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College of Charleston Faculty, Staff Recommend Books to Read While Social Distancing



Press Release

If there’s anything positive about this crazy, unprecedented time of social distancing, it’s that we have more time to read. We can relieve our boredom and (some of) our anxiety with a really good book, one that transports us to another world.

If you are in need of a nice distracting read, here are some recommendations from book-loving faculty and staff at the College of Charleston.

Stephanie Auwaerter, Director of Orientation in the Office of New Student Programs:

You can get a head start on the 2020–21 The College Reads! book while you are practicing social distancing. The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu is part memoir, part history lesson and part real-life family stories about the border between the U.S. and Mexico. By reading the book, I gained a broader perspective about the issues and saw the border issues through the eyes of someone who saw them every day through his work as a border patrol agent.

Virginia H. Carlsten, Administrative Assistant in the Department of French, Francophone, and Italian Studies and Department of German and Russian Studies:

I just finished reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I love his writing style, which only became more poetic in this first novel. He tells a story of the underground railroad, the denigration of a Virginia plantation and the complexity of bloodlines during the period of slavery. The protagonists in the book have supernatural powers that help lead them to freedom.

Anthony James ’12 (M.A.T.), Director of Minority Education and Outreach with the Call Me MISTER Program in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance:

I’m reading Without a Father: From Fear to Faith by Kenny Joyner. Kenny is a former teacher at Memminger Elementary School [in Charleston, S.C.]. The book shows how young men, single mothers and community leaders and mentors can help young men navigate their way through a world that sometimes seems to be working against them.

Jessica Streit, Assistant Professor of Art and Architectural History:

I recently read Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore and loved it. It’s weird, a little supernatural, involves art and art-making, and maybe most relateably is about someone who spends a lot of time alone. There are a few sex scenes that are pretty explicit, so fair warning there, but they’re not the focus of the book at all. Instead, look forward to evocative descriptions of things that range from cooking for one to ideas made visible.

Anthony Varallo, Professor in the Department of English:

My reading plan is to read everything I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to yet for whatever reason. Right now, I’m reading Richard Russo’s Everybody’s Fool, which I think I received as a Christmas gift three or four years ago. It’s good so far, a sequel to Russo’s early novel, Nobody’s Fool, a sort of Dickensian take on small-town life with some great comic moments.

But for comfort, or maybe consolation (or both?), I will probably re-read some short stories by the largely unknown British writer Sylvia Townsend Warner, especially her collection, The Music at Long Verney, which includes one of my favorite of her stories, “The Inside-Out,” where two children, observing their home furnishings being moved into a new home, note that “it was furniture the two children had known their whole lives, but it looked quite different out-of-doors: gaunt, and sorry for itself. It was abashing to find that the backs of familiar wardrobes and chest of drawers were just unpainted deal.”  That’s as British a take on a loss of innocence as you could want – perfect.

Stephen Jones, Manager of the College of Charleston Bookstore:

Two books I’m reading now that I’m really enjoying are Karl Ove Knausgaard’s So Much Longing in so Little Space: The Art of Edvard Munch and [CofC English] faculty member Anthony Varallo‘s The Lines, which I bought when it first came out this summer but got buried beneath other reads for far too long.

The College of Charleston Bookstore is offering free shipping on all online orders

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