Looking for Some Summer Reading Recommendations?

AMST’s Stillwater advisor Kevin Seymore always offers a wonderful set of recommendations for summer reading. He has graciously agreed to allow me to share them via the blog this year, so students in Tulsa can also partake. Here is part one of Kevin’s reading list…

At the end of each school year I like to send out some recommendations for further reading over the summer, and to encourage you graduates not to give up on reading once you’ve graduated. Staying intellectually alive and curious through books is well worth the time spent. Not being a fast reader, I average two books a month, and I keep an actual physical journal of what I’ve read. This is a really neat way to keep up with where my mind has been, and a source for me to draw upon when looking for the next author or subject to read. I’ve been keeping the journal since 1999! I realize that is nearly as long as some of you have have been alive, haha. I plan on keeping it until I am 99, if I am so lucky. : ) So, here are some suggestions. Would love to hear back from you if you take me up on any of these. And if you have a suggestion(s) of your own, I would enjoy receiving it/them:

1.)  Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. I read this volume of history over the 4th of July weekend last year. It is quick and easy prose, but insightful and very hip with its references to popular culture. Far from being a dry history text (!) Vowell, an Oklahoman, examines the Revolutionary period, and namely France’s contribution through General Lafayette. Without the French, we would likely be sipping afternoon tea and driving on the wrong side of the road, haha. They were crucial to our bid for independence. Ever hear of the Battle of the Capes? It was a naval battle that the French fought off the Virginia coast that insured the British surrender at Yorktown and our victory. So after you’ve shot your fireworks this 4th of July, pick up Vowell’s short history. Lafayette was just a teen when he sailed across the ocean to join Washington, and Washington always thought of him as something of an adopted son. [Dr. T says: “Vowell makes a GREAT audiobook if you’re driving anywhere this summer. So funny!]

2.) Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. Junger is not a psychologist, but there is a lot of psychological insight in this book about human belonging and well-being. His basic idea is that Western society is so individualistic, competitive, and lonely that war and natural disasters offer people refuge inside a more tribal, we are all looking out for one another, existence that is much more in line with our evolutionary heritage. If you’ve enjoyed an anthropology course or Dr. Craven’s evolutionary psychology class, I think you would enjoy this slim meditation on what it means to be human in the modern world. [Dr. T says: one could argue, however, that we are already tribalized in debilitating ways; read this and contemplate. Let us know what your take is?]

3.) Listen Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People by Thomas Frank. I finished reading this one the day before Labor Day, 2016. And it is very much about the working class in America and how the Democratic Party has shifted since the 1970s from being the party of the people to being the party of the professional class, Wall Street, and the coastal urban areas. He points to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as being leaders in this trend. It came out before the election, but you can certainly look at the election in a different light having read Frank’s take on the rise of the Clintons and the move to the center that they took the Dems. Bernie Sanders was a push back to this trend.

4.) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I was drawn to this book because I am a first generation college graduate in my family, and this is the story of a first generation student whose family is from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. He didn’t come from the best of circumstances, family wise, but had a very supportive, tough, grandmother who played a large role in his life. You follow his story as his mother gets involved with drugs and a revolving door of boyfriends. He manages to graduate high school, go to the Marines, then Ohio State, and most remarkably, Yale Law School. He writes of being often lost at college and law school because he has not been exposed to people who have had those experiences. His over-all take on class in America could best be described as a “conservative, I did it, others can do it too” tone. More emphasis on individual responsibility and less on societal responsibility. You might not agree with his politics, but I think many of you can relate to some of his experiences as a child, teen, and young adult. [Dr. T says: Students taking AMST3223 Theories and Methods of AMST will be reading this in Fall 2017, so good timing, Kevin]

5.) Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. There was a recent movie made of this novel about a young Irish woman immigrating to America in the 1950s. I first saw the movie and enjoyed it so much that I read the novel it was based on. I was not disappointed in either experience. It is a love story. It is also a story about how making certain choices not only open doors for us, but also closes other doors, and the sadness that can be found in that. It is about hometowns, leaving home, making a new start in a big city. Something which I believe many of you will be able to relate to. Read about Eilis Lacey, and I think you’ll find that you are reading about yourself in a lot of ways.

More suggestions coming next week! Thank you, Kevin.

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