The following was published in UChicago News on June 20, 2023.
Looking for your next summer read? Look no further. Here's the books the University of Chicago faculty who were honored in the 2023 Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards found interesting, useful, or meaningful.
“If/Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future” by Jill Lepore
Recommended by: Prof. Elizabeth Clemens
“A book I've read very recently, a kind of beach reading for social scientists, is Jill Lepore’s “If/Then.” It’s a great tale of the intersection of social science, technology, business, and government policy with lovely little bits of scandal dropped here and there. Very illuminating, but also truly a summer read.”
“WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design” by Mara Grunbaum
Recommended by: Prof. Phoebe Rice
“WTF, Evolution is about the variety of life on Earth and how fundamentally ridiculous it is. Science can be hard work. It can be discouraging. It can be frustrating learning it and doing it, and sometimes we lose the wonder. And I think the book has that sense of wonder.”
“The Years” by Annie Ernaux and “Not Written Words” by Xi Xi, translated by Jennifer Feeley
Recommended by: Assoc. Prof. Paola Iovene
“Annie Ernaux’s “The Years” is a very intimate work, a sort of memoir, but in its snippets of conversations and truncated phrases you hear the beat of a generation of women who grew up in postwar Europe. I just love how it interweaves the personal and the collective.
Xi Xi’s “Not Written Words” is a delightful little book of poetry by a major Hong Kong writer, beautifully translated by Jennifer Feeley.”
“Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, and “G-Man” by Beverly Gage
Recommended by: Assoc. Prof. James Sparrow
“Although it is not the first time I’ve taught it, I have found Arthur Goldhammer’s translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic, “Democracy in America,” to be a constant wellspring of fresh insights into U.S. history and democratic theory. Another important book, though it certainly gave me no comfort or joy, was Beverly Gage’s “G-Man.””
“Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization” by Michael Rothberg
Recommended by: Prof. Leah Auslander
“It's about trying to get away from competing views of the past. He argues that there isn’t a zero-sum game. If we do justice to thinking about the atrocities of slavery, that's not going to make it less possible to think about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Instead, one should be thinking about cultures of memory and of commemoration—the likenesses and differences among these experiences.
“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck and “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” by Adam Grant
Recommended by: Prof. Bozhi Tian
“I like ‘Mindset’ because it tells us the importance of having a growth mindset, which can lead to more growth and more happiness—while a fixed mindset can be problematic—and tells us how to master it. The second, an evolutionary psychology book, is always in my office. In that book Grant defines givers, takers, and matchers. Givers always give to others; takers take; and matchers have a balanced risk in giving and taking. For long-term success and happiness, adopting a giving mindset is better, but there’s also a balance there.”
“Mimesis” by Erich Auerbach and “Anatomy of Criticism” by Northrup Frye
Recommended by: Prof. David Wellbery
“There are two books that every student of literature should read, and I recommend them to every class I teach: “Mimesis” by Erich Auerbach and “Anatomy of Criticism” by Northrup Frye. They are the two pinnacles of literary study.”