What CU is reading (2010)

Here are earlier book recommendations from CU neighbors.

Molly MacRae

Molly MacRae recommends
The Code of the Woosters

I fell in love with language and lunacy in my early teens when I first read P.G. Wodehouse. In a career spanning more than seventy years, Wodehouse created a delightful and vast array of convoluted plots, populating them with dim young men in spats, unbearably well-read, athletic young women, charmingly woolly-headed old gentlemen, and a gaggle of overbearing aunts. He also created my hero, Jeeves. Jeeves stars in dozens of short stories and novels, but one of my favorites is The Code of the Woosters.

Jeeves (valet to Bertie Wooster, one of the aforementioned dim young men) is an effortlessly superior gentleman’s gentleman possessed of flawless intellect. He quotes Shakespeare and reads Spinoza. He understands carburetors and child psychology, and he provides restorative beverages of his own concocting without prompt. Jeeves shimmers into rooms, like a healing zephyr, and singlehandedly extricates Bertie from whatever quagmire he has invariably mired himself. Jeeves has all the answers. In fact, he sounds like a rather good role model for a librarian, don’t you think?

Molly MacRae
Mystery Writer
and Library Assistant,
Champaign Public Library
Children’s Services

Sarah Wisseman

Sarah Wisseman recommends

This contemporary thriller about how to steal a presidential election using electronic voting machines and altered software, grabs you right at the beginning and won’t let you go. The attitudes and actions of politicians and reporters are familiar to all of us who have watched election results in recent years and have wondered what was really going on behind the scenes.

The characters are believable and engaging, and the writing is especially impressive when you consider that three authors (Barbara D’Amato, Jeanne Dams, and Mark Zubro) with very different writing styles (who all live in different cities!) worked together to create this novel. I‘d really like to know more about how they did it.

Masterful, seamless, and very, very plausible.

Sarah Wisseman
Author of the Lisa Donahue archaeological mysteries
Director, Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Peter T. Tomaras

Peter T. Tomaras recommends
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

I recommend Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. The initial challenge of negotiating nearly 700 pages of Lawrence of Arabia‘s packed prose became for me a journey of delight, not only in his use of language, but in his intensely personal narrative of his 1916–1918 “manipulating” of the Arab revolt, harassing the occupying Turkish armies in Western Arabia as the British and French moved from Egypt up Sinai and through Palestine to their eventual conquest of Damascus.

Lawrence writes in the English of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries — that of Conrad and Eliot, of Kingsley and the Brontes: meandering, compound sentences that today’s editors would reject. Only hinted at in the romanticized movie version was how Lawrence subjected himself to unimaginable physical hardships as he adeptly convinced a score of adversarial Arab tribes (accustomed to raiding each other) to collaborate in thrusting off the yoke of the decaying Ottoman Empire. Because Lawrence suffered mightily and yet pressed on, the honor-bound Arabs could not but follow him.

Ever the philosopher, ever the perceptive analyst of the Arab mind and soul, Lawrence became the ascetic prophet, the visionary leader accepted by Feisal and other Arab sharifs. Great Britain, still of colonial mindset, encouraged Lawrence to “wind up” the Arabs to help them win World War I, supporting him with promises of a new, independent Arab nation, and just enough arms and gold for his needs. Lawrence suffered with what he knew to be a great deception, yet he was a British officer committed to the defeat of Germany and her Turkish allies.

The book’s geopolitical view of the Near East before there was a Jordan, a Lebanon, or an Iraq is of historical value in understanding why the post-WWI carving up by England and France of Mesopotamia and Greater Syria doomed the region to endless tribal and religious conflict, an actuality that so complicates any efforts at “nation-building” today. But my greatest pleasure was in Lawrence’s writing. His description of place is simply lyrical; however, it is balanced by his description of the often squalid, filthy, and infested conditions of his existence. He is, in every instance, an artist with the pen.

