Summer Reading List

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booksIn his remarks at the hooding ceremony this spring, Dean Kearney encouraged our law graduates to remain active readers.  And during a recent presentation to the Marquette law faculty, Professor Julie Oseid asked us how many books we have on our nightstands.   

That question left me with another: what books are folks reading over the summer for pleasure?  Reading is one of the great joys in life.  Choosing the next good read is almost as satisfying.  We would love to know what books others are reading or have already read this summer to add to our own nightstand collections.  After all, we still have a few weeks to fit in some reading before classes start.   

This summer, I especially enjoyed reading— 

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova:  a Dracula tale, with a literary tour of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008, Jerome Groopman and Tim Folger, editors:  a compilation of beautifully written articles from magazines like The New Yorker.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris:  I read a third of the book before even leaving the bookstore.      

List yours to add to another nightstand.

9 thoughts on “Summer Reading List”

  1. Julia Child’s “My Life in France” was the last. I’m needing to pick up David Marusek’s “Mind Over Ship” (hard science fiction; a sequel by a very non-prolific novelist).

    In theory, since I don’t have “summer vacation” anymore, I should be able to read for the heck of it year-round, but I’m finding myself busier in a relatively peaceful (1300-1400 billable hours a year, with some scheduled nights) practice than I was as a student. So we’ll see what happens.

  2. There are several books that I would recommend for any law student who may be considering becoming a litigator.

    The first is Rules of the Road by Rick Friedman and Patrick Malone. It is published by Trial Guides, ISBN 0974324833 / 0-9743248-3-3 / 9780974324838. The authors, both plaintiff lawyers, show how to frame a case by establishing rules that jurors can easily understand. The key is that the rules must be simple to understand and play to the jurors’ common sense.

    The second book is Legal Blame, by Neil Feigenson. It is published by the American Psychological Association and has an ISBN # of ISBN-13: 9781557988348. The book provides a framework of how jurors make decisions, especially as to establishing fault in the tort system.

    The third book is Words That Work by Frank Luntz. Publisher: Hyperion (December 20, 2006). Luntz is a Republican pollster who is frequently seen as a commentator during elections. He wrote the Contract With America which was pushed so heavily by Newt Gingrich and his House majority in the 1990’s. This book is a fascinating and instructive lesson on how important it is, as litigators, to choose the right words to frame the debate.

    All of these books can be found on Enjoy the read!

  3. “People of the Book,” by Geraldine Brooks: Great vacation read, lots of adventure in this fictional story about a real book, the Sarajevo Haggadah.

    “Wittgenstein on Mind and Language,” by David Stern: Not exactly a beach read, but also not written by Wittgenstein. I feel like I finally understand what was beyond my grasp in college when I read about Wittgenstein’s notion of things we “can talk about sensibly” versus “things we must pass over in silence.” Very well-written, interesting book.

    “Raise the Bar: Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession,” by Lawrence J. Fox: a series of essays on problems that plague that legal profession. The book is thought-provoking, and it’s a quick read. When I finished it, I wanted to do more pro bono work and read more about virtue ethics and the professions.

  4. So much of what we read in law school and in legal practice is demanding reading – it’s the kind of stuff that uses brain power in order to understand and then to appropriately “file” in one’s mind. Legal readers, whether law students or lawyers, cannot be passive readers. That is why I find it important to make sure that at least one of the two or three books I concurrently read is a “fun” book, an easy-to-read book that allows me to be a passive reader or, as Ruth Ann McKinney says, a book that allows me to be “on the lazy river ride in the reading theme park.” Ruth Ann McKinney, “Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert,” 62 (2005).

    This summer I am reading, among other books, Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” and Curtis Sittenfeld’s “American Wife.”

    But one other book I read merits a mention. I read “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Practice of Law,” published by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It’s a very interesting book for those who teach law, but it might provoke some conversation among those in all areas of legal practice for the book suggests that law school graduates are not as prepared for actual practice as they could be.

    Keep reading!

  5. I’m nearing the end of The Historian right now. Somehow Kostova manages to keep you intrigued and in suspense through 650 pages, in part because the story alternates among three different time periods spanning eighty-some years. I also have a soft spot for the paranormal/supernatural and Kostova manages to hit the right note there without going over the top. She really got it right in setting the balance between the historical and the fantastic. A highly recommended read.

    Dan Simmons’ novel The Terror seems to be along the same lines and is next on my reading list. “The novel is a fictionalized account of Franklin’s lost expedition of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror under Captain Sir John Franklin to the Arctic to force the Northwest Passage in 1845 – 1848.” More here:

  6. I just returned from vacation and read:

    “The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman, and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany” by Michael Beschloss.

    “Death Be Not Proud” by John Gunther, a father’s account of his teenage son’s fight against brain cancer.

    “Our Man in Havana” by Graham Greene, a satire about a British spy/vacuum cleaner salesman in Cuba.

    “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, a hilarious and sad novel about a Dominican-American family.

    “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks, see Professor Blemberg’s post above.

    Next up: “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

    After that: perhaps David Sedaris and Julia Child.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I hope more people share.

  7. I’m reading The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré. It’s a spy novel from the mid 20th century. Graham Greene said it was the best spy story ever on the inside of the jacket so I had to read it.

    I’m also in the middle of Corman McCarthy’s The Road. It’s super bleak so I keep putting it off.

    Oh, and some book on how to be a better legal writer. I think I’ll start that one when school resumes.

  8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
    by Robert B. Cialdini

    Another interesting read, this time about the psychology of persuasion. Here is one reader’s review, which I agree with.
    Cialdini believes that influence is a science. This idea attracted me. As a rhetorician, I have always thought of persuasion as more of an art. Cialdini, however, makes a first-rate case for the science point of view. But maybe most importantly, he makes his case in a well-written, intelligent, and entertaining manner. Not only is this an important book to read, it is a fun book to read too.

    He introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. A chapter is devoted to each and you quickly see why Cialdini looks at influence as a science. Each principle is backed by social scientific testing and restesting. Each chapter is also filled with interesting examples that help you see how each principle can be applied. By the end of the book, I had little doubt that these are six important dimensions of human interaction.

    I highly recommend this book to all professionals. It does not matter if you are a manager, sales person, pastor, or non-profit volunteer. The ideas in this book, once applied, will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals. In a video featuring the author, Professor Cialdini even goes so far as to promise that these principles can help you influence the most resistant of all audiences–your children.

    With a claim like that, who wouldn’t be intrigued?

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