“I can’t believe I’m on this road again”


Jennifer Murray

Two works of fiction have had a strong and lasting effect on me: Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing, and Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. While many other books have given me pleasure, intrigued me, provoked my admiration, these two resonated in me in a way that is personal, but at the place where the personal takes you outside yourself and connects you to the world. Continue Reading ›

How Can We Write about the Experience of Violence?


Rita Kesselring

In my childhood, books had always been the stuff that you spend your weekends with, your holidays and the hours after homework. They came from the public library, where I hoped not to be asked embarrassing questions when I showed up at the loan desk a second time in a day (one load was limited to four books). Books had always been friendly company. They would speak to you, but not speak back to you. They opened up worlds and thoughts, but never appeared assertive or dominating. Continue Reading ›

Lessons from a Rabbit, a Cat and an Otter

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Margaret Somerville

Three books that nurtured my respect for and love of animals and Nature

I still have the first book I ever owned: The Wonderful Tar Baby, adapted from the original Uncle Remus Story by Joel Chandler Harris. My father gave it to me on my sixth birthday. I had just started school and was learning to read. I’d follow the words and startling illustrations, as Dad read it to me. Continue Reading ›

The Rhythm of Reading


Karmen MacKendrick

For a child from an extended family that loved both children and books, there is a sensory rhythm built into reading, an indulgence of words, pages that turn with a satisfying swish (or, later, a delicate onionskin crinkle), the voices that go with warm laps. One of my particular childhood favorites was Dorothy Haas’s A Penny for Whiffles. Penny is a girl with copper colored hair, and that she was Penny-like in two senses at once was almost too much of a pleasure. Whiffles is the onomatopoetic pony who, without knowing it, has been searching for Penny all along. His gratifying name, such a pleasure to say, made me want to pet his velvety nose. Continue Reading ›

Books that radically transformed my worldview as a political scientist


Dr. Ehsan Ahrari

In this age of booming social media and explosion of information, written works—essays or books—have to compete not only to capture the attention of readers, but, most importantly, to open new vistas of understanding of the unremittingly complex world around us. Continue Reading ›

Power of Books


Amy Speier

As an only child, I spent many hours with my head buried in a book. Growing up, my mother and I moved around often, landing in Chandler, Arizona, when I was 8. I sought the companionship of other adolescent, pre-teen characters written by Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was a shy girl who proudly claimed a blue, ten-speed bike in front of my elementary school in 3rd grade after earning second place in a state-wide Read-a-thon. I remained the odd new girl throughout my elementary school years, like Margaret in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Continue Reading ›