The line between pleasure reading and research interests is blurred when it comes to Professor Meg Stolee from the History Department: prison camp memoirs top her list of favorite genre for pleasure reading! An avid reader of memoirs by women, mysteries, and biography, Professor Stolee typically reads between 5 and 7 books a week, a fact her students find astonishing.
While current research interests surround the book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder, and The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn, currently on her nightstand is The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan (not the book Cloud Atlas that was recently made into a film!). She’s also reading Kiev, 1941 by David Stahel, which offers a new assessment of Hitler’s Barbarossa campaign in the USSR.
Professor Stolee’s favorite books about women include the elegant and poignant book Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandel’shtam, whose husband was a prisoner under Stalin. She also favors Where She Came From by Helen Epstein, and Under a Cruel Star by Heda Margolius Kovaly.
When asked what book changed her life, Professor Stolee mentions a Dorothy L. Sayers mystery called Gaudy Night, read while she was a student at Bryn Mawr College. The book explores women and higher education, women’s full acceptance in male-dominated academic life, and the tensions that arise when women try to balance love and marriage with careers in academia. It gave the undergraduate a lot to think about while attending lectures and writing papers. Students who think they don’t have time for “light” reading while in college take heed: Like Meg Stolee, your life might be influenced the most by a book not listed on a syllabus!