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‘Read’-y or not, holiday book suggestions

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Books can satisfy everyone on your shopping list, from Aunt Martha who always bakes the traditional fruitcake to Uncle Bob who never shops anywhere but the Lowe’s tool section.

To help you find that perfect title, we asked faculty and staff to recommend a book they’ve recently read and loved, or their suggestion for that perfect book for holiday gifting.

"I would recommend Richard Russo’s Empire Falls. Some have called it ‘the great American novel.’ I don’t know about that, but it is a memorable book and it won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s the story of an industrial town in Maine that’s on the skids and of some of the very memorable people who live there. Russo is a master at creating characters who make an impression, who last in your memory long after you’ve finished reading the book. The book is pure Americana and well worth reading."
–Mary Kupiec Cayton (history)

"I’d recommend an oldie but goodie. A few years back I got hooked on Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I loved the book so much that I purchased 10 copies and gave them to friends, asking them to ensure they were passed on as well. I plan on reading it again over the holiday break to be inspired one more time."
–Brian Breittholz (alumni relations)

"Recently, I read and would highly recommend Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. While I am not a big horseracing fan, a friend suggested I read it simply to experience the writer’s excellent writing and story-telling abilities. I couldn’t put it down.
"I also just finished Blessings by Anna Quindlen. It is a unique story and extremely well- written. Her writing is beautiful and draws you into the characters and the setting. For easy reads, I like Nicholas Sparks and would recommend his earlier books; also The Novel by one of my favorite writers, James A. Michener.
"My colleague Michele Dienno is reading Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins and recommends it because, in her words, ‘It’s just crazy.’"
–Carole Johnson (Miami Hamilton)

"I recommend Fatema Mernissi’s Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems, a very readable account of Western misunderstandings of some Eastern (near, middle east) ways of thinking. Also, Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups about the choices we make in life and Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being, a thoughtful book with beautiful moments."
–Linnea Dietrich (art)

"Here are four wonderful books I have read this year; I would recommend all of them: The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Justice in FDR’s Washington, edited and with a foreword and afterward by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow; The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter; Jolie Blon’s Bounce: A Novel, by James Lee Burke; and Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, by Bob Greene."
–Jerome Conley (university libraries)

"I grew up in an anglophile household with my Canadian-born mother, so I have always enjoyed British films and novels. Novelist and playwright John Mortimer created the character of Horace Rumpole for the BBC series, "Rumpole of the Bailey." The broadcasts caught my attention years ago and the Rumpole character continues to delight me as I re-read old stories. My holiday gift list would include the Rumpole omnibus volumes, and in particular, the most recent volume, Rumpole Rests His Case. I am giving it to myself for the holidays.
"The characters within chambers at Number 3 Equity Court are marvelous, as are the characters that Rumpole
defends. Rumpole has a tendency, as did my maternal grandfather, to spout poetry or Shakespearean quotes at a moment’s notice. It’s delightful and
escapist, with a touch of tilting-at-the-windmills."
–Rod Nimtz (Miami Middletown)

"I’ve been reading and would recommend The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk. This disease will afflict over 100 million persons in the next 50 years. The book breaks the disease progression into its three stages and describes them using medical terminology as well as presenting the patient’s and the family’s views. I like it because it flows and reads like a novel, yet I understand the reality of the serious impact this disease will have on our world."
–Juanita Tate (student affairs)

"For my friends interested in academic life and local culture, I recommend Phyllis Hoyt’s Where the Peonies Bloom: A Memoir of My Years at Western College, published by the Western College Alumnae Association in 2000, and Marian Boyd Havighurst’s 1934 mystery novel, Murder in the Stacks, available as a reprint from King Library Special Collections.
"Both take a warm trip into the past, where you learn things you may later realize you are glad to know. Dean Hoyt’s vivid account of what it was like to live and work at Western from 1946 to 1974—years when it flourished as a collegiate community just when Miami was expanding into today’s complex university—reveals the inner vitality of women’s colleges.
"Rather than reading Murder in the Stacks as a tidy item of nostalgia, you can find in its picture of daily life at Miami many cleverly rendered places, people and behaviors suggesting how life at Miami between the World Wars differed sharply from campus life today. We know that
exploring the past is experiencing difference, and reading these two books again yields that historical perspective, along with many smiles."
–Curtis Ellison (McGuffey Museum)

My ten favorite 2002 novels in ranked order

1. Atonement, by Ian McEwan
2. Big It, by Mark Costello
3. The Book of Illusions, by Paul Auster
4. The Horned Man, by James Lasdun
5. Hello to the Cannibals, by Richard Bausch
6. Century’s Son, by Robert Boswell
7. Eva Moves the Furniture,
by Margot Livesey
8. Back When We Were Grownups,
by Anne Tyler
9. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
10. Blood, by Patricia Traxler
—Jim Reiss (English)

My favorite poetry titles:

1. Holy Worm of Praise, by Philip Schultz
2. Gender Studies,* by Jeffrey Skinner
3. Ariadne’s Island,* by Molly Bendall
4. Burning the Aspern Papers, by John Drury
5. Besides Ourselves,* by Nance Van Winckel
6. Caliban: Poems, by John Whalen
7. Doris Day and Kitschy Melodies,
by Phyllis Koestenbaum
8. I Have My Own Song For It:
Modern Poems of Ohio, edited by
Elton Glaser and William Greenway
9. Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of
Botanical Verse, edited by Sarah Maguire
10. The Rocking Chair, by Keith Tuna
*Miami University Press Poetry Series
—Jim Reiss (English)

Date Published: 12/05/2002
Volume: 22   Number: 18


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