What Champaign-Urbana Is Reading: Book Picks from Your Neighbors (2011)

Here are more book recommendations from CU neighbors.

Janet Rayfield

Janet Rayfield recommends:

The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All

This book by Michael Useem takes leadership from the theoretical ideas you talk about in leadership seminars and examines them in application to real life examples. The examples are not all successful ones and I think these stories drive home the value of a good leader in any situation. Also, leadership is truly defined in specific moments where the trust, confidence, and knowledge built over time provides a leader with the ability to impact those moments in a positive fashion. This book relates real life examples where leaders have succeeded and failed in those critical moments. Most of us will never face moments with the life and death repercussions of some of these stories but the lessons learned can be utilized in the daily leadership moments we all encounter in our lives.

Janet Rayfield 

Head Women’s Soccer Coach, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kevin Hambly

Kevin Hambly recommends:

The Four Agreements

I think this book, by Don Miguel Ruiz, helps give a great perspective on how to handle relations both in your personal life but especially in business. I have asked my staff to read it and it is something we reference often in meetings.

Kevin Hambly
Head Volleyball Coach, University of Illinois

Michael J. Hogan

Michael J. Hogan recommends:

Mentor: A Memoir

I’m just finishing Tom Grimes’ new memoir about his days in the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. He recounts his relationship with Frank Conroy, himself a famous novelist and memoirist, who directed the Writers’ Workshop until his death in 2005. The book captures the travails and tortured insecurity of a young writer, who is given emotional stability and confidence by a more mature mentor, on the road to the publication of his first novel. The book was especially meaningful to me as an alum and former Provost of the University Iowa, who knew Frank Conroy in the last few years of his life.

Michael J. Hogan
Professor of History, University of Illinois–Springfield

Walt Ruesch

Walt Ruesch recommends:

Investing The Templeton Way

The Intelligent Investor

Investing The Templeton Way by Lauren C. Templeton and Scott Phillips, is a book about Sir John Templeton, who died in 2009 at the age of 95/96. It’s an easy read about the common sense approach taken by Sir John Templeton, who was born in Tennessee. He was one of the first “super investors” that invested internationally. This book is inspirational and is geared toward the less experienced investor but also would be appreciated by the experienced investor.

Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor is considered the classic on “Value Investing.” It was originally published in 1949. I own the 1974 edition which includes an introduction and appendix by Warren Buffet that was added in 1984. Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffet’s teacher. This book is more for the advanced or serious minded investor.

Walt Ruesch, A.A.M.S.
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

Jacqueline Hannah

Jacqueline Hannah recommends:

The Small-Mart Revolution

Small businesses provide over 50 percent of all jobs in the American economy and are the real economic innovators that make our country great. What can we do to make sure they succeed? How can we invest in them? And for those of us running small locally owned businesses, what can we do to communicate the power of local to our customers? Author Michael H. Shueman answers these questions and more in a way that is engaging and clear.

The Small-Mart Revolution reaches beyond business owners, appealing to anyone who wants their local downtown to be vibrant and healthy. Shueman lays out some amazing facts about the profound impact small local businesses can have on keeping the overall economy of towns thriving. The book even touches on how getting involved in local sports, clubs, and charities can enrich the whole community.

Jacqueline Hannah
General Manager, Common Ground Food Co-Operative
Central Illinois Business Magazine, “Forty Under 40”

Lisa J. Lucero

Lisa J. Lucero recommends:

The Shadow of the Wind

I really loved The Shadow of the Wind: A Novel (translated from Spanish) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is about a book lover set in 1930–1950 Spain who follows his quest to find out more about a mysterious writer who only published one book, and only a few copies. The book lover thinks it a masterpiece. Someone is mysteriously destroying the few copies that exist. Why, who? That is the main purpose of the wonderfully written book. The reader is immediately drawn into the world of books and book lovers.

Lisa J. Lucero
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The New York Times Scientist at Work: An Ancient Watery Underworld

Carl R. Meyer

Carl R. Meyer recommends:

Integrity at Work: A Personal Approach to Ethical Decision Making

The majority of Brother Herman Zaccarelli’s book focuses on why your answers to three “key self-examination questions are so important and how to use the questions to make ethical decisions” whether at work, within the community, or with your family. These questions are: “Would I tell others what I did?” “Would I care if it happened to me?” “What if everyone did it?”

Carl R. Meyer
Executive Director, Parkland College Foundation

Robert W. Rumbelow

Robert W. Rumbelow recommends:

The Tipping Point

I’ve read all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books including the most recent ones and they are all fascinating. However, I’ve found The Tipping Point to be the one that is most centered and compelling without any sort of social agenda aside from reporting about this phenomena that has become one of the essential realities in group psychology. The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads at an amazing and unforeseen rate. Whether you are an armchair student of group psychology (like I am) or just love amazing but true stories, you will love this book. I have my graduate student conductors read this book and we discuss application together. We do, after all, work with groups, and the stories are so masterfully sewn together it becomes the sort of book you can’t put down. The Tipping Point is compelling reading and makes interesting discussion with friends and family. I’ve found its contents very useful in both teaching large groups and for discussion among fellow educators. Gladwell’s premise that certain ideas can spread so quickly challenges us to look at problems and opportunities in a new light. The book has been around for a while now with solid sales success, but I’m happy to come back to it on a regular basis as it never fails to fire creative thoughts.

