For the Love of Books – The NAU Review

August 9 is Book Lover’s Day, and what better way to celebrate (besides reading your favorite book) than to hear book lovers talk about their favorite books? The NAU exam asked staff from the Cline Library and other NAU departments to share their favorite tomes in honor of this bookish celebration.

Jessica Watsonexecutive assistant and second-year student in public administration

Favourite book: Who thought that was a good idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

This book is ideal for anyone considering a career in public service, especially as a woman. It’s a fun and entertaining read that makes you want to know more.

mike taylormanager, solutions architecture

Favourite book: Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

I love this book from start to finish, but one scene in particular has always stuck with me. In it, Phèdre is teaching writing outside and a student is stuck and unable to start writing. Phèdre asks the student to focus on smaller and smaller views of the surrounding area until he asks the student to focus on a single brick of a single building. Suddenly, the student peels off and is able to complete (and enjoy) the assignment.

Good Omens book cover
Cover of the first edition of good omens

John J. Dohertyhead of research and information services

Favourite book: Good Omens: The Beautiful and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I read this book the day it came out. The first hardback edition of this book (from 1990) was the last book I bought in Ireland before immigrating to the United States. -write the book of Revelation, I was first in line at my local reasons to buy a copy. Here we have a heartbreaking thread (!) full of jokes only a recovering Catholic would get, complete with Pratchett’s footnotes and Gaiman’s doomsday horsemen (and accompanying bikers). I’m still laughing out loud reading this many years later (and, yes, I’ve seen the TV show, but I also have the book in paperback, Kindle, and two Audible versions). And, of course, the sarcastic remarks directed at Americans (usually in footnotes), such as “I never really liked the Yanks. … You can’t trust people who pick up the ball all the time when they play football.

Know My Name book cover by Chanel MillerEmilie Weslingexperiential learning librarian

Favourite book: know my name by Chanel Miller

I’m a big fan of memoirs, and this one was so transformative. Chanel Miller showed such courage when she testified against the Stanford University student who sexually assaulted her in 2015. I am in awe of her bravery, her candor and the poetic way in which she tells his story. know my name is painful reading, but an important part of the ongoing conversation about the issue of sexual violence on college campuses. My favorite quote is, “It’s not about whether you’re going to survive this, but what beautiful things await you when you do. I had to believe her, because she was living proof. Then she said, good and bad things come from the universe holding hands. Wait for the good to come.

Hank Hasellassociate librarian

Favourite book: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Desert by Edward Abbey

It was the book that put Abbey’s name on the literary and environmental map. Overall, it chronicles his life one summer as a ranger at Arches National Monument State Park just outside of Moab, Utah. In it, he describes his love and dedication to the wilderness and why it is important to save and preserve wild places as an integral part of our souls as Americans. My favorite quote from the book: “There are those of us who, in our nightly devotions, never fail to pray for a small precision earthquake near the Glen Canyon Dam. We are pious, we have faith, and one day our prayers will be fulfilled.

book cover of The Winter of Our Discontent by John SteinbeckAlan AngerbauerIT Services Analyst, Senior

Favourite book: The winter of our discontent by John Steinbeck

My favorite book is the last of Steinbeck’s novels, The winter of our discontent. In length, it is halfway between Steinbeck’s volumes (Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden) and its “lower case” (Cannery Row, Of mice and Men). Through its pages, we see its protagonist wrestle with the world, as all people who are not exceptionally privileged must. Sometimes the struggle looks like an intimate dance; sometimes a fistfight. Most of the time, the restlessness is contained within itself – like a stirred bottle of water doing mental whirlwinds; sometimes it overflows into the streets, laid bare for the gaze of others, of all others. Somehow, this external examination – although less intense than the pressure it imposes on itself – is more painful to him. The efforts he will make to escape this pain are not unlike the efforts we as a society make to avoid the things we should be most careful about: our planet, our fellow human beings, ourselves.

