SAGE Musings: Summer Reading Recommendations

Compiled by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College
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published Jul 12, 2017

I like to take a break from many routines during the summer, and that includes taking a break from writing SAGE Musings blog posts. I also like to make more time for reading over the summer. I asked the project leaders 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. Perhaps you'll find something of interest in this list, as well.

From Debra Bragg: "Hillbilly Elegy. I know it's all the rage so not exactly an original recommendation, but worth reading. This incredibly well-written book - by young J. D. Vance, an Ohio State (go Bucks!) and Yale law grad - portrays the culture of poverty associated with Appalachia that spread through social mobility to other parts of the country. This book is not a an easy read but rather a painful peeling-back-of-the-onion study of race, income, and culture in America."

From Heather Macdonald: "Successful STEM Mentoring Initiatives for Underrepresented Students: A Research-Based Guide for Faculty and Administrators, by Becky Wai-Ling Packard. I found it useful in thinking about the ways we "identify priorities and implement appropriate practices" in our work with underrepresented students. The book is the source of the "if-then" statements used in one of the workshop sessions at the June 2017 SAGE 2YC workshop; we modified a few examples in the book to make them more appropriate for geoscience at 2YCs. I like the book for many reasons, including her handy lists of practices and strategies. She also goes beyond what I traditionally thought of as mentoring, making the more widely applicable than the title suggests."

From Norlene Emerson: "The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, by Andrea Wulf. I like reading about the early naturalists and explorers who helped to establish geology as a scientific field. The book describes Humboldt's expeditions to the Andes in South America and the Himalayas and describes what "field work" was like in the early 1800's. Humboldt was meticulous with his data collecting, taking thousands of measurements and keeping detailed field notes. I like sharing these stories with my students; I think it makes science more "real" to them to know some of the hardships that field scientists go through to collect their data."

From Yi Hao: "Higher Learning, Greater Good by Walter W. McMahon, which is a great book discussing higher education on the macro level. It is based on the ongoing discussion of whether higher education is for the public or private good and includes an update in new understandings of social capital theories since the 1960s. I like it because it gives a grand picture of every constituency in higher education and the ongoing dynamics between policy and public opinions."

There are two books I've read recently that I (Carol Ormand) recommend highly: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. Between the World and Me is an extraordinary narrative. Written as a letter from a Black man to his son, it explores the narrator's experiences of coming of age during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's and his thoughts about what has and hasn't changed in the decades since. Lab Girl, also an autobiographical account, is equally extraordinary. It describes the inordinate challenges of funding and running a scientific research lab, despite the narrator's groundbreaking research -- she won the Donath Medal, GSA's young scientist award, and still struggled to fund her lab. But its true brilliance, in my opinion, lies in the way Hope's scientific work, and her passion for it, is woven through the bigger, overarching story of her life.

What are you reading this summer, and what's interesting about it?

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