."

(Barbara Krom '84 Miller, assistant director of admissions)

 

The Coroner's Lunch
by Colin Cotterill

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

How to Talk to a Liberal
by Ann Coulter

"The book is divided into short chapters that are a quick read, and the humor is sharp and insightful."

(Herb Martin, associate professor of management)

 

State of Fear
by Michael Crichton

"Environmental activists become the new terrorists. And it has footnotes."

(Dr. Victor Claar, assistant professor of economics)

 

Dancing at the Rascal Fair, English Creek, Ride with Me Mariah Montana,
by Ivan Doig

"Doig is considered one of America's greatest living writers, and especially for writing about the West. The trilogy is set in Montana's Two Medicine Country and takes the reader from Scottish settlers in the 1880s up to the present day. The scenery is rich, the history fascinating, and the characters so wonderful you miss them when the books end."

(Dr. Matt Boelkins, visiting associate professor of mathematics)

 

The Brothers K
by David James Duncan

"I think this book is bound to be an American classic. Duncan writes masterfully. The Brothers K is a story that takes you through the landscape of an American family in the 1960s and along the way the reader encounters baseball voodoo, broken dreams, love, war, humor and ultimately the grace of God. At its core this book is an exploration on prayer, that is often irreverent, but at the same time winsome in truth."

(the Rev. Trygve Johnson, the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel)

 

Middlemarch
by George Eliot

"This novel contains incredible insight into human nature, and each reader is sure to connect in a particular way to at least one character in the novel. This has been an especially important book in my life, as it deals honestly and beautifully with many of the expectations we have and how they fare in the faces of the realities of life."

(Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, associate director of the CrossRoads Project and assistant professor of political science)

 

"Anything by Louise Erdrich"
(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

"This enthralling novel, spanning 80 years and set mostly in the Detroit area, is narrated by 41-year-old hermaphrodite Carl Stephanides - one of the most unforgettable voices in American fiction. A little slow going for the first 25 pages, but well worth sticking with!"

(Carla Vissers '88, adjunct assistant professor of English)

 

Word Freak
by Stefan Fatsis

"Fatsis, a journalist and author, got interested in the world of competitive Scrabble. Upon deciding to try to become a ranked player himself, he began a several-year journey filled with outrageous characters, great stories, and unbelievable words. The book is delightfully fun - half-journal, half-reporting, constantly making you wonder what is next. It is a bit profane in places."

(Dr. Matt Boelkins, visiting associate professor of mathematics)

 

WPA Guides to America
by the Federal Writers' Project

"I recommend any of the WPA Guides to America from the 1930s and 40s (inexpensive used copies can be found on Ebay and bookfinder.com). There are volumes on Michigan and all the other states as well as Routes 1 and 66. I suggest buying a volume and exploring some of the places that the more commercial guidebooks of our time overlook."

(Dr. William Pannapacker, assistant professor of English and Towsley Research Scholar)

 

Thursday Next series
by Jasper Fforde

"The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten. (This is the order of publication, and also the order in which the plot[s] unfold[s].) If you don't know about these books, take five minutes sometime and Google Fforde (there ain't much competition - the first entry will be one of Jasper's several Web sites) to read about the books. They are weird (even by my standards!) but funny in a very off-beat kind of way."

(Dr. William Reynolds, dean for the arts and humanities and professor of English)

 

Beat to Quarters
by C.S. Forester

"Beat to Quarters is an engaging sea-faring tale set during the Napoleonic period. The novel moves from adventure to adventure and never drags. The battle sequences are fabulous and the characterizations put you right on the deck of the HMS Lydia with the flawed but heroic crew."

(Kimberly Swartout, scholarship and event coordinator)

 

"Any book by Elizabeth George"

"Although she is an American writer, George specializes in British mysteries. Since the same characters appear in all her novels, it's best to start with her first book and continue through the series. I have yet to guess 'whodunit' before the end of any of her books."

(Jan Aslanian, part-time lecturer in English)

 

Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell

"It challenges some of our preconceived notions about thinking. It challenges how we make decisions, or think we do or should. It is a fast read but I ask you to read a chapter and then think about it for a while before going on to the next chapter. Slow down and enjoy the process!"

