Alumni Recommended Reading

alice dailey

Dr. Alice Dailey

Associate Professor, Department of English

Anne Quinn Welsh Honors Faculty Fellow 2015-2017

Teaching "Medieval Saints and Sinners" in the fall

Fun Home

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006)

With Fun Home, cartoonist Alison Bechdel invented a new literary genre: the graphic memoir.  In a series of comic-book frames that she painstakingly drew from posed photos of herself, the book tells the story of Bechdel’s youth in small-town Pennsylvania, where she grew up in a bizarre Victorian house obsessively restored by her closeted father.  For Bechdel and her father, an English teacher, funeral director, and suicide, literature is a central source of self-understanding.  Fun Home explores with depth and originality how others’ stories help us understand our own.

The Remains of Day

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989)

This is an exquisitely—even perfectly—crafted novel.  The story is told as a series of post-World War II diary entries by an English butler, Mr. Stevens, who reflects on a career of dutiful service to his aristocratic employer even when it became clear that Lord Darlington was abetting the Nazis.  The novel is a poignant, elegant, and subtle study of how moral will and personal fulfillment are effaced by the constraints of duty.

Play as it Lays

Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays (1970)

This novel of Los Angeles makes me homesick and heartsick.  It captures the rhythm and industrial beauty of the LA freeway system and offers an uncompromising depiction of the existential vacancy of Hollywood values: youth, beauty, celebrity, surface.  In Didion’s long, distinguished career, Play It As It Lays remains a standout.

War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1869)

Tolstoy’s sprawling novel about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia is one of the great pleasures of the western canon.  At once a work of fiction, history, and philosophy, War and Peace is simply a wonderful read.  The characters are beautifully rendered, and the plots make it difficult to put down.   I love a good, long novel in the summer; it’s like an extended travel tour for the mind.  It doesn’t get any better (or longer) than this one.

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