Peter T. Tomaras
Principal, Apollo Hotel Consultancy
Freelance Writer

Robert Hays

Robert Hays recommends

When I read Kent Haruf’s Plainsong a few years ago, I knew I had found one of America’s best contemporary writers. Haruf was, at that time, a faculty member in SIU’s creative writing program, following such prestigious names as Richard Russo and, way back, John Gardner. Plainsong introduced characters I cared about. Eventide carries on their stories. Haruf proves that ordinary people in familiar settings — in this case, the small town of Holt, Colorado — are fit subjects in the hands of an eloquent writer. His characters might be us, and things that happen to them come to matter. As one who commenced fiction-writing in my seventh decade of life, I benefited immensely from Kent Haruf’s demonstration that fictional characters, if well drawn, are universal.

Robert Hays
Emeritus Faculty
Journalism and Human and Community Development
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2009 Pushcart Prize nominee for his novel The Baby River Angel

Alice McGinty

Alice McGinty recommends
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

As a children’s book author, I read children’s books both for work and for pleasure. There are many gems out there — polished works of art that are carefully crafted around an emotionally true core. The story of Edward Tulane is one of those gems, which I think speaks as strongly to adults as it does to children. In this quick 228-page read, Newbery Medal-winning Kate Dicamillo uses clever, lyrical language to craft a tale around the emotional truths of love and loss.

Alice B. McGinty
Children’s Book Author

Judy K. Dethmers

Judy K. Dethmers recommends
A Canticle for Leibowitz

I read a lot of books. I can immerse myself in almost any type of story: mystery, romance, science fiction, western, and fantasy. As long as a story is well written, I will enjoy it. But, perhaps because I read so much, I remember only those books that resonate with my personal story.

Walter M. Miller wrote A Canticle for Leibowitz when I was 6 years old. I first read Canticle in high school. As soon as I finished it, I began reading it again. Miller’s novel describes the long aftermath of nuclear war--the anarchy and repeat of history over millennium as civilization is rebuilt. My generation grew up afraid of nuclear war. We sat under our desks at school during fallout drills. We built bomb shelters in our backyards. We stockpiled water and canned meat during the Cuban Crisis and waited for the civic sirens to tell us missiles were in the air. It was a scary time, just waiting for things to fall apart. Canticle, besides being a masterpiece of story telling, spoke to those deep fears. It’s wonderfully written, amusing, and, chillingly, describes the political arena of today.

Almost forty years later, I remember Canticle for Liebowitz. It seeps into my artwork. The things I draw are always falling apart. The people I draw are large, photorealistic, and elderly. They, too, are waiting for things to fall apart. Their clothes unravel and show repair. The background of lace or knitted material unravels. My drawings tell their stories.

Judy K. Dethmers, Artist

Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens recommends
The Heart of Business

I chose this book, by Matt Hayes and Jeff Stevens, because the vision and purpose of a business is seldom identified or cast well, yet it may be the most important factor leading to success or failure. The Heart of Business gives several examples of strong visions and how they affect the success of the company. People want to be part of something amazing; they want to change the world; they want to make a difference; they want more than just a job. If a third of their time and energy are going to be spent on the job, they want it to be meaningful. If you’re a leader and want your company to be special, the concepts in this book can help you understand how to get there.

Rick Stephens
CEO, Horizon Hobby

Jennifer Monson

Jennifer Monson recommends
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds

I read this book by Scott Weidensaul as I was preparing for the BIRD BRAIN project — a migratory dance project that followed gray whales from Mexico to Canada, ospreys from Maine to Venezuela, and ducks and geese up the Mississippi Flyway. The book is beautifully written and well researched. The descriptions of the how’s and why’s of bird migration deeply informed my approach to embodying the concepts of migration and navigation. This book filled me with wonder about the delicacy and strength of the ecological systems we are a part of.

