Here’s What They’re Reading
By Rachael Moore
Between homework, jobs and friends, finding time to read sounds like the chore right above wash sheets on your to-do list. But if you’re like many of your classmates, reading material is both brain fuel and creative energy; it’s good for the soul and it’s a nice break from textbook chapters and dramatic text messages from your best friend. To help you save some time and get straight to the literature, here are some recommendations from your peers at BCC.
“The Broom of the System” by David Foster Wallace
“My community of friends are all deeply interested in post-modernist novels like me and we often suggest novels we share a passion for,” says James Dennehy, introducing David Foster Wallace’s first novel. And if you’re familiar with Foster Wallace’s work, Dennehy’s brief synopsis will not surprise you: “The story is completely crazy and includes a baby formula that allows babies (and Lenore’s parakeet) to speak, a character who loses his leg when his pregnant mom falls out of a window and launches him from her womb upon impact, and a man intent on eating until he physically explodes. But the most influential component of this story is its delivery and narration. It’s experimental and tells the story in the non-sequential form that pulp fiction is known for.” Don’t be daunted by the description; Foster Wallace is an acquired taste, but he has a truly unique way of storytelling.
“Infinite Potential: What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live” by Lothar Schafer
Looking to flex your scientific and philosophical brain muscles? Philosophy major Angela Pope is diving into Lothar Schafer’s philosophies on the connectedness of the universe and the way science and spirituality come together more than we think. “My mom bought [this book] for me for my birthday because she knows my interest in quantum theory,” says Pope. “There are several principles to quantum mechanics that are interesting to me from a philosophical perspective.” Many of Schafer’s readers cite the difficulty of the read, but also point out how rewarding it is at the end. Says Pope, “I will continue to read on quantum theory, from a scientific, philosophical and spiritual perspective for the purpose of obtaining a bettered sense of understanding of the ideas and theories that are out there. This will mean that at times they will be far-fetched, for example, pseudo-scientific; while other times scientifically distinctive and theoretically plausible. I find it important to examine the nature of quantum mechanics from as many angles as possible, to have the fullest understanding I might obtain.”
“Stoner” by John Williams
Another reason we love to read? It helps us bond with the people we love, like for Erin Marshall Cohen and her dad. “We always have bookstore dates. It’s our thing, he’d get lost in the bookstore with me and we would dive into great reads & poetry,” she says. “Stoner” is a 1965 novel by John Williams, chronicling assistant English professor William Stoner’s mundane life and lackluster career trajectory. Stoner’s passions and failures are a bleak look at academia, and Williams’ blunt truths about love, life, and workplace politics are a reflection of his own experience. “[My dad] said this book was beautifully written, and thought I should read it,” says Cohen. “I read it, completely agreed and felt the book was beautifully tragic.”
“The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan” By Jenny Nordberg
“I’m a sociology major and the topic of gender performance and norms is really fascinating to me,” says Voice staffer Sabrina Sellers. That’s what drew her to Nordberg’s investigative narrative about gender and persecution in Afghanistan. The author follows the stories of four women, exploring the practice of being reared as a boy in childhood and the expectation of “turning back into” a girl upon the onset of puberty. “Nordberg really sought out every possible angle of this issue which made it all the more compelling,” says Sellers. She recommends the read to those interested in any of the social sciences: “Nordberg takes on women’s issues from every possible lens: economic, political, psychological, and sociological. I think it has a little bit for everyone.”
“Singing at the Gates” by Santiago Baca
If you’re a poet and you know it, Baca’s collection of passionate poetry explores the dynamics of injustice, race, and identity. “The poems he wrote show a very vivid structure to rethink in a deeper sense about the topics of prison and values of family and friends,” says Hilda Chavez. “My favorite poem in the collection is ‘We Prisoners.’” Raw, unforgiving, and fiery, Baca’s work remains as true today as it did when he wrote it. Reading this collection is as timely as ever in the wake of Black Lives Matter and criticism of America’s justice system. In just a couple of lines [poetry expresses] what a thousand words can’t,” says Chavez. This is distinctly true of Baca, who’s imagery and storytelling provide a vivid portrayal of not only his life, but many like him in the barrios of New Mexico.
No matter your major or your interests, there’s a book out there for you. Didn’t find one here to suit your fancy? Ask your classmates, your friends, or your family—great suggestions come from the people who know you best, just like they did for Pope, Marshall Cohen, and Dennehy. And don’t forget that there’s a library on the 2nd floor of BCC and countless bookstores near Campus. Literature awaits—go and find it.