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Footnotes > Barnard College Summer Reading List

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message 1: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments One of the perks of being an alumna of a premier women's liberal arts college is they share during a pandemic a Summer Reading list culled from faculty and alumnae authors. And send it to you on lovely cardstock with a leather bookmark in Barnard Blue embossed with a quote from fellow alum Zora Neale Hurston, B'28: "There are years that ask questions and years that answer."

On the list:

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar - current faculty
There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon - both current faculty and alumna
Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin - both current faculty and alumna
Ms. Marvel Infinite #1 - Sana Amanat, Editor - alumnae
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat - alumna
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - alumna
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez -alumna
Laurie Anderson: All the Things I Lost in the Flood - Laurie Anderson -alumna


message 2: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1389 comments That's quite the eclectic list. I'm embarrassed to say that I've only heard of Laurie Anderson and Ms. Marvel, ha!


message 3: by Theresa (last edited Jul 18, 2020 11:33AM) (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments Jenni Elyse wrote: "That's quite the eclectic list. I'm embarrassed to say that I've only heard of Laurie Anderson and Ms. Marvel, ha!"

Well while I know most.... Ms. Marvel new to me!

Don't be embarassed. Everyone is knowledgable mostly about authors in genres they like reading. I may know the authors but not necessarily have indulged in their work.


message 4: by NancyJ (last edited Jul 18, 2020 03:53AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments I love when colleges do things like this to keep you connected in some way.

Jenni, I only knew a few of the names too.

I plan to read Everything Inside, The Friend, and maybe another book by Zora Neale Hurston.

Interpreter of Maladies is one of my favorite short story collections. I enjoyed it the first time, and appreciated it even more after a book club presentation about short story cycles. The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. It's hard to write cross-cultural fiction without creating or reinforcing stereotypes about a culture. Lahiri used a set of short stories to provide examples of people with contrasting traits, values and behaviors. This made it harder to form stereotypes based on her characters.

When I saw the cover for Everything Inside I was surprised by the imagery. It made more sense when I learned that Edwidge is the name of a woman, not a man. I was reminded of George O'Keeffe.
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat


message 5: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8001 comments Theresa wrote: "One of the perks of being an alumna of a premier women's liberal arts college is they share during a pandemic a Summer Reading list culled from faculty and alumnae authors. And send it to you on lo..."

I loved The Friend, it's the only one on that list I know of


message 6: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments Some info on Sama Amanat - she created the first female muslim super hero when she was still an undergrad at Barnard, and that character took over as Ms. Marvel when the original Ms. Marvel became Captain Marvel. Comic Books are a male bastion, so not only did she break through a glass ceiling, she did it with diversity too. I'm not a reader of comic books, but I've found her story fascinating.

@Joanne - you absolutely have to know Mary Gordon - her first two books - The Company of Women and Final Payments were huge in the late 1970s. We all read them - or at least owned them.

Laurie Anderson is a performance artist, best known as such, so no surprise not well known among readers.

What I so love about this list is the diversity --- in genres yes, but most of all in generations - established prize winners, holders of honors galore, the younger generation making their way, and those in between.


message 7: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8001 comments Nope, sorry Theresa did not read them-but I am going to look for them now-thanks;)


message 8: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments I had to google Barnard College! lol. I have never heard of it. Or if I have it didn't stick.

In the midwest, where I went to college, you based your school choice on which was the biggest, most affordable, and had the best football team. lol Hence I went to school with 25,000 undergrads, payed $0, and we had a D1 football team.


message 9: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1389 comments I feel kind of sheepish. I thought Laurie Anderson was Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak. So, yeah, I’m not familiar with Laurie Anderson either. Oops.


message 10: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8725 comments Jenni Elyse wrote: "I feel kind of sheepish. I thought Laurie Anderson was Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak. So, yeah, I’m not familiar with Laurie Anderson either. Oops."

That was my first thought, as well. But, then questioned it.

I think I've heard of Jhumpa Lahiri - name seems familiar, anyway.


message 11: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6098 comments Love Jhumpa Lahiri ! Didn't realize she was a Barnard grad. I've read 4 of her works.


message 12: by Sue (last edited Jul 18, 2020 03:48PM) (new)

Sue | 1237 comments I've read Interpreter of Maladies and loved it.

And I'm read a Zora Neale Hurston book right now Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo", which was published posthumously in 2018. It was based on Hurston's interviews with a former slave, a man who at the time of the interview was considered to be the last living survivor of the infamous Middle Passage.

I'm expecting my TBR is about to grow as I click through the list. Thanks for sharing Theresa!



I wanted to add, I went to a smallish, private college specializing in engineering and hard sciences - my degree is in math. The updates I get include "Extreme Science Saturdays" - the next one in September is focused on Covid-19.

And just to age myself a little, I attended this college just 5 years into their acceptance of female students. The world has certainly changed in the decades since then!


message 13: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments Nicole R wrote: "I had to google Barnard College! lol. I have never heard of it. Or if I have it didn't stick.

In the midwest, where I went to college, you based your school choice on which was the biggest, most a..."


Barnard is not one of the flashiest of the Ivies, but is superior quality...and paid me a lot of money in scholarships and grants to attend it way back in the 70s. Currently the toughest liberal arts college to get into due to number of applicants vs. # spots. The last 4 years have seen a dramatic increase in applications to womens colleges...basically since the 2016 campaign and #metoo. And in honor of its 125th Anniversary, the Empire State Building was lit Barnard Blue.

For those not familiar, Barnard is a womens college, part of Columbia University in NYC, and one of the ivy league schools. And choosing to attend there was the single best decision I ever made.


message 14: by Theresa (last edited Jul 18, 2020 06:06PM) (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments Sue wrote: "I've read Interpreter of Maladies and loved it.

And I'm read a Zora Neale Hurston book right now Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo", which was published pos..."


Barnard may be liberal arts and granting a Bachelor of Arts degree but is strong in science, economics, etc. as well. Lots of accomplished women across many disciplines. Current president is Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist, specializing in performance under stress and math phobias.

Edwidge Danticat's name seems to pop up a lot these days.


message 15: by NancyJ (last edited Jul 18, 2020 06:48PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments There is a lot of evidence that women's colleges and historically black colleges improve student's self esteem and confidence, and provide more leadership experiences and mentoring. I taught at a very large state university and a small private college. I often saw young women self-censor their contributions in group projects, deferring to men. I had a black student who was accepted by the large (higher ranked) university but attended the small college because of the large scholarship they offered her (as well as some local prestige in her field). But she was miserable. She told me that she was harassed or mocked by some of the white males in her classes, including someone in my class (she wouldn't name him). I referred her to someone who I thought could help her (a high level woman with clout, EEO accountability and good counseling skills), but I really wanted to encourage her to transfer. I think she would have been better off at the larger school because of the diverse student population, black student groups, and other support systems, as well as its overall academic strength. I don't think I even knew about schools like Howard University at that point.


message 16: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments Jenni Elyse wrote: "I feel kind of sheepish. I thought Laurie Anderson was Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak. So, yeah, I’m not familiar with Laurie Anderson either. Oops."

I thought the same thing!


message 17: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Me too on Laurie Anderson! Lol


message 18: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7620 comments Here is a video of Laurie Anderson's O Superman - she has always been quite avant garde.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkfpi2H...


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