Jennifer Monson
Professor, University of Illinois Dance Department
Artistic Director, BIRD BRAIN Dance Project

Donna Korol

Donna Korol recommends
The Periodic Table

Author Primo Levi uses scientific principles as a metaphor for his life. The autobiographical stories of Levi‘s life are woven around 21 different elements, each with their own characteristics that define how they act alone and with other elements. He beautifully yet deftly applies principles of the inherently logical physical-chemical world to that of the whimsical and yet complex and sometimes devastating nature of life happenings. In my view, this is not very different from scientific exploration in that while most phenomena have explanations, chance interacts with substance; the human challenge is to make sense of both the expected and the unexpected. I read this book in college around the time I realized my passion for discovery and that I was, by nature, a scientist. The book transformed me for so many reasons on so many levels, I‘m not sure I can capture all of them in one short comment. Reading The Periodic Table as a young Jewish woman, I found his tales of survival quite stirring, inspiring me to look both within myself and outside to the world around me to cope with--or rather to solve--life's challenges, be they large or small, horrifying or worthy.

Donna Korol
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Neuroscience Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson recommends
Still Alice

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, is a very moving book about a 50-year-old Harvard professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. My mom, who attended daily Mass for over 50 years and was very active in my hometown of Rock Island, Illinois, now has Alzheimer’s and Genova’s book gave me a better understanding of what she is going through. Alice is a successful professor living a dream life with her professor husband when she starts getting forgetful. Genova weaves the story through diagnoses, and describes the reality and the interpersonal relationships with great candor. Even though there is not a fairytale ending, I feel better about how I am handling my relationship with my mom because of the insight of Still Alice.

Mark Johnson
CEO, Champaign County YMCA
Retired Wrestling Coach, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joanne Manaster

Joanne Manaster recommends
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window
and Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend

It seems slightly unfair to ask someone who has made a hobby of recommending popular science books to the general public to limit herself to just one. I had to pause and think when I saw the parameters were to recommend a book that has impacted my life.

Two books immediately came to mind. And I hope you will humor my bending of the rules as the impetus for recommending each. Both are quite different! The first book I recommend, and even ask my children to read, is still considered an all-time bestseller in Japan called, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a famous TV personality and philanthropist. It is a collection of stories from her childhood at an alternative school since she did not fit into Japan's stringent public schools in circa WWII Japan. I read this book when I was 17, on a plane flight from modeling in Tokyo towards college in Illinois. Reading how every child deserved the opportunity to learn in the manner that best suits them opened my eyes to a new way of teaching. Nowadays this type of thinking is understood even if it is not implemented. Although I started college with the goal of becoming a physician, my natural predilection toward teaching, partly inspired by this book, led me to pursue a PhD so I could instruct at the college level, which is what I chose to do over managing a research lab. It even inspired me to home school all four of my children until they were in third grade.

The second book is what has led me to be once again in the public eye. The very first book I reviewed in video format, launching my YouTube channel and gaining a growing worldwide audience, was Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, by Barbara Oakley. In this case, while the book was entertaining to a fan of neuropsychology as I am, it is the inspiration to share the joy I found in reading this book that has led me on my new path of sharing my love of science with a larger audience and altering the course of my life!

If you ever are hunting for a book with a flavor of science or the natural world, check out my website and link to my YouTube channel. I have many options to consider.

Joanne Manaster
Laboratory Teaching Specialist and Science Enthusiast

Robin Luebs

Robin Luebs recommends
The Red Tree

I discovered The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan, while browsing the children's section of the Champaign Public Library one afternoon. It is a poetically illustrated and simply told story about finding a glimmer of hope just as things seem to be going very wrong. As an artist, I also read it as a perfect description of finding inspiration when you think you'll never have another good idea. A beautiful and moving fable for all ages.

Robin Luebs
Children's author/illustrator

Ondine Gross

Ondine Gross recommends
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen
and Listen So Kids Will Talk

It is hard for me to believe that I am recommending a parenting book that is thirty years old, but How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is one of the best parenting books I have ever read. It was written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish in 1980, and is based on the work of the late child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott. It gives parents advice on how to effectively communicate with and discipline children. It is full of wonderful cartoons illustrating the principles conveyed, and I tell parents that they will learn a great deal just from reading the cartoons!

