In need of a new read? Check out these titles recommended by Behrend faculty and staff members – Part I


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator,
Penn State Behrend

Ah…summer. Time to kick back with a good book. We asked some of the faculty and staff members at Penn State Behrend to share their suggestions for summer reading.

If, like me, you always forget which books you want to read in the future, try one of these strategies.

1. Make a list using the “note” feature on your smart phone or tablet, and you’ll always have your list with you when you’re browsing at the Lilley Library or out shopping.


2. Create a wish list at an online bookseller (I use Amazon) and add titles to your “to read” list when friends recommend them. It’s a convenient and easily-accessible way to keep track of books you want to read. (Tip: See if you can borrow the book through the Lilley Library before you purchase. I’m linking the books below to Amazon just so you can see the covers and read customer reviews, if you wish.)

OK….get your pencil/mouse/smartphone ready because you’re going to want to add a lot of these books to your list. I’m going to give you half the list today & the other half next Thursday, July 3).

I am finishing Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. A bit too much description of the sometimes drug-addled state of the protagonist, but a good summer read. Also discovered a very talented Sardinian writer, Michela Murgia. Her best known work, Accabadora, is translated into an excellent English version and is just haunting. — Dr. Sharon Dale, associate professor of art history

Life, Animated:  A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Ron Suskind is on my summer reading list. I’ve heard that it is a wonderful story that provides a unique perspective into the growing population of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Oh, and it includes Disney references, so I’m happy. — Dr. Carrie Payne, coordinator for strategic proposal development.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham is an interesting look at what might possibly have led to humans being who we are today. Much evidence is given through prior anthropological work and cases. There’s not too much jargon and it’s easy to read. Also, Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. It’s a very sarcastic and witty tale of a typical nature-loving protagonist versus an environmental destructive antagonist. — Dr. Mike Naber, lecturer in geosciences

I am reading The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by social psychologist W. Pennebaker this summer.  This is a very insightful book on how “words… are like fingerprints… windows into people’s personalities.” — Dr. Carol Wilson, assistant professor of psychology

As one of Behrend’s resident sport fanatics, I’ll recommend Play Their Hearts Out by Sports Illustrated writer and Pulitzer Prize winner George Dohrmann. The non-fiction title chronicles Dohrmann’s eight years spent covering the grassroots AAU Basketball scene and the seedy nature of the sport. In the book, he details how coaches almost view their players as investments and reveals the questionable role that sneaker companies play in youth basketball. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, this tale of corruption, greed, and power makes for a must-read. — Steve Orbanek, marketing communications specialist.

Anything by Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers). He is one of the most popular storytellers who brings a different flavor to social trends. Drive and A Whole New Mind are two of my favorites by author, Daniel Pink. I’d also recommend Emotional Intelligence and Focus by Daniel Goleman, who is a psychologist who has an amazing talent for explaining today’s wicked issues with psychological theories. Creativity, Inc., written by Pixar CEO Ed Catmull is an amazing book. And, finally, The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane is a must-read for everyone. — Dr. Pelin Bicen, assistant professor of marketing

Redeployment by Phil Klay has received great reviews. It’s is a book of short stories by a former Marine who served in Iraq. Each story is written from the point of view of a different narrator – foot soldier, chaplain, foreign service officer, to name a few. The stories are compelling as they provide insight into the challenges and suffering of war from different perspectives. — Dr. Rick Hart, director, Lilley Library, who reminds us to “Think of the Lilley Library’s ‘Browsing Collection’ for your summer reading needs!”

I just finished The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book about a 13-year-old boy who miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother and is abandoned by his father, only to be taken in by the family of a wealthy friend.  Don’t let the book’s bulk (2.1 pounds in hardcover) scare you off – The plot flies. — Chris Palattella, marketing communications coordinator

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman.  This is a non-fiction book about Huguette Clark, an heiress to a huge fortune amassed by her father. Of course, all this money led to lots of family drama. Huguette lived the last twenty years of her life in a hospital while her two New York City luxury apartments, her mansion on the coast of California, and her country home in Connecticut sat empty, except for the property caretakers. Interestingly, I just read an NPR story that said many of Huguette’s belongings will soon be going to auction. — Dr. Mary-Ellen Madigan, senior director of enrollment management

That should get you through the week. 😉 I’ll post more next week — Thursday, July 3!


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