Novels, autobiographies and how-to's top MC summer reading recommendations

July 12, 2012
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

While the store shelves remind us that youngsters soon will be headed back to school, the calendar tells us that we’re not even halfway through the summer season. With more than 70 days left of sunshine and warm temperatures (officially), you still should have some time for relaxing with a good read – whether that means picking up a good book or downloading one on your e-reader.

And if you do, here’s what a few people at Maryville College would recommend:

Kelly Battles, Assistant Professor of English

“Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons is a follow-up to Cold Mountain, which was adapted into a popular movie. It is a fictional retelling of the origins of the eastern tribe of Cherokee Indians residing in Cherokee, N.C., just on the other side of the mountains from Maryville.

“The novel is steeped in local history. It is an embellished version of the past, but this is fiction, after all. Besides the thrilling plot, Frazier’s descriptions of the landscape and how the blue layers of the Smoky Mountains look on the horizon made me think of every time I come back to Maryville, driving towards the College and seeing those mountains rising in front of me, telling me I'm home.

“I plan to teach the novel this fall in my Novels course.”

Frazier will speak on the MC campus Oct. 29 as a part of the College’s Appalachian Lecture Series.

Noah Bowman, Academic Support Specialist, Learning Center

I’m currently reading a pretty awesome book, Violence, Blunders, & Fractured Jaws: Advanced Awareness Techniques & Street Etiquette, by Marc “Animal” MacYoung.

“Whereas most street survival guides focus on specific fighting techniques, MacYoung shows his readership how to identify and avoid potential dangerous situations. The author breaks down our society’s ever-increasing violent ‘operating system’ and instructs how not to be a victim or statistic. He contends that ‘if I have to throw a punch, I've made a mistake... the key to street survival is awareness, not duking and dunking.’

“With a 3-year-old daughter and a newborn, the many different lessons spelled out within this well-written and enlightening guide will definitely be included in our ongoing backyard family training and survival sessions.”

Doug Carter, Admissions Counselor

“I heard about R.A. Dickey’s autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, while watching Sports Center and Baseball Tonight.

“Dickey has been through it all in the game of baseball and in the game of life. He was a top recruit from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville and went on to play at the University of Tennessee. In 1996, he was a first-round pick in the draft but was negated his $810,000 signing bonus when a simple physical determined he was missing a ligament in his elbow. His baseball career would enter a downward spiral from there, bouncing from one minor league team to another, trying to convince the baseball world that he was the same star as he was coming out of college while also dealing, emotionally, with a childhood that included sexual abuse. After years of hard work and no return, the journeyman minor leaguer turned to the knuckleball and found his niche. He found a home with the New York Mets and has been a successful fulltime knuckleballer for them for the last three seasons.

“If you like sports, underdogs, feel-good stories and want to learn how to deal with self-confidence and adversity, I would highly recommend this book.”

Wayne Coffey, a sportswriter with the New York Daily News, co-authored the book.

Becky Davis, Executive Assistant for Admissions

“I am currently reading Reshaping it All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness by Candace Cameron Bure. This book is much more than Candace’s testimonial; it is an inspirational and motivational tool for women.

“In this book, Candace cites Scripture to coincide with her personal struggles with food and her personal relationship with the Lord. She also offers easy, healthy and inexpensive recipes. This book has reenergized my desire for a healthier lifestyle and stronger relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“One of my favorite quotes from the book is, ‘Struggling for the things we get teaches us the all-important lesson of self-discipline while it strengthens our body and spirit.’ I highly recommend this book! It’s an easy read and it gives you many ‘a-ha’ moments.”

Vandy Kemp, Vice President and Dean of Students

“I’m recommending two books.

Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel by Isabelle Allende is the story of a strong and powerful woman and former slave. The book spans four generations of a family that begins with her love affair with the son of a French planter in Haiti and includes the story of the Haitian slave revolt and subsequent French immigration to early New Orleans.

“The other recommendation is Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schults, Starbucks’ founder and CEO. In the early 2000s Starbucks over-expanded, strayed from its mission, and almost failed. Former CEO Shults returned to the helm in 2008 and pulled Starbucks back from the edge during a powerful recession by, among other things, bringing the company back to its core mission. Fascinating read for those whose organizations are experiencing similar struggles – it’s all about your identity and your mission.”

Dori May, Assistant Professor, Collection Development Librarian and Archives Liaison

Still Alice is an impressively written, dramatic view of early onset Alzheimer's told solely through the eyes of the victim, a university psychology professor. Clever writing allows us to know the progression of the disease – the heroine reports some things in a matter-of-fact manner that the reader can recognize as indications of her decline. The author also describes the awkward reaction of others, surprisingly the woman's colleagues, to her situation. Although the subject matter is heartbreakingly sad, I found that the novel reads as suspenseful science fiction in a way, but also as an education as to what sufferers might go through.

“The author, Lisa Genova, graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. She has been a clinician working with Alzheimer’s patients. I found the book very eye-opening and fascinating.”

Phillip Sherman, Assistant Professor of Religion

A Land More Kind Than Home is set in Western North Carolina and deals with religious practices such as snake handling and the authority of religious leaders.
“The author, Wiley Cash, is an assistant professor at Bethany College in West Virginia. I expect that he will be a new voice in Appalachian literature, and I hope that we invite him to speak at MC in the near future.

“I am also reading The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Petersen. I am reading this both for my general interest and because I am considering making use of it next spring in my Senior Seminar titled ‘The Question of the Animal.’

“The book discusses evidence that animals also contain a moral system, which helps us to understand our connection to other living beings. The moral self is not restricted to human beings.”