February 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.

“I’m currently re-reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I love dystopian fiction, and it has been so long since I read this one, I thought it was worth revisiting. Elements of the society in this book fascinate and also frighten me, most especially the programming of individuals to respect and enjoy their particular caste within their caste system (no matter how low caste they are) and the lack of individualism and collective mindset.” –Lacey Losh

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Thursday Murder Clubby Richard Osman. A good pairing of an old title with young characters and a new title featuring old(er) characters. I enjoyed them both!” –Heather Stauffer

“I just finished These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. It’s a re-imagining of Romeo and Juliette set in the 1920s in Shanghai. The star-crossed lovers are the heirs to rival gang families involved in a blood feud and Shanghai is being divided up by foreign interests as well as the Nationalists and Communists. There is also a monster running around spreading a madness that causes the infected to kill themselves in violent, dramatic fashion. I liked it quite a lot.” –Rob Buchanan

This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s Kid A and the Beginning of the 21st Century by Steven Hyden. “My fiancé got this for me for Valentine’s Day. Kid A is one of my very favorite albums, an overwhelming assault of dissonant sounds and simple but bleak lyrics of alienation and dissatisfaction with what seemed to be just over the horizon. Hyden really does a wonderful job putting the album in context, both within Radiohead’s discography and the turn-of-the-century anxieties that weighed heavily on the band.” –Jackson Adams

“I’ve got two books going right now. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, a much appreciated Christmas gift that, because of its length, I’m getting to enjoy for a long time. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. The reader learns early in the book that the author’s parents gifted her with the name Austin, a name more associated with white men than Black women, because, ‘One day you will have to apply for jobs. We just wanted to make sure you could make it to the interview.’ The first of many ‘wow’ moments for me.” –Joyce Gettman

“I just started Wes Anderson: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work (Unofficial and Unauthorised) by Ian Nathan. It’s a fun look at each of Wes Anderson’s movies, and it includes a lot of great photos from each film. I may have to go on another Wes Anderson movie bender while I still have a lot of time on my hands.” –Erica Corwin

“I just finished The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. Although I’ve read quite a bit about the Ripper murders, this is the first book that specifically focuses on the victims rather than the killer. Thoroughly researched, and a nonfiction narrative that reads like a novel, Rubenhold sets the records straight by showing that the five victims were not necessarily prostitutes like the police and media indicated. They had husbands, children, and families and were normal women that just happened to fall into unfortunate circumstances such as abuse, poverty, or addiction. A must read for anyone interested in Jack the Ripper or true crime.” –Emily Wendel

“This month I’ve been reading Jane Kleeb’s Harvest the Vote and Peter Longo’s Great Plains PoliticsKleeb is a brilliant Nebraskan activist largely concerned with protecting the tribal nations, small farmers, property owners, water and wildlife of rural Nebraska from big oil. I was fortunate to be able to meet with her and hear her speak several times in Kearney during the years I spent studying political science. Her book relays the story of her organization, Bold Nebraska, and its alliance with Nebraskan farmers and ranchers, tribes, and green groups against the development of the Keystone XL pipeline. I took a course on environmental policy with Dr. Longo at UNK a few years ago. He was one of the most incredible professors I ever had. Longo and his colleague once took a handful of us students to a wildlife refuge outside of Kearney to experience the biodiversity of the plains. I was so pleased to see that his work had been published by UNP, so I checked out his book from our office library! I’m excited to finish it.” –Kayla Wentz

“I started reading If the Body Allows It by Megan Cummins, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. I received it as a Christmas present; and I’m excited that I finally have time to read it. The story is about Marie, a woman in her thirties suffering from a chronic autoimmune illness, as she struggles with guilt from her father’s death. The other stories shared throughout the book are ones the narrator writes after she falls in love.” –Sarah Kee

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz. There’s a review of this collection in a forthcoming issue of Western American Literature, which reminded me of an interview with the author that I listened to a couple years ago while it was still a work in progress. Naturally I had to move it to the top of my to-read list!” –Anne Aberle

“I’m always shocked at how little I know about Africa, so I started reading Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Fascinating account of the collision of the natural wonders and people of the greater Congo River region and international desires to exploit the place. I also finished Joe Wilkins novel, Fall Back Down When I Die, a story set in eastern Montana—flyover country that you won’t find on any promotional tourist brochures. Anti-government residents, broken families, and desperately courageous people fight their way towards personal honor and redemption in a land that seems simply to endure their pretensions. In light of the recent attack on our nation’s capitol, this book is a reminder of the ways disaffected citizens have come to feel their national and local leaders no longer represent their values.” –Clark Whitehorn

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