Without classes prescribing which books to pour over this summer, it might be tricky deciding which books to start.
Here’s five recommendations from LSU faculty to help jumpstart your summer reading.
“Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe
Recommended by Granger Babcock, Associate Dean of the Honors College
“Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” begins with the abduction of a woman from her family by the Irish Republican Army during The Troubles of North Ireland. The nonfiction focuses from the micro-level, as Babcock said, on Irish Catholic families in Belfast during the ‘70s and ‘80s as they resist the British Imperialism and political upheaval of the era.
Critics acclaimed the book for being highly informative and interesting. It is widely considered to be one of the best books of 2020. Babcock believes the book can greatly further the understanding readers have of the era, while genuinely entertaining them, something that distinguishes “Say Nothing” from many of its contemporaries.
“Kingfish” by Richard White Jr.
Recommended by Chris D’Elia, Dean of the College of the Coast and Environment
“Kingfish” was the name awarded to the infamous Louisiana politician Huey P. Long, and in “Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long,” a recollection of the personality and career of Long can enlighten and enthrall even those very familiar with him.
Written by Richard White Jr., former dean of LSU’s E. J. Ourso Business College, the biography of Long’s personal and professional career, bears insight into state politics and even LSU’s history, D’Elia said.
An understanding of Long can provide context to modern Louisiana politics and the strengths and shortcomings of the state. Long is a complicated figure in history and White’s biography can provide the context for Long’s ambition to make “Every man a king.”
“The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr.
Recommended by Maurice Ruffin, Assistant Professor of English
To Ruffin, “The Prophets” is about many things: race, gender, queerness and American History. The narrative takes place on an early nineteenth century plantation in the deep south, and follows two men’s romantic love for one another in a place of institutional hate.
Ruffin said the book was his favorite of 2021. To him and critics alike, the book’s lyric style mirrors the poetry of Toni Morrison.
The novel follows many lives and experiences and many perspectives and opinions as Jones explores the suffering of inheritance and the power of love.
“The Memory Librarian” by Janelle Monáe et al.
Recommended by Chris Barrett, Professor of English
Five distinct, Afrofuturist stories written by multiple authors weave together the anthology “The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer” into an immersive experience.
Acting as a kaleidoscope to a future of possibilities, Barrett said, “The Memory Librarian” explores the breakaway of those that dictate fate.
Barrett said the book explores what happens to and because of love, in its many gendered and queer forms, when threatened by dystopia. She continues, saying the book is lyrical, haunting, subversive and elegant, much like Monáe’s album, “Dirty Computer,” which the book directly references.
“The Other Side of Suffering” by Katie E. Cherry
Recommended by Katie Cherry, Professor of Psychology
Five years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, Cherry, LSU professor of psychology and the author of “The Other Side of Suffering: Finding a Path to Peace after Tragedy,” logged many miles and hours speaking to current and former coastal residents as they discussed the phenomenon of the disasters.
Cherry combined the recordings with her notes and found six principles to healing (faith, humor, respect, gratitude, acceptance and silver linings) based on her research.
The memoir features themes of the new normal, losing everything, healing and recovery. Cherry’s book serves as an avenue toward the finds of her research: survivors can find their way to the other side of suffering after tragedy despite catastrophic losses.