What We’re Reading

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

January Staff Reading List

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

“I found it at a used book sale. The copy’s previous owner’s name was written in the front, and since she is someone I know and respect, I took that as a good recommendation. The book tells the stories of a number of women, some famous, others not as well-known, who used their intelligence, strength, bravery, and in some cases, access to powerful men, to fight for and help shape the nation they wanted to live in. Roberts’s down-to-earth writing style makes this an easy and entertaining read, and one with good lessons for today on what it means to be committed to the ideals of our country’s founding.” —Joyce Gettman

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“I was looking at some end-of-the-year reading list, and this was on it, even though it wasn’t published in 2019. She is a good storyteller, and I find that I’m thinking about the characters in her book a few times throughout the day. This is just the kind of book that I love to read and savor.” —Joeth Zucco

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

“I’m trying to read it on my phone, which is probably not a good way to approach such a giant book. I am a huge fan of Wallace’s nonfiction, but wow, the novel is really a slog. I have some idea of what he’s getting at formally and conceptually and can appreciate it on a once-removed level, but the immediate act of reading this book is almost painful. David Letzler discusses just this issue in The Cruft of Fiction, which was one of the first books I worked on here at UNP. I will have to revisit chapter 2, where Letzler argues, among other things, ‘The notes’ alternating pointlessness and importance require a constant modulation in the rhythm of one’s reading between focused attention and different levels of skimming in seeking out vital information.’ Uh huh.” —Elizabeth Zaleski

You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmin Kaur

“I was excited to see this in the library after reading a bookseller’s online endorsement (and particularly the verse: ‘scream/so that one day/a hundred years from now/another sister will not have to/dry her tears wondering/where in history/she lost her voice’). The novel is slim, but it bursts at the seams with short pieces, poems, and illustrations. Kaur’s voice is beautiful and purposeful as she explores what being a young woman straddling cultures and expectations feels like, especially in a world too willing to dismiss it.” —Heather Stauffer

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

“I’m only a few chapters into this horror reimagining of the doomed Donner Party’s journey to California in the mid-19th century but I already feel like it’s something special. Even for those who know their frontier history, Katsu infuses a tremendous sense of dread into what’s coming for the pioneers and there’s a lingering sense of hunger to all the characters, for food, fulfillment, the fantasy of a better life. I’m certainly excited to see just how things assuredly go horribly, dreadfully wrong.” —Jackson Adams

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

“This was a Christmas gift from my mom. It’s a collection of essays where Mary Oliver reflects on the importance of the natural world in her life and writing and it’s been an absolute joy so far. Highly recommend if you’re feeling cooped up inside with the winter blues!” —Anne Aberle

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor by Joe Starita

“It’s fast and compelling reading. The courage, self-discipline, adaptability, and other-centeredness demonstrated by Susane La Fleshe was matched only by her intelligence and vision. Although she lived just fifty years she packed in the living. Born in a tepee on the prairie when the Lakota still hunted buffalo, at fourteen she was sent on a train to be educated on the East coast, returned to reservation life, went to medical school in Boston, and then moved back home to doctor her people and encourage public health. She tried every possible means to improve the lives of her community. It’s a sobering, inspirational read.” —Tish Fobben

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes by Jessica Pan

“The title and description sounded too familiar to leave in the store I’d only intended to browse. I appreciate Pan’s honesty and humor, and any efforts I’ve made at small talk in the last month I credit largely to her.” —Anna Weir

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