September 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.

Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew. “The book is the first to detail the continuity of leadership between white supremacist organizations and the current militia movement. My special interest was reading about Thom Metzger’s group White Aryan Resistance that had its HQ in North San Diego County where I grew up. His group recruited youth from the San Diego and Orange County punk rock music scene, where Neo-Nazi skinheads infiltrated the music scene. We clashed/protested against WAR in middle school and high school.” —Matthew Bokovoy

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. “I found a copy inside a Little Free Library. I am captivated by the flow of the author’s life story written as series of poems.” —Lacey Losh

Lights and Sirens by Kevin Grange. “It’s about his participation in UCLA’s Paramedic Training Program. The book opens with a call he goes on as an intern, and it’s gripping. I’m a couple chapters in, and reading about the intensity of the program boosts my faith in our first responders. They’re smart and brave and dedicated to their mission. I’ve read a few of Grange’s books now, and I find him to be a great storyteller.” —Joeth Zucco

A Honeybee Heart Has Five Opening: A Year of Keeping Bees by Helen Jukes. “I found the start of Jukes’s memoir about her experience raising bees to be a little dry. The well-researched history of bee keeping that she presents became intriguing, however, as she added her own insights. Her observations of the hive, the correlations she makes to humanity, and the stories she shares of her personal life ultimately drew me in as a reader. In the end, I wanted to write to her and ask for an epilogue of how things stand today.” —Haley Mendlik

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. “Not great literature but entertaining. As always, it’s our book club selection.” —Donna Shear

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. “I am a big fan of George Saunders’s short stories (Tenth of December being one of the best collections of all time, IMHO), so I recently decided to listen to the audiobook for his first novel. The audiobook won an Audie in 2018 and stars over 150 narrators, among them David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Carrie Brownstein, Bill Hader, Megan Mullally, Don Cheadle, etc., etc. It’s a wild ride that is definitely worth the initial disorientation. Much of the story is told through quotations of printed sources written shortly before and after Willie Lincoln’s death, some of which are real and some of which are imaginary, and it took me a while to figure out they were saying ‘op cit,’ ‘in the work cited’ after most of the repeated source titles. It was a rare moment when knowledge of annotation shorthand actually came in handy in real life! By the end, I felt like Saunders had innovated his way into a strange and meaningful take on the state of our American souls.” —Elizabeth Zaleski

Scoreless by John Dechant. “I’m getting ready to re-read it as a tribute to the foreword writer and football legend Gale Sayers, who passed last week.” —Erica Corwin

Incendiary Art by Patricia Smith. “I’m reading this after I heard another poet I admire talk about it in an interview, and it’s a pretty heavy one. The poems are a response to the violent deaths of so many Black people in the US and about the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in particular. To quote one of the back cover blurbs that sums it up better than I ever could, this is “an epic in five movements where history becomes tragedy, becomes farce, becomes fable. Where the reader becomes complicit . . . and where nobody gets off the hook” (Marlon James).” —Anne Aberle

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery. “Democracy in Chains was highly recommended by a colleague, and I now see why it is vital for understanding our current political situation. I followed it with Anne of Green Gables to remind myself what youthful optimism feels like.” —Heather Stauffer

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