100 Books Our Faculty Read Over the Summer

Ever wondered what’s on your professors’ summer reading list? While you might imagine them poring over textbooks and endless scholarly journals with zest, summer reading is anything but boring for the faculty of McKendree University. From the latest New York Times Best Seller and mystery thriller to young adult fiction and travel writing, McKendree professors have a palate for reading that’s just as diverse as they are.

In a recent poll, they shared 100 of their top summer reads: books for self-development, education, inspiration, and pleasure. Our faculty know that learning is more than just what happens in the classroom; it continues your entire life. It’s this desire that motivates them to not only stay abreast of their own field, but also to keep growing in the knowledge, beliefs, and art that’s all around us. Take a look at some of the books they read this summer and you’ll see the broad range of experience they bring to their students every day.



In this category, Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller The Girl on the Train was the most popular among McKendree faculty. It was the subject of many book clubs, as well as Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, which Drs. Brenda Boudreau and Duane Olson read and discussed with their 12-year-old niece and 14-year-old nephew. Dr. Shelly Lemons took an interest in Beverly Lewis’ fictional tales about Amish life after discovering that she has Amish relatives in her family genealogy.


1. Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942. Brautigan, Richard. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)

2. Inferno. Brown, Dan. (Read by Dr. Neil Quisenberry)

3. Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery. Christie, Agatha and Sophie Hannah. (Read by Jennifer Funk)

4. The Girl on the Train. Hawkins, Paula. (Read by Drs. Alan Alewine, Pamela Barnes, and Brenda Boudreau)

5. Mercedes. King, Stephen. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)

6. The Einstein Prophecy. Masello, Robert. (Read by Dr. Neil Quisenberry)

7. The Last Dickens. Pearl, Matthew. (Read by Dr. Nancy Ypma)

8. The Poe Shadow. Pearl, Matthew. (Read by Dr. Nancy Ypma)

Historical Fiction

9. Outlander Series. Gabaldon, Diana. (Read by Dr. Brenda Doll)

Science Fiction

10. Bellwether. Willis, Connie. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)


11. Selected Poems. Auden, W.H. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

12. To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee, Harper. (Read by Drs. Brenda Boudreau and Duane Olson)

13. Eroding Witness. Mackey, Nathaniel. (Read by Dr. Jenny Mueller)

14. Breakfast of Champions. Vonnegut, Kurt. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

15. Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut, Kurt. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

16. The Waves. Woolf, Virginia. (Read by Dr. Jenny Mueller)

Other Fiction

17. The Large Glass. Bellatin, Mario. (Read by Dr. Jenny Mueller)

18. The Dinner. Koch, Herman. (Read by Dr. Brenda Boudreau)

19. Amish Trilogy. Lewis, Beverly. (Read by Dr. Shelly Lemons)

20. Early Warning. Smiley, Jane. (Read by Amy MacLennan)

21. Infinite Jest. Wallace, David Foster. (Read by Dr. Guy Boysen)

22. Stoner. Williams, John. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)




Dominating the non-fiction list for many, Michael Lewis’ The Big Short tells the story of the U.S. housing market crash in the early 2000s. Other authors included Carl Bernstein, a former guest speaker at the Hett’s Distinguished Speaker Series, and Victoria E. Bynum, a friend of Dr. Shelly Lemons whose book The Free State of Jones was just released as a major motion picture.


23. How to Live: A Life of Montaigne. Bakewell, Sarah. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

24. A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bernstein, Carl. (Read by Dr. Tami Eggleston)

25. Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me. Boyd, Pattie and Penny Junor. (Read by Dr. Neil Quisenberry)

26. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson, Bill. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

27. Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power. Caro, Robert. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

28. The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory. Checkoway, Julie.  (Read by Dr. Joy Santee)

29. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir. Day, Felicia. (Read by Jennifer Funk)

30. Alice Cooper, Golf Monster. Cooper, Alice, et al. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)

31. My Struggle: Book 6. Knausgaard, Karl Ove. (Read by Dr. Guy Boysen)

32. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. Laing, Olivia. (Read by Dr. Jenny Mueller)

33. Sal Mineo: A Biography. Michaud, Michael Gregg. (Read by Dr. Neil Quisenberry)

34. Paul McCartney: The Life. Norman, Philip. (Read by Dr. Neil Quisenberry)

35. A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight. Toorpakai, Maria and Katharine Holstein. (Read by Dr. Joy Santee)

Travel Writing

36. A Walk in the Woods. Bryson, Bill. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

37. The Grand Canyon Reader. Newman, Lance, editor. (Read by Drs. Brenda Boudreau and Duane Olson)

38. The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. Williams, Terry Tempest. (Read by Drs. Brenda Boudreau and Duane Olson)

History/Historical Writings

39. The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War. Bynum, Victoria E. (Read by Dr. Shelly Lemons)

40. The Letters of Denis Diderot to Sophie Volland. France, Peter, translator. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

41. The Wright Brothers. McCullough, David. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

42. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Moncrieff, C.K. Scott, translator. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)


43. The Ascent of Money. Ferguson, Niall. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

44. Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey through the Big-Money Culture of College Football. Gaul, Gilbert. (Read by Dr. Elisabeth Erickson)

45. The Big Short. Lewis, Michael. (Read by Paula Martin and Dr. Dennis Ryan)

46. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty, Thomas. (Read by Dr. Brian Frederking)


47. At the Existentialist Café. Bakewell, Sarah. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

48. The Folly of God. Caputo, John. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

49. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. Carroll, Sean M. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

