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Read Like a Professor

Booklists brought to you by Fogler Library and UMaine Faculty. 
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Read Like a Professor

What Book Should Every College Student Read? 

As recommended by UMaine faculty

If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie

"’Separateness’ is the plague of our era. We have become separate, above, the natural world--having dominion-- when in actuality we are one life form in that system. The result of this separateness is that we treat the natural world as a resource that we can exploit for our individual benefit. How different would we be if we had a different origin story than the Garden of Eden?” - Constant Albertson, Associate Professor of Art and Art Education

 

Mapping the Deep by Robert Kunzig

“This is one of the best books about the ocean I have ever read -- highly entertaining, illuminating, full of wild stories and fascinating science without the jargon. All humans are tied to sea, whether or not they live near a coast; if you read this book, you'll understand why.” - Katherine Allen, Assistant Professor, Earth & Climate Sciences

 

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

“Freire applies Marx's ideas to education to explore how schooling maintains inequality, and he offers all readers a different lens through which to view their own educational experiences.” - Rebecca Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction

 

A Sand County Almanac  by Aldo Leopold.

“Leopold calls for a new ethics for Western Culture, a holistic ethics which provides the foundation for an ethical system that can confront our current environmental problems (e.g. Climate Change) and social issues of social justice, equity, and diversity. Using eloquent prose,  "A Sand County Almanac" blends several genres including a literary journal, scientific reflections, and policy proposals so it can appeal to a broad readership. It embodies the interdisciplinary approach to world issues that a college education should promote and foster in its students.” - Laura Cowan, Associate Professor of English literature

 

“This is one of the books that founded the environmental movement that has grown into the climate change movement.” - Alice Kelley, Assoc. Research Professor, Climate Change Institute; Instructor, School of Earth and Climate Sciences

 

Fascism: A Warning by Madeline K. Albright, former Secretary of State

“Albright explains what Americans need to know about the characteristics of fascist leaders and the conditions that enable them to rise to power, and what happens after they obtain dominance.” - Bill Farthing, Emeritus Professor of Psychology

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

“Fascinating story about the intersection of  race, class, research and healthcare in the U.S.” - Mary Gresham, Science, Sociology, Ethics

 

The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

“This a fascinating read on the history of our fight against cancer.” - Robert Gunderson, Chair, Biochemistry

 

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“The book is everything - masterful and multi-dimensional storytelling, deep reflection on scientific ideology and higher ed, "instructions for living," a heartfelt critique of historical actions, and hope for a world we can build together and in reciprocity.” - Lily Herakova, Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism

 

The Story of More by Hope Jahren and The Ice at the End of the World by John Gertner

“There are too many good books to pick a favorite, but these are two good reads, and relevant to today's environmental concerns.” - Roger Hooke, Research Professor, School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, Geomorphology & Glacial Geology

 

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

“It beautifully illustrates how (in this case, gender) bias can impact data collection and interpretation, and how that can have massive real-world impact. It puts statistics and dollar amounts to problems which arise when diverse perspectives aren't included in planning, design, data collection, or policy. #evidencebasedfeminism” - Sue Ishaq, Assistant Professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

 

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien 

“A classic piece of literature that extends genre. Even Stephen King considers this as one of the must read books” - Vijayanta Jain, Computer Science

 

 

Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution by Wendy Brown

“Brown's book is a tremendous, lucid skeleton key for understanding so much of contemporary American life: she presents an argument about the erosion of the public good and the expansion of the private sphere, with particular focus on how the state has been harnessed to accommodate that process. Brown suggests that the end effect of this process is the "economization" of everyday life, the reduction of everything--politics, education, faith, health, family life--to the ill-suited model of market competition.” - Brain Jansen, Lecturer, Department of English

 

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

“It is a scholarly, yet highly readable and enjoyable, account of the evolutionary processes that lead to religions and the beliefs in many various gods throughout human history.” - Leonard Kass, Biological Sciences; Philosophy of Science

