Theresa Pepin, professional organist and leader of UT Botanical Gardens
- A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
You will never think you have ever had a bad day again. Especially if you are a woman. Daily life of Afghanis with a core of resolve and strength that is astounding. What Hollywood used to call strong women are now almost invariably found within the covers of books.
- Three Cups of Tea,by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Set in the same part of the world. Yet another reminder that some of the finest people on earth are downright crazy.
- The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
Writing that can’t be described. Just needs to be read.
- The Light of Evening by Edna O’Brien
One of many by another one of those compelling Irish authors.
- Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
That cliché “find,” in all senses of the word.
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Another very short French work that puts the reader in someone else’s shoes.
- The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
Eccentric and irresistible all ‘round.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Another strange one that takes a while to get used to but then seems perfectly right in its own world.
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Why are so many writers of South Asian heritage so good?
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
One of those books always referred to as a “towering” work of literature. But that doesn’t really occur to you as you compulsively read it. After finishing it, one of those books you can’t stop thinking about. My copy is always off my shelves because I press it on one friend after the other.
- The Master by Colm Toibin
A novel about Henry James by another great writer.
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
A remarkable family story.
- Magic Time by Doug Marlette
Another family story with Southern civil rights history in the wings.
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Seems like a great family story to me, too, set in a circus during the difficult time of the depression.
Don Coffey, Superdrag drummer, producer at Knoxville's Independent Recorders studio
- Don and Kim Coffey gave birth to their first child, Cole Harrison Coffey, on Dec. 8 of last year.
“I doubt I'll read one book this summer. Mostly I read parenting magazines. We like the one just called Parenting. Once Kim gets done with it, I'll usually find two or three things that are interesting to me.”
Rob Levering, WUTK-90.3 DJ, “The Funhouse”
- The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Crown, 2006) by Barack Obama
Read this back at first of the year. Picked up again recently to re-read second half. Great insight into the man and his beliefs. No matter your political stance, a must-read this summer.
- Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits (Ecw, 2006) by Jay S. Jacobs
Waits is touring again so I figured it was a good time to read this one. I think that the myth is sometimes greater than the man. This book just reaffirms my belief that Waits is a genius.
- The Hijacking of Jesus: How the Religious Right Distorts Christianity and Promotes Prejudice and Hate (Nation Books, 2008) by Dan Wakefield
This will probably be "preaching to the choir" for me personally, but it seems like a good read for late summer going into fall election season.
- The Race (Henry Holt and Co., 2007) by Richard North Patterson
My mother-in-law read this and then passed it on to me. Patterson moves from courtroom to political race.
Dwight Van de Vate, Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor Mike Ragsdale
- The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 2008) by Randy Pausch
So far, it's an excellent read. As a cancer survivor, it's a story that resonates with me.
- No Such Thing As a Bad Day (2001) by Hamilton Jordan
This is another remarkable story by someone who was a remarkable man. It's Not About the Bike (2000) by Lance Armstrong meant a great deal to me as well, during some really difficult times. Both of them are much more than survivorship stories, they are manuals on life in general.
I would also recommend If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat?: Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia (2007) by Bill Heavey. Funny, erudite and moving, Heavey is the Bill Bryson of sportsmen. Speaking of Bryson, everyone, absolutely everyone, should read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (2006) his recollections of growing up in Iowa.
Jacki Arthur, General Manager of Three Rivers Market Co-op
Here is what I have open this week or is next in line:
1. A Devil in Paradise by Henry Miller, accompanied by My Life and Times by Henry Miller. (I am lucky enough to have a copy of the original, fittingly illustrated version of this autobiography published by Playboy Press in 1971.)
2. I am studying evolutionary astrology, reading Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul, Volume 1 by Jeff Green, along with with Edgar Cayce’s Astrology for the Soul by Margaret Gammon and W.H. Church, and Mythic Astrology by Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson.
3. Springfield Armory XD-9 Owners Manual.
4. As usual, I am making kim chi and working on some new pickles using Wild Fermentation by regional author Sandor Ellix Katz.
5. Reading mysteries set in foreign lands is my brand new hobby. I just finished Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk by Boris Akunin (fictitious locations in Russia). Up next are Magdalen Nabb’s Vita Nuova (these days in Florence) and then Rebecca Pawel’s Death of a Nationalist (post-war Madrid). I am finding The Soho Crime Series to be a reliable source of good stories.
6. Finally, I am on a fast this week so I'm reading cookbooks, hungrily. My favorites:
- Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, co-host of the NY vegan cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen
- Ten Talents, the classic Christian vegetarian cookbook by Dr. Frank Hurd
- Cookin’ Southern, Vegetarian Style by Ann Jackson"
Rabbi Beth L. Schwartz, Temple Beth El
"I usually have several books around my office and my home, some work-related, and some not, although in my rabbinate I never know what will enlighten and inspire me professionally. I don’t read a lot of fiction, although I enjoy mysteries. I am currently reading The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde, a spoof on the British mystery genre. It is also a spoof on a well-known fairy tale. Mr. Fforde’s books are very clever and require a working knowledge of literature, both children’s and adult, in order to get the jokes. I am also reading a series of books that introduce different aspects of Judaism to Christians, including, God, spirituality, holidays, and Israel (I will follow up with some titles and authors). I have always enjoyed reading history, and I have recently started No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, about Eleanor and President Franklin Roosevelt and The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin, about the Supreme Court.
Here are a few titles that I would recommend:
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a political biography of Abraham Lincoln
- Away by Amy Bloom, a novel of an immigrant woman’s search for her daughter, set in the 1920s
- The Book Thief, about a foster child growing up in Germany during World War II
- In Search of the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris, about scientists through history who studied the cosmos