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Shelf Awareness: Check Out Top Picks From These Presidential Page Turners

This article appeared in the July 2, 2018, issue of the student newsletter.

Summer is here, and so is the Texas heat! For the days it's simply too hot to leave the house, consider curling up with one of these top picks in subject areas like historical fiction, sci-fi, biographies and more.

President Thom Chesney, Brookhaven

"I usually have two books going at once, and never of the same type," said Chesney. Here are his summer reading recommendations:

  • Academia Obscura by Glen Wright explores the "hidden, silly side of higher education." The book was adapted from Wright's blog and Twitter account during his time in a doctorate program in 2012.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is "an audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, and tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity."

President Christa Slejko, North Lake

From Prada to Da Vinci, Dr. Slejko makes the following summer reading recommendations:

  • Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown explores the cultivation of true belonging in communities, organization and culture. "A little reflection and empowerment is always a good thing, and Brene's easy, conversational writing style means it's not too heavy for a summer read," said Slejko.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson is "a study in creativity, its definitions and how to achieve it." Isaacson has also written the biographies for Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Last but not least, Slejko recommends When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger, also the author of "The Devil Wears Prada." "It is summer, after all! And I love a fun, no-brainer beach read, whether I'm going to the beach or not."

President Kay Eggleston, Richland

Dr. Eggleston made two recommendations for summer reading list additions:

  • The Circle by Dave Eggers tells the captivating story of one young woman's ambition and idealism as she is hired to work for The Circle, the world's most powerful internet company. At The Circle, users' personal emails, social media and finances link with their universal operating system, and the story soon turns into a tale of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy and the limits of human knowledge.
  • Placed Out by former Richland English professor Janet Elder is a fictionalized account of four young children who rode the orphan trains headed west from Eastern cities during the early 20th century. They were "placed out" to rural families in the hope that these homeless and destitute immigrant children would have a better life.

President Jean Conway, Eastfield

Described as "an avid reader," Conway makes the following recommendations to add to your summer reading list:

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles transports the reader to The Metropol, a famed Moscow hotel where Count Alexander Rostov lives under house arrest until he meets Nina, a precocious and wide-eyed young girl who will irrevocably change his life.
  • The Girl with Seven Names tells the story of Hyeonseo Lee's life growing up in North Korea until she decided to escape at age 17 from one of the world's most ruthless and secretive dictatorships.
  • A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline tells the story of Christina Olson's life on her family's remote farm in Cushing, Maine, and her eventual role as the host, subject and inspiration for artist Andrew Wyeth.

President Joe Seabrooks, Cedar Valley

While Drs. Chesney, Slejko, Eggleston and Conway made several fiction recommendations, Dr. Seabrooks took more of a turn for nonfiction with a book on leadership:

President Robert Garza, Mountain View

Dr. Garza recommends the following books, known as two of his favorite titles (while showing that he may already be thinking about Conference Day in the process!):

  • The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore explores the alternating narratives of two kids, both named Wes Moore, born blocks apart within a year of each other. One grew up to serve a life sentence, convicted of murder, while the other grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow and business leader.
  • Josie's Story: A Mother's Inspiring Crusade to Make Medical Care Safe by Sorrel King discusses the life and untimely death of King's 18-month-old daughter Josie, horribly burned by water from a faulty water heater in the family's new Baltimore home. Josie made a nearly complete recovery until she was erroneously injected with methadone and died shortly before being discharged. King also discusses her family's slow but steady road to recovery, as well as her own road from grieving parent to nationally renowned advocate.