SAGE Musings: 2018 Summer Reading

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College
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published Jul 5, 2018 9:44am

As many of you know, I take a break in publishing the SAGE Musings blog over the summer. I also like to make more time for reading over the summer. I asked the project leaders and participants for summer reading recommendations, and here they are.... Some are directly related to our SAGE 2YC project, while others are more generally related to geoscience.

From Karen Braley: What Excellent Community Colleges Do: Preparing All Students for Success, by Joshua S. Wyner. This is a book that our retention committee is currently reading. It focuses on the strategies that Aspen award winning two-year colleges have implemented that allow them to stand out. Even though the book is focused on the college level there are aspects that are important at the class level too. There is a focus on retention and success. This is a good read for anyone wanting to be able to discuss college-wide ideas with their administrator(s).

Norlene Emerson is looking forward to reading The Hour Of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks, by Terry Tempest Williams, based on the reviews. Here's the publisher's description:

"America's national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the environmental classic Refuge and the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them.

"From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas and more, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America."

I (Carol Ormand) have just started reading the Roadside Geology of Hawaii, by Richard W. Hazlett and Donald W. Hyndman, in anticipation of a trip to Hawaii in the not too distant (but as yet unscheduled) future. I'm a bit surprised at the level of detail about magma chemistry -- I wasn't really expecting to see the word "tholeiitic" in a book written for a lay audience -- but I'm also pleasantly surprised to be learning things I didn't know about Hawaiian volcanoes. I'm also particularly enjoying it in the context of all of the eruption activity right now.

Jan Hodder pointed me in the direction of Creating a Data-Informed Culture in Community Colleges: A New Model for Educators, by Brad C. Phillips and Jordan E. Horowitz. The description on the publisher's website sounds interesting: Phillips and Horowitz "offer a research-based model and actionable approach for using data strategically at community colleges to increase completion rates as well as other metrics linked to student success. They draw from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics to show how leaders and administrators can build good habits for engaging with data constructively."

Heather Macdonald writes, "I recommend reading some poetry this summer. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets and I've included Today from her book, A Thousand Mornings, below. Three other poems you could search online to read are The poet compares human nature to the ocean from which we came, another poem by Mary Oliver, Making Peace by Denise Levertov, and Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy. If you have a favorite poet or poem or two, it would be great to have you reply to the email list and/or post on the discussion thread below this blog post!"


Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I'm traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

Ellen Iverson is a member of multiple book clubs, and race has been a significant theme in their recent selections. She says, "These might be of interest to SAGE 2YC folks. The books covered a range of genres.

"Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson) (free verse) Author's story of her childhood as an African American growing up in the 1960s in South Carolina and New York. Told from a young girl's perspective during a pivotal time, this is one of my new all time favorite books. Plus, this would satisfy Heather's recommendation for poetry.

"Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (historic fiction) The story begins in what is now Ghana and traces two different descendent lines through eight generations in Africa and the United States. I liked this book for its strong writing and thought-provoking ideas.

"Dispatches from Pluto (Richard Grant) (memoir) An English journalist relocates to Pluto, Mississippi. He describes his observations on racial relations and life on the Mississippi Delta. My book club found this a pretty easy read but it gave us plenty to consider and discuss in regard to the complexities of race and relationships in different contexts.

"Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race (Debby Irving) (non-fiction) I read this for two different groups and it does spark great conversations. Some may find the author a little naive. It gives the perspective a fairly affluent white woman working in Boston on diversity programs. It is about her revelation that the world experience for the families of color who live in Boston is and has been very different from hers."

From Eriks Puris: The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannen, and Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, by Steve Olson.

What are you reading or planning to read this summer?

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