Thursday, January 12, 2012

Suggested reading list for HIS 101

As we gear up for a new semester, it occurred to me that I should post a suggested reading list for my students. Now, I know that because of your busy schedules, most of you have a hard enough time finding the time to read required books, but allow me the indulgence of telling you what I think you should also be reading (or listening to if you have an audiobook membership somewhere).

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle.
     This classic tells the story of immigrants in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century. It's      fascinating, horrifying, edifying....makes us really glad to live when we do and not back then. This book also supposedly helped passage of landmark legislation that protects all of us--the creation of the  Food and Drug Administration.
Jack Finney, Time and Again.      
      Finney uses a rather implausible time travel device to bring middle class life in New York City in the 1880s to the pages of this remarkable book. If you can suspend your disbelief on how our hero gets to the 1880s, the book will reward you amply with fabulous period detail about daily life in the nation's most important city. Students who have read this book in classes where I have required it rave about it!
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. 
      Steinbeck's masterpiece tells the story of a family caught up in the horrors of the Great Depression. Like The Jungle, it too makes us happy not to have lived in the 1930s. If you have never read this book, you really must.