What We’re Reading

September Staff Reading List

UNP staff members are always reading new books within our list and outside of what we publish. Here are some of the books our noses have been buried in.


Hannibal by Richard Gabriel (a Potomac book!)

“Very concise history of the Punic Wars and Carthage’s greatest general. It matches the author’s other Potomac book on Hannibal’s Roman rival, Scipio Africanus, by the same name. Both are good biographies of the generals and the make up and tactics of their armies and strategies of their battles.”—Roger Buchholz

calamity jane

The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane by Richard Etulian

“I’m reading it because I like old west and this was the next book on my shelf.”—Tom Swanson


Outbreak by Robin Cook

“It is a medical mystery about Ebola outbreaks here in the US.  I was looking for something different than what I normally read and happened to find this on my shelf.”—Rob Buchanan

e and p

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“I chose to read it because I saw a lot of great reader reviews online, plus Rainbow Rowell is from Nebraska and how could I not read a highly-acclaimed book written by a Nebraska author?”—Emily Giller


Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux by Boris Kachka

“I read a lot of publishing histories and collect publisher memoirs. Roger Straus Sr., dad of publisher Roger Straus Jr., was a very large contributor in the 1950s to the Jewish Publication Society. The book has all the hot details of the FSG’s heyday.”—Matt Bokovoy


Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

“I like to keep up on marketing trends and ideas and Berger’s book has been on my radar for a while. He’s a marketing guru/thinker and I’ve liked what he has had to say in articles and other pieces I’ve read by him before. He’s taking on Malcolm Gladwell and his Tipping Point a bit in Contagious, which is smart because Gladwell’s book has been out for some time. Additionally, Berger argues that Gladwell simply noted that things have tipping points but not necessarily why. Berger is making me think to this point and that is really why I started reading it in the first place!”—Martyn Beeny


You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day

“Felicia Day was the love interest in Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and had her own YouTube series called The Guild (both are available on Netflix.) She is smart, funny, and weird.”—Amy Lage


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

“I just finished Luckiest Girl Alive. While I enjoyed the book… I read the whole thing thinking it seemed very familiar and it turns out I’d already read it.”—Jana Faust


Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wife (Volume 2 of the three-part series) by 1928 Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset (translated by Tiina Nunnally)

“After a recommendation from both a daughter and a nephew, I stormed through volume 1, Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath, while on vacation. What a pleasure. It’s startling to find myself captivated by a novel set in medieval Norway. My husband now has only a matter of days left to track down a copy of volume 3, Kristin Lavransdatter: The Cross.”—Ann Baker


Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

“Just getting started with it. Why? Because Vonnegut?”—Joel Puchalla

the firm

The Firm by John Grisham

“Published in 1991, I guess I can’t call it a ‘new’ book, but Grisham is still cranking out bestsellers, and The Firm was his first. I’m actually reading it for school—we’re studying bestselling novels to see if there’s something they all have in common. So far, the sinister plot seems a bit too heavy handed for my taste, but I’m intrigued.”—Anna Stokely


Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

“My roommate recommended it.”—Rosemary Vestal


Empress San Francisco: The Pacific Rim, the Great West, and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition by Abigail M. Markwyn (a UNP book!)

“I am interested in anything about World’s Fairs, and so far, this book is extremely interesting and insightful about the San Francisco World’s Fair and the culture of America in 1915.”—Emily Wendell


The First Bad Man by Miranda July

“A number of uncomfortable scenes made for difficult reading in the first half of the book, but the story has deepened and quieted, and I can understand now why one of the blurbers called the book ‘engrossing.'”—Bridget Barry

Barabarian Days

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

“I’m not a surfer, but he brings his experiences to life in an engaging way, and brings to life the mechanics and the culture and his love and obsession with it that still continues 50 years later.”—Robert Taylor

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