Summer Reading List

2019 Summer Reading List for Glynn First-Year Scholars.


This list of five diverse books represents a broad range of academic fields, and 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. While we strongly recommend reading all the books on the list so that you can better participate in the discussion, there is no absolute necessity to get through the entire list.



Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz (Free Press, 2014). What is college really for, anyway? As a Yale professor, Deresiewicz increasingly - and depressingly - found his highly intelligent and accomplished students adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose. These bright minds all too often ended up in lucrative but lackluster careers because they followed paths given by someone else. To what purpose is your college experience? Available here from Amazon.



A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold (Oxford University Press, 1948). This environmental classic, written by a groundbreaking ecologist unknown to many Americans, commences with a series of elegant nature-writing sketches which draw us into what Pope Francis, seventy years later in Laudato Si', would call "ecological consciousness." Leopold's ecological philosophy comes through in the final essays, which conclude with his innovative idea that would forever change our understanding of our relationship with the natural world, "the land ethic." You can order from Amazon here.

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Get ready for the Glynn fall trip to Stratford by reading the Shakespeare play we'll see there, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Order the inexpensive Folger version here.



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The Shortest Way Home by South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is not your typical campaign autobiography. It is a lovingly crafted memoir that will introduce you to your new home town and its history, as well as to one of the most interesting and intelligent figures in American public life at the moment. It is also a paean to the value of thoughtful, pragmatic and data-driven governance. You can order it here.



Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). With clear echoes of Cervantes and Borges, this critically acclaimed novel, written by one of Notre Dame's own faculty members, was the winner of this year's PEN/Faulkner Award and is considered by many critics among the most important works published in the last few years. The story follows the travels of the fatalistic young Zebra, an Iranian exile who travels to Barcelona to retrace her family's exodus and to better understand her own identity, drowned as it is in literature -- and unexpectedly finds love along the way. The Wall Street Journal sold it best: Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you.