As a school psychologist who formerly worked in elementary schools, I have had plenty of opportunities to recommend this book to parents entangled in conflicts with their children. My favorite story pertains to the principal of one of my elementary schools. She was a former kindergarten teacher who prided herself on running a “tight ship” classroom where students learned and thrived. Unfortunately, her classroom strategies did not succeed with her own two children. They were disobedient and frequently threw tantrums, and she felt stressed by the constant yelling and nagging in her home. I recommended that she read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. The next morning, she strode into my office with an incredulous look on her face and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh...this stuff really works!” She described how she achieved instant results by implementing the book’s simple techniques. The result was that her children felt like she “heard” them and therefore had no reason to whine or scream. She learned how to treat her children’s concerns with love, dignity and respect while also teaching them right from wrong. Years later, the principal continued to thank me for “that book!”

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk was reissued in 1999 as a twentieth-anniversary edition, with a few updated chapters. Whenever I go to a book sale I pick up as many copies as I can to give away. It is a classic, and as effective now as when it first came out.

Ondine Gross
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Centennial High School

Michelle Dasso

Michelle Dasso recommends
The Secret

This book by Rhonda Byrne reiterates how powerful your thoughts are, and how, through your thoughts, you can have, do, or be anything you want. Your thoughts are a powerful force, and an affirmative thought is a hundred times more powerful than a negative thought — so think positive!

Michelle Dasso
Head Coach, Women's Tennis
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Richard Powers

Richard Powers recommends
The Lives of a Cell

Lewis Thomas, a physician, researcher, and medical administrator, wrote these 29 short essays as part of a regular column that he wrote for the New England Journal of Medicine in the early 1970s. With the ear of a poet, the mind of a scientist, the art of a linguist, and the heart of a true healer, he ranges across the living world: medicine, anthropology, biology, music, language, society, communication, and so much more. Each of these gem-like meditations contains the grandeur of simple truth, closely observed. Thomas’s beautiful, lucid prose raises science to an art and infuses art with the most rigorous and inspiring science. Reading this book at the age of 20 moved me deeply and encouraged me to spend my life exploring human knowledge through literature.

Richard Powers
Swanlund Professor, Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois
Check out these titles by Richard Powers

Tim A. Millage

Tim A. Millage recommends
Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait

Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait presents a well known story based on how his wife, Rachel, experienced one of the most influential moments in our country's history. Breaking the color barrier in major league baseball came with an emotional toll that seemed to solidify their marriage. They were deeply committed to each other while they raised their family and stayed close to all issues relating to equality. For baseball fans and those that enjoy a great love story, Rachel and Jackie represent a constant devotion to each other and their family. You will admire their relationship as a model for any couple facing adversity and a life filled with remarkable transitions.

Tim A. Millage, Principal
The High School of Saint Thomas More

Elizabeth Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt recommends
The Smoke Thief

I like books that entirely transport the reader; books that make you forget everything else around you until you reach the final page and close the book with a satisfied sigh. The Smoke Thief is such a book. It combines romance, history, adventure, and a paranormal fantasy world in which wonderfully mysterious humans can turn into flying dragons that haunt the night sky. Shana Abe’s prose is simply lyrical.

Elizabeth Hoyt
New York Times bestselling author

Justin Spring

Justin Spring recommends
Rules and Tools for Leaders

As soon as I was offered the head coach position for the University of Illinois Men‘s Gymnastics team, my Dad, former astronaut and lieutenant colonel in the Army, suggested that I read Perry Smith’s Rules and Tools for Leaders. Smith is a retired United States Air Force Major General, with a history of many successful leadership positions throughout his 30-year military career. As I begin my own career, I realize that it is important to learn and grow from others' experiences and advice. I was ready to assume the many new responsibilities involved in taking over the entire men’s team, but this book offered many great ideas on how to effectively manage all kinds of situations and administrative roles. Smith’s insight and strategies are not only applicable to work related issues, but to any life situation in which you want to have a positive effect on others.

