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Read This in Fall 2021

Our professors talk about books

The Corrections book cover

The Corrections

“I’m rereading Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. It’s a dense, absorbing novel about family relationships and our often futile attempts to control those around us. It’s also about learning to grow and change amidst a shifting world, thereby ‘correcting’ mindsets and behaviors that no longer serve us. I find it a great lens for examining my connections to my son, my aging parents, and even my students. It’s also an excellent foil for one of my all-time favorite novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which explores whether we can successfully escape the nature and nurture of our parents and their parents.” 

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez 
Gompf Family Professor 
Department of Chemistry 

The Dope book cover

The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade

“I’m currently reading Benjamin T. Smith’s The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade. One of the most important arguments of the book is that for decades, the main organizing factor in ‘organized crime’ in Mexico has been not the so-called cartels, but the state itself. Using an incredible trove of archival documents and written in an engaging, accessible style, the book busts a lot of the drug-war myths we maintain here in the United States, showing how policies pursued by both the U.S. and Mexican governments have fueled the brutal surge in violence over recent decades.”  

Christy Thornton

Christy Thornton 
Assistant Professor 
Department of Sociology 

The Overstory book cover

The Overstory

“I’ve just finished reading Richard Powers’ The Overstory. It’s a novel about trees and the people who love them. The descriptions of how trees communicate, interact, cooperate, and learn are mesmerizing. Equally fascinating is what happens to human stories in the presence and shadow of these vast, primordial beings. As the hidden lives of trees emerge, becoming more than mere backdrop for human narratives, they transform our sense of how time unfolds and meaning is forged. This novel explores the limits of human self-regard and shortsightedness. It reignites what Thoreau calls ‘our intelligence with the earth.’” 

Yi-Ping Ong

Yi-Ping Ong 
Associate Professor 
Department of Comparative Thought and Literature