The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Duluth

Volume 17 • Number 2 • Spring 2000

UMD Home


UMD Alumni

Contact Alumni Office




Books of Summer

(Left): Lee Jensen Bujold laughed out loud reading The Oldest Living Confederate Widow
(Right): Ryan Rosandich says Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is the study of philosophy in a technical world.

Leisurely summer vacations are the perfect occasion for catching up on your reading. When the heat and humidity hang heavy in the air, we head for pools and lakes. Those days are great for finding deep shade, drinking tall glasses of ice tea and reading a really good book. This list of books, recommended by UMD faculty, staff and alumni reflect the energy and diversity of expertise that exist in the UMD community. Choose one and enjoy!

Issac's Storm, by Erik Larsen is the story of the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas in the early 1900s. It revolves around a somewhat vain young meteorologist in charge of the weather station who discounted the possibility of the storm being serious. Guevara, Also Known as Che, by Paco Ignacio Taibo II. It's a readable biography of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, based primarily on his own voluminous diaries.

-- Ted Pedersen, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

I love to recommend books! I read too much . . . so . . . A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean and The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen.

-- Elise Ralph, Assistant Professor, Physics Department and Large Lakes Observatory

Ferroll Sams' books Run With The Horsemen, The Whisper of the River, and When All the World Was Young are worth recommending. Fascinating characters, good stories, fine humor -- kept me enthralled through a very long series of plane rides to Africa a few years ago.

-- Timothy B. Holst, Professor of Geology; Director, Center for Freshwater Research and Policy; Associate Dean, College of Science and Engineering  

I've recently read the book The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck. It takes a while for the plot to unfold as Steinbeck develops the characters, but once things start happening you are compelled to read on until the end.

-- Karen Moen, Instructor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics (Alumna: 1999-M.S., 1985-B.S.)

I thought The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Alan Gurganus was a funny, interesting and odd book. It was written from the first person. This strong, 99-year-old woman is speaking right to you about the trials and tribulations of her life, beginning with her marriage at age 15 to a captain in the Confederate Army. Her insight and good humor made me laugh out loud! She had her fair share of weird things happen to her and proved to the reader that she could not be stumped. One more recommendation is How to Know God, by Deepak Chopra. It is an everyday perspective on spirituality, Chopra says the hand of God is all around us. The book puts a face to spirituality and made me feel in the middle of it.

-- Lee Jensen Bujold, Center for Economic Development.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R Hofstadter is a classic. Hofstadter explains Gödel's "Incompleteness Theorem" which states that in reasonably complex systems, there are facts that are true, but that can't be proven. Hofstadter uses the concepts of Escher and Bach to illustrate his ideas.

-- Doug Dunham, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science

I would like to recommend the book Philosophy and Computer Science by Timothy R. Colburn. Professor James H. Fetzer, editor, wrote "Anyone with an interest in artificial intelligence, reasoning by machines, and the theoretical foundations of computer science will find it rewarding".

-- Marian S. Stachowicz, Professor, Laboratory for Intelligent Systems, Electrical and Computer Engineering

My selection is Talking Rocks by Carl Gawboy and Ron Morton. It was nominated for the 1999 Minnesota book of the year in its category.

-- Penny Penelope Morton, Department Head Department of Geological Sciences

When one thinks of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and the epic trilogy Lord of the Rings come readily to mind, but for me the memorable tale, the one I reread every summer is Smith of Wootton Major. In this, his last tale, Tolkien reminds me that much of what I enjoy in this life, especially friends, is lent for a period of time, not given. Gifts lent by God must be treasured.

Another book I recommend for summer reading is Stephen E. Ambrose's The Victors: Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II. In this moving and authoritative book, Ambrose draws from five of his earlier works to provide a comprehensive account of the war in Europe seen from the perspective of the men who fought there. Using oral history interview, Ambrose takes us into the foxholes and on patrols, capturing the experience of the brave G.I.s who fought for our freedom over half a century ago. Stressing the decisive roles played by non-commissioned officers and junior officers, Ambrose also provides the context of the big picture. If you watched Saving Private Ryan and want more, read this book.

-Neil Storch, Professor, History Department

Photography After Photography: Memory and Representation in the Digital Age by editors Hubertus V. Amelunxen, Stefan Iglhaut, and Florian Rotzer, examines the collapse of the boundaries of photography and the implications of the digital age for the medium. The book addresses the role photographic imagery plays in shaping the global communication culture.

-- Gloria Brush, Professor of Art and Head of Art Department

There are three books that I suggest for summer reading. These will be interesting to most people, and alumni in engineering and business may especially like them.

The first, The Tao of Leadership is a collection of short reflections on leadership, based on ancient Chinese philosophy or tao. It is easy to read but gives a person a lot to think about.

Another book, The Mind of the Strategist, by Kenichi Ohmae might seem a bit old for a management book, but I found it to be readable and insightful. It deals with why strategy is so powerful when done right. The book has plenty of ideas for developing an effective strategic plan.