(Barbara Albers, director of Project TEACH)

 

Faith and Fortune: The Quiet Revolution to Reform American Business,
by Marc Gunther

"From the book's jacket: 'Lately the headlines have delivered dispiriting news about wrongdoing and scandal in business. But behind the headlines lies an untold story: corporate America is changing for the better. Faith and Fortune tells the stories of [the companies that are leading the way]. This book is called Faith and Fortune because faith provides the fuel that energizes these people as they strive to do business better and to find meaning in their work.' Gunther has written a very readable book that gives both hope to - and evidence of - the idea that business can help make the world a better place while serving customers and making a profit. As he says at the end of his introduction: 'I'm not going to suggest that living one's faith at work is easy, because it's not - although ignoring or suppressing one's values is, in the long run, even more difficult. But I do hope to persuade you that it's worth the effort... I will do my best to capture the magic that happens when goodness and business live in harmony.' I think he does a pretty good job!"

(Vicki TenHaken '73, associate professor of management)

 

The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth,
by David Bentley Hart

"It begins with the best response I have seen to postmodern thought from a Christian perspective, and continues with a 'dogmatic minora' that makes the case for the importance (overlooked in the modern period) of beauty in Christian thought and provides a refreshing approach to the significance of difference in the world."

(Dr. Curtis Gruenler, associate professor of English)

 

"Anything by Kent Haruf"

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

The Kite Runner
by Khalid Hosseini

"It's a tragic but beautifully told story of the relationship between an Afghan boy and his servant set against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent takeover by the Taliban."

(Jan Aslanian, part-time lecturer in English)

 

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

"Not only does this book include the most humorous account of a Christmas pageant I have ever read, along with many other winsome and witty tales, it also reveals some deep insights about providence and the importance of all the little moments and experiences of life."

(Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, associate director of the CrossRoads Project and assistant professor of political science)

 

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

"It's got a little of everything: tragedy, triumph, laughter and sadness. It's a touching book that will have you glued to every detail of its delicately woven plot."

(Kristin Underhill '95 VanHaitsma, office manager, department of art)

 

Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection
of Ideas, Concepts and Cultures,
by Frans Johansson

"This one really got me excited about what we are doing and could do more of here at Hope. Bringing together people from all different backgrounds, educationally and otherwise, provides a unique environment for challenging the problems of today and tomorrow."

(Tod Gugino '85, director of chemistry laboratories)

 

Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century,
by Michio Kaku

"The topic areas are computer science, molecular biology, and quantum physics. Kaku's book is fascinating. You don't need to be a physicist to understand it. It is written for the layperson. Kaku's vision of the future will astonish you."

(Jan Aslanian, part-time lecturer in English)

 

Can Hope Endure?
by James Kennedy and Caroline Simon

"A probing historical case study of Hope's ever-evolving 'Middle Way' between sectarian denominational school and secular liberal arts college. A great examination of what it means to be both 'excellent' and 'in the context of the historic Christian faith' - where Hope has been, where it might go from here. A must-read for new faculty, I think it is an excellent read for all those who know and love Hope, or want to know it more."

(Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry)

 

The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

"This is a poignant coming-of-age story. A teenage girl searches for a connection to her deceased mother and finds a surrogate family situation. Her new 'mothers' teach her beekeeping as she also learns about loss, the rituals of faith, race and class."

(Mary Vlieger '75 DeYoung, associate professor of mathematics)

 

Small Wonder: Essays
by Barbara Kingsolver

"A powerful and provocative set of recent essays, in luminous prose, by a well-known contemporary novelist."

(Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger '79, the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Religion)

 

The Taking
by Dean Koontz

"For those who might like suspense intertwined with the supernatural, I highly recommend The Taking by Dean Koontz. This novel has received mixed reviews, but I enjoyed the characters, the juxtaposition of horror and hope, good and evil, metaphysics and morality. The apocalyptic (and religious) spin was a definite plus."

(Dr. Blair Martin, assistant professor of music)

 

The Devil in the WhiteCity
by Erik Larson

"This book gives a historical perspective of Chicago as it approaches the 20th century and how the 1893 World's Fair paved the way for innovation and invention. Larson sets the stage for a classic good versus evil story and shows how the fair was a statement of arrogance."

(Mark DeWitt '87, director of corporate and foundation relations)

 

The Devil in the WhiteCity
by Erik Larson

"Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson's spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men - the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction."

(Geoffrey Reynolds, director of the Joint Archives of Holland with the rank of associate professor)

 

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores
the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

"Even if you think you already know what economics is about, you don't. From cheating schoolteachers to the inner workings of a crack gang, Levitt and Dubner remind you that economics really is everywhere, and help you learn how to recognize it."

