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.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

“I’m trying out the audio version of this book, which was suggested to me by folks in the Stand In For Lincoln group. They’re hoping to start digital book discussions on this book, and I’ve been looking for way to connect with people digitally, since in-person interactions are largely non-existent for me at the moment. This seemed like a good way to expand my horizons and socialize in a meaningful way with others.” —Lacey Losh

Watership Down by Richard Adams

“I first read it when I was fourteen, and I was curious how it would hold up. As a page-turner, it’s still a winner—I mostly remembered what happened but still found the plot compelling. And the characters and their culture are still tremendously drawn. The rabbit language, Lapine, is a delight—you learn it as you go and the process culminates in the reader being able to translate a rabbit insult at the peak of the narrative arc. Some aspects have not aged especially well, and while there isn’t room to go into them here, I’ll say the question of the role of female rabbits in the story is an open one. In a recent cartoon adaptation, female rabbits were added to the original bunch of escapees and given more autonomy. In the novel, I found myself thinking, well, Adams is just being realistic—male and female rabbits exhibit certain behavior patterns in the wild. But then immediately I think: but real rabbits don’t write poetry! So, it’s interesting to see where the imagination is allowed to invent new possibilities and where it is not.” —Elizabeth Zaleski

Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan’s Balloon Bomb Attack on America by Ross Coen

“After a recent home library reorganization I’ve definitely got a lot of unread books to work through. Right now I’m reading one of ours. I think it’s interesting that he tells both the story of how Japan manufactured the balloons and what the United States and Canada did as they discovered the balloons.” —Erica Corwin

Joan Didion: The 1960s and 70s edited by David L. Ulin

“I’m very guilty of buying these omnibus editions of writer’s collections, usually reading some of them, and then wholly abandoning the sub-1000 page tomes somewhere in the first third when I get distracted by something new. These, however are not usual times. I’d previously read “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” but now I’m deep in “Run River,” Didion’s debut novel of suburban boredom and postwar-alienation. It’s interesting as a fan of her more revolutionary writing and has the keen eye for detail and the hypocrisies of the rich and dull that her later, more iconic work is known for.” —Jackson Adams

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

“My boyfriend asked for this book for Christmas, and after reading it, encouraged me to read it, too. I must admit that my eyes were opened to the racial prejudice, violence, and economic hardships that Trevor Noah and his family endured in South Africa. Although hard to read in spots because of these hardships, Noah is hilarious, and I would recommend this book to anyone.” —Emily Wendell

Murder in Greenwich Village by Liz Freeland

“It’s a fairly predictable storyline, but entertaining enough, which is all I need this month.” —Bridget Barry

March Upcountry by David Weber and John Ringo (Empire of Man, Book One)

“I happened to win some money in a football pool this year and I decided to spend it all in the best way I could think of, so I bought a bunch of books for my Kindle. John Ringo writes science fiction stories that are a ton of fun to read. After their ship is sabotaged, prince Roger and his guard are forced to land on a backwoods planet that is only nominally part of the empire. In order to escape the notice of enemy forces they have to land several thousand kilometers away from the only spaceport, which is now in the hands of their foes. They then have to journey to the spaceport, capture it, and secure a way back home, all while dealing with a harsh environment, vicious predators, hostile natives, dwindling supplies, and running out of power for their armor and weapons. So far I am enjoying it quite a bit.” —Rob Buchanan

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

“The author’s voice has drawn me in. If I could stop reading about the coronavirus long enough I might make some headway.” —Tish Fobben

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk

“This collection of Mother Teresa’s personal correspondence reveals the inspiration behind the Missionaries of Charity and her work in the slums of Calcutta. Hidden behind her gentle smile were years of interior darkness. Glimpses of the human side of this saintly women make her story all the more inspiring.” —Haley Mendlik

We Cast a Shadow: A Novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

“Someone in my book club heard about it and assigned it. I highly recommend it. It’s very well written and an easy read but nothing about the story is easy. It’s gripping yet profound and painful.” —Manjit Kaur

The Best We Could Do by Thui Bui

“I haven’t read a graphic novel since Maus but I recently finished this illustrated memoir. It’s a beautiful book that presents her family’s history—an important refugee story—in vivid shades of reds and blacks. It stands to be read multiple times.” —Rosemary Sekora

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“If not now, when? What happens first: we get COVID-19 under control or I finish this tome?” —Joel Puchalla

Bellweather Rhapsody and Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, both by Kate Racculia

“Both are interesting and fun, and definitely genre-bending. Balancing multiple narrators, Bellweather follows a single weekend at a hotel filled with teenage musicians, personal ghosts, oversized ambitions, and some very quirky characters. Tuesday Mooney’s cast of personalities do not disappoint, especially as they rediscover senses of community while solving a reclusive millionaire’s city-wide scavenger hunt. Needless to say, I enjoyed both books.” —Heather Stauffer

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