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Celebrating the Life



Freshman Reading Round-Up Poster 2013

  The Freshman Reading Round-Up offers incoming freshmen the opportunity to read a book recommended by a distinguished faculty member and participate in a discussion about the book with the faculty member and other incoming freshmen. Incoming freshman can sign up for a book by visiting the Freshman Reading Roundup Book List page. Click on the call number to check availability. 

A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young. Image Source: Powell's Books

A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir  
by Elena Gorokhova
DK 543 G67 A3 2010 PCL Stacks

Elena Gorokhova's A Mountain of Crumbs is a lyrical and moving memoir of a young girl growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. It is an extraordinary document, by turns revealing—of the Soviet reality of the time—ardent, and funny. Gorokhova's English is smart, limpid, and beguiling: she is a splendid writer. Her book is a very good read and a remarkable portrait of a place and time now all but faded from view.


 A Short History of Progress Cover Image

A Short History of Progress
by Ronald Wright
 CB 151 W75 2005  PCL Stacks

Each time history repeats itself, the cost goes up. The twentieth century—a time of unprecedented progress—has produced a tremendous strain on the very elements that comprise life itself. This raises the key question of the twenty-first century: how much longer can this go on? A Short History of Progress dissects the cyclical nature of humanity's development and demise, the 10,000-year old experiment that we've unleashed but have yet to control. It is Wright's contention that only by understanding and ultimately breaking from the patterns of progress and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age can we avoid the onset of a new Dark Age.

Professor Robert Jensen - Journalism

 A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones Cover Image

A Song of Ice and Fire, Vol. 1: Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin
PS 3563 A7239 G36 2011   PCL Stacks

The HBO show "Game of Thrones" is different from the books in some fundamental ways, and a lot of people care really quite deeply about those differences. Here's a chance for you to experience the real deal—the book itself, and talk to me and other freshmen about it. And there's a lot to talk about, since it contains so much: political intrigue, love, war, disappointment, and even some walking dead. A lot of these things are exactly what you come to college to learn and think about, and Game of Thrones packages it up for you in some unexpected ways. For students planning to take my UGS 302 class (Classics and Modern Fantasy), this is a great way to get some background reading out of the way—but absolutely everybody is welcome!

Professor Ayelet Lushkov - Classics


A Technique for Producing Ideas
by James Webb Young
BF 441 Y6 1982  PCL Stacks

Join the legions of poets, scientists, politicians, and others who have learned to think at the invitation of James Webb Young's A Technique for Producing Ideas. This brief but powerful book guides you through the process of innovation and learning in a way that makes creativity accessible to anyone willing to work for it. While the author's background is in advertising, his ideas apply in every facet of life and are increasingly relevant in the world's knowledge-based economy. Young's tiny text represents an ideal start to university education with its tactics for viewing life through a new lens and its encouragement to look inside for a more creative version of ourselves.

Professor Brad Love - Advertising


A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
PS 3608 O832 K58 2007 PCL Stacks

An engrossing story of the fate and friendship of two women in modern Afghanistan. I chose this book because in our global society, it gives a personal face to a country that is now part of U.S. history. While reading about the hardships in the lives of men and women in Afghanistan, I learned about how important creating meaning in life is to people everywhere. This book starts as a slow read, but hang in there: it quickly becomes a page turner.

Professor Leslie Moore - Educational Psychology

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Cover Image

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
 PS 1305 A2 R35 2011  PCL Stacks

Set in the antebellum South, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn depicts the developing relationship between a white adolescent boy and an escaped slave, Jim. Controversial since its publication in 1884, the novel's vivid portrayal of pervasive racism and ignorance is sometimes commended, sometimes denounced. How should Twain's use of Huck as narrator shape our understanding of race in American society?

Professor Linda Ferreira-Buckley - Rhetoric and Writing

 Alice In Wonderland Cover Image

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll
 PR 4611 A4 G7 2013 PCL Stacks

Discover why hundreds of students have found these books remarkably useful preparations for and guides to the college experience.

Professor Jerome BumpEnglish

 All Quiet On The Western Front Cover Image

All Quiet On The Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque 

PT 2635 E68 I713 2004 PCL Stacks

The hero of "All Quiet on the Western Front" is a 19-year-old initially led more by the pressures of associates and society than by his own judgement. Through the story and in addition to the horrors of war, he faces questions of identity, loyalty, innocence, and sacrifice, as do many people of his age—including university freshmen. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the First World War. It is time to take lessons from that period's effects on the youth of the time.

