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Stags Read: Book Recommendations: Staff & Faculty Picks

This guide provides book recommendations with links to books from the Library's catalog and to other external websites.

Fairfield University Faculty & Staff Suggestions

FICTION

 Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

 Recommended by: Marissa Lischinsky, Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement

"While at first this book may seem like a fun story about a failed bank robbery, it provides genuine insight into human nature, interconnectedness, and the importance of empathy. You never truly know what someone else if going through until you take the time to get to know them."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link
 

 

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 Recommended by: Marissa Lischinsky, Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement

 "One of my all-time favorite books, The Book Thief is an engaging and insightful historical novel set in WWII Germany. Narrated by Death, readers follow the story of Liesel Meminger, who goes from being a shy and quiet foster child to a strong-willed advocate for education and empathy. I’ve re-read this book multiple times and think everyone should read it at least once!"
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

Recommended by: Kiersten Bjork

"Adventure, mythology, a powerful female protagonist — what more could you want!"


Goodreads Link

 

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

Recommended by: Emily Hangen, Visiting Professor of Psychology

"This book has come highly recommended to me as a science fiction piece that offers a commentary on politics. Although written back in the 70's, it has been awarded a slew of awards such as: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1975), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1974), Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (1993), Locus Award for Best Novel (1975), Jupiter Award for Best Novel (1975), etc."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Recommended by: Beth Boquet, Professor of English, Director of the Writing Center

"An intergenerational story, set in New Mexico and centered on the relationship between Angel (a pregnant fifteen-year-old who is estranged from her mother), her father, and her grandmother. The book spans a year, from the middle of her pregnancy into her first year as a mother, navigating complicated family and friendship circumstances. Take your time reading this book. It is slow to build, but it is worth it."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

The Giver of Stars  by Jojo Moyes

Recommended by: Mary Kelly, Adjunct Professor of Marketing

"A book for book lovers."

Goodreads Link
 

 

 The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Recommended by: Kiersten Bjork

"Quirky and fun characters, and a beautiful tale of love, discovery, and found family."


Goodreads Link
DiMenna Nyselius Library Link

 

 Less by Andrew Sean Greer

 Recommended by: Chris Madden, Adjunct Professor English

"Greer’s Less follows an aging author on an odd trek across the globe in an effort to get away from a failed relationship and himself. Protagonist Less is equally ill-at-ease in California, Mexico, Germany, Paris, and really anywhere. Greer’s razor-sharp wit and humor and poignant prose elevate the novel from a picaresque romp into a humane and utterly engaging read. Simply mesmerizing."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

The Lincoln Highway  by Amor Towles

Recommended by: Mary Kelly, Adjunct Professor of Marketing

"The ultimate road trip adventure with a great cast of characters."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fannone Jeffers

Recommended by: Susan Rakowitz, Assistant Professor of Psychology

"This epic novel intersperses the coming of age story of a contemporary African-American women with stories of centuries of her ancestors. The characters are complex and fully developed, and the narrative cuts across a large swath of American history. With many characters and a non-linear timeline, the novel may require more attention than a typical beach read, but it’s worth the effort."
Goodreads Link

 

 Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 Recommended by: Martha Patton, Emerita Politics Department  

"The story & writing drew me in and before long I found myself reading faster and faster as the suspense escalated. I liked how the main character Noemi’s strength and resistance to domination came through in her backtalk and barbed insults."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Midnight Library by Matthew Haig

 Recommended by: Marissa Lischinsky, Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement

"I couldn’t put this book down and read it in one day. It’s a touching story about living life to the fullest without regret."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link
 
 

 

 Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

 Recommended by: Chris Madden, Adjunct Professor of English

"Wilson (The Family Fang) is renowned  for his quirky but poignant writing, and Nothing to See Here does not disappoint. It is a tale of have and have nots, privilege, and friendship centered on two children who spontaneously combust when they get agitated. Lillian is recruited by her old boarding school pal Madison to nanny for the kids and attempt to keep them from catching fire while Madison's old money southern husband runs for national office. Wilson satirizes power, and somehow makes the reader fall in love with these marginalized characters."everyone should read it at least once!"
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

 Recommended by: Elizabeth Boquet, Professor of English/Director, The Writing Center