 

SPQR by Mary Beard

“It is a wonderful read that explores the foundation of modern western civilization.” - Joe Kelley, Professor of Marine Geology

 

Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times by Nancy Koehn

“Koehn describes how five courageous individuals--Ernest Shackleton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rachel Carson--developed into some of the most important leaders of the past two centuries. She shows that leadership is something that anyone can, and should, engage in. This is an incredibly timely and inspiring book.” - Ryan LaRochelle, Lecturer at the Cohen Institute; Leadership/Political Science

 

The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators & the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier by Colin Woodard

“Whether you are from Maine or joining us for the first time, Colin Woodward's 'The Lobster Coast' is a must read. Woodward traces the history of the Maine coast over the last 400+ years in an accessible and fast paced narrative.” - Heather Leslie, Director, UMaine Darling Marine Center & Associate Professor of Marine Sciences

 

The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

“I’d say that any student with an interest in ecology and biogeography should read this.” - Danielle Levesque, Assistant Professor of Mammalogy and Mammalian Health

 

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams

“Any student with an interest in conservation should read this book.” 

Danielle Levesque, Assistant Professor of Mammalogy and Mammalian Health

 

The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan

“As humans, we should be in awe of what we have accomplished in understanding the Universe. In spite of that, most of us cling to ignorance, lack of critical thinking that damages us as society.” - Jim McClymer, Associate Professor of Physics

 

 

Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“An accessible and quick introduction to intersectional feminism from an international perspective.  It fits in your pocket, readable in an afternoon but will provide thought provoking practical ideas for years to come.” - Kevin Roberge, Adjunct Lecturer, Mathematics and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

 

Educated by Tara Westover

“Educated is a memoir that describes how a woman rises above insurmountable life challenges.  Her story resonates with many and will inspire college students.” - Kelley Strout, Interim Director, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

“Provides the objective and subjective nature of quality, couched in a road trip. College strives to elicit quality in thought and action.” - Mario Teisl, professor, School of Economics. Also recommended by Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing.

 

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

“Chronicles the deep divide between western biomedicine and the health beliefs of other cultures, notably Asian. The young daughter of a Hmong couple experiences seizure activity from her earliest baby years. Her doctors in California repeatedly try to control her seizures with medication; her parents often withhold the medication because in the Hmong culture, seizures are evidence of deity.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

“Profound book that deals with deep divisions, injustice.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

“A book about Holocaust survivors.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

The Three Marriages by David Whyte

“This is an intriguing leadership book that details the author's belief that each person actually lives within three marriages:  the marriage to another person, the marriage to self (personally held dreams), and the marriage to a career.  Whyte's position is that often these three marriages compete and collide because the individual does not make them explicit to other people or self.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World by Laurent A. Parks Daloz and his wife, Sharon Daloz Parks, co-directors of the Whidbey Institute in Washington state. - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich

“This book explains why humans are so different from other animals. We are different because we not only inherit our genes we also inherit our culture, language, norms, beliefs, traditions and institutions from others in our society. Understanding how culture *evolves* opens up a marvelous view into why humans are the way we are, and makes you a better social scientist.” - Tim Waring, Human Behavior and Human Evolution

What is your favorite book? 

As recommended by UMaine faculty 
(Though we all agree it's hard to choose!)

High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver
“Kingsolver writes so beautifully and for me perfectly captures the "awe" in perception of nature.” - Constant Albertson, Associate Professor of Art and Art Education

 

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
“Kingsolver paints a vivid portrait of the American southwest and builds a story that draws me back to it again and again. It's hard to put my finger on a specific reason I love this book; somehow it just became my literary comfort food.” - Katherine Allen, Assistant Professor, Earth and Climate Sciences

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

“I always loved to read, but this was the first novel that caused me to question most of the assumptions I had grown up with and taught me to consider perspectives of those whose experiences were wildly different from my own.” - Rebecca Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction

