The must-read books of the summer, as recommended by academics and staff at UCC

Want to relax with a good book? In its new Twitter series, Summer Reading Picks, academics and staff at University College Cork share their must-reads and what’s next on their lists.

The must-read books of the summer, as recommended by academics and staff at UCC

John F. Cryan, Professor & Chair, Dept. Anatomy & Neuroscience and Principal Investigator, APC Microbiome Ireland

Currently reading: Constellations: Reflections from Life by Sinead Gleeson. A brilliantly written collection of provocative and personal essays about life, womanhood, illness, grief and hope.

Next up: Others. Edited by Charles Fernyhough. A powerful crowdfunded collection, as a group of writers explore the power of words to help us see the world as others see it...

Fiona Kearney, Director, The Glucksman

Currently reading: I’ve been dipping in and out of Toni Morrison’s new collection of essays, speeches and meditations, The Source of Self-Regard, and cherish her voice and expansive world-making even more in light of her recent death.

I’m also reading Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson, which travels through the Ireland of my childhood with piercing insight, mingling reflections on art and the female body in essays of extraordinary clarity and complexity.

Next up: The Last Ones Left Alive. Can’t wait to read this – as it sets one of my favourite genres of post-apocalyptic fiction in Ireland. Also, the author Sarah Davis-Goff is one of the brilliant women leading Tramp Press, so her words are bound to have an impact.

Aaron Lim, Post-Doctoral Researcher, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Currently reading: Suggested by a good friend and colleague, I’ve recently finished re-reading The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock.

It dabbles with the idea that planet Earth is a self-regulating system, adapting to modern climate change as it has done numerous times before. Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’ hypothesis was first put forward in the 70s and is still considered controversial by many. Epitomising the phrase ‘butterfly effect’, the book offers a unique perspective of modern climate change and potential solutions.

Next up: Theatre of The World: The Maps that Made History by Thomas Reinertsen, a book celebrating modern and ancient map-makers, whose unique worldviews helped map the unknown.

Claire Edwards, Director, Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century/ Lecturer, School of Applied Social Studies

Currently reading: Ordinary People by Diana Evans.

I always enjoy literature which explores people’s everyday lives and relationships (perhaps that’s why I’m a social scientist!), and this book focuses on the banalities and tensions of midlife coupledom and domesticity. However, it’s also a book which foregrounds gender, race, and the dynamics of urban living. It’s set in south-east London, and I’m enjoying recognising the references to places I lived in a former life.

Next up: History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. Chosen by my book group, it’s based on a teenager growing up in an ex-commune in lakeside Minnesota. As yet untouched on my bedside table.

Jean Van Sinderen-Law, Associate Vice President, Director of European Relations and Public Affairs

Currently reading: Educated by Tara Westover.

An amazing story of a young home-schooled woman brought up in a strict Mormon family in Idaho who didn’t set foot in a classroom until she was 17. She subsequently gains access to and graduates from Brigham Young University and subsequently Cambridge with a PhD in intellectual history.

A compelling read, she provides amazing insights into life, as presented to her during a confined and strict upbringing and her subsequent understanding that education is a process of self-discovery. She thinks of it as “this great mechanism of connecting and equalizing.”

Next up: Judi Dench's biography And Furthermore. Due to my great interest in acting and all things film and theatre, I love to read about the lives of those who are highly regarded in the profession. Judi Dench is not only known for her incredible talent but for her generosity to all with whom she works, her honesty and her sense of humour.

John Sodeau, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry

Currently reading: The Long and Winding Road. Third memoir by Alan Johnson on growing up in the London of the 1950s and 1960s and how he moved from grammar schoolboy to postman to Trade Unionist to MP to a variety of Ministerial positions in the Blair and Brown governments. Beatles fanatic and the perfect companion for a pie and mash shop visit.

Next up: The City in Flames by Michael Russell. An atmospheric holiday read for me over the next couple of weeks. It is fifth in a series of Special Branch noir thrillers set in Wicklow, Dublin, London and Berlin mainly during World War II but with many references to life in the Ireland of the 1920s.

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