With the start of the new semester, we asked seven students:
Brian Eichner, a senior, found a poetry collection by Pablo Neruda both enlightening and humbling. He liked Captain's Verses "because he puts so much emotion and detail into what he writes, making me realize how inferior my own efforts at poetry are, while being in awe of his ability." Elizabeth Ralston, a junior, made an artful choice, Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring, which recreates the world of Vermeer. "I enjoyed the insight into the lifestyle of different social classes during the 1660s."
Just weeks before the celebration of the civil-rights leader's birthday, sophomore Dave Allen was drawn to a collection of the sermons of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight. "I was particularly interested in learning more about how King connected his Christianity with promoting justice in the world," Allen says, "because I wonder how I might incorporate this model into my own life." Sophomore Adam Bloomfield read about another cultural icon, Albert Einstein, in Driving Mr. Albert. He calls the book "a truly grotesque gem"; it charts the travels of author Michael Paterniti and Thomas Harvey, a pathologist who had kept Einstein's brain in his basement for forty years.
Sona Chikarmane, a junior, found The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadman, "an amazing account of a Hmong child and how culture differences and language barriers inhibit access" to health care. "My interests in culture and medicine combined with the fact that I was on my way to India to study Ayurvedic medicine made the book a great example of how modern medicine doesn't always have the right answers." Also finding a focus on India, Abigail Langston, a sophomore, turned to The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. "Although this was my fifth or sixth reading, I was once again bowled over by Roy's storytelling. Rhythmic and lyrical, it reads like Rushdie telling a Faulkner tale."
For another sophomore, Jessica Fuller, winter break provided a plunge into Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader, edited by--of course--the Bathroom Readers Institute. "This has so many random facts and stories that I've actually wanted to reference it in some of my papers. Unfortunately, its title doesn't lend itself to academic credibility."