2007 Recommended Summer Reading List

Summer Reading and Resource List

This summer, in addition to reading the latest Harry Potter novel and the next installment of your favorite mystery or thriller series, consider reading widely in the fields that are basic to a liberal education.  One of the differences between high school and college is the degree to which you actively educate yourself, and your summer reading can be a part of your transition to greater engagement in your own education.  The reading list below is not a required reading list. It is, in fact, not one list but a number of lists and resources brought together by the faculty of the First Year of Studies in cooperation with other Notre Dame colleges, departments and institutes. The list below suggest some especially “good reads” that enhance a broad liberal education. It is designed to help you choose thoroughly enjoyable summer reading that will also enable you to build a strong foundation for future learning.  Of particular note on this list are the Pope’s encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, and the reading for the Notre Dame Forum. You will find that both are going to be at the center of academic discussion on campus this fall.

The Notre Dame Forum
To begin, we strongly suggest that you take time to look at Forum’s website.  It will help prepare you for the academic forum on immigration that will take place on September 26th.  There will be dorm, classroom, and University-wide discussion of this topic both before and after the forum, and you’ll feel much more qualified to join in those discussions if you make certain you’ve looked at the website before coming to campus.

Fine Arts
Your “reading” in the fine arts should include viewing and listening as well as reading. It’s summer, so you might begin by taking a look at the comedies on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Best Movies web page, afi.com/tvevents/100years/movies.aspx. The list is delightfully controversial and a good place to start exploring he joys of great film. 

When you arrive on campus you will have an opportunity to see the Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. It should be great fun. Take a look at the website, http://shakespeare.nd.edu , for details.

This year the College of Arts and Letters will be presenting the Faust Project, a series of events focused on the Faust legend.  To prepare you may want to reading Christopher Marlowe’s Renaissance play, Doctor Faustus and/or listen to one of the many large-scale works based on the legend such as Gounod’s opera Faust, Berlioz’ La Damnation de Faust, or Liszt’s Faust Symphony.

This is also a good time to begin to broaden the kinds of music you enjoy.  You might explore some
of the best in jazz and classical music by going to A Quick Guide to Jazz website, bbc.co.uk/music/jazz/guides/jazz/, and A Quick Guide to Classical Music, bbc.co.uk/music/classical/guides/classical/.  You will be able to find the CDs suggested on these and other websites in your local library.  Borrow some to begin to discover the new worlds of enjoyment they offer you.

Allen Guelzo’s Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President has been recommended as one of the most probing biography’s of Lincoln, and Dava Sobel’s best selling Galileo’s Daughter: A Memior of Science, Faith and Love is a fascinating read about Galileo, his daughter and the world in which they lived.  If you are interested in more recent history, read George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, one of the most powerful war memoirs of our time.

You should begin by looking at Fr. Monk Malloy’s wonderful booklist, “Books that Nourish One’s Soul and Broaden One’s Horizon.”  This essay and booklist by our previous University president and current professor of theology, is made up of novels Fr. Malloy has used in his first-year University Seminar on world literature. They are gripping, entertaining novels that will significantly broaden your world.  You can find this essay and list in the Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business’ on-line magazine under nd.edu/~ndbizmag/winter2006/Books_web.shtml.   Not on Fr. Malloy’s list, but also highly recommended is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  This novel offers the voice — and singular perspective — of a young boy with autism.  The novel is an imaginative expression of what I might mean to have autism and how this condition effects individuals and their families. In addition to reading novels, don’t neglect poetry; you will also find much to explore and enjoy in the Norton Anthology of African American Literature and in World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time.

In the area of fine arts and literature, we would like to encourage you to add William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Tolsoy’s Anna Karenina, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to your list.  There’s a reason film makers keep attempting to capture these marvelous works on film. Literature and theater combine in Voltaire’s satiric novel Candide.  The novel chronicles the journey of the hero through young adulthood and reflects the intense tension between optimism and skepticism typical of the time, and it has also been adapted into, of all things, a comic operetta and Broadway hit by Leonard Bernstein in 1956.

Philosophy is a new discipline for many students entering college.  David Edmonds’ Wittgensteins’ Poker is a best seller that helps non-philosophers enter the world of modern philosophy in an immensely entertaining and revealing fashion. For a fine introduction to the philosophy of religion read Thomas Morris’s Our Idea of God. Also recommended on more specialized topics in philosophy are Umberto Eco and Cardinal Martini’s Belief or Nonbelief, and John Polkinghorne’s Science and Theology.

Sciences, Engineering, and Business
No one can afford to be ignorant of the sciences.  So, whether or not you plan on majoring in the sciences, don’t neglect to read some of the best (and very entertaining) books written for the non-scientist, including James Gleick’s acclaimed biography, Isaac Newton, Stephen Jay Gould’s popular collection of essays, The Mismeasure of Man, and James Watson’s book on the discovery of the structure of DNA, The Double Helix. The Department of Mathematics would also like to suggest some viewing as well as reading.  It suggests seeing  Stand and Deliver. Based on a true story, the movie has been described as “Hoosiers meets AP Calculus.”

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the College of Business both suggest Thomas Friedman’s widely quoted and controversial book, The World is Flat. In this book Friedman discusses the extreme “connectedness” of contemporary life and how technical advances and globalization on many levels have radically altered the world in which we live.

Social Sciences
The social sciences include anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology, and the reading possibilities are endless. To begin you might read Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling exploration of how little things make a big difference, The Tipping Point, and Jane Goodall’s classic study of animal behavior, Through a Window. Freedom Summer by Doug McAdam is also it highly recommended. It is a fascinating account of the experiences of college students who went south in the summer of 1964 to help with voter registration drives. To prepare to become a part of Notre Dame’s efforts to make a difference in Africa through ND’s millennium village in Uganda,.we suggest you read Jeffery Sachs’ The End of Poverty and Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, God is Love, is also important reading for the upcoming year, and in addition to the usual sources for books, it is available at no expense on the Vatican web site, http://www.vatican.va . The Pope’s letter opens with a rich, theological discussion of the God’s love and the human response to God’s love. The second part of the letter explores in a more concrete way the commandment of loving one’s neighbor and what that means for all of us.

To help build your theological literacy you might undertake to read the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  A firsthand knowledge of these books prepares you for their constant use by novelists, poets, and politicians as well as theologians. You might also take a look at Joseph Pieper’s much loved study of the liberal arts in the context of the Thomist tradition, Leisure: the Basis of Culture.

The University and Liberal Education
We highly recommend Richard Light’s Making the Most of College: College Students Speak Their Minds for a truly insightful look at what students do to be successful and engaged in their college education, and, if you are interested in some of the most influential thinking on liberal education, you might read Cardinal John Newman’s The Idea of a University or John Dewey’s Democracy and Education.  Both are classic texts on  liberal education.

Whatever you choose, read for pleasure and read with a purpose. Use this summer to reflect on what you want out of the intellectual adventure before you, and read to prepare yourself for a lifetime of learning.  Push yourself outside of your intellectual comfort zone and try some new areas. You cannot go wrong by beginning with any of the above.