“I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library”
~Jorge Luis Borges

So many books, so little time! For avid readers, one of the simple yet great pleasures in life is to just sit back and enjoy a good book. Whether it is fiction, biography, history, popular science or spirituality, a great book has that magical ability to transport readers to a world that encapsulates us with knowledge, wonder, thrills or just simple entertainment. To get an idea about the great reads we should all dive into, we have asked HU faculty members to list some of the favorite books on their nightstand and their recommendations for 2020.

Reading List for 2020

No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan

During Reza Aslan’s visit to HU in June 2019, he spoke about the book and its theme. The discussion around the beauty and complexity of the origins and evolution of the faith was quite interesting and therefore I wanted to read it.

Best Books from 2019

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

Favorite Excerpt

It’s from Designing Your Life and goes like this:
“Designers don’t think their way forward. Designers build their way forward. Designers embrace change. They are not attached to a particular outcome, because they are always focused on what will happen next — not what the final result will be.”

 

Reading List for 2020

I am planning to read a book called Normal People by Sally Rooney. It’s a love tale of two teenagers. It’s cool and precise prose is full of feelings that will allow readers to believe in love.

Best Books from 2019

I love to read various books. Whether it is a collection of good essays, a memoir, maybe a book on history or a good nonfiction book. Therefore, this year I read a book about the untold story of Chernobyl, the 20th century’s worst nuclear disaster, Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham.
It is the most important written document about the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, and a riveting narrative about a nuclear disaster that defined the Cold War.

Favorite Excerpt

“Learning never exhausts the mind!”
~ Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Reading List for 2020

On my reading list for 2020 is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Killing Commendatore by Murakami and The Age of Revolution by Eric Hobsbawm. Since I read some 15 to 20 books a year, I imagine there will be more, but these are for sure.

Best Books from 2019

I am loving The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I am about to finish it. I loved Dove va la Germania? (‘Where is Germany going?’) an essay by Italian political scientist Gian Enrico Rusconi about far-right movements in contemporary Germany.

Favorite Excerpt

There would be a million from Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theatre, but I don’t have the book with me at the moment. So I choose this from Pankaj Mishra’s A Great Clamour, an essay about Asian politics and history:
“Japan caught up, and even surpassed the West, only to find out there was no place to go to, no new path to chart”.

 

Reading List for 2020

I have to finish the final two novels by Douglas Adams of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called Mostly Harmless as well as And Another Thing… Other books on my reading list include Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles Mann. As you can see, most of literature I read for fun is centered around science fiction or history and 2020 feels like no exception to this.

Best Books from 2019

21 Lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari.

Favorite Excerpt

“We do not understand the Big Bang – therefore you must cover your hair in public and vote against gay marriage” from ‘21 Lessons for the 21st century’.

 

Best Books from 2019

I really enjoyed Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. As the title says, it really is a brief history of humankind. I also finally read Bruno Snell’s The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought. It’s a bit more academic, of course, but all the more surprising for it. Snell is reminiscent of an era when academic writing was really enjoyable.

Favorite Excerpt

Snell got me interested in Sappho again, which led me to the Anne Carson translation of her fragments, and lines like this:
‘Eros shook my mind like a mountain wind falling on oak trees’.

 

Reading List for 2020

Discrete Mathematics and Functional Programming, by Thomas Van Drunen. It is a very technical book that provides an insight on the application of discrete mathematics to programming and computer science.

Best Books from 2019

Ray Tracing from the Ground Up, by Kevin Suffern. The author of this book is the Associate of The School of Software at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), where he has decades of teaching experience. Anyone interested in understanding the rendering technique of ray tracing should pick this one up.

Favorite Excerpt

Ellsworth M Toohey: “Mr. Roark, we’re alone here. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”
Howard Roark: “But I don’t think of you.”
~The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

 

Reading List for 2020

There are a number of books that I would like to read next year. Top of my list would include Why You Should Be a Socialist by Nathan J. Robinson; Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky; and Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Best Books from 2019

I really enjoyed Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Favorite Excerpt

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
~Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

Reading List for 2020

I keep piling up books next to my bedside and read from this pile. So many books I will read in 2020 are those I have already selected. I am looking forward to Haruki Murakami’s new book Killing Commendatore.

I always look forward to re-reading great books such as Thomas Mann’s magnificent Buddenbrooks and the great Russian classics. A long journey or vacation gets me re-reading the classics.

Best Books from 2019

Among the books in 2019, I really liked Dozakh Namah, ably translated by my colleague Inaam Nadeem. I was fortunate to read in the manuscript stage Afzal Ahmed Syed’s translations from the Indo-Persian poets, Baada e Dosheena and am looking forward to its publication. I have really enjoyed Julian Barnes’s new book The Man in the Red Coat and am now fascinated by Ninni Holmqvist’s dystopian The Unit. The future as horror. Ni, I mean the horror as future!

Favorite Excerpt

“A book should be like a pick-axe to break the frozen sea within us.”
~Franz Kafka

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