Robert W. Rumbelow, DMA
Director of Bands, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Brownfield Professor of Music

Amanda and Trisha Bates

Amanda and Trisha Bates recommend:

The Persistence of Yellow

The Persistence of Yellow by Monique Duval is pure sunshine in print. Duval has woven together a magical, mythological collection of tales that inspire possibility, love, and whimsy in the context of being a woman. Each time we read The Persistence of Yellow, we are reminded of everyday miracles and the importance of not taking anything for granted. We hope this book will lift your spirit as much as it does ours.

Amanda and Trisha Bates
Owners, Cakes on Walnut

Kris Fuqua

Kris Fuqua recommends:

The King’s Daughter

I liked this book by Diana Hagee because it speaks and emphasizes our value in God’s eyes. “Our God sees the desires of our hearts long before He hears our voices. He knows that we long to please Him, and that brings Him pleasure. He will give us strength when we are weak. He will give us direction when we become confused. Jesus will smile when He mentions our names before the Father. No matter how hard it is for you to believe, God made no mistakes when He formed you. You are beautiful to Him, and the more you believe this truth, the more beautiful you become.” These are wonderful confirmations and it does wonders for my self-esteem!

Kris Fuqua
Champaign County Salvation Army

Maya Bruck

Maya Bruck recommends:

The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon

The Journey Is the Destination is a collection of pages from the journals of Dan Eldon, one of the youngest Reuters photographers to ever work in Africa. Through photographs, scraps of magazines, random ephemera, daubs of paint and ink, Eldon channeled his entire soul into these books. The resulting work is raw, fearless, and hauntingly beautiful. Leafing through it the other day, I got the same rush of awe and inspiration that I did when I first found it on a friend’s coffee table in high school. Eldon never intended to show his journals to anyone, and you can tell. He was killed at age 22 by a rioting mob in Somalia, and after his death his mother carefully assembled pages from his seventeen journals and had them published. When I first picked up the book, I’d never seen anyone express themselves so honestly and so free of inhibition. My perception of art was of something that people create to put in museums or display on their walls, and all of a sudden here it was, in full force and completely candid. To me, Eldon’s journals were a revelation.

Maya Bruck
Co-Founder and Executive Director, The Champaign-Urbana Design Organization
Lead Designer, OJC Technologies
Central Illinois Business Magazine, Forty Under 40

Cameron Moore

Cameron Moore recommends:

Undaunted Courage

I have always found inspiration from reading about real people and the obstacles that they have had to overcome in order to accomplish great things. Stephen E. Ambrose’s book Undaunted Courage is the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Most of us are aware of the historical importance of this expedition. But reading this book helped reinforce for me that a strong will and a quick mind can overcome incredible challenges.

Cameron Moore
Chief Executive Officer
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission

Wayne Pitard

Wayne Pitard recommends:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Almost 4,000 years old, this powerful epic poem is the earliest true masterpiece of literature preserved from antiquity. While it begins as an action adventure tale, it moves into the very serious theme of facing our mortality. As Gilgamesh begins his desperate search for immortality, we feel his fear of death and his longing for life. A stunningly mature work from the dawn of civilization, you will be amazed at how relevant it is to modern life.

Note: The translation I particularly like is The Epic of Gilgamesh translated and with an introduction by Andrew George. London/New York: Penguin Classics, 2003).

Wayne T. Pitard
Director, Spurlock Museum
Professor, Department of Religion
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mike Small

Mike Small recommends:

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.

I was drawn to this book by Daniel Coyle because of its claim to understand the secret of talent, and how greatness and potential in people is grown and developed. Coyle travels the world and studies “hotbeds” of talent and discovers that similar and unique styles of practice, motivation, and coaching are all present in producing a newly discovered brain mechanism that is vital for skill improvement.

Mike Small
Head Coach, Men's Golf
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

John Rogers

John Rogers recommends
A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens is a master storyteller, with a command of the English language that is unmatched. His books offer touching accounts of the human condition, through colorful, varied characters and absorbing, intricate plotlines. A Tale of Two Cities is among his best, and has sold more than 200 million copies. I love the classics — and Dickens is my favorite.

John A. Rogers
Lee J. Flory-Founder Chair in Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

National Academy of Engineering member
MacArthur “Genius Grant” Winner

Jan Seeley

Jan Seeley recommends
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen

Stripped down, Christopher McDougall‘s Born to Run is about a race between the legendary long-distance runners — the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon in Mexico — and a handful of colorful ultrarunners from the outside world. What makes the book so riveting is a combination of narrative writing style and McDougall’s choice of a subject that is enticing, compelling, and dramatic. The book is so finely written that the reader is sucked along without the power to brake or slow down the momentum. McDougall is in that rarefied running-writer air of Kenny Moore and Don Kardong. And, with its investigation into the source of running injuries — making a plausible and very convincing argument from both a biomechanical and evolutionary viewpoint that running shoes may be a huge contributing factor — the book challenges orthodox running ideas on many levels and does so in a celebratory, joyful, playful spirit.

Jan Seeley
Publisher of Marathon & Beyond magazine

Lisa Morgan

Lisa Morgan recommends
Comfort Me with Apples

It’s always a blessing when a book somehow finds you at the right moment and helps you make sense of your life. Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples was such a book for me. This engaging memoir, which begins in 1978 and chronicles Reichl’s transition from cook to restaurant critic, is about so much more than eating. It describes, in vivid and delicious detail, one period of her life’s journey both professionally and personally. The book’s title is taken from the Song of Solomon, and it’s fitting: Her brave, clear-eyed, funny, heartbreaking look at her own journey nourishes the heart and soul the way that good food, Reichl’s lifelong passion, sustains the body.

Lisa Morgan
Author of the food blog Champaign Taste