As Johnnies we can’t help but see a silver lining in this crazy time of quarantine and self-isolation, a good time to catch up on some reading. Here is what some of our faculty and staff are reading to keep them occupied.
Emily Langston, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Annapolis
Immerse yourself in India! Two of the most satisfying, engrossing Very Long Reads I’ve ever encountered are Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. Read the Raj first, which takes you up to the time of the partition, then Seth’s book, which (though unrelated to Scott’s) picks right up in the aftermath of that shattering event. Also, Scott’s work is primarily from the perspective of British occupiers, while Seth’s is from the perspective of Indians. So an interesting complement in that regard as well as a continuation of the historical sequence.
Ryan Johnson, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions, Annapolis
If you are currently at home and dreaming of far off places, I recommend Captain Sir Richard Burton. This is a wonderful one volume biography of one of the most fascinating and famous explorers of all time. He ventured disguised into the forbidden cities of mecca and Medina, he led expeditions into Africa, India, and the Near East. His intellectual and literary curiosity is also legendary—his most famous literary accomplishments are the discovery and translation of the Kama Sutra and a seventeen-volume translation of the Arabian Nights.
Scott Hannan, Graduate Admissions Assistant, Santa Fe
Like most Johnnies, I presume, I’m using self-isolation and the stay-at-home order to catch up on some reading. So far, I’ve tackled Dashielle Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I’m unsure about what to read next. I would like to revisit some books from the St. John’s program, most notably The Iliad and The Odyssey. I purchased new translations of the texts by Caroline Alexander and Emily Wilson, respectively. I’ve been eager to read them and now might be just the time. I also have some Joseph Conrad and Flannery O’Connor burning a spot on my shelf. There’s simply too much to read!
David Conway, Assistant Director of Admissions, Santa Fe
I’ve been reading a few different things, it’s nice to keep it varied! With the unofficial admissions Ed Abbey reading group, I’m slowly working my way through Desert Solitaire, which is perfect for the southwestern spring and for reading while social distancing! On my own, I have a few things that I got from the library back before it closed—right now, I’m on Death
Comes for the Archbishop, which is set in New Mexico and is much less grim than it sounds, and on deck I have the second book in Lousia May Alcott’s Little Women series, and a few comfort re-reads—The Milagro Beanfield War (also set in New Mexico!) and some Tamora Pierce.
Caroline Randall, Director of Admissions, Santa Fe
I am reading Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead. It was a book that my nephew read in his undergraduate program, and gave to me. It is a bit of a satire on our commercialism, and ties in well to my love of absurd marketing concepts. — Also taking suggestions for my FIRST program read (I have read some in the past but never with the St. Johns focus) – tell me what I should start with. (We recommended the Iliad and The Odyssey.)
John Edwards, Assistant Director of Admissions Operations, Santa Fe
I recommend reading the Irish Country Doctor Series by Patrick Taylor. This is a lovely and comforting series. Arthur Guiness (labrador) and Lady MacBeth (ill tempered cat) make frequent appearances. Travel to Ballybuckybo in Northern Ireland with Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly, avid reader and discusser of classics and whiskey.
Susan Olmsted, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions, Santa Fe
I am determined to finally read Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”). It’s an autobiographical account of his experiences while serving as a liaison officer with rebel forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916 to 1918. It was recommended to me many years ago and I’ve read just enough to know it’s beautifully written and I’ve always meant to get to it someday. Also on my list is A Coin in Nine Hands by Marguerite Yourcenar. During the space of a day in Rome in 1933, a coin passes through the hands of nine people. The coin becomes the symbol of contact between human beings, each lost in private passions and nearly impenetrable solitude.
Elena Maria Liberatore, Graduate Assistant, Annapolis
Here’s some of books our GI students are reading:
Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Aeneid by Virgil
Euthyphro by Plato
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Liberalism: A Counter History by Domenico Losurdo
A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
God and the State by Mikhail Bakunin
Political Apocalypse by Ellis Sandoz
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser