By Bryce Bower, Staff Writer
I love reading. I think the books that a person reads tell a lot about them– as well as the books they recommend to other people. I once heard the story of a couple who first met each other at a coffee shop. A young man sat down with his computer and straight black coffee, and spied a young woman at a nearby table whose face was hidden behind the cover of the man’s favorite book. He was intrigued, albeit a little shy. He shuffled over and asked the woman how she was liking the book, she said she was actually re-reading it– because it was her favorite book. Long story short, they started dating and eventually ended up getting married. Sometimes the book can recommend its reader.
I set out to write an article this week about what books various professors and staff at Thunderbird are reading and/or would recommend. I spent some time wandering around the Herberger administration building looking for people with open office doors. I was able to talk with several incredibly busy faculty and staff who graciously gave me a couple minutes out of their crammed schedules – which was quite kind, considering it is finals week for MGM students and dead week for MAGAM students. I suppose I should have considered this, but many professors read primarily academic papers, which are not exactly “stocking stuffer” material for a Christmas wish-list. I was eventually able to squeeze out some non-academic books that people are either reading or have recently read and recommended.
Mike Low, Career advisor at the Career Management Center, is currently enjoying The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, by Gish Jen. This book re-frames the classic “individualistic vs collectivist” idea and considers the East to be more “flexi-self”. This book gives a completely different interpretation on events like the Tianman Square demonstration, from the perspective of someone who grew up in the Chinese culture and under the Chinese Government. This book will probably be next on my reading list.
Professor Mary Sully de Luque recommends a book by the Heath Brothers titled Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. When I first entered her office and explained my article, my attention was directed to a whiteboard full of research papers in various stages of the writing and publishing process. I was afraid I would come up empty handed on a good book recommendation, but “Professor SDL” (as the students with hip lingo affectionately call her) came through. As the title clearly states, this is a big book about change. It talks about making decisions without bias by freeing one’s self from the mindset that is hardwired into the brain. “We have to be able to change, especially in a world that is changing increasingly faster”, said Sully de Luque.
This week marked my first time personally meeting Professor Michael Moffett, and he lives up to the legends told of him. I asked him if he could recommend a book that he thought Das Tor readers would find interesting. “I am a Finance Teacher, what I find interesting most people don’t,” he comically explained. I pressed a little more and he then suggested the biography written by Walter Isaacson about Steve Jobs, with the very original title of Steve Jobs. Professor Moffett gave it the highest praise I have heard of any book in a long time. “Every dimension of your curriculum is covered in that book”, Moffett informed me.
Professor Glenn Fong recommends The Man in the High Castle, a speculative fiction book that takes place in a world where WWII was won by Germany and Japan. It showcases many of the themes we cover in our global affairs classes in a novel of creative historical fiction. Professor Fong describes the book as a “real mind-bender, showing what America would be like if Germany had developed the atomic bomb first and dropped it on Washington D.C.” This book was picked up by Amazon Prime a couple years ago and made into a show, if you would rather watch than read.
Now you know what some Thunderbird faculty and staff recommend. Here is what I am currently reading: The Anatomy of Story:22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby. Truby is one of the most influential story consultants in the film industry and his students have gone on to write for countless major blockbusters. Just skimming through, the book may appear geared more towards prospective screenwriters (which I am not). But the book does so much more than help one develop writing skills and processes. Truby breaks down all types of stories and their building blocks, using literary and cinematic examples, and I feel like I understand the fluidity of stories so much better now.