by Celina Dietzel '17
During the winter break, Knox professors rummaged through their shelves and pulled out some of their favorite books to share with the Knox community.
The selected titles range from historical fiction to essays on education, and everything in between. Here are some of the professors' reading picks, along with their brief explanation of each choice.
Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays
By George Orwell. Recommended by Stuart Allison, professor of biology and director of Green Oaks Biological Field Station:
"Whenever I need to read excellent writing, I reach for essays by George Orwell. His essays are models of clarity and precise use of English. But more than that, they are windows into the mind of an extremely creative, constantly exploring thinker. I always leave Orwell's essays feeling refreshed and thinking about the world in a new way."
Why Teach: In Defense of a Real Education
By Mark Edmundson. Recommended by Joel Estes, chair of educational studies (pictured above):
"It's a fascinating quick read about the need for a return to the ideals of liberal arts education. In this collection of essays, Edmundson advocates for the power of education to transform students and teachers alike to the true meaning of education. In doing so, he contends that real education, in fact, can transform our democracy."
By W.P. Kinsella. Recommended by Cate Denial, Bright Professor of American History:
"Set in Iowa, the story follows the fortunes of Ray Kinsella, a corn farmer whose life is turned upside down when he hears a Voice say 'If you build it, he will come.' The words are accompanied by a vision of a baseball field, and after some discussion with his wife, Ray sets out to fulfill the Voice's request. While a baseball field is at the center of the book, it's not necessarily a book about baseball. Instead, it's a book about following your dreams even when others think them absurd, and finding magic in everyday places."
Kafka on the Shore
By Haruki Murakami. Recommended by Ole Forsberg, associate professor of mathematics:
"At its very roots, this is the story of Kafka Tamura, a 15-year-old boy, who is running away from himself. As expected, he finds himself on Joseph Campbell's classic hero's journey, while Oedipus dogs his every step. Throughout it all, we are introduced to the real and the quasi-real, characters from our experiences and from our dreams, and everywhere: people from the past who are a part of the present. As expected of a hero, Kafka eventually decides that fate must be embraced, that he must return to his home to continue life. And, as with any Murakami novel, there are cats."
Last Letters from Hav
By Jan Morris. Recommended by Brenda Tooley, director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies:
"Each chapter offers an account of some aspect of Hav's distinctive culture, peoples, and history. Hav's history and present culture is a melange, influenced by European, Eurasian and Middle Eastern political events, trade routes, people, cultures and arts ... Last Letters is partly a meditative fictional travel journal and partly a fictionalized, appreciative snapshot of a rapidly disappearing, post-WWII, postcolonial, pre-hyper-globally-interconnected world."