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.

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad “I’ve been working my way up to this. It’s a workbook with a month’s worth of introspective daily journaling prompts. I’m just starting week two, which promises to be particularly challenging. I hope to put in the work necessary to get truly uncomfortable with my internalized racism and find ways to act against systemic racism and the challenges we face as a culture.” —Lacey Losh

Low Mountains or High Tea: Misadventures in Britain’s National Parks by Steve Sieberson “The title of this book caught my attention when I saw it on our new books display shelf. When selecting hiking routes, I’m partial toward low mountains. And having grown up in a culture that stops for tea every afternoon, I’m partial toward high tea! I like Sieberson’s writing style: laid back and funny. For someone who loves to travel and currently feels like a grounded 787 Dreamliner this is fulfilling my travel itch. What a delightful read! I’m glad we published it.” —Manjit Kaur

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams “Beatriz Williams is one of my favorite authors, and this novel did not disappoint. Creating a character based on the life and career of Amelia Earhart, Williams tells the story of what might have happened if the aviatrix survived her flight around the world. By incorporating historical facts, a complicated love story, and unexpected twists, this is historical fiction at its best!” —Emily Wendell

The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog by Rick McIntyre “The book details the complicated and interesting ways that wolves differ from each other while also offering insights into pack behavior in Yellowstone National Park. The story of wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone is endlessly fascinating because the ecological impacts of the wolf packs continue to change. In fact McIntyre has a new book, The Reign of Wolf 21: The Saga of Yellowstone’s Legendary Druid Pack, scheduled to be released in September 2020, so I’m looking forward to its release.” —Clark Whitehorn

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin “The premise is that New York City comes to life, with each borough embodied in a human avatar, to fight an otherworldly enemy that’s infiltrating the city. It’s fun and witty and smart—very aware of colonialist history and current racial tensions. I picked this up because I’ve heard quite a bit of buzz about the author in recent years, and I completely understand why now!” —Anne Aberle

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout “It won a Pulitzer in 2009, but I didn’t realize how popular it had been in its day (there was even a TV series made with Frances McDormand). I recommended it to a few friends as a lovely book on growing old, imperfectly, and one mentioned she specifically hadn’t read it when it was first published because it was so popular. I often do that too, let trending books cool down for a few years before reading them to see if they’re actually any good. Well it’s had a decade to settle, and it’s still good! More books about complex, postmenopausal women, please!” —Elizabeth Zaleski

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou “Maya has great courage to revisit haunting memories of her childhood and share them with honest, vivid detail.  She places her reader in her young shoes but sheds light on the scene with her mature wisdom, ultimately telling a story of perseverance and love despite the racism, poverty, and abuse she endured.” —Haley Mendlik

Machines in the Head: Selected Stories by Anna Kavan “I read Kavan’s experimental novel of wounded masculinity and environmental apocalypse, Ice, a few years ago but hadn’t gotten into her short fiction at all. Machines in the Head rounds up some of her previously unpublished work as well as her most famous stories from the 1940s and makes a great case for Kavan as a pioneer in blending genre trappings with intensely personal stories of anger, helplessness, and dealing with addiction and mental illness. My favorite story so far is titular one, a haunting examination of the impersonal angst of waking up to the same struggles, the same questions, and the same uncertainties day after day.” —Jackson Adams

Dangerous Melodies: Classical Music in America from the Great War through the Cold War by Jonathan Rosenberg. “I’m about a third of the way in and so far I’ve learned how music composed by Germans was banned from performances once the United States entered World War I as well as about how many German American musicians and conductors were arrested just based on the fear that they might be loyal to Germany. It’s depressing—I think I’m going to stop reading it for now.” —Erica Corwin

Spring Rains by Kim Stokely “Life is crazy, even in this cute novel centered around employees in an assisted living facility. I needed to read about nice people making it through their storms okay this month.” —Anna Weir

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson “The Vanishing Half follows twins from a small Louisiana town and the choices they make as Black women during the second half of the twentieth century. One twin ‘crosses over’ and passes as white, while the other returns home to face her past. The book is a moving exploration of female relationships, identity, and family. The Warmth of Other Suns is especially timely to better understand and hear voices of the mass exodus from the South during Jim Crow. The scope of the work, depth of the research, and flow of the narrative are truly impressive, and I wish I had read it a decade ago so I could be part of book discussions.” —Heather Stauffer

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