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What are you reading?

Our professors talk about books


photo of Andrew Cherlin“Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States begins with Christopher Columbus and ends with Donald Trump. Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard and a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine, balances the ideals that Americans have held self-evident since the Declaration of Independence—liberty, equality, sovereignty, consent—and the inequalities that have beset the nation since then: slavery, racial discrimination, the treatment of Native Americans, the rights of women, and so forth. Apart from her historical acumen, Lepore is one of the best writers of long-form nonfiction today, making this a great read.”

Andrew Cherlin
Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy and Chair,

photo of Danielle Evans“I’ve been reading Bridgett Davis’ memoir, The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers. Davis’ work in revisiting a narrative she only knew part of and fitting new discoveries into her own understanding of her mother is a compelling glimpse of how we turn memory into storytelling. Davis also puts her mother’s life into a broad context, providing a history of the lottery, vivid depictions of Detroit in the 1960s and ’70s, and reminders of the legal and structural constraints that shaped black families’ lives. Her book expands our sense of what counts as a rags-to-riches story, and questions who pays the cost.”

Danielle Evans
Assistant Professor,
The Writing Seminars

photo of Marina Bedny“My favorite recent read was The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. It tells the story of the migration of African-Americans from the south of the United States to other parts of the country, including Chicago, and the East and West coasts. One of the things I love about this book is the combination of historical accuracy and personal perspective. The migration is described through the stories of three individuals. The story conveys the injustice and indignity endured by African-Americans under Jim Crow, long after slavery ended, and the hope and bravery that enabled some to flee for a better life in their own country.”

Marina Bedny
Assistant Professor,
Psychological and Brain Sciences