What To Read Now

reading book at the beach

We asked Hood faculty to give us their summertime or anytime reading recommendations, and here they are!

Recommended Reading from Hood Faculty

Elizabeth Knapp, Ph.D. (she/her/hers), associate professor of English and chair of the Department of English and Communication Arts 

Title: Romantic Comedy

Author: James Allen Hall

Why I like it: James Allen Hall’s second collection of poems, winner of the 2020 Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry, is a devastatingly beautiful book about surviving trauma, both personal and historical, and the narrative of selfhood in queer American life.

Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Ph.D., president of Hood College and professor of psychology

Author: Anthony Doerr 

Why I like it: The writing is so well done—it captures your imagination, and you feel you really know the characters, they are so richly drawn. The story is about how children who do not quite “fit in” are the heroes; inspiring and heart-warming. Not to mention a heavy dose of world history thrown in for good measure.

Susan M. Ensel, Ph.D., professor of chemistry 

Author: Bonnie Garmus 

Why I like it: Look at the title—need I say more?! (Have no fear—it is not really about chemistry.) 

Author: Merlin Sheldrake 

Why I like it: This book made me step back and really think about how truly interconnected our world is.

David Hein, Ph.D., professor emeritus of religion and philosophy and distinguished teaching fellow of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal

Author: Roger Kimball

Why I like it: A vibrant and insightful collection of timely essays by the renowned editor of America’s leading cultural review, this book addresses a range of issues in public policy, ethics, philosophy, recent history and literature, always with wit, wisdom and verve.

Laura Moore, Ph.D., professor of sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work

Author: Katherine Boo

Why I like it: It made me appreciate the invisible social structure needed to yield individual success and the consequences of its absence. 

Author: Bryan Stevenson 

Why I like it: This book is a great example of social activism to address major flaws in the judicial system related to race and income, and its a real-life story that was made into a movie.

Title: On Chesil Beach   

Author: Ian McEwan 

Why I like it: This author likes to offer moral conundrums for his characters. This book outlines the consequences of a couple’s silences on their relationship. 

Author: Elizabeth Strout 

Why I like it: I read everything this author writes. The characters’ lives are simple yet unique in their depth, and one has to reflect on the consequences of each of our interactions. Another book to film adaptation (but the book is better). 

Author: Jennifer Boylan 

Why I like it: A nice introduction to understanding the lived experiences of someone transitioningVery readable and relatable.  

Author: Maya Rodale 

Why I like it: One of the few books exploring where the bias against this genre comes from.

Michelle Gricus, DSW, associate professor of social work

Associate Professor of Social Work 

Title: The Farm

Author: Joanne Ramos 

Why I like it:A compelling story about the intersections of race, class and gender, this novel really made me think about the “business” of oppression. 

Author: Robert Kolker 

Why I like it: I loved the integration of science and family history throughout this book!

Robert Kambic, assistant professor of biology

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro 

Why I like it: Ishiguro is a master of telling stories about memory and meditating on life. This book (about an aging English butler considering his life) is less dream-like and a quicker read than Ishiguro’s others but still moving.

AuthorAnne Leckie 

Why I like it: A superb example of great modern science fiction: interesting ideas filled with fleshed out and compelling characters featuring themes like what it is to be human. First in a trilogy. 

AuthorTed Chiang 

Why I like it: Every story in this collection of shorts has a new and compelling idea driving it, none outstaying its welcome. The worst story is good, the best are great.

Melissa Carter, adjunct professor of chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus 

Why I like it: Funny yet relatable (even today!) story about a woman fighting inequality in science in the 60s.

Amy Gottfried, Ph.D. (she/her), professor of English and director of the creative writing concentration

Author: Rachel May 

Why I like it: The story of a young artist working at a religious school on the coast of Maine: it has art, theology, passion and a powerful sense of place all in oneAnd it’svery short!