Professor Alan K. Cline - Computer Sciences


 Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Cover Image

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Díaz  

PS 3554 I259 B75 2007 PCL Stacks

What do "The Lord of the Rings," Caribbean history, and the Chinese surname "Wao" have in common? At first glance, not much, but all three come together in surprising and hilarious ways in Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The title character is a Dominican-American teenager who defies all sorts of stereotypes in his journey through adolescence. Oscar is a "supernerd" with a heart of gold, a hopeless misfit when compared to his svelte older sister and suave college roommate, but an unexpected hero when appreciated for his sincerity and generosity. Moving back and forth between New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, Diaz weaves family and national histories with some of the smartest, most touching prose I've encountered in a long time.

Professor Jennifer Wilks - African and African Diaspora Studies



Change Your Life Through Travel
by Jillian Robinson

 BF 637 S4 R588 2006 PCL Stacks

Travel can and will have an impact on your life in a variety of ways. This nonfiction book sets the backdrop for making travel more meaningful; our discussion of this book will spark your journeys.

Professor James Patton - Education 


 Chronicle of a Death Foretold Cover Image

Chronicle of A Death Foretold
by Gabriel García Márquez 
PQ 8180.17 A73 C6813 1983 PCL Stacks

Alternatively interpreted as a journalistic account, a psychological detective thriller, and a compelling work of post-modern fiction, this brief novella relates the events surrounding the death of a young man in a small South American town. Told in a distinctly non-linear fashion, the story describes what has been called "the most poorly planned murder in the annals of modern fiction." Nobel Prize-winning García Márquez extraordinary gifts for language and story-telling in the magic realism style are on full display here, creating some truly memorable scenes and characters.

Professor Keith Brown - Finance

 Dracula Cover Image

by Bram Stoker
PR 6037 T617 D7 1897 PCL Stacks

In 1887, sitting in a library in London, Bram Stoker created Count Dracula, a villain, who continues to frighten and intrigue us. Drawing on Transylvanian legends, Stoker invented a dangerous, bloody and exciting vampire who combined the intensity of a gothic novel with the terrible reality of the Jack the Ripper murders. From films to novels to computer games, few novels have inspired so many imitators, and few themes have resonated so strongly across generations of readers.

Professor Elizabeth Richmond-Garza - English

 Embassytown Cover Image

by China Mievelle  
PR 6063 I265 E46 2011  PCL Stacks

Embassytown is set in the far future on a planet that humans share with the resident Ariekei. The Ariekei hosts tolerate the humans, but they speak a language that only a few genetically engineered human Ambassadors can understand. The arrival of a new Ambassador brings chaos to the carefully balanced society. This is a great science fiction story that, at its heart, is an exploration of the nature and power of language.

Professor Shelley Payne - Molecular Genetics and Microbiology  

 Emma Cover Image

by Jane Austen   
823 AU7E 1906R1 PCL Stacks

Published in 1816, this is a classic romantic comedy about a small English village where a local teenage matchmaker, Emma Woodhouse, keeps getting things wrong as she plays cupid to her reluctant single friends. Simultaneously charming and sharp-witted, this may be Jane Austen's most perfect novel. After you read it, enjoy two very different interpretations for the screen: Emma (1996), starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and Clueless (1995), starring Alicia Silverstone.

Professor Janine Barchas - English 

 Flatland Cover Image

Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions  
by by Edwin Abbott

Flatland has retained its appeal throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. When in the 1995 "Halloween" episode of The Simpsons, Homer crossed into the third dimension, he was demonstrating for thousands of viewers one of the key points Abbott had made in 1884: the advantages gained by accessing a higher spatial dimension. Abbott's allegorical tale is set in a two-dimensional plane world that denies the existence of more dimensions than its own. A response to the popular fascination with a possible fourth dimension of space in this period, Flatlandcontinues to offer lessons for us in the era of string theory in physics with its suggestion of a ten-dimensional universe.

Professor Linda Henderson - Art History

Gifts of The Crow Cover Image

Gifts of the Crow
by John Marzluff

Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, swill coffee, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to spray soft cheese out of a can. Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. Scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell their amazing stories in Gifts of the Crow. With narrative, diagrams, and gorgeous line drawings, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar.

Professor Mark Knapp - Communication Studies


Hamlet Cover Image

by William Shakespeare

PR 2807 A2 M46 2011  PCL Stacks

Most everyone knows that Shakespeare's Hamlet is a ghost story about revenge and murder. But why exactly is this long and violent tragedy the most famous literary work in English and a must-read for every college student? It's worth finding out.

Professor John Ruszkiewicz - Rhetoric & Writing


Harmful To Minors Cover Image

Harmful To Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
by Judith Levine

HQ 56 L3255 2002 PCL Stacks

Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex is easy to read, interesting, and should certainly provoke controversy and spirited discussion. Levine argues that sex is not necessarily bad for minors, and that puritanical attitudes, overzealous laws, and a lack of education are the roots of real trouble. Her book is well-researched and a good starting point for discussing questions vital to us all.

Professor Thomas Hubbard - Classics



Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson 

Part cultural history, part literary legacy, part memoir, this absorbing account has been called the best celebration of swimming ever written. In the author's own words, "The peculiar psychology of the swimmer, and his 'feel for water,' form the basic themes of this book." (Dr. MacKay confesses that she is a daily swimmer in Barton Springs six months out of the year.)

Professor Carol MacKay - English

 I'm Not Scared Cover Image

I'm Not Scared
by Niccolo Ammaniti, Trans. Jonathon Hunt

PQ 4861 M54 I5513 2003 PCL Stacks

The hottest summer of the twentieth century. A tiny community of five houses in the middle of rural Italy. When the adults are sheltering indoors, six children venture out on their bikes across the scorched, deserted countryside. While exploring a dilapidated and uninhabited farmhouse, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano discovers a secret so momentous, so terrible, that he dare not tell anyone about it. To come to terms with what he has found, Michele has to draw strength from his own sense of humanity. In 2003, Italian director Gabriele Salvatores directed I'm Not Scared, a film based on Ammaniti's successful novel.

Professor Olson Antonella - French and Italian

 Henrik Ibsen Plays Cover Image

Ibsen Plays: An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm
by Henrik Ibsen, Trans. James McFarlane  

Three plays by the greatest modern dramatist all pose troubling questions concerning the integrity of intellectuals. The ethical dilemmas Ibsen's characters face translate surprisingly well to our increasingly complex lives: what to do in the face of opposition? How to weigh the importance of profits versus the wellbeing of patients and concern for the environment? Are there situations in which it is better not to enlighten people? What right do individuals have to pursue a happiness that contradicts the beliefs of a "moral majority?" IF YOU CHOOSE THIS READING SELECTION, PLEASE BE SURE TO PURCHASE THE OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSIC EDITION THAT INCLUDES ALL THREE PLAYS.

Professor Lynn WilkinsonComparative Literature, Germanic Studies, Women's & Gender Studies


Jane Fairfax—The Secret Story of the Second Heroine in Jane Austen's Emma
by Joan Aiken
PR 6051 I35 J36 1991  PCL Stacks

Fans of Jane Austen's Emma will truly enjoy Jane Fairfax. Before "fan fiction" became a widespread cyber genre, novels that re-imagined classics were called by the misleading term "sequels." Jane Fairfax retells the story of Emma from the perspective of the "rival" female protagonist, delving into the characterization of Emma from the original novel's first impressions of Emma as spoiled, complacently self-centered, and somewhat unpleasant. On the surface, Jane Fairfax is a paragon of virtue, but plot twists create interesting contradictions about this character, and hint that the untold whole story of Jane Fairfax is one worth knowing. As it turns out, just as with Emma Woodhouse in Austen's novel, Jane Fairfax in Joan Aiken's retelling is not who we thought she was from first impressions, either.

Professor Chiu-Mi LaiAsian Studies

Kindred Cover Image

by Octavia Butler 
PS 3552 U827 K5 1988 PCL Stacks

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her 26th birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end long before it has a chance to begin.

Professor Keisha Bentley-Edwards - Education

Lean In Cover Image

Lean In
by Sheryl Sandberg
HD 6054.3 S265 2013  PCL New Books Collection-Main Lobby

What does it mean to be a leader today? Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has managed to get a seat at the Executive Table while being a wife and mother, and she raises some controversial issues that are relevant for young women and men today. As you begin your college experience, this session will invite you to think about how you want to develop yourself as a leader at UT Austin. We will embrace the phrase "What starts here, changes the world!"

Professor Keri Stephens - Communication Studies

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Image Source: Powell's Books.

Leaves of Grass 
by Walt Whitman  
PS 3201 1860C PCL Stacks

Whitman can be good company for people looking for a way of life (and love) in troubled times. The poet's America, like ours, was a bewildering place, divided, proud but fearful. As a man who loved men and who cared little for the business of making money, Whitman stood apart from some sacred American conventions, but not from the land or its people. For voices and visions from all sides he made ample room in his songs. In their insistent music we hear about strange possibilities: community made stronger by differences, selfhood both naked and modest, love outgrowing fear. Note: Any larger edition (rather than the 1855 original) will give us both early and later poems to talk about.

Professor Paul Sullivan - English 

 Life's Greatest Lessons Cover Image

Life's Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter
by Hal Urban

BJ 1581.2 U73 2003 PCL Stacks

In this wise, wonderful book, award-winning teacher Hal Urban presents 20 principles that are as deeply rooted in common sense as they are in compassion. The topics, gathered from a lifetime of teaching both children and adults, span a wide range of readily understood concepts, including attitudes about money, success, and the importance of having fun. Classic in its simplicity and enduring in its appeal, Life's Greatest Lessons will help you find the best in others and in yourself.

Professor David Fowler Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering

Loud Hands Cover Image

Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking
by Julia Bascom (editor)
PS 508 A9 L68 2012  PCL Stacks

A collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. The Loud Hands Project is about survival, resilience, and pride, and was born out of necessity: autistic youth face systematic oppression, abuse, and bullying every day. It does not "get better" for us—typically, upon graduation, it actually gets worse. This must change. Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community. This manifesto for the notion of Autistic culture and experience aims to achieve what Deaf culture has: a positive rather than diminishing factor in an individual's identity. More info at

Professor Andrew Dell'Antonio - Music

 Mountains beyond Mountains cover image

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World
by Tracy Kidder
 R 154 F36 K53 2009  Life Science Library

A physician, anthropologist, and specialist in global health, Paul Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat. In medical school, Farmer found his life's calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows how situations that seem insurmountable can foster radical change, and how a meaningful life can be created out of inauspicious circumstances. Farmer, who recently visited the University of Texas, is a truly inspiring figure. This book, by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Tracy Kidder, tells his story in a compelling way.

Professor Pauline Strong - Anthropology 

 My Stroke of Insight cover image

My Stroke of Insight
by Jill Bolte Taylor
RC 388.5 T387 2008b   PCL Stacks

The author is a Harvard-trained brain scientist who experienced a massive stroke and observed her own mind deteriorate from the perspective of her scientific training. Her experience emphasizes the fascinating dichotomy between our left and right brains: the right side of her brain was much less affected. Taylor's compelling writing captures first-hand how the brain functions and recovers from such damage, and is also a good introduction for those interested in learning more about the brain. As a researcher in this area, I consider Taylor's book a must read.

Professor Larry AbrahamKinesiology and Health Education, Undergraduate Studies

 One Year Lived cover image

One Year Lived
by Adam Shepard

My life is pretty fantastic. But I feel boxed in. Look at a map, and there we are, a pin stuck in the wall. There's the United States, about 24 square inches worth, and there's the rest of the world: seventeen hundred square inches begging to be explored. Career, wife, babies... of course I want these things. They're on the horizon. Meanwhile, I'm a few memories short. Maybe I need a year to live a little.

Professor Miguel Ferguson - Social Work

Our Final Hour

Our Final Hour
by Sophocles 
CB 161 R38 2003  PCL Stacks

This book discusses the rapid progress being made in genetics, nanotechnology, and robots to discuss whether our current technology will lead within a decade or two to a healthy, long-lived utopia for humans or to an out-of-control technology dystopia.

President J. Craig Wheeler - Astronomy

Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business by Jon Steel.  Image Source: Powell's Books

Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business
by Jon Steel 
HF 5718.22 S74 2007 PCL Stacks

Steel shares his experience and wisdom in crafting winning ad agency presentations. Steel, an irreverent Brit who has worked in the U.S. for 20 years, draws insights for a diverse range of persuasive experts including Johnnie Cochran vs. prosecutor Marsha Clark in the O.J. Simpson trial, Bill Clinton and a London hooker. The applications extend to any situation where an audience is the focus of a persuasive pitch. This is a lively, fun, and most revealing read.

Professor John Murphy Advertising

Physics of the Impossible cover image

Physics of the Impossible
by Michio Kaku 
QC 75 K18 2008   Engineering Library

Do you think that faster-than-light space ships, teleportation, and time travel are science fiction? Or merely beyond our current capabilities? Michio Kaku's book brings up an interesting question?what can we say for certain is impossible? What are the limits of our understanding of the universe? This book will appeal to anyone who wants to think about the limits of what we know in science about what is possible and what is impossible. It also discusses many references to popular themes in science fiction and fantasy books and movies.

Professor Glenn Lightsey - Aerospeace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Room cover image

by Emma Donoghue 
PR 6054 O547 R66 2010   PCL Stacks

"Room" is the story of a young woman who has been abducted and held prisoner for seven years, told through the voice of Jack, the five year old boy conceived during her imprisonment. It resonates eerily with recent captivity narratives from the real world, but also explores with warmth, humor, and simplicity the bond between a mother and her child.

Professor Elizabeth Cullingford - English


Seven Pleasures—Essays on Ordinary Happiness
by Willard Spiegelman
BF 575 H27 S75 2009 PCL Stacks

At a time when people stressfully complain of how busy they are and feel detached from what they are busy with, Seven Pleasures is a reminder of simple pursuits that can dial us down and help to restore balance, sanity, and satisfaction. In separate meditations on reading, walking, looking, dancing, listening, swimming, and writing, Spiegelman celebrates living, essentially, for the fun of it—the sheer delight of experience.

Professor Tara Smith - Philosophy

 Smashed Cover image

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood
by Koren Zalickas
HV 5293 Z35 A3 2005 PCL Stacks

Written in the author's early twenties, Smashed was a way for Koren Zailckas to delve into the binge drinking phenomenon through her own experience as a teenage drinker. Vivid, poetic recollections of her girlhood combine with frank discussion of why she drank so heavily: to combat shyness and give herself courage.

Professor Keryn Pasch - Kinesiology and Health Education


Suits: A Woman on Wall Street  
by C.S. Lewis  
HG 4534 G62 2010 PCL New Books Collection

New York City, Wall Street, Investment Banking, oh my!! Follow the tale of this UT graduate as she learns the successes and failures that come with careers in Finance. From her first day lost in the Big Apple, follow Nina as she fights to establish herself in ways that will make you laugh and cry.

Professor Regina Hughes - Finance

 Tender is the Night cover image Tender is the Night
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Multiple copies at PCL Stacks

Though The Great Gatsby is the most famous novel in which F. Scott Fitzgerald explored aspects of his relationship with his wife Zelda, Tender is the Night, provides a deeper and more complex analysis. The novel tells the story of Dick Diver, a talented, charming young psychiatrist who marries fragile heiress, Nicole Warren, one of his patients in a Swiss hospital, and the slow unraveling of their relationship and Dick's career. Fitzgerald used the story as a vehicle for examining the nature of obsessive love, failed marriage, psychiatric illness, and his own perceptions of himself as a tragic failed artist.

Professor Wendy Domjan - Psychology

The Honest Truth cover image

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely
BJ 1533 H7 A75 2012 PCL Stacks

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the New York Times bestselling author, examines the contradictory forces that drive us to cheat and keep us honest, in this groundbreaking look at the way we behave. From ticket-fixing in our police departments to test-score scandals in our schools, from our elected leaders' extra-marital affairs to the Ponzi schemes undermining our economy, cheating and dishonesty are ubiquitous parts of our national news cycle and inescapable parts of the human condition. Drawing on original experiments and research, Ariely reveals—honestly—what motivates these irrational, but entirely human, behaviors.

Professor Ross Jennings - Accounting

The Big Sleep cover image

The Big Sleep
by Raymond Chandler
PN 1993.5 U6 T465 1997  PCL Stacks

Philip Marlowe remains one of the classic characters of American fiction. A private detective in Los Angeles, Marlowe consistently strives to follow his own code of behavior, even when compromising it would make his life easier and safer. Yet Marlowe is no knight in shining armor; after all, knights have no meaning in his world. In The Big Sleep, the first and quite possibly the best of the Marlowe novels, Marlowe is hired to find a missing husband, but the case soon spirals into something much more dangerous, involving kidnapping, murder, pornography, and gambling.

Professor Marc Pierce - Germanic Studies


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 
by Mark Haddon
PZ 7 H1165 CU 2003 PCL Stacks

Mark Haddon's bitterly funny debut novel is a murder mystery of sorts told by a fifteen-year-old with autism. Christopher John Francis Boone is a mathematical genius and takes everything that he sees at face value. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. This quirkily illustrated, genuinely moving novel is told in Christopher's unique and compelling voice giving us a small glimpse into the world of children with autism.

Professor Judith Jellison - Music

 The elegance of the hedgehog cover image

The Elegance of the Hedgehog   
by Muriel Barbery
PQ 2662 A6523 E44 2008  PCL Stacks

Paloma is a 12-year-old girl who sees no reason to live. Renee, the story's narrator, is a 54-year-old, single woman who manages the apartment complex where Paloma's dysfunctional family resides. Renee lives vicariously through the characters in the novels she cherishes. As they lead their parallel lives, Paloma and Renee develop a relationship that is full of humor, sadness, joy, and hope, as well as grief and loss. There are cats and goldfish and a rich Japenese tenant. This novel is a richly rewarding experience about the meaning of life and death and hope. Once you start, you won't be able to put this novel down.

Professor Elizabeth Pomeroy - Social Work

 the five elements of effective thinking cover image

The Five Elements of Effective Thinking
by  Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
BF 441 B9247 2012  PCL Stacks

A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they're reality. Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved. Habits of effective thinking and creativity can be taught and learned. Anyone who practices them will inevitably create new insights, new ideas, and new solutions. The Five Elements of Effective Thinking describes those strategies.

Professor Michael Starbird - Mathematics

 The Girl Who Fell From the Sky cover image

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
by Heidi W. Durrow
PS 3604 U757 G57 2010 PCL Stacks

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was the winner of the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for best fiction addressing issues of social justice. While touching on themes of social justice, the book tells the captivating story of a biracial—and bicultural—girl growing up in the 1980s as she struggles to make sense of her complicated identity and family history. The book is about trauma, identity, family, and the human spirit. It will be fascinating to students interested in race, gender, poverty, and young adults' endeavors to bring meaning and purpose to their lives.

Professor Rebecca BiglerPsychology


The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? 
by Edward Albee 
PS 3551 L25 G63 2003B Fine Arts Library

A recent play by America's greatest absurdist playwright, about an architect who falls in love (and has an epiphanic experience) on a visit to a farm. Needless to say, this event is troubling to his wife and teenage son, who is also looking for love in unusual places. How can you explain true love to those who cannot believe it possible?

Professor Paul Woodruff - Philosophy, Undergraduate Studies

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Image Source: Powell's Books

The Help 
by Kathryn Stockett  
PS 3619 T636 H45 2009 PCL Stacks

Three extraordinary women forever change a sleepy Southern town during the nascent civil rights movement in this deeply funny, poignant, and hopeful novel. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter returns home after graduating from Ole Miss, but her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Aibileen is a black maid and wise woman raising her seventeenth white child, and Minny is short, fat, and the sassiest woman in Mississippi. The three are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their time. Together, they work on a project that will put them all at risk and change the way they view one another.

Professor Mary SteinhardtKinesiology and Health Education

the immortal life of henrietta lacks cover image The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
Multiple copies at PCL Stacks and Life Science Library
Digital Audiobook


Who owns you? Who owns your DNA? Do you deserve compensation for discoveries made not by you, but from some part of you? HeLa cells have become ubiquitous in research involving many human diseases, but the story of their origin and what happened to their donor, Henrietta Lacks, raises questions that we have not successfully answered 60 years later. The story of Ms. Lacks and her HeLa cells raise numerous issues including bioethics, medical ethics, intellectual property, and privacy. By discussing this book, I hope that we can talk about some of these issues, think about solutions, and compare where we are to where we would like to be. You can watch a short video of the author, Rebecca Skloot, talking about the book on YouTube.

Professor Stuart Reichler - Biological Sciences

Lights in the tunnel cover image The Lights in the Tunnel
by Martin Ford

Imagine a world where almost all of us are unnecessary as workers. The work it takes to provide everything we want is done by smart machines, so there are very few jobs for people. Companies ought to be able to rake in profits. But profits require customers. And customers are generally people with jobs. Oops. Ford describes how this could happen. But then, instead of a lot of economic hand wringing that takes place while watching unemployment numbers climb, he suggests ways in which we could mold a new economy where everyone wins.

Professor Elaine Rich - Computer Sciences

The Lodger Shakespeare cover image The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street
by Charles Nicholl
PR 2907 N53 2008  PCL Stacks, Fine Arts Library

How did Shakespeare come to write a play with the assistance of a violent pimp? Did he once lie under oath? And who were these strange French people he lived with? If these sound like questions from a bad novel, they're not. Charles Nicholl's entertaining look at the twilight of Shakespeare's career reveals things about the Bard that will surprise you. It may lead you to read his works with new appreciation for the rough environment in and for which they were composed.

Professor Douglas Bruster - English

Lost books of the odyssey cover image The Lost Books of the Odyssey
by Zachary Mason
PS 3613 A8185 L67 2010  PCL Stacks

Have you ever read or heard about the Odyssey, the 10-year-long homeward journey of the wily Greek hero Odysseus from the Trojan War? If so, have you ever wondered how things might have turned out differently, or what other adventures Odysseus had, or how other characters felt about the story? There have been many versions of Odysseus through the ages, and author Zachary Mason expands on this variability in his recent novel. He tells us 44 stories of Odysseus from 44 different perspectives. As we follow the hero's transformations, we are forced to think about what happens when a familiar story is told anew.

Professor Adam Rabinowitz - Classics

the marketplace of ideas cover image The Marketplace of Ideas
by Louis Menand
LB 2322.2 M45 2010  PCL Stacks

Why are problems that should be easy for universities to solve so intractable? Louis Menand provides fuel for thinking about how and why contemporary colleges and universities operate as they do and for considering ways in which they might more effectively promote academic inquiry and the development of citizens, scholars, and professionals. Why do professors tend to have similar political views? What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects should be required? Why do teachers and scholars find it so difficult to transcend the limits of their disciplines? Certainly these are things worth considering as you begin your journey as an undergraduate at The University of Texas.

Professor Julia Mickenberg - American Studies

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley.  Image source: Powell's Books.

The Mists of Avalon 
by Marion Zimmer-Bradley  
PS 3552 R228 M5 2000 PCL Stacks

The Mists of Avalon tells the tale of King Arthur from the point of view of Morgain (Morgana Le Fay). It gives a totally different perspective of the Arthurian legends.

Professor Eric Anslyn - Chemistry and Biochemistry

 path to the spiders' nest cover image

The Path To The Spiders' Nests
by Italo Calvino
PQ 4809 A45 S413 1957   PCL Stacks

Italo Calvino was only 23 when he first published this bold and imaginative novel. It tells the story of Pin, a cobbler's apprentice in a town on the Ligurian coast during World War II. He lives with his sister, a prostitute, and spends as much time as he can at a seedy bar where he amuses the adult patrons. After a mishap with a Nazi soldier, Pin becomes involved with a band of partisans. Calvino's portrayal of these characters, seen through the eyes of a child, is not only a revealing commentary on the Italian resistance but an insightful coming-of-age story. The Path to the Spiders' Nests is animated by the formidable imagination that has made Italo Calvino one of the most respected writers of our time.

Professor Paola Bonifazio - French and Italian


The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
BF 335 D78 2012  PCL Stacks

We are told we should develop good habits and get rid of bad ones. What are habits anyway? What do they make us do or not do, and why are they so hard to change? Find out answers to these and other questions in this entertaining book from the New York Times best sellers list.

Professor Michael DomjanPsychology

 the reluctant fundamentalist cover image

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
by Mohsin Hamid
PS 3558 A42169 R45 2007 PCL Stacks

The title says it all. In the shadow of 9/11, a fundamentalist this way comes. As a Pakistani-born Princeton grad, Hamid's singular character will have you questioning with perhaps not nearly enough answers, or more answers than you anticipated.

Professor Franchelle Dorn - Theater

 the swerve cover image

The Swerve
by Stephen Greenblatt
PA 6484 G69 2011 2011 PCL Stacks

This tale turns on a poem, "On the Nature of Things," written in the 1st century BC by Greek poet Lucretius. Rediscovery of that poem in the 15th century swerves the world, fuels the Renaissance, and influences artists and scientists and thinkers that follow—Galileo and Einstein, Shakespeare and Jefferson. Lucretius writes that we humans are part of the elements, nothing lasts save atoms, we should conquer our fears, accept the fact that all things are transitory, and embrace the beauty and the pleasure of the world. It's been called a quest tale and a "page turner" by critics.

Professor Nancy Roser - Language & Literacy Studies

 trial and death of socrates

The Trial and Death of Socrates  
by Plato, Translated by Grube, Revised by Cooper

Coming in at under 60 pages, and under $6, how can you not read this book? Plato describes, in several dialogues, his teacher's trial and execution on charges of "corrupting the youth". We see what Socrates was really up to: putting the views of the self-appointed wise men around him to critical examination and exposing those views as weak and indefensible. If he could have been rightly charged with anything, it might only be for humiliating those who pretended to know more than they did, and maybe also for doing so with glee and sarcasm. My only reservation about selecting this as a reading is that the dialogues feature, I admit, a not very diverse set of characters: all dead, white, straight(ish?) males. Nonetheless, the subject matters discussed are universal.

Professor Sinan Dogramaci - Philosophy

The world is flat cover image

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
by Thomas Friedman
HM 846 F74 2007   PCL Stacks

Globalization: everyone's heard about it, but how many really know it? In The World Is Flat, Friedman shows "how and why globalization has now shifted into warp drive" (Robert Wright, Slate) and demystifies the new flat world for readers, helping us make sense of the often bewildering scene unfolding before our eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, he explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; how governments and societies can, and must, adapt; and why terrorists want to stand in the way.

Professor Sacha Kopp - Physics

 their eyes were watching God cover image

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
PS 3515 U789 T5 2000  PCL Stacks

A classic American novel about the fulfillment of an American dream unlike other American dreams by a protagonist unlike protagonists in other American novels. A Florida story, a Florida woman's story, an African American Floridian woman's story, an American story.