(Dr. Victor Claar, assistant professor of economics)

 

How the Dismal Science Got Its Name
by David M. Levy

"Contrary to the belief of most people, including most economists, Thomas Carlyle did not label economics as the 'dismal science' because of the teaching of Thomas Malthius, but because of John Stuart Mill and Mill's political alignment with the evangelical Christians of the day in supporting the abolition of slavery in British colonies. Levy investigates the racist attitude of Carlyle, John Ruskin and other British humanists in their criticism of the contemporary economic situation. He also looks at how the Christians and an atheist like Mill could collaborate on the issue of abolition. In the process, Levy looks at Adam Smith, Bishop Berkeley, ideas relating to language formation, and how exchange is related to language."

(Dr. John Lunn, the Robert W. Haack Professor of Economics and Chairperson of the Department)

 

The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis

"Lewis' inviting Christian allegory for 'children' is very inviting to return to for those of us 'adults' who read it (or had it read to us) as children, and a remarkably enjoyable fresh read for those who've never experienced it. The plot is intricate enough, the allegory sufficiently complex, to hold attention and invite theological pondering of even the most sophisticated adult."

(Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry)

 

The Dismal Trade
by Thomas Lynch

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

The Princess and the Goblin
by George MacDonald

"A group of students and faculty met in March (sponsored by CrossRoads) to discuss The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, a 19th-century author who greatly influenced C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, among others. It's a delightful fairy tale for anyone over eight or so, with no end of light and depth on faith."

(Dr. Curtis Gruenler, associate professor of English)

 

The Princess and the Goblin
by George MacDonald

"A fairy tale, told for readers young and old alike. Take a few moments to immerse yourself in a different world; this light reading turns out to be a beautiful and inspiring story of faith and hope."

(Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, associate director of the CrossRoads Project and assistant professor of political science)

 

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,
by Gregory Maguire

"This fantastic, spellbinding novel will completely change your mind about who the heroes in Oz really are."

(Carla Vissers '88, adjunct assistant professor of English)

 

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

"An amazing story of survival and redemption."

(Sharon Rocker, part-time lecturer in English)

 

Failing Forward
by John Maxwell

"This book addresses the perception of and response to failure. Maxwell identifies principles and steps to turn moving backwards because of failure into Failing Forward."

(Tod Gugino '85, director of chemistry laboratories)

 

A Generous Orthodoxy
by Brian McLaren

"McLaren is a leading writer about issues of faith and post-modernity. Following several other books about similar issues, in A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren asks the reader to consider the best of a wide range of denominations and faith perspectives and ponder a very different view of church, religion, God, and Christianity. The book asks lots of hard questions, offers few pat answers, and will make a patient reader really think."

(Dr. Matt Boelkins, visiting associate professor of mathematics)

 

Atonement
by Ian McEwen

"A story of innocence and war."

(Sharon Rocker, part-time lecturer in English)

 

Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
by Steven Mintz

"This book takes a serious look at childhood in America, beginning with the colonial days and through to our present age. Mintz strikes a healthy balance between challenging romantic stereotypes of years gone by, and affirming the value of some traditional childhood experiences that have all but disappeared in our post-modern culture. The author's examination of the Puritans is informative and particularly interesting in the analysis of the role of public education in Puritan society."

(Dr. Jon Peterson '84, associate professor of environmental science and chairperson of the department)

 

Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs
by Cheryl Peck

"Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs by Cheryl Peck from Three Rivers, Michigan, is a book of short stories, essays and poems, some poignant, some funny. The inspiration for her writing includes her family, growing up in Michigan, her cat, and being a woman of size. My favorite story, perhaps because I have been there, is about being a large woman in a locker room full of skinny women. This is a quick read for your own lawn chair and worth checking out just for the picture of the cat on the cover."

(Colleen Conway, associate professor and head of technical services)

 

The Man Who Found Time
by Jack Repcheck

"A basic description of the book as a biography that chronicles James Hutton ('Who?,' you say) and the founding of modern geologic thought (either 'yawn' or 'Yikes!,' you say) just doesn't do this book justice. In 207 easy pages you get a fascinating glimpse of 18th century Edinburgh and the Scottish Enlightenment where Hutton talked geology while Adam Smith discussed economics, Joseph Black lectured on chemistry, Sir Walter Scott developed the historical novel, Robert Burns penned verse, and James Watt did some tinkering with steam. Mixed in with the battle of Preston, geological field trips, and daily deluges of chamberpots is the story of how two centuries ago modern science abandoned the narrow view of Earth history touted in creationist circles for our current understanding of the Earth as a nearly unfathomably ancient planet."

(Dr. Brian Bodenbender, associate professor of geology and environmental science)

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

Gilead
Marilynne Robinson

"Marilynne Robinson's Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Book Critics' Award for 2005. As fiction, its craft is remarkable, but it tells a story that will appeal to almost any adult, and for once the word 'inspirational' truly applies."