Justin Spring
Olympic Bronze Medalist
Associate Head Coach, Men’s Gymnastics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Deb Aronson

Deb Aronson recommends
Intimate Journalism: The Art and Craft of Reporting Everyday Life

Several years ago I was sitting on the dock at my parents-in-law‘s house reading one of the stories in this collection when bells began ringing and angels began singing. “THIS is it! This is how I want to write!” I thought, as I slapped the book shut in my excitement. The stories of people, some famous, most not, come to life in a way that makes them unforgettable. Some of the writers in this book, edited by Walt Harrington — Susan Orlean, Jeanne Marie Laskas and Pete Earley, to name a few — are among my favorites.

Deb Aronson, Writer and Editor

Nathan Gunn

Nathan Gunn recommends
Discourses Books 1 & 2

All human beings must deal with being scrutinized by others, but for artists itis often in a much more public and personal way. These discourses by Epictetus helped me to understand those things that were within my power to change and those that were not. It made going out on stage (for a reluctant artist like myself) much easier.

Nathan Gunn
2010 Grammy for Best Opera Recording
Professor, School of Music
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman recommends
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B. Cialdini‘s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, provides a scientific but digestible explanation for many kinds of human behavior, particularly as it pertains to sales and advertising. Many of the findings seem to defy logic and conventional economics, making it an interesting read.

Patrick Chapman
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kathleen Holden

Kathleen Holden recommends
Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, is an inspiring autobiographical book that confirms the power of love and hope and faith in the future. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, endured years in the camps, including Auschwitz, and most of his family died in camps or in the gas ovens. Yet his book emphasizes the need for forgiveness and for finding purpose in life. This, his most famous book, was published in 1959 and has been called one of the most influential books of the 20th century. He writes that “No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them,” and calls on us to give ourselves to serve others. A powerful message that is particularly relevant today.

Kathleen Holden
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Illinois

Keith E. Fruehling

Keith E. Fruehling recommends
Fabric of the Cosmos

I have always been interested in seeking an understanding of the following: Why are things the way they are? Not so much in an engineering sense but in a more fundamental sense. Such a broad interest welcomes many perspectives. Theology, mythology, cosmology all offer great insights — so does science. The realm of physics has offered evolving answers to this question over the centuries as contemplation and experimentation advance our understanding of the very large and the very small.

Brian Greene‘s Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality tackles the history of the human effort to understand matter, space, and time. Beginning with Sir Isaac Newton, Greene marches through Einstein's theory of relativity, then on to quantum mechanics, and finally, on to string theory. Throughout that journey he takes terribly complex concepts and makes them accessible to all. Not only does he explain the concepts clearly, he also explains why they matter.

Just as any explanation that I could conjure about string theory would pale in comparison to that offered by Greene, the foregoing recommendation does not hold a candle to The New York Times review of the book. Hopefully, this recommendation and the NY Times review will get you wondering why so much of your perception of everyday life is simply inaccurate and why things are the way they are. Fabric of the Cosmos offers a wonderful explanation of the best insights currently offered by state-of-the-art physics.

Keith E. Fruehling
Partner in the Urbana law firm of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen

Arthur Culver

Arthur Culver recommends
The Invisible Man

While in high school, I read The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This book presented me with new ideas regarding race and society. The novel won the National Book Award in 1953 and is said to contain many references to Homer's Odyssey. As a high school student in Muskegon, Michigan, I was totally unaware of these accolades. The Invisible Man was an exciting story with themes and responses to the world that I had never seen or understood, and I remember much of it today.