"I loved the inter-generational threads across Cuba and the US. The framing story seemed unnecessary--or at least a detour whose connections were underdeveloped--so that detracted from the overall read."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Recommended by: Beth Boquet, Professor of English, Director of the Writing Center

"Both the story of the authors’ collaboration and this work of historical fiction are worth the read. The main character, Belle da Costa Greene, is a Black woman passing as a white woman when she is hired to be the personal librarian to J.P. Morgan, tasked with acquiring and curating Morgan’s noteworthy collection. The book is really focused on the character of Belle and the worlds she moves between—from a multigenerational family home to gilded mansions, up and down the East Coast and over to Europe—all while hiding herself in plain sight. Readers get a look inside the dealings of rare manuscripts and art (which might challenge perceptions of what a librarian does) and at the growth and development of a career woman at a time when being one was as rare as some of the manuscripts she acquired."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

 Recommended by: Kathleen Byrnes, Campus Minister for Social Justice & Community Engagement

"Though fiction, this book is actually based around the true events surrounding the Exonerated Five in NYC. One author, Yusef Salaam, was 15 years old when he was falsely imprisoned and spent ten years in jail. This book is about a boy who tries to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth while the criminal justice system tries to strip him of both. This is an important look into a system that drastically needs to change and the uncurrent of racism in society today. This is a heartbreaking, and beautiful book I recommend everyone read!"
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

Soul Catcher by Michael C. White   (Fairfield U Faculty Member)

Recommended by: Todd Pelaza, Director of Public Safety 

"Captivating book. Historical novel, pre-Civil War. Based on the story of a run away slave and a slave catcher. I also listened to this book on tape. I sat in my car one evening until I finished a chapter. You see and feel the struggles of people in that time era."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

 Recommended  by: Jay Glover, Protestant Chaplain, Campus Ministry

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 

War & Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (Anthony Briggs Translation)

Recommended by: Meredith Smith, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Residence Life

"Don’t be intimated by the length, War and Peace is very much a dramatic and deep page-turner set during Napoleon’s invasion of Tsarist Russia. The Anthony Briggs translation is clean and crisp and provides the reader an immersive escape into the lives of Pierre, Natasha, Andrei, and their families."              

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens

Recommended by: Mary Kelly, Adjunct Professor of Marketing

"Best read outside in the sun, it makes a phenomenal book even better."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

NON-FICTION

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

Recommended by: Jay Rozgonyi, Associate Vice Provost/CAE Director 

"This deeply troubling examination of data mining in today’s society is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand how technology companies have robbed us of our right to maintain our privacy. Zuboff traces the movement of the internet, artificial intelligence, and algorithms from the late ‘90s, when the assumption was that individuals would be owners of their personal data; through the rise of Google and its shift from a search-engine company to a data collection and analysis service; and ultimately on to today’s world of predictive analytics and the virtual erasure of individual privacy. This is a serious, well-researched work that’s nonetheless highly readable - and should be read by anyone who regularly buys products on Amazon, checks a Gmail account, or posts details of their personal life on Facebook." 
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks

 Recommended by: Shaquanna Raynor, Graduate Resident Coordinator

"Bell Hooks is amazing! All about love provides a new outlook on the word “Love” challenging readers to reflect on our experiences. Bell Hooks highlights that the word love is most often defined as a noun BUT she believes we would all benefit from the word being used as a verb."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link


 Bag Man by Rachel Maddow & Michael Yarvitz

 Recommended by: Martha Patton, Emerita Politics Department  

"I could not put this down-mesmerizing, meticulously researched account of Agnew’s rise to VP & the circumstances surrounding his resignation. Eerie in its relevance to the Trump presidency & the debatable constitutionality of presidential immunity from prosecution (i.e. this has never been tested in court). Mueller in his report accepted the opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel, written during the Agnew crisis, that the president (in this case Trump) couldn't be criminally prosecuted. A very unfortunate call on Mueller's part. My favorite read so far." 
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted  by Suleika Jaouad

Recommended by: Beth Boquet, Professor of English, Director of the Writing Center

"Shortly after Jaouad graduated from college and moved to Paris to begin an exciting career, she was diagnosed with leukemia. This memoir follows her, then, on another journey—one in which she struggles to maintain her independence, to make sense of the disease and the treatments ravaging her body, to survive, and to chart a course forward into a radically altered life."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain

Recommended by: Emily Hangen, Visiting Professor of Psychology

"I have not read this book yet, but I enjoyed Susan Cain's previous well-known book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. This book is hot off the press, published just this past April."
Goodreads Link

 

 But What if We’re Wrong?  by Chuck Klosterman

 Recommended by: Jeremy Kaler, Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement   

"One of my favorite books.  It challenges us to think about the decisions we make now from the view of someone thirty years from now, and it made me wonder, what if we’re wrong?"
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Collected Poems by Sonia Sanchez

Recommended by: Kiersten Bjork

"Beautiful, raw, and riveting. Sanchez wields language as no one else can. Each and every poem contained in this collection evokes strong thought and feeling."
Goodreads Link

 

 

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Recommended by: Sonya Huber, Professor of English

"Essays in a linked collection on living with mental illness, written with a compelling voice."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 

Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork by Etty Hillesum

Recommended by: Marcy Haley, Assistant Director, Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality 

“An extraordinary portrait of a journey of faith, courage, and love amidst unimaginable horror. She dies at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29. Reading these diaries offers light and hope and seems particularly relevant in our world today.“
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

 Recommended by: Elizabeth Boquet, Professor of English/Director, The Writing Center

"An exceptional work of literary/science journalism, Kolker traces the family history of Don and Mimi Galvin and their 12 children, 6 of whom suffered from serious mental illness. This is not an easy book to read, because this family suffered greatly in individual, intra-familial, medical, and social terms, but it is an amazing extended look at a family who contributed much to our current understanding of mental illness, schizophrenia especially. I couldn’t put this book down."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

 Recommended by: Sonya Huber, Professor of English 

"Beautiful writing in this essay collection about a renowned field biologist, with a deep attachment to place, ecosystem, family, and history."

Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

 Recommended by: Jay Glover, Protestant Chaplain, Campus Ministry
 Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 

 Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

 Recommended by: Sonya Huber, Professor of English

"A moving reflection on the life stories of four Black men in the south, all friends or family members of the writer, whose lives were cut short."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna Nyselius Library Link

 

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster  by Adam Higginbotham

Recommended by: Meredith Smith, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Residence Life

"This is by no means a light read, but it is an important one. The book opens with an apt reference to the Greek Myth of Prometheus and Pandora’s Box.  Higginbotham is a brilliant writer who captures the devastating human toll of the disaster and the systems and that made it possible. The book complements the HBO’s Chernobyl."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel

 Recommended by: Jo Yarrington, Professor of Visual & Performing Arts

"Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting — not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna Nyselius Library Link

 

 Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

 Recommended by: Kathleen Byrnes, Campus Minister for Social Justice & Community Engagement

"Very interesting read. I heard an interview with the author on NPR a while back and was excited read this. This is a deep dive into a part of society we likely don't even see. The connections with corporations like Amazon should give us all pause. Highly recommend."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

 Recommended by:Susie Filipowich, Program Coordinator, Office of Accessibility

"This book is so informative about an interesting time in American history.  The ladies who suffered such awful sickness are also the heroines who were instrumental in creating the Workers Compensation rights."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

 

 The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

 Recommended by: Jeremy Kaler, Associate Director, Office of Student Engagement   

"A deep dive into social psychology and why people are the way we are from an evolutionary psychology perspective.  Answers some of the major questions for our current political and religious climate and plots a course forward out of the division."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link


Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks

Recommended by: Emily Hangen, Visiting Professor of Psychology

"This is a fascinating read about how parenting styles have changed so dramatically in the last few decades. I've only just begun to read it and am hooked by the intriguing ideas the author raises. This is not a self-help book for parenting, but instead a well-researched commentary on parenting, how it has become competitive, and how some policies in place encourage overly protective measures that are guided by fear. Excellent read for parents, but also great read for anyone interested in social issues and policies."
Goodreads Link

 

 When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

 Recommended by: Sonya Huber, Professor of English 

"Personal and moving literary account of a leader of the BLM movement, including scenes and reflections. Fantastic story co-written by Asha Bandele."
Goodreads Link
DiMenna-Nyselius Library Link

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