(Dr. John Cox '67, DuMez Professor of English)

 

Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson

"Oh, there's a reason this won a Pulitzer Prize."

(Dr. David Schock, associate professor of communication)

 

Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson

"A very unique and thoughtful way to help one think about a variety of issues relating to life and faith. An enjoyable read. It may take a bit of perseverance to get into it."

(Dr. Gordon Van Wylen, president emeritus)

 

The Sparrow
by Mary Doria Russell

"A 'science fiction' novel with broad appeal beyond those who like science fiction - an enjoyable but also thought-provoking read into the nature of relationships, blame, evil outcomes in the absence of evil intent. Recommended to me by a colleague just last summer - the best fiction I'd read in years."

(Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry)

 

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time,
by Jeffrey Sachs

(Dr. Joel Toppen '91, assistant professor of political science)

 

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood,
by Oliver Sacks

"Renowned neurologist Sacks (author of The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings) takes us on a detailed narrative memoir charting his intellectual and scientific growth that plays well both in its delight in science made accessible to the lay public as well as its detailed sketches of key characters - a key linkage for Sacks who never outgrew his conviction that 'science is a profoundly human endeavor.'"

(Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry)

 

Strong Poison
by Dorothy L. Sayers

"Murder mystery written in 1930 but holds up well to today's reader. Fun read with just the right about of mystery, murder and romance. It is the first in a series of books featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vale. Sayers was a pioneer of her generation and part of the first group of women earning degrees from Oxford. Her character Harriet Vale is a strong and smart woman, often lacking in mystery fiction."

(Kimberly Swartout, scholarship and event coordinator)

 

Sheep in a Jeep
by Nancy E. Shaw

"My 18-month-old daughter absolutely loves this book. It's a short book that rhymes with a simple plot, so it holds her attention. One of the best pieces of 'sheep fiction' we've read."

(Kristin Underhill '95 VanHaitsma, office manager, department of art)

 

My God and I
by Lewis Smedes

"In this delightful memoir, Smedes tells much of the story of his life as a child, student, husband, father, and professor. He is honest, insightful, funny, and modest. This easy-to-read book is moving and will prove helpful to anyone on a journey of faith."

(Dr. Matt Boelkins, visiting associate professor of mathematics)

 

Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision,
by Andy Stanley

"A great resource to help you see the big picture from God's perspective and apply it to making a difference in any area you lead."

(Tod Gugino '85, director of chemistry laboratories)

 

The Case for a Creator
by Lee Strobel

"A fine treatment of a challenging subject."

(Dr. Gordon Van Wylen, president emeritus)

 

A Complicated Kindness
by Miriam Toews

"The main character of this novel, which won the prestigious Governor General's Award in Canada, is Naomi (Nomi) Nickel, 15, who's trying to get what it's all about and keep it together at the same time. Her mother and older sister have already fled their small Mennonite town, leaving Nomi alone with her shell-shocked father, Ray. I liked the contrast between the bleakness of Nomi's day-to-day life and her articulate/ wry/ true interior monologue."

(Jennifer Wolfe, adjunct assistant professor of music)

 

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong
and the Left Just Doesn't Get It,
by Jim Wallis

"If you are tired of the usual options in American political life, then this book is for you. Wisdom and insight from the founder of the Sojourners community in Washington, D.C."

(Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger '79, the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Religion)

 

They Call Me Coach
by John Wooden

"I've read this one several times - the first-person story of a great man who happens to be a teacher and a coach. Consistency, integrity and teamwork were the hallmark of anything Wooden did."

(Tod Gugino '85, director of chemistry laboratories)

 

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices
by Xinran

"Xinran, a radio journalist, gives voice to the vivid stories of silenced Chinese women. A simple, eloquent, exceptionally moving testimony of women's sacrifice and courage."

(Merrie Bannink, assistant to the registrar)

 

 

BONUS IDEAS

Recommendations by elementary-age students enrolled in the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) Program at Hope.

 

The Mouse and the Motorcycle
by Beverly Cleary

"Funny, clever, well-written, characters and story are inventive."

(Andres E., fourth grade)

 

Old Yeller
by Fred Gipson

"Great story about a smart dog and his adventures."

(Jennifer N., fourth grade)

 

Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

"Tells how the character is feeling and includes a story of two dogs."

(Jennifer N., fourth grade)

 

The Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

"I like this book because you can explore places in the book and it's fun to read."

(Nina L., fifth grade)