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July 13, 2001
Volume 38, No. 18


Forget weeding: It's time for reading
Iowa's energy costs prompt conservative measures
Retirees take their own sweet time

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Forget weeding: It's time for reading

Summer books. Just a marketing ploy, or is there really more time in the steamy season for the pleasures of the printed page?

Photo by Kirk Murray.

Some University faculty and staff members manage to find a quiet moment to escape into a book, despite competition from their gardens, bicycles, and City Park pool. Their summer reading choices follow.

Kim Ephgrave, professor of surgery  “I alternate (with my husband) reading to our 12-year-old or 8- year-old before their bedtime, and I enjoy their stuff nearly as much as adult literature...we just started one I remember from my childhood, The Gammage Cup by Susan Kendall…I’ve just started a trilogy that my husband was enjoying by Van Reid; the first book is Cordelia Underwood. It’s a very lively, multicharacter, fast-moving story set in Maine roughly a hundred years ago. It reminds me of Dickens but is more fun, more accessible for a 21st-century reader.”

Sandra Ballasch, librarian  “I’ve just finished Lord of the Silent, by Elizabeth Peters and the 12 volumes that precede it. [It] is the latest in the Amelia Peabody archaeology/mystery series. The books are set primarily in turn-of-the-century Egypt during one of the most fruitful periods of Egyptian archaeological discovery...Ms. Peters is a trained archaeologist herself...”

Brad Lind, secretary, library  “How about an Internet (e)-book? Tad Williams’s Shadowmarch at may be for you—an episodic fantasy adventure. Written as an experiment, this is a terrific work in progress. By visiting the site you can join a community of readers and talk about a variety of topics from Tad Williams’s stories to other authors as well...”

Pam Kacena, library assistant, media services  “My daughters and I...are reading the Harry Potter series and also the Lord of the Rings. We are reading them again because we enjoy them so much.”

Holly Carver, director, University of Iowa Press  “...Right now I am in the middle of The Yokota Officers’ Club by Sarah Bird, my all-time favorite Austin writer...set in the sixties during the Vietnam War, [it] revolves around a peacenik/hippie army brat in her first year of college who returns to Japan to visit her family. Sarah is a wizard at capturing the tensions of family life whether on base or off.”

Judy Polumbaum, associate professor of journalism and mass communication  “...a book I’ve pulled out again...because I’m visiting Chile for the last half of July—Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Chile, edited by Paul M. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff...published after the 1973 coup in Chile. It explains how supposed liberals threw in their lot with the rightists and military to undermine Allende...this mortal blow to dreams of social justice of course transpired with full complicity of the U.S....[It] makes me furious all over again.”

Mary Greer, hospital information systems  “The Lost Children of Wilder by Nina Bernstein continues to plague my thoughts this summer...the lives of these foster children remain fixed in my mind. The book describes a 25-year-old lawsuit in New York City meant to force change in a very racial, religious, and political child welfare system. While it is obvious that the system fails the children it is meant to protect, I loved reading of the dedication of the people trying to reform it.”

Craig Kletzing, associate professor of physics and astronomy  “Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, about how difficult it is to survive with a $7-an-hour job. Very thought provoking! The Company by Ian Banks—he writes...quirky, sometimes uncomfortable fiction that is exceedingly well written.”

N. William Hines, dean of the College of Law  ...intends to read Nancy Andreasen’s new book, Brave New Brain: Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome...For light reading, he just finished Nevada Barr’s latest book, Blood Lure, a mystery involving grizzly bears set in Glacier National Park. Barr’s heroine is a park ranger and each of her 10 novels takes a different U.S. National Park for its setting.

David Hamilton, professor of English  “Summer reading, what a curious thought, when you are teaching summer school and Shakespeare, as I am. So I begin with As You Like It, Romeo, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Lear, and The Winter’s Tale...For the odd moments, I have both Finnegans Wake and The Letters of Emily Dickinson... I’m...sure I’ll finish neither. But I’ll wander within some, and that will be a pleasure.”

Jennifer Glass, professor of sociology  “I’m reading Ann Crittenden’s book, The Price of Motherhood, which is an eloquent as well as fact-filled book about the ways in which American women are punished both financially and socially for bearing and raising children...I’m also reading The Canine Good Citizen by Jack and Wendy Volhard, in hopes that my lovable mutt from the Animal Shelter can become one...”

Nancy Williams, administrative assistant, Office of the Provost  “Just finished reading Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America by our own Stephen Bloom...I was interested to read about how what appeared to me to be a very homogeneous community adapted to another culture...I’m reading The Spiritual Universe by Fred Alan Wolf—one physicist’s view of spirit, soul, matter, and self. Wolf draws on traditions of thought as diverse as Aristotle, Chinese medicine, and quantum physics...”

Jay Semel, director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies  “...Carry Me Across the Water by Ethan Canin...offers the life story of August Kleinman—escaping to the U.S. from Nazi Germany as a boy, fighting as a U.S. Infantryman in the South Pacific, becoming a prosperous businessman, and experiencing retirement...the book’s exploration of the nature and the effects of Kleinman’s anger was especially interesting to me...Big Blue Train by Paul Zimmer. Every summer, I reread this terrific book of poems written by the former director of the UI Press.”

David Skorton, vice president for research  “I’ve always (since I was a kid) enjoyed mystery/suspense fiction. ...I decided to read/reread some Dashiell Hammett. I’ve finished The Maltese Falcon and am in the midst of The Continental Op...The plot, the dialogue, the choice of words, the evocative scenes, and the vivid physical descriptions made the pages fly by.”

Jenean Arnold, marketing administrator, Printing Department  “...I plan to read Naked, a memoir by David Sedaris. I’ve just finished another of his books, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and found it so funny and intriguing...Sedaris exposes himself, his family, and the other characters in his life with a deadpan delivery that left my sides aching from laughter...”

Linda Kerber, professor of history  “I’m reading Rosellen Brown’s compelling novel, Half a Heart...[It] is the story of a mother who seeks and finds the biracial daughter she was forced to abandon at birth, and the daughter, about to embark on college, who simultaneously undertakes to find her mother. This dramatic story is also a subtle meditation on whether it’s possible for parents and children to understand each other, and also how the inheritance of the civil rights movement continues to resonate in our own time...”

M. Peggy Stokes, social worker, Center for Disabilities and Development  “ now reading...Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell and just bought the new John Adams...biography [by David McCullough]. I always have a list of books and several at home but it seems I’m always buying something new, so the list gets longer.”

Compiled by Linzee Kull McCray


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