Arthur R. Culver
Superintendent, Champaign Unit 4 School District

Robert J. Steigmann

Robert J. Steigmann recommends
The Private Patient

The Private Patient by P.D. James is the latest in her series of mysteries involving Commander Adam Dagliesh of Scotland Yard. This time, the reader is able to follow Dagliesh and his team as they go about solving a murder case in an English manor house outside London. As with all of her books, Ms. James‘ prose is wonderful, and her in-depth discussion of the many characters in the novel gives the reader a great understanding of their fears and goals. The mysteries are always well constructed, but it is the interesting, intelligent ruminations of the lead characters, particularly Commander Dagliesh, that make all of her books in this series so enjoyable.

Utterly astonishing is the fact that P.D. James is now 89 and finished this magnificent novel last year. I know of no other octogenarian author, much less one who has been able to maintain the tremendously high standards of workmanship she demonstrated in her earlier novels.

Robert J. Steigmann
Appellate Court Justice, Fourth District

Sir Anthony Leggett

Anthony Leggett recommends
River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

This is an account by Peter Hessler of two years spent as a Peace Corps volunteer at a teacher’s training college in Fuling, a medium-sized and very un-touristy city in the western Chinese province of Sichuan. The author’s observations both of local life and society and of his own reactions to it are delightful and, I suspect, penetrating. I found this the most unputdownable work of nonfiction that I have read in many years.

Sir Anthony J. Leggett
2003 Nobel Prize Winner
Professor of Physics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Julie A. Pryde

Julie A. Pryde recommends
The Great Influenza

I recently met author John M. Barry when he came to Champaign to speak at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District‘s second annual Emergency Preparedness Summit. I had been a fan of this book for some time, and it was truly an honor to be able to sit down and discuss it with him, especially as we find ourselves facing a pandemic of influenza.

The Great Influenza is a breathtaking description of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. It is written with a historian's eye for detail that leaves nothing to the imagination. The images in this book will stay with you! I read The Great Influenza at least five times over the past several years. When H5N1 (bird flu) entered the news, I reread it as a guide. When H1N1 emerged this spring, my staff and I were at least emotionally prepared, as we had already stared into the abyss of 1918 through this book. Those who do not learn from history, as they say…

Julie A. Pryde, MSW, LSW
Public Health Administrator
Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Dr. Lawrence L. Jeckel

Dr. Lawrence L. Jeckel recommends
London: The Biography

Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” London: The Biography is a wonderful, exciting historical tour de force about the life of this great city. Peter Ackroyd, a novelist and biographer of Dickens, has transformed a lifetime of reading and research into a richly textured meditation, replete with countless anecdotes, portraits, and odd historical facts. We come to understand London as deeply layered: Neolithic burial grounds covered by Roman temples, overlaid by churches and monasteries, erased by fires and floods, rebuilt again and again. Every street and neighborhood has a story.

There was a Dark Lane in the medieval city; a tavern later erected on the street was renamed the Darkhouse. Today, there sits Dark House Wharf, towered over by the darkly blue Bank of Hong Kong. A rare open patch of ground off Goswell Road is a remnant of observations of Caesar, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Orwell, to name just a few. Every year, I read chapter 66 to my Law and Psychiatry students. It is a brief history of Bethlehem Asylum, a place that came to symbolize the madness of the city, and the origin of the word bedlam.

The best news is that this book has been followed by a sequel that is almost as good as the original, about the river that originates in western England and flows through the country to London and on to the sea: Thames: The Biography.

Dr. Lawrence L. Jeckel

Brett Stillwell

Brett Stillwell recommends
The Not So Big House

This book, The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka, is something everyone can relate to and is especially applicable to today's green sustainable movement. I have utilized these principles in the design of my own residence.

Brett Stillwell, AIA
Principal, Architectural Spectrum, LLC

Carmela Levy

Carmela Levy recommends
What Is the What

I was searching for something to read on a long flight when the title of this book caught my eye at the airport bookstore. I had no idea that I was in for one of the most moving personal stories that I've ever read. What Is the What by former U of I student Dave Eggers recounts the story of Achak Deng, one of the “lost boys of Sudan” as he struggled to rebuild a life that had barely begun. This book is not a happy read, but certainly one that will move the reader to do something for the benefit of another. The tragedy of Valentino Achak Deng‘s childhood opened my eyes to the daily horrors suffered by millions of poor, powerless, and persecuted masses around the world. His survival and desire to build a better life in America reminded me of all that is possible regardless of our background, disadvantages, and failures.

