Ohio Today Online Spring 2002
For Alumni and Friends of Ohio University
 

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Book your summer getaway

By Joan Slattery Wall

With summer on the way, maybe you're contemplating an escape deep into the pages of a good novel. We checked on the leisure reading plans of Ohio University faculty and administrators, and they responded with a variety of titles to share with alumni. Perhaps their lists will give you some ideas.

Professor of Teacher Education Joan McMath plans to tackle the works of English novelist P.D. James. She'd also like to read winners of the Children's Literature Association's Phoenix Award, which goes to popular books that are at least 20 years old but have never won a major award. Because children's books obviously interest her, she's also going to continue the Dav Pilkey "Captain Underpants" series about trouble-making third-grade boys whose superhero flies around in his underwear doing good deeds -- or getting them out of trouble.

"I just think if I died and went to heaven, it would be a library," McMath says, "because I love to read."

Baseball fan Charles Bird, who serves as vice president for regional higher education, will take up Al Stump's "Cobb," a book about Ty Cobb. "I enjoy reading about the fascinating characters in baseball's earlier years, and I share with many others a feeling that there is something special, almost spiritual and reassuring, about baseball," he says. Also on his list: Civil War history books "In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War" by Alice Rains Trulock and "Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend" by James I. Robertson Jr.

Ed Fitzgibbon, associate professor of history at the Lancaster campus, is a fan of works about espionage. But the former military intelligence officer no longer travels with nonfiction books on the topic because of an uncomfortable predicament in the 1980s, before the collapse of communism. He was traveling from Athens, Greece, to Budapest, Hungary.

'Single & Single'"I was reading Richard Smith's 'OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency,'" Fitzgibbon remembers. "I think that the uniformed woman who inspected my luggage was convinced she had uncovered a spy. She didn't speak any English (and I don't speak any Magyar), but she recognized the words 'Central Intelligence Agency.' I had visions of involuntarily extending my vacation in Hungary. Fortunately a supervisor either read English or figured out that spies usually don't carry their spy manuals along with them."

This summer when he travels to Turkey, he'll take "Single & Single" by John le Carre.

Mary Keifer, associate professor of business law and management systems, wants to read a series by Katherine Hall Page, including "The Body in the Moonlight: A Faith Fairchild Mystery"; Carolyn Hart's "Henrie O" mystery series; and Rita Mae Brown's mysteries, "because they involve cats and are set in Crozet, Va., just miles from my hometown of Staunton."

The bookshelf of Nick Dinos, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, includes mysteries by Jane Langdon, Steven Saylor and Rhys Bowen; "Red Atom: Russia's Nuclear Power Program from Stalin to Today" by Paul Josephson; and Ohio University Press' "Transcendental Wordplay," a look by Michael West at the puns, slyness and wordplay in the writings of American transcendentalists such as Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson and Washington Irving.

Dean of Students Terry Hogan says "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman is first on his summer reading list. He'll also delve more deeply into Robert Bickel and Peter Lake's "The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University: Who Assumes the Risk of College Life?" because it describes the changing legal landscape of higher ed. For fun, he's looking to "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65," especially since he met the author, Taylor Branch, during a campus visit; "John Adams" by David McCullough; and "The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton" by Joe Klein.Pillar of Fire

Ann Paulins, director of the School of Human and Consumer Sciences, plans to re-read the first four Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling "so that I can engage in conversation with my 9-year-old son and so that I will be ready to dive into the fifth book when it is published." (In case you're interested, the book is expected to be out this fall.) Also on her list: "We Were the Mulvaneys" by Joyce Carol Oates; Teri Agins' "The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever"; and a couple of British author Katie Fforde's romance novels.

After a 25-year hiatus, Gayle Mitchell, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and its Neil D. Thomas professor, wants to return to the J.R.R. Tolkein books. "After seeing 'Lord of the Rings,' I want to refresh my memory of how well it captured what was in the books," she says.

Michael McTeague, assistant professor of history and faculty chair at Ohio University's Eastern Campus, has a multicultural reading agenda. "I'm going to read 'The Guidebook to Alleys in Beijing' by Lee Mingde," McTeague says. "He thinks alleys ought to be protected and we ought to know more about the alleys in big cities and their origins." Also on his docket are "Elements of Feng Shui" by Man-Ho Kwok and the nearly 150-year-old "Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company" by Multatuli.

"How much more diverse can you get than that?" he asks. "If somebody says, 'Isn't that work?' I'm going to say, 'No, that's the fun stuff.'" Joan Slattery Wall is assistant editor of Ohio Today.