My third recommendation is The Goal by Eliahu Goldratt and Jeff Fox. This is a novel about a plant manager who has to turn his failing plant around before he loses everything; it provides the basis for Goldratt's Theory of Constraints. It is so well written and entertaining that you would not know it's sometimes used as an engineering text!

-- David A. Wyrick,
Head and Associate Professor Department of Industrial Engineering, Director of Engineering Management Graduate Studies, Editor, Engineering Management Journal

There are good books by authors who write about Minnesota. The John Sanford novels are about a Minneapolis cop who is involved with murder mysteries. His "Prey" novels are great. Secret Prey is my favorite. Still Waters is also a good one. It is by Tami Hoag and it takes place in a small Minnesota town.

-- Julene Boe, President, UMD Alumni Association

I recommend the book, Stickin, the Case for Loyalty by James Carville. It is an interesting and entertaining read on loyalty and what it means to the "Ragin' Cajun." in a world where loyalty in business or relationships is a thing of the past. It's great to see a fellow Baby Boomer make a case for sticking with your friends when things get tough.

-- Charlie Glazeman, past president, UMD Alumni Association  

I would suggest Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, from way back in the 1970s. It is a wonderfully lyrical piece of writing, essentially a collection of brief descriptions of cities of the mind, travellers tales told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. At the same time it questions the nature of "The City" as model of our perception of reality.

-- Stephen Hilyard, Assistant Professor of Art

My favorite book is always the one I am reading right now. However, Possession, by A.S. Byatt is a contender for being my favorite. It is a fictional account of two sets of writers taking place in two time periods, linked by love for each other and literature. Byatt writes in the working voice of these four authors within the book itself.

-- Barbara Jeffus (class of 1968 and sister of LeAne Rutherford) is the Library Consultant for the State of California, grades K-12.

The novel I am currently enjoying is Straight Man by Richard Russo. This 1997 novel mines the same vein of humor and heartbreak as MOO by Jane Smiley. Here, too, academia is the setting and the source of sad silliness in this witty and wry book. Both my sister and I put Barton Sutter's Cold Comfort at the top of the list of favorites in the nonfiction area. It ought to be required reading for anyone who is spending (or who has spent) time in Duluth.

-- LeAne Rutherford, member of the Bridge Advisory Board, newsletter editor and consultant for Instructional Development Service at UMD.

One of my all-time favorites is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is an excellent study of philosophy in a technical world. I also ride and maintain my own motorcycle, so I connected well with that aspect of the book.

-- Ryan G. Rosandich, Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

-- Bruce Peckham, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

I Am One of You Forever, a novel by Fred Chappell, is set during World War II in the Carolina mountains. This is the first in the superb tetralogy of novels by one of the country's, finest writers and poets.            

Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery, by Patricia Weaver Francisco is powerful. Louise Erdrich said, "Patricia Francisco has done that rare thing: write with honesty about an act of evil . . . Her story is important for every woman to hear and every man to know."

Cider with Rosie is an autobiography by Laurie Lee. Memories of a Cotswold boyhood in the early part of the century by a fine lyric poet, this book exists in many editions (some illustrated) that can be found through used-book dealers. It is a treasure in any edition.

The Man Who Moved a Mountain, a biography by Richard C. Davids, is a story for our times. A Virginian mountain man grows out of the shadows of violence, drunkenness and ignorance in the first half of the century, leading many with him.

-- Joseph Maiolo, Professor, English Department

I have been interested in reconsidering the trickster adventures of Odysseus and others since my high school days. The book, Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde gets high marks.

Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay struck a chord with me. Asphalt paving of the world was the subject of a 30" x 40" lithograph I completed in the early 1970s. I was uncomfortable about the increase in roads world wide and I read this book to see if I continued to hold this view, or in what ways my attitude changed.

The Redesigned Forest by Chris Maser stays with the theme of environmental sustainability. "The world remains a stage. . . the present is all we have, and knowledge of old growth helps us consider young growth, short rotation forests . . . "

-- Leif Brush, Professor of Art

Edward T. Hall's Beyond Culture and Dance of Life are the third and fourth of the anthropologist's books that deal with how people in different cultures perceive time and space. A must read for graphic designers.

Steven Johnson's Interface Culture is about the "new media" put into historic, contemporary and future contexts.

Rita Carter's Mapping the Mind, except for the annoying way its text is set, is a beautifully illustrated book about the cognitive sciences.

In Ursula Goodenough's The Sacred Depths of Nature a famous cell biologist discusses what it all means from her scientific and spiritual point of view.

-- Thomas G. Kovacs, Visiting Professor of Graphic Design

I recommend the Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb. The book is about family, about the importance of land in American history and culture, and about a simple people losing their community. One of the best books I've read. It is well written and different from many other novels I've read. It is one of those books that you can't put down.

-- Richard Lichty, Professor, Econ Dept.

The Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb is even better than Rosewood Casket. It has some of the same characters as Rosewood.

-- Carolyn Zanko, SBE Dean's Office, Assistant to the Dean






Web site and contents © 2004 University of Minnesota Duluth
BRIDGE, the UMD Magazine, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812, (218) 726-8000
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.