A continuing series of interviews with SUNY Geneseo faculty on their reading interests; today’s “Faculty Bookshelf” delves into the pursuits of Sociology and Political Science professor, Joanna Kirk.
You are what you read. Books are food for the mind, psyche and soul, and you can’t live a full life without them. Like dishes, you won’t like them all, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to finish your plate. In fact, don’t feel obliged to start it, or perhaps nibble around the edges to please the person who has brought it your way. Revisit your favorite books: like your favorite cuisine, your favorite literature offers comfort and delight, and (books do this better than food) you always learn something new.
What is your favorite literary genre to read for pleasure?
Fiction, particularly novels exploring social, political, economic and psychological issues; and creative nonfiction, particularly historical and travel. Oh, and when I want a laugh, sci-fi/fantasy comedy – wish I could find more writers of this genre up to par with Douglas Adams (“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) and Terry Pratchett (“Disc World”). Any suggestions, anyone?
What books are on your nightstand now?
Currently reading: Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women
Books currently on my bedside table (next up, in order):
- The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles (gift from Dad)
- Un long dimanche de fiancailles (picked it up second hand a time ago while traveling in Europe, misplaced it, and recently found it)
- El seňor presidente (this is up for a re-read, and was a gift from my dear friend, Rose McEwen, Geneseo professor in languages and literatures).
Tell us about a book that changed your life:
Too many books have influenced me to mention here (some of which are listed above), but the first that comes to mind as a work with an immediate and profound effect on my thoughts and behavior was Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman, a gift from my elder brother, who I know perceived what I was going through. The book helped me greatly with an eating disorder, and drew me further into issues of gender stereotyping, inequality and violence.
There are two “classics” I never finished:
- Ashamed about this: Lord of the Rings trilogy
- No shame at all: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
What were your favorite books as a child?
Most* memorable childhood and young adult books (all of which helped me formulate goals in terms of personal qualities, professional skills, and lifetime accomplishments):
- Under 10 years old: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit; The Little Prince; A Little Princess; the Little House series …
- 10-15 years old: Animal Farm; Watership Down; Flowers for Algernon”; and many more … I remember books being a lifeline in these years.
- 15-20 years old: The Great Gatsby; Doctor Zhivago; Tess of the d’Urbervilles; 1984; The Power and the Glory; La Peste; Passage to India;Mrs. Dalloway; Roots: The Saga of an American Family; The Thorn Birds…
- Since 20: Things Fall Apart; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin**; Bend in the River; Marienela (gift of my dear friend Joaquín Gomez, also Geneseo professor in languages and literatures); The Assault and many more …**Worst adaptation of a book into a movie: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (what were the casters thinking? And the writers CHANGED THE ENDING!!! Grrrrrr …!!)
What are your current research interests?
Global development policy, particularly environmental and social sustainability and justice; and women’s rights, particularly violence against women.
Many of these books are available in the Milne Library collection and the others are available via IDS, simply click on the links or book covers above to get the call number or click “Get It” to request the book via IDS.