For the new UTC READS program, Dr. Andrew McCarthy shared some of his favorite books with us. Read about them below, find the books in the library’s online catalog, or visit the display on the 1st floor of the Library.
Dr. McCarthy says:
Though my research and teaching is concerned with Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, I love contemporary novels. I try to read as widely as possible, though one of my favorite subjects is our fraught relationship with technology and the difficulty we have as humans connecting with one another. Reading is supposed to be fun (a novel concept, huh?) and so I am merciless about tossing aside books that just don’t do it for me. The following are some of my favorites; if you read one and find yourself with an irrepressible desire to talk about it with someone, come find me!
Here are the titles Dr. Andrew McCarthy recommends:
1. Dave Eggers, The Circle
If there is a single contemporary novel everyone should read, it is this one. As entertaining as it is haunting, it will have you questioning your use of social media and technology. The last two or three pages are delightfully disturbing.
2. Zadie Smith, White Teeth
I ran into a number of street signs while trying to walk and read this novel at the same time. So smart. So well written. And a ton of fun to read.
3. Craig Thompson, Blankets
Fantastic graphic novel about all the most important things: growing up, falling in love, and asking the big questions. This was the first graphic novel I read (at my wife’s recommendation) and though I was initially hesitant, I am now a huge proponent of the form. Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is pretty darn good too.
4. Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding
A really compelling campus novel about baseball, love, and baseball.
5. Lev Grossman, The Magicians
Unfortunately dubbed “Harry Potter for grown-ups,” The Magicians is a gritty urban fantasy that engages and reworks the genre. A school for wizards! Talking animals! And the best part? It is the first book in a trilogy. (The third book comes out in August)
6. Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian
I love novels that take place in and around universities and also involve foreign travel. This one has both. And vampires.
7. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
I’m not a huge fan of novels set during the World Wars, but this one grabbed me. It is a beautifully written story that is equal parts sad and hopeful.
8. Nick Hornby, Ten Years in the Tub
This is a collection of Hornby’s writing about the books he buys and the books he reads and the weird discrepancies between the two. I realize that sounds about as exciting as a lecture on Shakespeare, but it is fascinating stuff with all sorts of pop culture and digressions thrown in for good measure.
9. James Collins, Beginner’s Greek
I almost feel guilty about putting this one on here, but I laughed, I cried, I pulled for the characters. It begins with boy meeting girl. Girl gives boy phone number. Boy loses it. When boy finds girl again, she is about to marry his best friend. The perfect summer read.
10. David Nicholls, One Day
I’m still crying.
11. Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You
I’m still laughing.
12. Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees
Set in Scotland, this novel begins with two teenaged sisters burying their awful parents in the backyard and follows their attempts to face life’s challenges with the help of a reclusive neighbor.
13. Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Niffenegger’s first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is a really enjoyable book, but this one is full of memorable, creepy characters and has a crazy twist.