What We’re Reading

December Staff 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.



Do Not Say We Have Nothing

by Madeleine Thien

“It was our book club choice for December. It also has garnered great reviews and some awards. It’s very good—albeit, very long and a bit hard to follow. It’s original in its approach, the writing is superb, and it is a subject area—China in the 20th century through one family’s travails—that I find quite interesting.” —Donna Shear


It Can’t Happen Here

by Sinclair Lewis

“Written in 1935, it was a warning against the idea that fascism couldn’t rise in the United States . . . Synopses of the book, much like descriptions of the rise of fascist governments in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, are stomach-turningly familiar after the most recent election cycle.” —Grey Castro


The Girl in the Spider’s Web

by David Lagercrantz

“A continuation of the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. I’m about halfway through, and so far the book picks up the characters and intensity of the original trilogy. Not seasonally festive, but I’m looking forward to finishing it when I can devote a solid block of time without interruptions.” —Heather Stauffer


Small Great Things

by Jodi Picoult

“This well written novel shows the ideas of race from three different perspectives: a white supremacist, a white lawyer, and an African American nurse who is put on trial for the death of a baby that happened on her watch. Jodi Picoult brings the realities of race in today’s society to the surface and really makes the reader think about their own ideas of race.” —Emily Wendell


Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

“I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, an old favorite that I read every ten years or so. I love the language in Austen.” —Andrea Shahan



The Shell Collector

by Anthony Doerr

“After reading All the Light We Cannot See, I was still hungry for some more Anthony Doerr. His short story collection The Shell Collector has not been a disappointment.” —Natalie O’Neal


The Mothers

by Brit Bennett

“My boyfriend got it for me for my birthday and since then I’ve seen it on about a million ‘best of 2016’ book lists, so I finally decided to start reading it.So far, it does not disappoint.” —Tayler Lord


The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

“I received it via a Facebook ‘chain letter’ where you send a favorite book to a stranger, copy and paste the message as your status, and wait to receive your thirty-six books . . . I am not very far into the book, but I like the way it’s written, with side comments from the narrator. The writing is vivid on an emotional level. There seems to be so much darkness; I’m on the edge of my seat every time I sit down to read.” —Joeth Zucco


War and Turpentine

by Stefan Hertmans

“It’s a novel about the life of a WWI soldier and survivor turned artist (and a NYT Top Ten Book of the Year). It was a gift, and so far I’m loving it.” —Alisa Plant


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

“I participated in a Facebook book-exchange chain in which you send a favorite book to a friend’s friend, and others lower in the chain send you their favorite book . . . So far I adore it.” —Lacey Losh


A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression

by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe

“I promise not to make any of the recipes included in the book for any upcoming food days!” —Erica Corwin



by Chris Abani

“Interesting premise, but a surplus of ideas, subplots, and narrative strategies keep it from being a satisfying read.” —Bridget Barry


My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor

by Keith Morris

“This is Morris’ memoir of his life as a punk rock singer for Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, and currently the band Off! He has lots of axes to grind  with record labels and scummy music biz types, and is highly entertaining. It also shows how people created a new form of music that did not previously exist, and how Huntington Beach, CA was the center of some of it. I saw him perform when I was in middle school.” —Matt Bokovoy



by Michael Chabon

“If you like the ‘autobiographical fiction’ of Wonder Boys and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, you will enjoy this book. I do, so I do.” —Alicia Christensen


The Advocate

by Randy Singer

“Part biblical fiction, part historical re-imagining, and part political drama (and I mean drama), this was a fascinating and compelling read.” —Anna Weir

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