Summer Reading Recommendations: Dr. Doug Schaak
Summer Reading Recommendations: Dr. Doug Schaak, Associate Professor and Chair of English
By: Connor Leaf
For many of us at Multnomah University, the arrival of summer is often a period of renewal. As spring comes to a close and the trees and grasses return to their familiar deep green color, so do we find ourselves returning to our favorite summer activities: reconnecting with old friends, resting, and growing in new ways. The onset of the summer season is a perfect opportunity to settle into a rhythm and reconnect with God and the people and things you love, so we’re starting a new blog series featuring summer reading lists recommended by our staff and faculty.* These reading lists aren’t just for Multnomah students; they’re for staff, faculty, parents, alumni, and anyone else looking for a good book to read this summer. We’re starting off the series with a list compiled by our beloved professor of English, Dr. Doug Schaak. On his list, you’ll find autobiographies and memoirs, short story collections, poetry, plays, and novels. We asked Dr. Schaak for tips on reading during the summer, and this is what he shared:
- Choose one book you are dying to read and read it strictly for pleasure.
- Choose one book that makes you uncomfortable and commit to finishing it.
- Choose one book outside your normal reading range (e.g. something in medicine, war, or nonfiction).
- Pay attention to something you usually don’t focus on. For example, instead of looking for themes or plot or character development or setting, focus on sentence length or sentence structure, vocabulary, point of view, use of dialogue, or paragraph development.
- Read for longer periods than you do during the school year. If you normally read for less than thirty minutes in one sitting, extend that time frame to sixty or ninety minutes.
- Read in a different environment.
- Listen to the author. Try to get a feel for the person behind the writing.
- Write a leisurely response to something you read. Send it to a friend or just keep it to yourself.
- If the author is still living, write him or her a note. One student of ours did so a few years ago and received a handwritten response from Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Read like you did when you were ten years old: openly, expectantly, and with wonder, remembering how strange it is that words written on a page can have such an impact on a life.
Here are Dr. Schaak’s reading recommendations:
- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
- Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
- Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
- Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
- Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
- Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard
- Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
- Douglas Coupland, Generation X
- E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime
- Charles Dickens, Hard Times
- George Eliot, Middlemarch
- William Faulkner, Light in August
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
- Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
- Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
- Seamus Heaney, The Haw Lantern
- Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler
- James Joyce, Dubliners
- Franz Kafka, The Trial
- William Kennedy, Ironweed
- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
- Sir Thomas Malory, King Arthur and His Knights
- Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
- Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
- Flannery O’Connor, Three
- Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night
- Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods
- Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
- Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
- Gerald Vizenor, The Heirs of Columbus
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
- Alice Walker, The Color Purple
- Elie Wiesel, Night
- August Wilson, Fences
- Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
- Richard Wright, Native Son
* The literature on this list does not directly reflect the views of Multnomah University.
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