April 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 titles where our noses have been buried.

The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma by Ratika Kapur “It’s a light read but nice in these times. As always, it’s our book club pick.” —Donna Shear

The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz “I’m taking advantage of the public library’s generous due dates to read this. At 800+ pages it gets into all of the details of how the band came together and how they and their music evolved. I’m hoping this time they don’t break up but unfortunately the book has foreshadowed the outcome.” —Erica Corwin

Work Song: A Novel by Ivan Doig “It’s one of the few Doig books that I haven’t read yet. His books fascinate me because of his incredible ability to capture a sense of place and community in Montana, and Butte in 1919, the setting for Work Song, was reaching the zenith of both mining productivity and labor unrest. Much of Doig’s work tackles the issues inherent in rural life, so I’m curious to see how he approaches the bustling restlessness of what was once Montana’s largest city.” —Clark Whitehorn

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrö “I always keep a copy nearby, a classic of Buddhist writings. It was inevitable that I would return to it during the pandemic, as I did, a few weeks ago. Just having the book nearby is a comfort because the title reminds me that the nature of life is for things to ‘fall apart’ but that ‘falling apart’ isn’t the end of the story.” —Tish Fobben

Dark Age, the fifth book of the Red Rising Saga, by Pierce Brown “It took me about 200 pages to get back into the plot but I need to see it through to the end. Lots of gory deaths and plot twists. Rumor has it there may be a sixth book… I don’t know if I can handle that (but I will read it). Maybe I am a closet Howler.” —Rosemary Sekora

Smokes Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematory by Caitlin Doughty “I found Caitlin Doughty’s YouTube video addressing the practices being used in New York City to handle the large number of deaths due to COVID-19 to be comforting while also being honest and informative. This prompted me to discuss the subject online with friends and family. A couple individuals in my circle highly recommended that I read her books. So, here we are! I’m about half way through and have found it fascinating. Caitlin is a talented story teller, and she helping to familiarize me a bit more with a subject I find disturbing, and has made it more accessible to me.” —Lacey Losh

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow “I’m listening to the audiobook (read by the author), and while the subject matter is grim, the commitment to the investigation is heartening and I’m finding some comfort in the big picture—massive cultural change for the better. Some of the voice acting is hit or miss, but overall I’m really impressed with the pacing and how well-constructed this is.” —Anne Aberle

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders “I’ve started and stopped reading this one enough times that I’ve found two different book marks in the first 100 pages alone. The subject, however, is fascinating. Flanders writes convincingly that the rise of the serialized novel coincided with a change in how crime was reported during the Victorian era, turning readers, into consumers, into detectives and reporters into storytellers. It touches on the way crime writing was sensationalized at the time, particularly along gendered lines, and paints the Victorians in a manner as bloodthirsty and macabre as any true crime reader today.” —Jackson Adams

Sapiens: A Breif History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari “It’s the only book I’ve managed to read since the pandemic began (not counting the stack of First Little Readers books I’ve read with my niece—Lunch Crunch and Funny Foods take top honors there). I enjoyed it quite a bit. While the underlying argument that most of what structures human life is imaginary is not exactly new to humanities folks, I am still a sucker for a well-stated existential proclamation, such as the following, which made me laugh very hard: ‘Medieval people . . . may well have viewed their lives as far more meaningful and worthwhile than modern secular people, who in the long term can expect nothing but complete and meaningless oblivion.’ Cheers!” —Elizabeth Zaleski

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas “These have been on my reading list for longer than I can remember, so I dove into both as ‘normal’ life began shutting down. Maybe I was pulled into the themes of reinvention after tragedy, or self-discovery through solitude. Both books resonated on a level I wouldn’t have expected if I’d read them even six months ago.” —Heather Stauffer

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