What We’re Reading

November Reading List

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



The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

“I selected it for my book club, in hopes of sparking good discussion of reservation life in light of the land & water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their recent struggles.” —Lacey Losh



The Bean Trees

by Barbara Kingsolver

“It’s good, but it reads very much like a first novel, at least compared to her later work, specifically The Poisonwood Bible, which is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. That said, The Bean Trees is based in Tucson, where Kingsolver lived for a long time and where I lived for three years, so that’s been a fun aspect for me… The novel is set in the 1980s and some of the characters’ stories offer a critique of US business and foreign policy contributions to political unrest, torture, genocide, and displacement in Guatemala. Thirty years later, the movement of refugees and undocumented peoples into the United States remains a contentious issue” —Elizabeth Zaleski



The Summer Before the War

by Helen Simonson

“There seem to be a number of historical novels out there that take place in England before the Great War, possibly inspired by Downton Abbey. They keep landing in my reading pile… I picked up this one based on a review. It’s full of interesting characters sniping at each other over trivial social matters, and I find myself wondering how they’re going to handle the realities of that awful war that no one was prepared for. So far it’s a very good read.” —Alison Rold



by Jill Leovy


“This has been has been on my ‘to read’ list forever but seemed like a timely pick. So far it’s engrossing, heartbreaking, infuriating, and remarkable.” —Alicia Christensen



Fatal Revenant

by Stephen R. Donaldson

“It is the second book in the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. There were two earlier trilogies and the Last Chronicles has four books in the series. I liked the first trilogy the best, but the story so far in the last series is fine.” —Rob Buchanan



The Gravity of Birds

by Tracy Guzeman

“This thrilling mystery follows the story of a famous painter who sends an art historian and a young art authenticator to find a missing painting and the two sisters who are depicted there, who have conveniently disappeared. The Gravity of Birds is a fantastic read which combines the tragedy of lost love and the tearing apart of family.” —Emily Wendell




The Book of Joy

By Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

“I’m reading a book given to me by a dear friend in early November who has impeccable timing. It can’t hurt to get the perspective of two older spiritual leaders who have been around the block a few times, have experienced persecution, and still think it makes sense and is possible to be joyful. The book consists of conversation between the two during a rare week’s visit with each other. The best part is their affection for each other. It’s irresistible. I’m reading it slowly to make it last.” —Tish Fobben




“I picked Adiche because she is one of my favorite authors and feminist icons.” —Rachel Kermmoade




by Sam Quinones

“It’s a compelling investigation into the explosion of heroin addiction that reads like a gripping mystery novel.” —Rob Taylor



Cavendon Luck

by Barbara Taylor Bradford

“This was a random book I picked up at the library, and I haven’t read any other books by this author. The book feels like an ensemble play with no particular plot line, but the characters are interesting (especially as I figure out who is who). This is the third book in a series very reminiscent of Downton Abbey, so I might have to check out the first two as well.” —Heather Stauffer



by Mary Oliver

“I needed to read something beautiful and written with care.” —Jana Faust



The Sellout

by Paul Beatty

“Smart, funny, clever, and definitely worth reading.” —Bridget Barry



Martin Eden

by Jack London

“I picked this up ages ago after an old writing instructor mentioned that it’s the reason why he became a writer. There are a lot of things about it I don’t like (monologue-like dialogue, for one), but I’m engaged by the story and have even found myself laughing—apparently attempting to make a living as a writer really hasn’t changed that much since 1909.” —Anna Weir


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