Carmela Levy
Edison Middle School

Jeff Blue

Jeff Blue recommends
Warrior Girls

Warrior Girls by Michael Sokolove brings to light the epidemic of young female athlete injuries that are occurring more and more frequently as young sport stars specialize in a single sport at very young ages. The statistics are frightening and irrefutable. Young female athletes tear their ACL, the stabilizing ligament in their knee, at rates as high as eight times greater than their male counterparts.

This book shows how girls can train better and smarter to decrease their risk of injury. It also suggests a theory that specializing in a single sport at a very young age may ultimately be the demise of these female athletes. Sokolove encourages young female athletes to stay involved in a variety of recreational activities to help all muscle groups develop and ultimately keep our “Warrior Girls” safer and healthier throughout their entire lives. I would recommend this book to any parent or athlete who wants to make sure that they stay healthy and active as they try to reach for the golden ring in their pursuit of being the best, safest, and healthiest athlete they can be.

Jeff Blue
Champaign County Engineer;
Girls Varsity Basketball Coach,
University Laboratory High School

Brad Dancer

Brad Dancer recommends
We Might as Well Win

Author Johan Bruyneel (with Bill Strickland) details the decision making, goal setting, and tactics of managing the legendary Lance Armstrong and other successes in his career as team director. This book is tremendous for leaders as a reminder of the balance between attention to details while maintaining an emotional IQ.

Brad Dancer
Head Coach, Men's Tennis Team
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

R.T. Finney

R.T. Finney recommends
The Memory of Running

This is a story about one overweight, chain smoking, out-of-shape man's journey across America to find his worth and purpose in life. His journey is full of personal challenges that include addiction, mental illness, and growing older in America. Ron McLarty's The Memory of Running is an easy summer read.

R.T. Finney
Chief of Police
City of Champaign

Alex Ruggieri

Alex Ruggieri recommends
Get Out of Your Own Way

Get Out of Your Own Way, by Robert Cooper, is one of the best business books I have read in years. He has a deep understanding of how the human mind has come to function over the millennia of time. His premises are not only practical but are also backed by significant research and sources.

If you would like to learn why your mind does what it does and how to reprogram it for success, this book is for you!

Alex Ruggieri CCIM, MBA
Senior Investment Advisor
Sperry Van Ness Ramshaw Real Estate

Ray Elliott

Ray Elliott recommends
The Lions of Iwo Jima: The Story of Combat Team 28 and the Bloodiest Battle in Marine Corps History

More ink has probably been spilled about the battle for Iwo Jima in World War II than for any other piece of real estate the size (in square miles) of the sulphur island, or for any other battle in the long history of warfare. And rightly so. AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of the second flag raising did the Marine Corps, the American people, and the war effort a great deal of good when there was a need for good news.

As a young captain with the Fifth Marine Division’s 28th Regiment for all 36 days of the campaign that cost 6,821 American lives, nearly 20,000 wounded, and more than 20,000 Japanese lives, Major General Fred Haynes went up Mt. Suribachi shortly after the first flag was raised. From the top of the mountain, he recalls in Larry Smith’s book Iwo Jima: World War II Veterans Remember the Greatest Battle of the Pacific, “We saw the mess on the beach and what we had ahead of us. You could see the real challenge was going to come once we got past the airfields, where we had one hell of a fight.”

Major General Haynes and his Lions of Iwo Jima co-author, James A. Warren, bring the battle waged by Combat Team 28 and its 4,500 Marines through that “one hell of a fight” to the bloody end with a stirring and memorable account of individual courage, sacrifice, and honor that gives you a feeling of having been there — as close as that’s possible. I recommend this book highly to help understand the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Ray Elliott
Writer and editor
Tales Press

Book Pick Archive II