summer reading

That’s what we asked George Fox professors, and to no surprise, the response was almost unanimous: “I can only choose one book?” What we didn’t expect was the depth of answers, ranging from books that delved into the usual topics of religion, politics and history to a novel that follows the story of an ambassador from Earth as he treks across an alien world. And more than one professor cracked open The Hunger Games trilogy to better connect with their students. Curious what your favorite professor is reading? Here are a few of their responses. For the rest, visit

Michael MacLeod, Politics
Faithful Citizenship: Christianity and Politics for the 21st Century by Greg Garrett
Faithful Citizenship I chose this book, in part, because I am contemplating assigning it for a class next year. I highly recommend it. American politics has become highly polarized, and most Christians are increasingly caught up in this polarization or avoid politics altogether. This trend is addressed head on, focusing on the causes and building a case for a helpful dialogue between religion and politics.

Laura Simmons, Seminary
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (audiobook)
Steve Jobs I am a huge fan of Apple, and I wanted to know more about this complex man. I found it evenhanded and well-researched. Isaacson does not pull punches about Jobs’ volatility and demanding nature as an employer, but overall I found it a sympathetic portrayal.

Mark Eaton, Theatre
Biblical Drama in England: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day by Murray Roston
Biblical Drama in England: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day I would recommend this book to anyone interested in how God’s Word may inspire believing artists, particularly playwrights. Roston doesn’t treat biblical drama as a dramatized sermon or a crude forerunner to the Renaissance, but as a nuanced reflection of the “spiritual struggle of men committed to an ideal yet torn from it by their human weaknesses and strengths.”

Mark Hall, Politics
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert Putnam and David Campbell
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between religion and public life in America.

Bill Jolliff, English
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
Looking Backward I hadn’t touched this book since graduate school. I picked it up again with the idea in mind that it might be a useful text for a new course I’m teaching next spring that focuses on 19th century American writers who spoke truth to their culture. Oddly enough, I’m finding it even a better read than I remembered. It speaks in weirdly prophetic ways to the economic turmoil facing the United States today. It’s almost hard to believe that it was written in 1887.

Debora Herb-Sepich, Business
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games tilogy I am always behind on the current “fun” reading, so I got into The Hunger Games trilogy this summer in an attempt to understand what my students are reading. Later I will be enjoying Pride and Prejudice and some other Jane Austen novels, then I will move onto World Without End. That is my plan, until Tom Johnson writes a book, which I know I will read immediately.

Doug Campbell, Visual Arts
Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected by Scott Cairns
Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected I chose it because I have enjoyed reading Scott Cairns’ poetry in the past. Cairns often chooses to confront the reader with inconvenient spiritual situations and questioning. His writing is extremely thoughtful and purposeful and often beautiful, but seldom comforting. I am happy with the poetry for the most part; however, reading the poetry does not make me happy. Cairns does not hesitate to bring up issues, either corporate or personal, that confront the reader with his spiritual shallowness or waywardness.

Gary Tandy, English
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis I’m reading this threevolume series for a research project on Lewis’ theories of rhetoric, style and language. What I’ve noticed so far is Lewis’ keen mind and intellectual curiosity, but what comes across most strongly is his love of literature and reading. It’s also interesting to read Lewis’ perspectives during his atheist period, before his conversion to Christianity when he was 32 years old. If you love C. S. Lewis, I would recommend reading his letters, perhaps selectively.

Christine Austin, Education
The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour
The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian I’m reading this book as a follow-up to some seminars at my church about Islam. I highly recommend it to all who seriously want to understand Muslims and Islam, the fastest-growing religion.

Leah Payne, Seminary
The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle by Kathleen Flake
The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle This book is about the hearings held to investigate the first LDS Senator in the early 20th century. I chose it to illuminate the current conversations surrounding Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and for its exploration of the relationship between church and state. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the upcoming election!

Jerrie Nelson, Nursing
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks This book explores issues of race, ethics, confidentiality, science, politics, money and culture. Henrietta’s cancer cells were taken, studied and used for research without her knowledge, contributing to many developments such as the polio vaccine and cancer treatment. The scientific information and human story of the patient and family are woven together, making it a read that is difficult to put down, and leaves one with many unsettling questions.

Mark Terry, Visual Arts
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
The Tiger’s Wife The lush language, nuance and texture in this book simply mesmerized me. I couldn’t put it down, reading it in a single sitting. I suspect my literary friends might say it flirts with “magical realism,” but it does so in a completely compelling and believable way. The words are crafted with such care and delicacy, that even harsh realities of recent history in the Balkans feel poetic as they wash across the mindscape of the reader.

Rodger Bufford, Psychology
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness I chose this book (a Hugo award winner) for a little lighter reading. A novel, set on an alien world, the ambassador from Earth escapes captivity and attempts a winter trek across the polar ice cap. One of the challenges is that the intense light and lack of contrast (darkness) makes vision virtually impossible. How do we see, and what role is played by darkness?

Debby Espinor, Education
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Imagine: How Creativity Works My dean, Linda Samek, encouraged me to read it and sent me the book. I am really enjoying it. The narrative includes highly creative people like Bob Dylan, and as I am a musician, it is nice to have creativity seen in a positive manner. The brain research links creativity to some attention disorders, which has implications for the classroom as well. It was a rewarding personal and professional read.

Carlisle Chambers, Chemistry
The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
The Making of the Atomic Bomb This book was referenced in something else that I was reading, and after reading the reviews on Amazon I thought I’d give it a try. I enjoy both science and history. TMAB is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The first third would make a terrific book by itself, as it is a wonderfully detailed history of the important advances in chemistry and physics in the early part of the 20th century.