New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998
I completely recommend Ecology of Fear. It's about how Los Angeles is situated and built in such a way as to maximize the social consequences of any (extremely likely) natural disaster. There's a section on long-term climate changes and weather patterns that I thought would be deadly boring, but it was riveting. Honestly, I really don't like nonfiction much, but I loved this.
Kathleen R. Ryan
Assistant Professor, Plant & Microbial Biology
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005
Imagine if your professors were able to hang out with you in the dorms, sit next to you in lecture, or had to wait like you in long lines for services. In other words, really get a sense of your day-to-day life as a student. Well, anthropologist Cathy Small (writing under the pseudonym "Rebekah Nathan") did just that by enrolling as an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches. Although her intentions were to uncover why students just seemed to be "surviving" through the curriculum by doing minimal work, Small discovers that students have a desire to be challenged even when they are being discouraged by their peers or poor teaching. This ethnography is a must-read for any undergraduate wanting to thrive, and not just survive, at a research university.
Study Strategies Coordinator, Student Learning Center
New York: Ecco, 2003
This lovely work by biologist and naturalist?and science writer?Bernd Heinrich details dozens of examples of physiological and behavioral strategies animals use to survive winter. Full of stories and beautiful hand-drawn figures, the book exposes the miraculous variety of approaches employed by turtles, mice, squirrels, bats, bears, beavers, bees, beetles, birds and butterflies.
I read this book as a graduate student, one hot summer in Iowa. It's set in a frightening, falling-apart California of the future, a place where drought, pollution, drugs, and violence have made life almost impossible outside of gated communities. Lauren, a young Black woman with a vision, leads a small band of survivors north toward what she hopes will be a better life. Butler's prophecy for California's environmental and social future is bleak and scarily accurate?if you read this alongside Mike Davis's City of Quartz, you may not sleep for a few nights. But at its root this is a hopeful book; it's about learning to look squarely at the world as it is, and then work to make it better.
In 1863, the political survival of the United States was in doubt. Americans were amid a Civil War, a horrific conflict that divided the nation and whose outcome was very much in doubt. By most accounts, the turning point of the war was the battle of Gettysburg which tens of thousands of soldiers did not survive. Garry Wills's Lincoln at Gettysburg explores President Lincoln's address following the battle from a variety of viewpoints and illustrates Lincoln's hope that the American nation would survive. Wills' book has been selected as the featured text for the Letters and Science "On the Same Page" program for fall 2007, and the author will visit campus in September to meet with students and discuss the book.