Connection Corner: What are you reading during quarantine?

As a way to help build connections while our community is living with Stay-at-Home restrictions, Campus Connections will feature faculty/staff recommendations. This issue’s topic is recommended reading during the pandemic.

Professor of Sociology & Criminology Lori Brown:
Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic by Jeremy Brown. “It’s the perfect time to read this kind of history.

Assistant Professor of History Amy O’Keefe:
Kazuo Ishiguro’s wonderful book, The Remains of the Day. I read it for the first time this year and was thrilled by the dry humor of the protagonist’s voice, the careful crafting of the work, and the surprising historical meaning of what you think is just a personal story. The book is just a masterpiece. I would love to talk to anyone about it! Everyone should read it and then email me!

Vice President for Marketing and Communications Kristi Eaves-McLennan:
I recommend The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The book was written by a first time author and is based on the true-story of a man and woman who met and fell in love while imprisoned together at Auschwitz in 1942. I read it for my book club during Stay-At-Home last month and highly recommend it for its message about the enduring power of love and hope.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Phillip Andreae: 
I found both of these by browsing the “new” shelf at the Carlyle Campbell Library, which I hope will be open again soon!

Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Epic novel about Australian POWs in World War II. Occasionally too ambitious for its own good, but still a rewarding read for me.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. Really sharp collection of essays on the internet, feminism, millennial culture, and more.

Bob Autry, Campus Engagement Assistant:
I recently finished Andy Murray’s autobiography, Hitting Back. As a big sports fan, the book was one way to connect with sports during our current situation with COVID-19 and it encouraged me to remain positive and hopeful in these troubled times. I am now in the third chapter of Cure for the Common Life, Living in Your Sweet Spot by Max Lucado. I love how it’s broken into three sections of life; past, present, and future.  It’s helpful to understand where I’ve come from, where I am, and lastly where I’m headed. My next read will be either Faith:  A Journey for All by Jimmy Carter or Schulz & The Peanuts by David Michaelis.

Melyssa Allen, News Director:
I have been switching between more serious books and lighter reads. I recently finished Empty Mansions, which is a nonfiction book about an heiress who ended up living for two decades in a New York City hospital even though she was healthy, leaving multiple homes empty. I also liked the novels Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore and Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Those are both Jenna Bush’s Today Show book club picks, and she is surprisingly good at choosing books. I am currently reading Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, which is a nonfiction book about a family in which six of their twelve children were diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict, which is historical fiction about Clementine Churchill.

Amanda Sullivan, Research and Instruction Librarian:
So far my read pile is growing, but is definitely not keeping up with my to-read pile, but that’s nothing new! So far I’ve read The Truants, Little Fires Everywhere, Swan Song, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. All of these have presented escapes in their own way. The Truants took me to Italy (with murder unfortunately), Little Fires Everywhere placed me in Shaker Heights with a lot of family drama, Swan Song lead me through Manhattan and the Amalfi Coast with Mr. Capote and his swans, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil toured me around beautiful, boozy and haunted Savannah with so many delightful characters.

Right now I’m reading Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. Lost Girls is a difficult read, but an important one. I’m curious how the Netflix movie will handle the content. And the latter book is a complete escape to another world. If you liked the A Discovery of Witches series, this book is right up your alley.

The to-read pile is as follows at the moment: The Glass Hotel, My Dark Vanessa, The City We Became, A Beautiful Crime, Nobody’s Looking at You, The Real Lolita, and The Starless Sea.

Tina Romanelli, Learning Center Director:
Read: Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers

Currently Reading: Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and probably others that I’ve lost track of lying around.

Jessica P. Jackson, Media Services Assistant:
Read: Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to Supernatural. To-read: Entertainment Weekly: Thank Heaven for Supernatural (If I can buy it anywhere *sad face*)

Donna Garner, Circulation Supervisor:
Recently read: The King’s Secret Matter by Jean Plaidy, Loulou & Yves by Christopher Petkanas, The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

Currently reading: Thomas More: The King’s Good Servant by Gordon Rupp, The Theban Mysteries by Amanda Cross, Historic Deerfield by Elizabeth Stillinger

Natalie Dwigans, Technical Services Librarian:
Read: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Currently reading: Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi and re-reading the Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

To-read: The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake, Thirteen Doorways; Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Brian Thornburg, Head of Media Services
Read: Me by Elton John

Currently reading: Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs by Brian Hiatt

To-read: Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues by William Ferris (UNC professor), What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

To re-read: Why Time Begins on Opening Day by Thomas Boswell, Out of My League by Dirk Hayhurst

“Reading” these podcasts: American Elections: Wicked Game by Wondery, Oh, Hello: The P’dcast by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, The Plot Thickens: I’m Still Peter Bogdanovich by Turner Classic Movies

Laura Davidson, Dean, Library Information Services:
My house is piled with books that I have started, but not finished yet. They include:

Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. Larson was our most recent Quail Ridge Books presenter. He has written a different kind of World War II book, focusing on the daily life of the people around Churchill during the war.

The Complete Don Quixote, a graphic novel illustrated by Rob Davis. This is one of several graphic novels I’ve explored from our new Friends collection. Another partially read one is Unflattening by Nick Sousanis, published by Harvard University Press.

For a different sort of “reading,” I’m working my way through Music from Taize while my piano is so handy for short breaks.

Jeff Waller, Head of Research and Instruction:
Read: Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Currently Reading: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, Stoner by John Williams

Rachel Porter, Library Administrative Assistant
Currently working through a pile which includes: The Group by Mary McCarthy, Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

For next week’s Connection Corner: Let’s talk about food! What is your favorite comfort food? Have you tried any new recipes during Stay-At-Home? Do you have a favorite celebrity chef? Send your food recommendations to Melyssa Allen, Campus Connections editor, at

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330