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"Good Reads" from the CSW

As we look to summer months that might include some travel and leisure time, we wanted to share some recent “good reads” from College of Social Work faculty and staff.  Although we’ve included links, most of these books can also be purchased from your favorite local bookseller.  Happy reading!


Book Cover of the Book Driving Miss Norma

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey to Saying “Yes” to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

“This is a fabulous read about taking charge at the end of life.”

Christina Gringeri, Professor, Director of the PhD Program





Book Cover of Eat a Peach

Eat a Peach by David Chang

“David Chang is the owner and chef of Momofuku—I have never eaten tere but have heard of the restaurant.  In the book, David Chang writes about his struggles with mental illness, navigating being the son of Korean immigrant parents in Virginia, and of course lots about food and the restaurant business.”

Alysse Loomis, Assistant Professor



Book cover of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

“I just finished watching (and HIGHLY recommend) the four-part docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes (HBO).  One of the three works used for the series is Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.  If you ever read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States THIS is the history Howard missed, of U.S. settler colonialism.”

Dena Ned, Associate Professor/Lecturer, Director of American Indian Social Work Program


Book cover of The National Parks

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

“Yep, it’s the book version of the Ken Burns PBS docuseries.  This beautiful history of the national parks system gave me a new appreciation for the mountains, valleys, and rivers where I spent so many of my childhood summers.  I learned so much about the politics, privilege, persistence, and PR behind the preservation of these treasured natural spaces.”

Jennifer Nozawa, Marketing and Communications Manager


Book cover of Long Time Coming

Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America by Eric Michael Dyson 

“This is a series of letters written to those killed by police, interweaving history along the way.”

Christina Gringeri, Professor, Director of the PhD Program





Book cover of Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

“Given the nature of everything that is happening nationally and globally, it has become ever more important to actively participate in being part of the solution.  I recognize that I don’t know people in my regular social circles as well as I would like, to say nothing about how little I know about those who do not share many of my same viewpoints and beliefs. Talking to Strangers focuses on how there is something wrong with the main tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. Reading this book has helped me keep an open mind to ways to avoid conflict and misunderstanding and perhaps keep an open dialogue for building bridges toward being part of the solutions to the problems that plague our societies.”

Chad McDonald, Research Assistant Professor, Interim Director of the Social Research Institute


Book cover of Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

“This story is complicated and messy and insightful.  It's a narrative that asks lots of deep questions for the sake of those questions.  There aren't answers because answers aren't the point. The turmoil of the narrators feels real and relatable and still utterly her own.  This is one I'll be thinking about for a while.”

Stephanie Dawson Pack, PR/Marketing Assistant



Book cover of Being Heumann

Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner

“As a person with a disability and the mother of two children with disabilities, I picked up this book to learn more about disability advocacy.  I was not disappointed.  This book is funny as much as it is enlightening and inspiring.  Judith’s story is a prime example of being the change you wish to see in the world.”

Cagney Smullin, Associate Director of Education



Book cover of Migrations

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy 

“This novel is a rather dystopian view of the future as fish and birds become extinct.  The main character, Franny Stone, is a wanderer and is trying to follow the migration of the Arctic Tern from the UK to Antarctica.  There are a number of questions raised in the book, especially about how Franny is tied to the sea and what lengths people will go to in order to continue their way of life.”

Caren Frost, Research Professor, Interim Associate Director of the MSW Program


Boook cover of The Sum of Us

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

“What can I say about Heather McGhee—I have followed her activism since her early days with Demos, a non-partisan think tank, when she co-chaired a task force on financial reform (that led to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act in 2009).  In this book, she delves into her areas of expertise (U.S. economic and social policy) to explain the suffering brought by the cost of racism; the message that life ‘can be more than a zero-sum game’ (inside book flap).”   

Dena Ned, Associate Professor/Lecturer, Director of American Indian Social Work Program


Book cover of Notes from a Young Black Chef

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

“Kwame Onwuachi is a James Beard winner and was given the Food & Wine Best New Chef 2019 award.  This awesome read that details Kwame Onwuachi’s food journey, including early life in Nigeria and the Bronx.  Also, the recipes in the book are fantastic—I highly recommend the Markey Suya—Nigerian Skewers.”

Alysse Loomis, Assistant Professor



Book cover of Save Me the Plums

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

“Ruth Reichl is a former editor in chief of Gourmet.  This was a really fun read about when Ruth Reichl became the editor-in-chief of Gourmet.  It talks about the glitzy side of a food magazine with, of course, lots of decadent descriptions of meals and recipes.”

Alysse Loomis, Assistant Professor




Book cover of Caste

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

“I was hesitant to dive into this book. I feared it would be heavy reading—it is, but not the way I anticipated.  Isabel Wilkerson weaves powerful stories into a carefully researched and documented history.  The result is a chillingly informative page-turner that should be read and re-read by all.”

Lisa Himonas, Assistant Dean for Development

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Last Updated: 6/8/21