When we asked a few of our faculty members what they’re reading outside of the classroom, we weren’t surprised to hear that many had their noses buried in books related to their field of expertise – but we were glad to find that a few were reading something a little different, too.
Zumrut Akcam-Kibis, computer science
Reading: “Sapiens,” by Yuval Noah Harari
Why: This book was in Bill Gates’ recommended books list. As he said, it is a good book to have a fun engaging look at early human history. This book is a really good conversation starter.
Reading: “The Hundred-Page Machine Learning Book,” by Andriy Burkov
Why: To get ready for next semester’s classes (I am also looking into other possibilities).
John Avitabile, computer science
Reading: “Inheritance,” by Dani Shapiro
Why: It’s a memoir about a woman who learns, in her 50s, that her biological father was actually an anonymous sperm donor. The book is something of a detective story, as she searches for her biological father and also her own identity.
I am interested in this memoir because I also learned in my 50s that my biological father was a sperm donor. Many similarities between my experience and hers.
Stephanie A. Bennett-Knapp, sociology
John Dion, marketing
Reading: “Storytelling with Data,” by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
Why: I hope to gain insights that will help me with my marketing research course.
Reading: “Marketing and Sales Analytics,” by Cesar Brea
Why: This will help me design a new marketing and sales analytics course.
Reading: “Past Tense (A Jack Reacher novel),” by Lee Child
Why: Because it is summer.
Theresa Flanigan, art history
Reading: “My Brilliant Friend,” by Elena Ferrante
Why: It’s well written and about Italian culture, which I love. I study Italian art and history and spent almost a decade living in, researching, and traveling around Italy as a graduate student.
Angela Ledford, political science
Reading: “Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia,” by Steven Stoll;
“Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory,” by Nancy Fraser and Rachel Jaeggi
“Facing Gaia,” by Bruno Latour
Why: These books address crucial contemporary issues of poverty and the prospect of environmental cataclysm as the result of capitalist exploitation.
Dean Ian MacDonald, computer science
Reading: Howard Stern’s new book
Why: Because it is full of his best interviews. When he interviews someone, they go for over an hour and talk very honestly and freely, unlike any other talk or TV show.
Reading: Academic articles in cybersecurity and audio engineering
Why: The first is for work; the second is a personal hobby.
Khalid Mehtabdin, economics
Reading: Economics books and webinars
Why: To get ready for the fall semester.
Heta-Maria Miller, educational psychology
Reading: Times Union, Gazette, Altamont Enterprise (daily) and New York Times (weekly)
Why: I enjoy learning about what is happening in my community and the world. It is a dear habit for me.
Reading: APA Monitor and Educational Leadership
Why: These keep me current in regards to what is happening in my field.
Reading: Everything I assign to my students, whether an article or a chapter in a required textbook.
Why: It is important for me to show my students that the assigned readings matter and are related to our discussions in class. And that I read them, too!
Reading: “A Monster Calls,” by Patrick Ness (over winter break)
Why: My seventh-grader’s English teacher is using it as a read-aloud during this 4th quarter of the school year. She emailed us, parents, encouraging us to read it as well. I am so glad I did: It is now one of my all-time favorites.
Elizabeth Power, school psychology
Reading: “It’s Always About the Children,” by Charles A. Barrett
Why: Charles is a colleague of mine who wrote this book for school psychologists who work primarily with children who are English language learners and from low-income families. I’m reading the book as I plan to assign it in Intro to School Psych next year.
David Rice, English
Reading: Student online comments and paper drafts
Why: It’s what I do.
Reading: “A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation,” by Randy Fertel
Why: It’s a main secondary text for my research I’ll be doing over the sabbatical in the fall.
Liz Richards, communications
Reading: “Born a Crime,” Trevor Noah’s memoir
Why: My mom gave it to me last April for my birthday, but I’ve been looking forward to it. It really says something about our democracy when we get more honesty from late night hosts and comedians than from our elected officials.
Reading: The Poldark series, and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Why: Guilty pleasures.
Laura Weed, philosophy/religious studies
Reading: “How to Teach Quantum Mechanics,” by David Albert
“Emerging Consciousness,” by Patrick Lewtas
Why: I’m presenting a paper that deals with these themes at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference in Switzerland in June. Lewtas is on the panel with me at the conference.
Elizabeth Yanoff, teacher education
Reading: “Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain,” by Dana Suskind
“Spinning Silver: A Novel,” by Naomi Novik
Why: One is professional, and one is for fun.
Ann Zak, psychology
Reading: “Friday Black,” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (just finished)
“The Poisonwood Bible,” by Barbara Kingsolver
“A history of here: A house, the Pine Hills neighborhood, and the city of Albany,” by Akum Norder
Why: For my book club, although I would have read “Friday Black” anyway because of reviews and local roots (the author graduated from UAlbany). “A history of here” is because of the history of Albany and great reviews.
And, now that it’s summer, I am reading a lot of Vogue!
— Compiled by Sarah Uzzi G’21