About Newly Tenured Faculty Book Recommendations
In recognition of the extraordinary achievement of receiving tenure it is my pleasure on behalf of the libraries to invite each newly tenured faculty member to recommend a book for the library that has strongly influenced their scholarly formation. Faculty members are also invited to provide a brief reflection on how the selected volume has impacted their academic work. We are honored to add these volumes to the collections. We wish all our newly tenured faculty great success in their research and teaching efforts and offer our sincere thanks to them for helping to make our libraries a center for teaching, learning and discovery. --Mark Roosa, Dean of Libraries
Luisa R. Blanco (Public Policy) recommends two books:
- We the Living (1936) by Ayn Rand. Dr. Blanco writes: I read We the Living by Ayn Rand when I was in high school and I became fascinated by how this book presents in a powerful way the struggle of individuals for freedom and liberty in a totalitarian regime. Rand’s work was influential on my academic profession since I believe that individuals must strive for liberty, and that free markets are necessary for maintaining harmony and the well functioning of human interactions in a society.
- The Elusive Quest for Growth(2001) by William Easterly. I read The Elusive Quest for Growth by William Easterly when I was a Ph.D. student and automatically fell in love with the field of economic development. I really liked how the author presents the relevance of economics for improving the well being of individuals in less developed countries. I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career where I am able to work on developing a better understanding of what policies could help to improve economic conditions and the well being of individuals in and from Latin America.
Jon Burke (Economics) recommends Real Analysis (1988) by H. L. Royden.
Dyron Daughrity (Religion) recommends the film The Tree of Life (2011). Dr. Daughrity writes: The Tree of Life left me speechless. First of all, I was shocked that such an openly religious, meditative, and ambitious film would actually make it into mainstream American cinema. To my knowledge, this is the only movie that covers the span of time from the Big Bang to a heavenly afterlife! Secondly, the film left me pondering the smallness of humans within the grandeur of a universal God. The title itself is intensely religious, and not just for Christians (Revelation 22:1-2). The film opens with a question posed by God to the Hebrew Bible character Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). This film is exquisite: Beautiful choirs, whispered prayers, swirling universe, dinosaurs, panoramic analyses of trees and grass. Waco, Texas is ground zero for the decision we each make: will we follow the way of nature or the way of grace? Perhaps they are both embedded deeply within us. This film captures for me the immense grace and gravity that each relationship and each moment in life presents to us. This film makes a profound impact upon me when I watch it. And it makes me pause to consider my existence and how it fits within the grandeur of an omnipresent God.
Kindy DeLong (Religion) recommends Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography (1992) by Gregory E. Sterling.
Craig Detweiler (Communication) recommends Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison. Dr. Detweiler writes: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is probably the most impactful single book I've ever read. I was teaching English in Tokyo as a recent college graduate. With so much time spent commuting on subway trains, I finally had an opportunity to dive into all the books that I’d hoped to read as an undergraduate. Invisible Man rocked and socked me. Living in Japan, I was already experiencing what it was like to be minority, to have people stare at you, to comment on your skin, your eyes, your nose. The feeling of being other, an outsider who would never really fit in, never left me. Reading Ralph Ellison’s brilliant novel on the subway, I was getting inside the African American experience, grasping what invisibility does to the soul. Invisible Man (tragically) remains as relevant and resonant as ever, an enduring American classic.
Chris Doran (Religion) recommends Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility (1991) by James Nash.
Brian Newman (Politcal Science) recommends The Brothers K (2005) by David James Duncan. Dr. Newman writes: The Bothers K weaves together a father, brothers, baseball, religion, romance, and politics. In this modern take on Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, David James Duncan’s humor, irreverence, and light touch carry the reader across the range of human experience and emotion, through disappointment, frustration, anger, desperation, persistence, faith, hope, and love. Duncan tells of four brothers coming of age in 1960s America, their journeys including campus protests, spiritual pilgrimage, mental illness, snow-bound exile, Vietnam, and a home falling apart. Through it all, brotherhood and baseball remain, calling each of the brothers K back home.
