Summer beach reads recommendations

We asked the faculty to suggest the perfect books for light summer reading. Here's what they came up with.

And the suggestions are:

James R. Morris, professor of biology

"Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren

"Lab Girl" is a powerful and personal memoir written by Hope Jahren, a geobiologist at the University of Hawaii. She explores her love of soil, trees and flowers, and at the same time weaves in stories about her family, a longstanding friendship and her journey of becoming a scientist.

Daniel Bergstresser, associate professor of finance, Brandeis International Business School

"The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies" by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Best book that I have read in a while. The book paints a picture of work and innovation in a world of rapid technological change.

Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish history

"The Best Place on Earth: Stories" by Ayelet Tsabari

Happy to recommend Ayelet Tsabarai's debut collection, which won the Rohr Prize as the best work of fiction by an emerging author. Tsabari writes with verve and a distinctive style about Israel, about Israelis (like herself) who settle abroad and above all about Mizrachi Jews, the Jews from Arab lands who are far too little understood by American readers. The stories are rich and unforgettable.

Charles Golden, associate professor of anthropology

"Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie.

This is a classic space opera sci-fi novel, and takes place in a distant future where a human empire ruling large swaths of the galaxy has reached the limits of its ability to expand. Despite the grand sweep of the novel, and its two sequels, the story is really about what it is to be human, and whether a human can be both an individual and a "dividual" being — that is, someone composed of multiple selves.

The bigger world of the human empire also addresses issues of the relative costs and benefits of freedom and control within a state, and the root causes of political collapse. In addressing these topics from the small scale of the person, to the large scale of a galactic empire, "Ancillary Justice" is deeply anthropological.

Jané Kondev, professor of physics

"Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson

It's about cryptography but disguised as this World War II/suspense/hijinks novel. My mother, who's an art historian, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Categories: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

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