 

Harriet Hume: A London Fantasy by Rebecca West

“This is a political satire disguised as fantasy and romance. It is a also an early feminist text that critiques a dualistic worldview and the persecution of ‘difference’ or the ‘other.’ Its fantastic nature means that it lies in an eternal realm of uncertainty, imagination, and delight. It embodies John Keats' ‘negative capability:’  ‘that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’ I believe that art can be transformative and that this is one of many works that is transformative.” - Laura Cowan, Associate Professor of English literature

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

“Yong discusses research on the symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships between microbes and animals, including humans.  Your health, and your very survival, depend on the microbe communities in your body.” - Bill Farthing, Emeritus Professor of Psychology

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“Charles Dickens is an amazing writer with truly wonderful details about all of his characters and settings.” - Robert Gunderson, Chair, Biochemistry

 

Lost Children Archive by Valleria Luiselli and The Overstory by Richard Powers

“I like these books because they offer an engulfing story that demands the reader's accountability to/for current realities.” - Lily Herakova, Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism

 

The Secret Lives of Glaciers by M Jackson

“This book examines climate change and glaciers from a completely different perspective, that of the people who live side by side with glaciers. It's beautifully written, and broadened my view on how people feel about the effects of climate change.” - Sue Ishaq, Assistant Professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

 

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

“Amazing storytelling. Story has elements of thriller and mythology, something not seen previously. It is in English with some Hindi words.” - Vijayanta Jain, Computer Science

 

Antifragile by Taleb Nassim 

“It is the culmination, and combinations, of his two earlier books on Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan. It changes the way we should view our lives, history, and societies.” - Leonard Kass, Biological Sciences; Philosophy of Science

 

Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

“This is one of the books that founded the environmental movement that has grown into the climate change movement.” - Alice Kelley, Assoc. Research Professor, Climate Change Institute; Instructor, School of Earth and Climate Sciences

 

Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

“He created a whole new way of telling a story in brief anecdotes. He influenced Hemingway, Faulkner and so many others.” - Joe Kelley, Professor of Marine Geology

 

Rivalry and Reform: Presidents, Social Movements, and the Transformation of American Politics by Sidney Milkis and Daniel Tichenor

“This is a recent book about the dynamic relationship between social movements and US presidents. We live in a perilous political moment, and this book shows that momentous political change is only possible through both bottom-up and top-down strategies. Anyone who wants to think about what a better political future might look like and how to accomplish significant political change should read this book.” - Ryan LaRochelle, Lecturer at the Cohen Institute; Leadership/Political Science

 

 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

“The Phantom Tollbooth has many lessons. Just bought copies for grandkids and got to hear my wife reading to a grandson. I watched as his reluctance turned to pleasure. How to deal with new and uncomfortable.” - Jim McClymer, Associate Professor of Physics

 

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

“The main character overcomes adversity by discovering that he is good at writing and being a father.  I enjoyed reading about the path he takes to rebuilding his life without holding on to the pain from his past.” - Renae Moran, Associate Professor, Horticulture and Pomology

 

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

“This collection of Borges' short stories includes The Library of Babel, an amazing short story in its own right  but one with interesting mathematical musings on the finite.  These stories leave  the reader pleasantly befuddled and pondering.” - Kevin Roberge, Adjunct Lecturer, Mathematics and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

 

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

“Food Rules is a simple and accurate guide to healthy eating.” - Kelley Strout, Interim Director, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

 

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

“Tells the story of how one man advanced public health around the world.” - Mario Teisl, professor, School of Economics

 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkein 

“I read them at the beginning of each new year.” - Mary Walker, Professor of Nursing

 

Recently Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Before that Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.

“Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson is a story about the first interstellar voyage, and a wonderfully bleak reminder of why we should focus on maintaining the only planet we have.” - Tim Waring, Human Behavior and Human Evolution

Want a checklist?

Do you want a printable checklist to keep track of your reading? 

Download the ones linked below!

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