The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Jo McCulty

The word on great reads

Just in time to make the cut for your summer reading list, here are testimonials on good books of all sorts from faculty across the university.


Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid (2017)

A novel about the journey of lovers and refugees Nadia and Saeed

“It’s a very accessible book for thinking about migration and mobility. It would be of interest to anyone who’s trying to gain a different kind of perspective on migration as a human right or simply as a reality.”

Ashley Pérez, Department of Comparative Studies


The Warmth of Other Suns

by Isabel Wilkerson (2010)

A historical study of the Great Migration, during which 6 million African Americans fled north during the 20th century

“This book changed my understanding of this country and of African American communities across this country. It also gave me a better understanding of my personal narrative as someone who grew up as a product of the migration.”

Terry Esper, Department of Marketing and Logistics


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants

by Malcolm Gladwell (2013)

A narrative that challenges the way people look at and react to setbacks

“The reason this book is so engaging is because it forces the reader to reflect on the relative value placed on strengths versus weaknesses.”

Sabrena Noria, College of Medicine


The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam

by Max Boot (2018)

The biography of a renowned Central Intelligence Agency operative

“This is not just the dry recitation of someone’s life. It really gets into some very interesting episodes and uncovers his personal life as well.

If you enjoy reading biographies, you’ll love this one.”

Peter Mansoor, Department of History


Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

by Saidiya Hartman (2006)

A personal story that traces the history of the Atlantic slave trade

“I think this is an important book for everyone in the United States to read. It’s a lot about family, relationships, love and loss. All great books bring readers to discover something about themselves, and this book does that.”

Shannon Winnubst, Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies


Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

by David Eagleman (2009)

A collection of vignettes that illuminate different perspectives on afterlife

“This was written by a neuroscientist, but it’s basically just an extremely creative, easy, quick read. It’s something I keep going back to over the years.”

Brian Mittendorf, Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems


Sweet and Low

by Nick White (2018)

A short-story collection that explores Southern life (and is authored by an Ohio State faculty member who teaches creative writing)

“I love Nick’s fiction because it’s always entertaining and often funny, but also engages the essential and timely questions of who we are, why we love what we do and how — if at all — we make ourselves better humans.”

Kathy Fagan Grandinetti, Department of English


Dust of the Zulu: Ngoma Aesthetics After Apartheid

by Louise Meintjes (2017)

A nonfiction work that showcases South African dance and its connections to identity during apartheid, the AIDS crisis and other tumultuous eras

“Too often, good academic work falls into niche markets and is not picked up by a more general audience. I really hope a quality book like this can break free from that mold.”

Ryan Skinner, School of Music and Department of African American and African Studies


In Cold Blood

by Truman Capote (1966)

Literary nonfiction on the investigation into the murder of Kansas family members

“I love nonfiction and fiction, and this was the first book that captured them both equally. It allows the reader to immerse in a nonfiction story that employs the most beautiful fictional techniques. Be prepared to read it more than once.”

Nicole Kraft, School of Communication


My Favorite Thing is Monsters

by Emil Ferris (2017)

A graphic novel about a 10-year-old who delves into a murder mystery

“It’s a beautiful graphic novel, unlike any I’ve ever read. It deals with the Holocaust, childhood trauma, homosexuality, abuse, horror and Chicago in the 1960s. Ferris drew the entire 400-page book after becoming paralyzed by West Nile Virus at the age of 40.”

Caitlin McGurk, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum