Summer Reading List
2021 Summer Reading List for Glynn First-Year Scholars.
This list of three books is guaranteed to provide intellectually stimulating and even provocative engagement. Links are provided to suggested editions on Amazon. Books can also be accessed at the public library or through an interlibrary loan. As a way to get to know one another in a more relaxed setting, and to kick-start your semester, Glynn First-Years meet for an evening colloquium during the first week of classes to discuss the summer reading. This one-time event is both social and intellectual – like a large book group with dozens of your new best friends. You’ll also get to know better the directors of the program at this event. Since there are just three books on the list, we strongly recommend reading all of them so that you can better participate in the discussion.
The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). Written by one of the most famous moral philosophers in America today, Sandel’s book explores the very nature of the system in which you have been living, and succeeding, up to this point in your life. Sandel is most closely associated with communitarianism, perhaps the secular moral philosophy closest to that of Pope Francis and to Catholic social teaching, and he takes aim at the current Western system of associating moral righteousness with academic or professional success. What can we, elites at an elite institution, take away from these arguments? Available here from Amazon.
The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell (Ballantine Books, 1997). This book and its sequel inhabit an unusual literary niche, which we should perhaps call “Jesuit sci-fi.” The Sparrow follows humankind’s efforts to make first contact with a strange alien planet, whose inhabitants seem almost beatific. But small interspecies misunderstandings lead to disaster for the human space crew and their leader, a priest and linguist, raising questions about morality, faith and the meaning of our existence. You can order from Amazon here. And if you like it, you may want to track down the sequel, Children of God.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (One World, 2015). If the ending to The Sparrow terrifies you, here is a non-fiction title that will provide at least a measure of hope. Just Mercy is a memoir, telling the story of the Equal Justice Initiative, which has, since 1989, re-examined the cases of death row inmates whose convictions were marked by either judicial malfeasance or apathy, or both. The book has been made into a movie, but you can find it in its original form at Amazon here.