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Books to read while in college

by April Tashiro, staff writer


Mark Twain once said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” So, what are good books? Here are the answers from HPU instructors from various departments.

Jacqueline Langley of the College of Communication proposed several books. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines is a novel about a young African-American professor trying to connect with a wrongly convicted prisoner before his execution. “It is a sort of lessons that we learn from each other,” said Langley. “There is always something new to learn from this book. Every time I read it, it brings up more lessons.”

Another book she recommend is All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence by Fox Butterfield. This nonfiction book tells of the surprising life of Willie Bosket, a criminal from his youth, who was brilliant enough to get Ph.D. – in prison.

She named Fyodor Dostoevsky as her favorite writer, and recommended the Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment as “the books that you read over and over again.”

Dr. Allison J. Gough recommended two books that influenced her to become a historian. Slave Community by John Blassingame and Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America by Herbert Gutman. These two portray slaves and the working class not as victims of society, but as active groups who possessed unique cultures of their own. “Both communities came alive for me for the first time in these two books, and I began to see history as much more than the decisions of political elites but as the experiences of everyone, no matter how rich or poor, powerful or dispossessed,” said Gough.

Along with these two, she mentioned the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture by David Brion Davis as a must-read book. From the business department, Dr. Warren Wee strongly recommended students read books about personal finance, since it is a necessary, but often neglected skill for everyone.

Personal Finance, which is the text book for FIN 3200, explains how interest, taxes, credit card, personal laws, and retirement planning works. “Regardless of which country you live in currently, or where you plan to live in the future, or where you are citizen, I think personally this finance book is an excellent book,” Wee said. “It teaches things about money management, and when I say money, it doesn’t have to be U.S. dollars. This book can be used in any country.”

Associate Professor Ken Schoolland recommends his book, The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, which deals with economic, social, and political problems in manner of fantasy novel, and includes a list of other works.

On this list, there is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which is a fascinating novel about what happens to the world if need holds more importance in society than human ability. This novel is based on Objectivism, Rand’s unique philosophy which advocates reason. She called it “a philosophy for living on earth.”

Another famous title on the list is Henry David Thoreau’s famous essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. It was written in 1849, after Thoreau was put into jail as a result of refusing to pay taxes to support the Mexican War and slavery. According to a Web site, About Henry David Thoreau (, this essay influenced many activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to non-violent resistance campaigns.

Thoreau wrote, “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

Reading a good book can be not only entertaining, but it can have a power to influence readers for their whole lives. Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”


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