We asked Grove City College faculty to give us some recommendations for summer – or anytime – reading and they answered with enough suggestions to fill any bookshelf.
Last week, we published part one of our faculty summer reading list, this is part two.
“I love reading in the summer and often mix in things for fun, for work, both, and things I am reading aloud with my family,” Professor of Political Science Caleb Verbois said.
Verbois said he’s already finished a short collection of Isaac Asimov mysteries that he picked up for 50 cents at a local book sale. “At the same book sale I picked up Bruce Catton’s 'Terrible Swift Sword.' I am an amateur military history buff and have read a lot about the Civil War, but I have never read Catton,” he said. Dr. Gillis Harp, professor of history, vouched for the writer and “that is good enough for me,” Verbois said.
Verbois said he’s reading Plutarch’s “Lives” with his wife, Harry Potter and Tolkien with his kids, and planning to read “Freedom on Trial” by Scott Farris and “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism” by Matthew Continetti. He highly recommends Dorothy Sayer’s mysteries—both her novels and short stories – as ideal beach reads.
“In general, whether it is summer reading or year-round reading, I find that reading something you genuinely enjoy is a very important habit to stay in, even more so in an era filled with screens, doom scrolling, and binge-watching opportunities,” he said.
David Butler, associate professor of Supply Chain Management/International Business, is reading “Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World” by Richard J. Foster.
Butler said he’s using the book, which explores simplicity as an essential spiritual discipline, as a resource for a lesson he’s working on for his church and a potential “fiver” for the Office of Christian Formation series of faculty-led chapel studies. “Beyond that,” he said. “I’m feeling led towards this study to more closely connect to God’s plan for my life amidst the ever-increasing complexity of the world in which we live.”
Andrew Mitchell, professor of History, is reading “Demons: A Novel in Three Parts” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, a book that’s going to be required reading for his upcoming History of Russian course.
The plot of the 19th century novel may parallel our 21st century American experience, Mitchell noted.
“Dostoevsky provides us with powerful and disturbing insights into a society whose leaders -- and middle class -- have completely lost any sense of why their society was established or why it should continue the way it does. As a result, they have no purpose, no sense of direction,” he said. “They turn instead first to excessive and individualized indulgence and increasingly, when that fails to satisfy, to toy with anarchic and violent declamations about destroying society that become public with terrible consequences.”
He'll balance that out with a rereading of “The Inimitable Jeeves” by P. G. Wodehouse, who Mitchell calls a “master of the light comedic form” and a genius “in understanding overlooked elements of the human condition and in reminding us all, especially in our own times, the necessity of humility and charity towards others.”
Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Mike Bright said he’s just finished reading some fantasy – “The Tolkien Reader” and “Of Fallen Ash and War” by Glysia Gretz, a friend’s daughter – and Chaim Potok’s “The Promise.” “It’s the second in a series about a couple Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn in the middle of the 20th century. Excellent writing and great insight into an interesting culture,” Bright said.
Next up for Bright are some books related to work, including “All Things Hold Together in Christ” by James K. A. Smith and Michael L. Gulker, “Mathematics and Computation” by Avi Wigderson, and “Generation Z Unfiltered” by Tim Elmore – “I am still trying to figure out the students in my classroom,” Bright said.
Darren Warren, an adjunct professor in Graduate Programs, said he’ll be reading “Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter” by Dr. Timothy Keller to keep his spiritual life stimulated. He highly recommends the work of Keller, a prolific Christian theologian, and plans to pick up the author’s book, “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God,” before autumn comes.
Professor of Mathematics Dale L. McIntyre said he’s reading “In Six Days – Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation” edited by John F. Ashton. It’s reassuring, he said, to find so many scholars have come to the same conclusion he has about the Bible’s validity on the subject.
Also on McIntyre’s summer “to read” list is “Cold Case Christianity” by J. Warner Wallace, a retired homicide detective who applies his methods of solving cold cases to verify the truth claims of Christianity.
“Having been interested in apologetics in recent years, I’m eagerly anticipating reading Wallace’s highly acclaimed work. My all-time favorite apologetics title is 'The Case for Christ' by Lee Strobel. I’ve read several of Strobel’s works and I find them to be very interesting and especially helpful for strengthening my faith.”
“I enjoy the opportunity summer provides to read good books that I am not teaching or writing about,” Associate Professor of English Jeffrey Bilbro said. “I’ve got several books I’m looking forward to this summer. Right now, I’m reading Eugene Vodolazkin’s new novel 'Brisbane.' It is excellent.” Also on the docket are 'Interior States' by Meghan O’Gieblyn and “In Defense of Sanity” by G.K. Chesterton.
“I also try to regularly re-read books: last summer it was Augustine’s Confessions and this summer it’s George Eliot’s Middlemarch,” he said. “The book’s last sentence is justly famous: ‘But the effect of [Dorthea’s] being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.’”
Bilbro, an expert on the Kentucky novelist Wendell Berry, always recommends readers give one of his books a try. “'Hannah Coulter' is a great place to begin, and 'Jayber Crow' is his masterpiece,” he said.