My favorite passage is the beginning of the third chapter when our protagonist reflects on his perception of his wife’s sleep: “My wife, my Mary, falls asleep like one closes a closet door. So many times I looked at her longingly. Her beautiful body squirms for a moment as if she were settling into a cocoon. She sighs once and at the end her eyes close and her lips, quiet, fall into that wise and distant smile of the ancient Greek gods.

The beauty I find in this passage is that he observed his wife frequently and carefully enough to form a lyrical opinion of her sleeping state of mind. The beautiful contradiction lies in the fact that he Actually know what is going on in the person of his wife. It is partly his projection – perhaps a desire to see himself as uniquely different from his closest earthly companion – and partly it is the by-product of his sensitive nature to observe and characterize the other. His wife is a necessary part of this outside world – a world that is both a source of terrifying scrutiny but also a necessary component of his existence.

I find the book reflects many contemporary human struggles, many of which are rooted in our unease with change.

Cover of the book Heidi by Johanna SpyriAimee QuinnAssistant Librarian, NAU-Yuma

Favourite book: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I got my first copy for Christmas when I was 6, and I still have it. I read whenever I feel sad or depressed because it always makes me happy. It was my first book of my own that was not shared with my four older siblings or my younger sister. Every time I read it, I have this feeling of wonder of a distant country, in the mountains playing in the sun with goats and laughing birds. My favorite part of the story is when the servants of Herr Sesemann’s household believe a ghost is haunting them, which turns out to be sleepwalking Heidi because she’s so homesick for the mountains and hates living in town. It resonates with me throughout my life.

The cover of Pattern Recognition by William GibsonJill FriedmanVice Dean

Favourite book: Pattern recognition by William Gibson

One of my favorite books that I come back to again and again is Pattern recognition by William Gibson. When I first read this book, I was blown away by the world and characters created by Gibson. I think I read it in one sitting. I’ve read it so many times that I’m on my fourth or fifth copy. I also continue to donate my copies because I want everyone I know to read this book. It’s incredible!

book title page "What the eyes do not see"Pamela BuzzardAssociate Librarian, Health Sciences

Favourite book: What the eyes do not see by Mona Hanna-Attisha

I heard Dr. Mona speak at the Medical Library Association conference this summer. She was fun to listen to and absolutely compelling. When I heard she would be signing her books at lunch that day, I ran to pick up a copy before another meeting. This book is truly a story of hope and perseverance. Dr. Mona worked with children in Flint, Michigan, and gave them all the attention and care they deserved. When she learned there was a potential exposure to lead, she didn’t let anything stop her until she got to the root of the problem and made sure officials listened. Now more than ever, we need people like Dr. Mona to be ready to rise up in times of crisis and continue to do what is necessary for the good of public health.

Cover of Odes to common things by Pablo NerudaTracy Glaulibrarian assistant

Favourite book: Odes to common things by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda’s odes always lead me to appreciation – appreciation for the little things in life, the things we take for granted, the things that are always there, like salt, socks, tomatoes, cats. Neruda brings these objects to life like no other writer. He embraces the reader with his clever words, caressing our hearts and minds and making connections to memories and life. Every time I come back to his writings, I get goosebumps, and somehow his work helps me not to take things for granted. His odes are quite shareable.

Excerpt from “Ode to salt:”

In its caves
the salt groans, mountain
buried light,
translucent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
And then on every table
in the world,
we see your spiciness
vital light
our food.

Expert of “Ode to the cat:”

Man wants to be fish or fowl,
the snake would like to have wings
the dog is a confused lion,
the engineer would like to be a poet,
the fly studies to be a fast,
the poet tries to imitate the fly,
but the cat
just wants to be a cat
and every cat is a cat
from his whiskers to his tail,
of his hopeful vision of a rat
to the real thing,
of the night to his golden eyes.

Did you know that the Cline Library has an NAU Authors room? The shelves are filled with novels, stories, research, books of poetry and personal essays and more written by NAU faculty. Discover their works on line or browse the shelves of this cozy reading nook to find your new favorite book!

Colin L. Johnson