Professor Michael Craig Hillman - Middle Eastern Studies

 things fall apart cover image

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
PR 9387.9 A3 T5 2009  PCL Stacks

Accepting or resisting change is a choice that comes to everyone eventually, but what happens to individuals when change is imposed by a foreign culture? Can social values survive? The moving and eloquent Things Fall Apart was one of the first African novels to receive global acclaim, and author Chinua Achebe was one of the first Nigerian voices to write about the effects of British colonialism on his country.

Professor Tola Mosadomi - Middle Eastern Studies, African & African Diaspora Studies

  Thinking, Fast and Slow (1)
by Daniel Kahneman
BF 441 K238 2011 PCL New Books Collection

Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many fields—including economics, medicine, and politics—but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book. In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think.

Professor Bob DukeSchool of Music

  Thinking, Fast and Slow (2)
by Daniel Kahneman
BF 441 K238 2011 PCL New Books Collection

Have you ever wondered why you can't walk and think deeply at the same time? Are you forever amazed at your natural inclination to find paths of least effort in your daily routines (including studying). When you read the headlines in the newspaper, does it occur to you that most of what makes the news is the consequence of impulsive and irrational actions? This brilliant book wrestles with these questions, and in so doing, will allow you to far better understand your own behaviors and those of others. As you start at UT Austin, it will also provide a wake-up call for understanding why your adjustment to college life will not go as smoothly as your best laid plans would have predicted. This book is especially recommended for those of you fascinated by neuroscience as well as human and social behavior. NOTE: Two professors will lead sessions on this book.

Professor David Laude - Chemistry & Biochemistry

 This is How You Lose Her cover image

This Is How You Lose Her
by Junot Diaz 
PS 3554 I259 T48 2012  PCL New Books Collection and Benson Latin American Collection

Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love—obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover's washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness—and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that "the half-life of love is forever."

Professor Timothy Loving - Human Development & Family Sciences

 to each his own cover image

To Each His Own
by Leonardo Sciascia   
PQ 4879 C54 A6313 2000  PCL Stacks

An Italian mafia mystery novel should prove to be great summer reading. To Each His Own is one of the masterworks of the great Sicilian novelist Leonardo Sciascia—a gripping and unconventional detective story that is also an anatomy of a society founded on secrets, lies, collusion, and violence.

Professor Daniela Bini - Italian

 to repair the world

To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation
by Paul Farmer (Jonathan Weasel, editor)   

Prepare yourself to be inspired! Have you ever thought of yourself as someone who will one day change the world? Read the stories of Dr. Paul Farmer, one of the most passionate and influential voices for social justice who is making a difference working on health problems in some of the poorest countries of the world. Through a collection of short, engaging, and often humorous speeches by Dr. Farmer, you will see how a world changer sees the great potential in each of us to change the world.

Professor Yolanda Padilla - Social Work

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.  Image Source: Fantastic Fiction.

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson  
by Mitch Albom  
LD 571 B418 S383 1997 PCL Stacks

If you've ever had a teacher that touched your life in a very positive way, this book is for you. Short, very readable, and yet, quite profound in its reflection, Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie describes rediscovery of that mentor and a rekindled relationship that goes beyond the classroom and brings us to "lessons on how to live."

Professor Patrick Davis - Pharmacy 

 water, ice, and stone cover image

Water, Ice & Stone: Science and Memory on the Antarctic Lakes  
by Bill Green 
GB 1798 V53 G74 1995 Geology Library

Bill Green goes to the lakes of Antarctica to do scientific field research, but finds in his own memories and in the beauty and brutality of a lonely, dangerous land, something of the awe and wonder that are the inspirations for scientific inquiry.

Professor Greg Sitz - Physics

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.  Image source: Fantastic Fiction

by Yevgeny Zamyatin
PG 3476 Z34 M913 2006 PCL Stacks, Fine Arts Library

Before Brave New World...before 1984...there was We. A page-turning futuristic adventure, a masterpiece of wit and black humor that accurately predicted the horrors of Stalinism, We is the classic dystopian novel. It is also an enjoyable bit of 1920s-era science fiction. Fun...and strangely apt in 2011!

Professor Thomas Garza - Slavic & Eurasian Studies


by Aristophanes
PA 3877 A1 S58 1998 v. 1 PCL Stacks

What would life be like if God made it so that wealth always followed those who were just, and abandoned those who were unjust? Would everyone, or at least the vast majority, become just? Or would it mean no one would really be just any more? Would people become more pious; or would they abandon worship of everything except wealth itself? Would most people work anymore? What would happen to the economy? Is poverty a divine blessing in disguise? In this play, the greatest comic dramatist of all time explores these and other issues in a hilarious thought experiment?written during the depression that took over democratic Athens in the wake of its loss of the Peloponnesian War, its empire, and its great power status. 

Professor Thomas Pangle - Government


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