50. Faith vs. Fact. Coyne, Jerry. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

51. And Yet…: Selected Essays. Hitchens, Christopher. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

52. The Portable Atheist. Hitchens, Christopher, editor. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

53. Who or What is God? Hick, John. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

54. Systematic Theology. Tillich, Paul. (Read by Dr. Duane Olson)

55. The Meaning of Human Existence. Wilson, E.O. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)

Trends in the United States

56. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker, Stephen. (Read by Dr. Brian Frederking)

57. The Impulse Society. Roberts, Paul. (Read by Dr. Deanne Riess)


58. Modern Romance. Ansari, Aziz. (Read by Dr. Stephen Hagan)

59. Furiously Happy. Lawson, Jenny. (Read by Dr. Stephen Hagan)


60. Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: Image Repair Theory and Research. Benoit, William L. (Read by Dr. Richard Murphy)

61. Glass, Paper, Beans: Revelations on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things. Cohen, Leah Hager. (Read by Dr. Joy Santee)

62. Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing Our View of Human Nature. Kenrick, Douglas T. (Read by Dr. Guy Boysen)

63. I Wear the Black Hat. Klosterman, Chuck. (Read by Dr. Guy Boysen)

64. Levels of Infinity: Selected Writings in Mathematical Philosophy. Weyl, Hermann. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)




Young Adult

Dr. Darryn Diuguid analyzed several works of children’s literature as part of his research on transgender and gender non-conforming characters in books for youth. Dr. Joy Santee reread her favorite childhood novel, Alanna: The First Adventure, and Dr. Shelly Lemons was challenged by her 11-year-old daughter to read a classic Judy Blume story, along with a pre-teen graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier.

65. Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer? Aaron, Jason, writer. Art by Russell Dauterman and Jorge Molina (Read by Jennifer Funk)

66. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Baldacchino, Christina. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

67. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Blume, Judy. (Read by Dr. Shelly Lemons)

68. Not Every Princess. Bone, Jeffrey and Lisa Bone. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

69. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. Cliff, Tony. (Read by Jennifer Funk)

70. Whale Talk. Crutcher, Chris. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)

71. The Crimson Skew: The Mapmaker’s Trilogy #3. Grove, S.E. (Read by Jennifer Funk)

72. I Am Jazz. Herthel, Jessica. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

73. Jacob’s News Dress. Hoffman, Ian and Sarah Hoffman. (Read by Dr. Darryn Diuguid)

74. The First Part Last. Johnson, Angela. (Read by Dr. Alan Alewine)

75. Alanna: The First Adventure. Pierce, Tamora. (Read by Dr. Joy Santee)

76. Harry Potter Series. Rowling, J.K. (Read by Paula Martin)

77. Drama. Telgemeier, Raina. (Read by Dr. Shelly Lemons)




Physical/Mental Health

Faculty from a wide range of fields read books in this category, which spans everything from the research behind morning exercise to the psychological benefits of decluttering your home. Best known for her novel Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses living a creative life in her new book Big Magic, and she’ll take the stage at the Hett this year as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series.

78. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck, Carol. (Read by Dr. Richard Murphy)

79. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness. Epstein, Mark. (Read by Dr. Karee Nasser)

80. Thoughts Without a Thinker. Epstein, Mark. (Read by Dr. Karee Nasser)

81. Discover Your True North. George, Bill. (Read by Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe)

82. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Gilbert, Elizabeth. (Read by Dr. Tami Eggleston)

83. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works- A True Story. Harris, Dan. (Read by Dr. Karee Nasser)

84. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo, Marie. (Read by Dr. Brenda Boudreau)

85. On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life. O’Leary, John. (Read by Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe)

86. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness. Olson, Jeff. (Read by Dr. Richard Murphy)

87. Spark. Ratey, John J. (Read by Scott Colby)

88. Better Living Through Criticism. Scott, A.O. (Read by Dr. Dennis Ryan)





Always working to improve their skills as educators and mentors, McKendree professors made sure to include some works on effective teaching practices and the education system in their summer reading. Dave Burgess’ innovative book Teach Like a Pirate takes the cake for “most interesting title” as it provides strategies to increase student engagement and creativity in the classroom.

89. Say This, Not That to Your Professor: 36 Talking Tips for College Success. Breman, Ellen. (Read by Jennifer Funk)

90. Teach Like a Pirate. Burgess, Dave. (Read by Dr. Richard Murphy)

91. My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture. Glum, Susan D. (Read by Dr. Stephen Hagan)

92. A Place Called School. Goodlad, John I. (Read by Dr. Timothy Richards)

93. High Stakes: Children, Testing, and Failure in American Schools. Johnson, Dale. (Read by Dr. Timothy Richards)

94. Motivating Students by Design. Jones, Brett. (Read by Dr. Tami Eggleston)

95. Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. Lang, James. (Read by Dr. Tami Eggleston)

96. Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher. Mills, Geoffrey E. (Read by Dr. Pamela Barnes)

97. The Politics of Education. Schribner, Jay D. (Read by Dr. Timothy Richards)

98. Horace’s Hope: What Works for the American High School. Sizer, Theodore R. (Read by Dr. Timothy Richards)

99. American Education. Spring, Joel. (Read by Dr. Timothy Richards)

100. Waiting for “Superman:” How We Can Save America’s Failing Public Schools. Weber, Karl, editor. (Read by Dr. Pamela Barnes)


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