Over the summer, colleagues in the ambulatory care unit at Duke Regional Hospital set up a bulletin board to record the books they read.
Each week more titles appeared on the wall – books like “Where the Crawdads Sing”, “The Girl on the Train” and “Apples Never Fall”. Once a reader has finished a book, they return to the board and add star-shaped stickers corresponding to their level of appreciation for a book.
“We plan to continue doing this in the fall because we’ve really enjoyed sharing our books and trying out different reading materials,” said Leslie Keck, registered nurse at Duke Regional Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Unit. .
On average, about 75% of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center earlier this year said they had read a book in any format in the past year. Americans, on average, read about 14 books in 2021.
Over the course of our lives, the books we read – for education, research or pure entertainment – often leave a lasting impression on our work and our lives. At Duke Libraries, faculty, staff, and students can use their DukeCard to borrow materials. Additionally, Duke Libraries runs a low-maintenance book club, helping members of the Duke community connect on quick reads like short stories, graphic novels, short essays, and poetry.
For National Book Month in October, we asked our colleagues to share the books that inspired them.
“Fever” by Thomas Fenske
Audrey Fenske, who works in marketing and communications for graduate engagement and development, is lucky to know the author of one of her favorite books.
After retiring several years ago, her father, Thomas Fenske, a former staffer at Duke University Press in the 1990s, achieved a lifelong goal of writing a novel. The fictional book, which he named “The Fever”, tells the story of Sam Milton and his quest to find treasure.
Reading her dad’s bucket list project, Audrey remembers that it’s never too late to chase goals and do what you love.
“His work as an author really reminded me that it’s never too late to successfully pursue a passion or a dream, and I try to keep that in mind in my own work,” he said. she declared. “It makes sense that this book is about a kind of treasure hunt. Many of us are in constant pursuit of success in life. My dad is proof that you can do it at any age.
“Thick” by Tressie McMillan Cottom
In eight essays on beauty, media, money and more, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Tressie McMillan Cottom writes in her 2019 book “Thick” about what it’s like. is to navigate society as a black southern woman.
As a black woman herself, Nicole Mitchell, Housing and Residence Life Program Coordinator at Student Affairs, felt a connection to the book. Over the past few years, the Amazon bestseller has become a favorite for Mitchell as it deftly combines humor, snark and wisdom when discussing race, politics, body image and more. topics that matter to her.
“Very good personal essays on how to navigate as a black woman in today’s society; deal with social and political situations while staying true to yourself,” Mitchell said. “I love how she portrays common modern day situations in her essays and how they are written in a clever and fun way.”
Over the years, Justin M. Shorb, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, has read and discussed CS Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces” countless times with friends and colleagues. And every time he reads it, his takeaways become something different.
The novel, which Lewis, the author of the popular “Chronicles of Narnia” anthology, considered his best work, recounts an ancient myth of Cupid and Psyche. The book gives the story’s characters a depth and complexity that makes it ripe for Shorb’s continued study of its intricacies.
“It’s the only book that I can share with friends and have book club after book club and think that the meaning is somehow beyond the reader and the author,” Shorb said. “And yet, the underlying message and story have a profound impact. As an academic, I appreciate that there seems to be no clear way to dissect the book, the characters, or the story. In that sense, it’s the most vivid novel I’ve read. Sometimes life can be impactful and meaningful and still not understandable.
Ever since she first read Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” in fourth grade, Natalie Ziemba has loved it.
Over the years, she estimates she’s read the novel 20 times, most recently picking up the heartwarming story at the start of the pandemic and flipping through its roughly 150 pages in an afternoon.
The children’s fantasy novel follows a boy named Milo, on his quest for knowledge and excitement in the Land of Expectations. As Milo navigates the adventure, Juster uses puns and humor that gave Ziemba another level of enjoyment as he grew older and returned to a childhood favorite.
“I first read it in elementary school and loved how it explored so many different aspects of knowledge,” said Ziemba, a programmer analyst at Duke Clinical Research Institute. “As I get older, I still find joy in puns and metaphors, and I spend more time reflecting on the diversity of perspectives this book offers for existing in the world. Such a classic!”
“The Source” by James Michner
At her mother’s recommendation, Stephanie Pearson read James Michener’s “The Source” as a teenager and quickly felt inspired by the work.
The historical fiction novel uses archaeological finds in the Holy Land to recreate life in an ancient city. The book then tells the history of the Jewish people through the prism of the predecessors of four modern peoples.
When Pearson read the book, it inspired him with a love for research, knowledge, and reading books for pleasure. One of his favorite activities to this day is sitting down to read and learn something new.
“My mother always told us,” said Pearson, coordinator of the surgical oncology health unit, “’if you’re bored, read a book.’ Wise advice in my opinion!”
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