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Books to Read in Spring 2023

Advanced Organice Chemistry book cover

Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions and Synthesis

“I appreciate reading differing histories, especially those promoting narratives that challenge my own pre-existing notions. My summer reading will consist of the shoddy scholarship (as opined by critics) in the older A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, and Nikole Hannah-Jones’ more recent The 1619 Project. In contrast, my current read is Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions and Synthesis, a seminal work by Francis Carey and Richard Sundberg that I have not engaged with since my undergraduate days. I currently lead Honors Organic Chemistry, and my students push me to really dig deep!”

John Tovar

John D. Tovar

Master Slave Husband Wife book cover

Master Slave Husband Wife

“I am reading Master Slave Husband Wife by Ilyon Woo. It’s a fascinating true story about two remarkable human beings (Ellen and William Craft) who escaped slavery through sheer daring and determination. In 1848, Ellen, a light-skinned Black woman, disguised herself as a wealthy, sickly, young white man. Her husband accompanies Ellen as an enslaved man, tending to his “master’s” needs. The suspenseful emancipation story takes readers on a journey across more than 5,000 miles from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North to England. It is a story about love, humanity, cruelty, and resilience. It is thrilling but also forces deep introspection.” 

Jerry Burgess

Jerry Burgess
Associate Teaching Professor
Earth and Planetary Sciences

On Beauty book cover

On Beauty

“Zadie Smith’s third novel, On Beauty, is a loose retelling of E.M. Forster’s Howards End. While I’d read both novels before, I recently read them back-to-back for the first time. Forster and Smith are very different writers, yet both are incisive, funny, and willing to take on complicated questions about class and gender roles (and, in Smith’s case, race). Smith builds off of elements of Forster’s story—each novel contains an unexpected inheritance, a fateful meeting at a concert, an engagement announcement that has to be hastily retracted—but Forster’s plot works as a springboard for Smith, not a map. Both books are wonderful on their own, but even more rewarding is to read the two in conversation with each other.” 

Katharine Noel

Katharine Noel
Associate Teaching Professor
The Writing Seminars