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Last minute gift ideas? Book Recommendations from the PCL.

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

As you are running around this holiday season, you may want to pick up one or two last-minute gifts.  Or maybe you want to snuggle up and enjoy a good book while it rains over the course of this week.  Here are the last of our suggestions for reading over the holiday break.

Professor Kate Irwin-Smiler recommends two authors for students and faculty to pick up and read for entertainment over the holidays.

  • James Patterson’s Alex Cross books. I cruised through these when I was on break in law school and there are a ton. Very short chapters & they go quickly. (18 so far!)
  • Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War books – The author of The Other Boleyn Girl has a historical fiction series based in England’s War of Roses (15th century). These books focus on the women involved in the English dynastic struggle between the Lancastrian and York houses. So far, there are three books – The White Queen [Available at ZSR], The Red Queen [Available at ZSR], and The Lady of the Rivers [Brand new, but already available at ZSR}, with more to come.

As a recent read, Dan Freehling recommends, Tangled Webs by James B. Stewart [Available at the High Point Public Library or through Interlibrary Loan (ILL)]. In an interview with Stewart published in  the New Yorker,  writes that “‘the broad public commitment to telling the truth under oath has been breaking down.’ Drawing on new interviews, full court transcripts, and hundreds of investigative notes that have remained private until now, Stewart meticulously and startlingly reconstructs the cases of Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernard Madoff—and scrutinizes how lying by each of these figures affects the American justice system, and society as a whole.” For the full interview, see The Book Bench column from April 2011.

Professor Barbara Lentz also shares some favorites from her family.  Her husband recommends the title, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History [Available at ZSR]. And, Professor Lentz enjoyed reading cookbooks and essays after oneL exams, and along those lines strongly recommend Heat by Bill Buford [Available at ZSR], and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential [Available at ZSR], which reminds Professor Lentz of being a line cook, kitchen serf and bartender in college. See the other titles Professor Lentz recommended in an earlier blog post, “More Wintery Reads: Recommendations from WFU Faculty.”

If you think we missed one of the most crucial books of the season, please drop us a line in the comments!

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More Wintery Reads: Recommendations from WFU Faculty

December 5, 2011 1 comment

Ever wonder what your professors read outside of school?  Check out their recommendations for what to read over break to gain some insight in their personal choices.

First up is a book recommendation from Dean Ann Gibbs, and a possibility for the 1L book read for next Fall, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo.  One of the authors, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino lives in North Carolina and often speaks on judicial reform as a member of the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission, the advisory committee for Active Voices, the Constitution Project, and Mothers for Justice.   The story behind the book begins with a man breaking into Jennifer’s apartment and raping her at knife point.  That man was later identified as Ronald Cotton.  Picking Cotton takes the reader from start to finish of Jennifer and Ronald’s story.  According to the book description, “in their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.” [Available at ZSR] Please leave us a comment on your thoughts on the book, including whether it should be our 1L pick for the fall.

Next we have a list of suggestions from Professor Kate Mewhinney, at the Elder Law Clinic.  She recommends a few titles:

  • The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal. [Available at the Forsyth Public Library]  “In striking detail, and at a rapid clip, the writer unravels the complex and fantastically bizarre tale of a man aspiring to the American Dream by any means necessary.”  – NPR.org
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. “Lucky Mr. Hosokawa. The well-connected Japanese businessman, now in an unnamed South American country on yet another job, is having a very special birthday party. At the home of the country’s vice president, opera singer Roxane Cos will be performing for him and his guests. But what’s this? Armed men invading the premises? These ragtag revolutionaries are looking for the president and disappointed that he is not there, but that doesn’t stop them from holding the party goers hostage. What happens after that was, for this reviewer, a story that failed to ignite. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars) generates little tension as she moves her players around the board, and one is disappointed that there is little reflection about the head-on clash of art and life. This book is getting a big promotional pitch, however, so libraries may want to consider.” – Barbara Hoffert, “Library Journal” [Available at ZSR]
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett. [Available at ZSR] In his book review of The Help, Bess Newman wrote “The Help is told in the alternating narratives of the various women. The story is powerful because it doesn’t get lost in big, sweeping points about the era but rather focuses on a nuanced portrait of individual characters, and of the horrors and blessings that come from these complicated racial relationships.”

On our list is an author recommendation from Professor Ron Wright.  Professor Wright recommends Scott Turow’s collection by saying that “Scott Turow’s fiction is actually quite realistic — closer to reality, I think, than John Grisham’s novels.”  The PCL has an entire Scott Turow collection available to students for a 28 day check out, which is plenty of time to travel home and read a few before returning to school.  Additionally, Professor Wright recommends “the David Heilbroner memoir [which] is a fun holiday read for those who want a picture of work as a prosecutor.” David Heilbroner, in Rough Justice, details his fall from idealism as he worked as a prosecutor in New York City from 1985 to 1988.

Wrapping up this list of faculty recommendations, Professor Barbara Lentz recommends Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill. [Available at the PCL] Professor Lentz stated that once you’ve read this book, “you’ll never shop the same” again.  And the New York Times reviewed this title by stating “at last, here is a book that gives this underrated skill the respect it deserves.” More recommendations from Professor Lentz in a forthcoming blog post.

Can you think of any titles we’ve left out?

Wintery Reads: Book Recommendations for Winter Break

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

It is almost that time.  Yes, that time you can put away your case books, statutory supplements, and study aids.  Yes, that time that your brain gets a rest from reading judicial opinions and statutory construction.  Yes, that time that your laptop will be used for more than creating outlines and compiling class notes.  Yes, that time that you can read for fun!

Reading for fun, what a luxury?!  Well if you want to dive back into the words of your favorite author, whether it be the adventures of the bounty hunters created by Janet Evanovich or the real-life tales of Kendra Wilkinson, it’s time. The PCL Staff would like to help point you in the direction of a few hot books to read over a not-so-hot winter break.

#1 Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City written by Nelson Johnson.  PCL team member, Gina Jarrett recommends this book, by saying that “this is the book that inspired the HBO series, ‘Boardwalk Empire.’  However, the book spans much more than just the time period that the show is set in: it’s beginnings as a Resort Town, its rise and fall into seediness, and rebirth under The Donald’s (Trump) leadership.  Very interesting for those who like history-type of stuff, or want to learn more about the history of the real city.  It’s also good reading for those folks who are fans of the show.  However, it’s important to note that the book is nowhere near as violent as the show.  But a fun read, nevertheless!”

#2: Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson.  Bob Herbert, PCL team member, denotes this book as “the definitive autobiography of Steve Job” and “a must read” for this holiday season.

#3: The Margaret Maron & Deborah Knott series available at ZSR recommended by PCL team member, Sally Irvin.  Maron is a local North Carolinian author that sets all of her Judge Deborah Knott novels in North Carolina locales from Murphy to Manteo.  Just in case you aren’t familiar with the Maron & Knott series and want to start from the beginning, here is a chronology of all the titles:

Stay tuned for more book recommendations from the PCL as Winter Break quickly approaches, and feel free to leave your suggestions here as well!