Good Reads [Summer Edition]


The lazy days of long, luxurious summer vacations may be gone for most of us, but the tradition of summer reading is still one of our favorites. The Alcalde asked UT faculty and staff to recommend a great book to read this summer. From classics to new releases, this list has something for everyone.

Memory Wall
By Anthony Doerr
“Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, but he already had a reputation as a master of the short story. Some of these stories could be called science fiction and some have elements of the supernatural, but they transcend
the conventions of genre fiction.”
—Matt Valentine, BA ’00, Plan II senior program coordinator and instructor

A Tale of Two Cities
By Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities is a heart-wrenching, cliff-hanging novel of the French Revolution featuring delightful minor characters who steal the show. It also has the best first sentence of almost any novel, and one of the most overwrought—yet entirely appropriate—last sentences.”
—H.W. Brands, PhD ’85, history professor

An Officer and a Spy
By Robert Harris
“Before I read this gripping novel I had the same grasp on the Dreyfus Affair that I had on the Dred Scott Decision and the other boldface terms in high school history books. Yes, I knew vaguely what it was all about, but I had not come close to feeling that I had witnessed it. To my mind, Robert Harris is the unfussiest and most vivid novelist of history at work today.”
—Stephen Harrigan, BA ’70, Michener Center adjunct professor

One Hundred Years of Solitude
By Gabriel García Márquez
“Reading Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude is like falling into a fantastic dream. Each page of this multigenerational account brings something enchanting. The Nobel laureate’s archive—including the manuscript of this groundbreaking novel—now resides at the Harry Ransom Center.”
—Megan Barnard, Harry Ransom Center associate director

Silent Spring
By Rachel Carson
“Rachel Carson vividly details how agricultural and domestic pesticide use is leading to mass “biocide,” and Silent Spring’s footprint is large. It led to a ban on the pesticide DDT and the creation of the EPA. Of equal importance, the book straddles the genres of creative nonfiction and science writing in an inimitable way. It begins with a fable and threads through rich metaphors, delicate illustrations, emotional appeals, scientific data, and urgent calls to action.”
—Heather Houser, English professor

In the Woods
By Tana French
“My suggestion is anything by the Irish mystery writer Tana French. Her first novel is as good a place to start as any. Is it trashy summer reading? Absolutely. But it is the best kind—really well-composed, literary mysteries with so much effort put into creating the characters that the mystery plot almost becomes secondary.”
—David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management and chemistry professor

The Boom
By Russell Gold
“I recommend The Boom by Russell Gold, senior energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal. It covers the origins of the shale revolution, which in many ways is a tale of a Texas revolution. I learned something on every page.”
—Michael Webber, BA, BS ’95, Life Member, deputy director of the Energy Institute, mechanical engineering professor

Photo by Florin Gorgin


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