Stephen Parmelee (English and Film Studies) recommends several examples of Los Angeles noir fiction, including:
- Fast One by Paul Cain (1933). Dr. Parmelee writes: Cain (real name George Sims) was one of the so-called “Black Mask Boys,” writers who founded the hard-boiled school of writing, most notably in the pages of the pulp magazine Black Maskin the 1920s and 1930s. Cain was the hardest-boiled of them all, and while he wrote a number of short stories and screenplays (under the also-pseudonymous name “Peter Ruric”), this was his only novel. Portraying civic corruption and bootlegging in Los Angeles at the time it was actually occurring, Cain’s prose is crystalline, sharp, and devoid of sentimentality. His portrait of the City of Angels in the early decades of the twentieth century is invaluable. Dr. Parmelee also recommends
- The Canyon (1940) by Peter Viertel. He writes: Viertel was the son of European parents who came to Southern California in the 1920s and settled just a few miles down Pacific Coast Highway from Pepperdine, in Santa Monica Canyon, which became the setting for this novel. His father worked in the movies as a screenwriter and director; his mother was an actress and a screenwriter. Although Peter wrote many novels and also became a screenwriter himself, The Canyon was his only novel set in Los Angeles. It describes the rural, pastoral nature of the Canyon at that time as well as the native California Indian and Hispanic residents, who were slowly being displaced as a result of the gentrification of the Canyon. This novel was never reprinted; if you find it, you've got a first edition.
- You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up (1938) by Richard Hallas. Dr. Parmelee writes: Hallas (real name Eric Knight) was an Englishman who came to Los Angeles in the 1930s. This novel treats a number of Southern California characteristics, including the self-centeredness and unreality of Hollywood and the Southland’s penchant for conflating religion, civic boosterism, and politics. It also offers scathing and very funny commentary on the California state political scene; and, perhaps most significantly, it is in its story elements and fatalistic attitude a full-fledged forerunner of what would in its cinematic counterpart become known as film noir just a few years later. However, he is probably best known for having created the most famous collie of movies and television, Lassie, in his novel Lassie Come Home.
- Angel’s Flight (1927) by Don Ryan. He writes: Ryan’s only novel about Los Angeles was written in a climate of freewheeling investment and speculation, largely unfettered flexing of corporate muscle, and an alliance of ultraconservative business and civic leaders. It is a collection of vignettes and sketches loosely driven by a single plotline involving Will Pence, a tubercular, out-of-work New York newspaper writer who has come west in search of work (and Paradise) but has found neither. This novel was written during Prohibition, and by chance, Pence hooks up with a local bootlegger and gang leader who gives him a job helping guard an incoming shipment of whiskey; during a shootout with a local rival gang, several men are killed, forcing Pence to hide out for several weeks. Eventually, he is hired as a writer for the Los Angeles Citizen, a position that enables him to offer political and social commentary on the Southland. Ryan became a friend of director Erich von Stroheim and appeared in bit parts in several of von Stroheim’s films. As an indication of how obscure (though I would argue “overlooked”) this novel is, there is no entry for “Don Ryan” on Wikipedia.org as of this writing. This novel was never reprinted; if you read it, you’re reading a first edition.
John Struloeff (Creative Writing) recommends Where I'm Calling From (1989) by Raymond Carver. Dr. Struloeff writes: Raymond Carver was born in the same small logging town in which I grew up. I first heard his name, however, when I was away at college studying American literature. I had only recently decided to become a writer, and discovering Carver's work was incredibly inspiring. Not only did he write about the people and struggles that I recognized, but he wrote with terrible, tragic beauty and authenticity. Where I'm Calling From was the first book that I re-read and studied in my new life as a writer, and the influence still echoes in my work.
Michael L. Williams (Business/Information Systems) recommends Hamlet’s Blackberry: A practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age (2010) by William Powers. Dr. Williams writes: As a professor of information systems, I spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about technology. Despite the gains in productivity, reduced costs, and increased social connections, technology is not all virtuous. I recommend Powers’ work as a starting point to colleagues, students, and friends who struggle to find the balance between the people and screens competing for our limited attention. Enjoy.