The iSchool Community's Favorite Reads for the New Year

Published: Friday, December 30, 2016 by Allison Randall Gatt

At the SJSU iSchool, it’s pretty much a given that anyone who is teaching or in a graduate level program in library and information science would be a bookworm. Or a Kindle worm. If you enjoy audiobooks and podcasts, would that make you an earworm? (The visual connotations are endless.) I was curious what my classmates and iSchool staff and faculty members were reading during their break, and so I asked them. Here, I’ll share a little bit with you about what I’ve been enjoying, as well as, what some of the rest of the iSchool community is reading. Lastly, I hope you’ll chime in with a comment and let us know what’s at the top of your reading pile.

During semester breaks, I enjoy diving into books of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs and essays. I check through various bookmarked and hand-scrawled lists of books I want to read, while many of my classmates scroll through their lists on Goodreads and others peruse the lists put out by various booksellers and reviewers. Really, what would winter break be without books to read? So stoke up your fire or cozy up to your radiator. Pour yourself a glass or mug of your favorite potion, hot or cold, and take some time during the new year to relax and read.

When I drive by myself, I take full advantage of the chatter-free moments to listen to an audiobook. I try to have one or two checked out from the library at a time, so as to never be without during those kid-free moments. I recently listened to Andre Dubus III’s memoir, Townie, which held extra depth because it was read by the author. It’s a sad and lovely story of his growing up poor in the tough suburbs of Boston. Then I listened to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking which was also a bit bittersweet, but journalistically brilliant. About this time, my hold on Between the World and Me came in at the local library, and I am now able to listen to this haunting and timely essay. Te-Nehesi Coates reads the audiobook, which gives his words a particularly powerful resonance. As soon as I finish listening to the book, I plan to purchase a few written copies to give to my family so that we can discuss the book. There is nothing I enjoy more than a lively and intelligent conversation about literature. (Note to readership: This means all of you, too. Use the comment section below.)

Occasionally, I manage to find a few moments to curl up on the couch with a book and the cat and read uninterrupted. I must be in a memoir mood because I just finished up reading Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. Now finally, it’s on to some fiction with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Reads
Since we all love to read and I have a feeling you all do too, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and recommendations. Below, the iSchool community shares what they’re reading this winter break:

Steph Barnaby, ALASC Events Coordinator, “Ali Smith's Public Library and Other Stories, which is a collection of stories about the power of books, and the second book in the Invisible Library Series, The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman.”

Emily Winders-Gaddis, current MLIS student, “I have a huge list of teen books on Goodreads—maybe a little Rainbow Rowell to add a little romance into the mix.”

Elizabeth Wrenn-Estes, full-time iSchool Instructor of Programming for Children, Early Childhood Literacy and various materials courses, "I'm currently reading Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up to by Dean Burnett." (I might be afraid to know what my brain is really up to. She is a braver soul than I.)

Terra Emerson, current MLIS student, “I plan on reading Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson. I also facilitate a book club at my local library called ARCs and Recreation. Each of us reads a different Advance Reader Copy (ARC) and then we share them with the group. I do not yet know which ARC I will be reading for the month but I am looking forward to picking one out.”

Debbie Faires, Director of Online Learning, “I love audio books and I listen to them while driving. I constantly have a long waiting list in my Overdrive account through my public library, and I also get books through Audible. I'm currently finishing up Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. Yes, that selection was inspired by the musical.”

Ann Agee, School of Information Library Liaison, “Over the break, I'm going to read Helen Simonson's newest book The Summer Before the War, which is fun, escapist fiction and good for a rainy day.”

Kate Spaulding, current student and writer of the iSchool's Career Blog, “Earlier this year I began reading the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, so I'll probably continue with that. I just started Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford, which is excellent so far. And I am anxiously awaiting my turn to read Swing Time (Zadie Smith) and Another Brooklyn (Jacqueline Woodson), both of which I have on hold at the library. I've also got plans to go through NPR's Book Concierge and compare that list with my library's Overdrive catalog.”

Jennifer Velásquez, iSchool Instructor for Programming for Young Adults, “While working full-time and sneaking in naps, I’ll be reading chapters of Tove Janson's Summer Book. I love her work. It is comforting and wistful and warm and desolate - very Finnish.”

Sandra Hirsh, Director of the SJSU School of Information, “I am currently reading Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, the inspiration for the musical Hamilton, so I can be ready to see the production when it comes to San Francisco in a few months.” (Will she and Debbie Faires compare notes?)

Join Us!
Do those titles, authors and resources give you a good place to start? Are you reading Hamilton too? Have you seen the musical yet (no spoilers, please)? Tell us what you’re reading, what you think about it and if you would recommend it. If you’ve read any of the above titles, let us know what you think—don’t be shy. Let’s get this book party started!

For related community content, check out these articles:
Students, Faculty and Staff Share their Plans for Winter Break

Achieve the Height of Fashion and School Spirit with the iSchool Swag Store

image courtesy of Master isolated images

Comments

I just began the MLIS program! I am currently reading "A Singular Woman" The Untold Story of Barak Obama's Mother by Janny Scott. I am a little more than half way through and very impressed with this driven woman but at the same time torn with the decisions she made as a mother. I question whether I would be so torn with her decisions if "she" had been a "he". Meaning, if a father were to pursue his passion while raising two children would I be so critical? Not a page turning but definitely an interesting read. And, I saw Hamilton last spring in New York and what a treat it was!
I am another MLIS program newbie! This winter, I've been reading a book I acquired a few years ago, but have been looking forward to finding the time to read "Chris Marker-Memories of the Future" by Catherine Lupton. It's a great, oeuvre spanning examination of the life and work of one of my favorite ever filmmakers!
Thanks for sharing! As an update and a recommendation, I am currently listening to 'Unbroken,' by Laura Hillenbrand. A detailed look at the history of dozens of men who served in WWII and how they overcame crazy, overwhelmingly difficult situations. Riveting!

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