2008 Recommended Summer Reading List

Summer Reading and Resource List

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. This summer, in addition to reading the latest installment of your favorite mystery or thriller series, consider reading widely in the fields that are basic to a liberal 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. Of particular note is the suggested reading for the Notre Dame Forum, Sustainable Energy: Enlighten, Engage, Empower. You will find that issues surrounding the energy and environmental crisis will be at the center of academic discussion on campus this fall.

The Notre Dame Forum - Sustainable Energy: Enlighten, Engage, Empower
Each year, the Notre Dame Forum provides a focus for University intellectual, social, and spiritual growth. This fall, the Notre Dame Forum’s topic will be Sustainable Energy: Enlighten, Engage, Empower, and the campus-wide convocation will take place on September 24, 2008. Make certain you take time to look at the forum’s website,
enlighten.nd.edu. This frequently updated site will help prepare you for the forum. 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.

You will find that most of the following recommended texts and resources on this topic are distinctly interdisciplinary in nature and include perspectives from the sciences, the liberal arts, business, and related areas, but if you only read one book from this list this summer, it should be The End of Oil by Paul Roberts. This highly readable investigation of the energy crisis includes a look at the economics and politics of the problem, as well as the possibilities surrounding various alternative energy sources.

Another very highly recommended book on the subject is E.O. Wilson’s Creation. Eloquent and persuasive, Wilson argues for unity between science and religion in their appreciation and salvation of Summer Reading and Resource List our wondrous and threatened world.

Jared Diamond’s Collapse is a fascinating and highly readable case study of how a number of different civilizations collapsed because they did not take the steps necessary to conserve the resources on which they depended. It begins with a discussion of the situation of Bitterroot Valley in Montana today.

Thoreau’s Walden is an absolute classic; it is one of the most widely read and influential books ever written. Skip the Sparksnotes, and read the real thing.

Beautifully written and wonderfully challenging, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek expands our often neglected sense of relationship with “ordinary” nature. For a highly influential and still controversial book, try Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. This is a classic piece of environmental literature.

Leopold writes beautifully in appreciation of nature, and this helps to heighten our awareness of what may be lost. Toward the end of the book, he proposes a holistic environmental ethic that has laid the groundwork for much of the subsequent work in environmental ethics.

According to the Times Literary Supplement, John Houghton’s Global Warming: The Complete Briefing is the“best single-volume guide to the science of climate change” available. Houghton’s book explains what causes climate change, describes the science behind global warming, and finishes with a discussion of policy and what must be done to stabilize the climate. William Rees’s internationally acclaimed Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing the Human Impact on the Earth provides a tool for measuring our impact on the earth in a form everyone can use.

Kenneth Deffeyes’s Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak suggests what the future will look like when we do run out of fossil fuels and surveys the pros and cons of alternative resources, while Paul Hawken’s and Amory and L. Hunter Lovins’s Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution concentrates on a vision of the future in which a new type of industrialism may be able to thrive while saving the environment.

To begin to explore the environmental and energy crisis from a specifically Catholic point of view, be sure to look at U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Renewing the Earth” pastoral statement, November 14, 1991, and “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good” pastoral statement, June 15, 2001. Both highlight how strongly and for how long the Church has spoken regarding the importance of protecting the environment. Also see Pope John Paul II’s “The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility” World Day of Peace message, January 1, 1990, as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s “The Human Person, the Heart of Peace” World Day of Peace message, January 1, 2007, and “The Human Family, a Community of Peace” World Day of Peace message, January 1, 2008, all of which emphasize our sacred responsibility to protect the earth. These documents are all available at the Forum’s website, enlighten.nd.edu.

For a philosophical discussion of the complexities and opportunities of our interconnected world, look to Kwame Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

Broaden Your Horizons
In addition to doing some reading to prepare for the Forum, you might select several recommendations from Father Monk Malloy’s wonderful book list, “Books to Nourish One’s Soul and Broaden One’s Horizons.” This essay and book list by our previous University President and current professor of theology is made up of novels Father 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’s online magazine at http://nd.edu/~ndbizmag/winter2006/Books_web.shtml. Not on Father 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 singular perspective of a young boy with autism. The novel is an imaginative expression of what it might mean to have autism and how this condition affects 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.

Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival
When you arrive on campus, you will have an opportunity to see the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Take a look at the website shakespeare.nd.edu for details about this and other related Shakespeare Festival events.

Making the Most of College
A favorite for several years and highly recommended, Richard Light’s Making the Most of College: College Students Speak Their Minds is an insightful look at what students do to be successful and engaged in their college education. It’s great reading for an incoming student.

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.