University of South Carolina

The USC summer reading list

Summer months can be the perfect time to catch up on your reading. We asked the university community to share what they were reading this summer. 

President Harris Pastides

My backed-up reading list looks like the leaning tower of Pisa on my night table. This summer, I’ll be reading the “Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach (more about life than about baseball), “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clayton M. Christensen (long-time professor at Harvard Business School), and the First Year Reading Experience book.

First lady Patricia Moore-Pastides

I'm currently reading “The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner, which was given to me by my son, who said it's the hottest book in New York right now. I've been dying to read “Van Gogh the Life” by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, so that's next on my list. For travel, I'll take paperbacks: Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Marriage Plot,” and since I just met the Leonards at the Thomas Cooper Society annual meeting, “Raylan” by Elmore and “All He Saw was the Girl” by Peter Leonard.

Jonathan Haupt, director of USC Press 

Inundated as I am with impressive novel manuscripts for our new Story River Books series, I’m opting to read from several remarkable short story collections between manuscripts, to cleanse the palate. Thus far I’ve finished Ron Rash’s new collection "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and revisited his first collection "The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth." Now I’m working through Mary Hood’s two short story collections, "And Venus Is Blue and How Far She Went." Rash and Hood are just absolute masters of the short form, and reading them in between longer manuscripts from some emerging writers has been helpful and enjoyable. Dale Ray Phillips’s "My People’s Waltz" is next in line for me. 

Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs

Pruitt is known for his reading. This summer he is taking on: “The Signal and the Noise: Why Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t” by Nate Silver, “College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students” by Jeffrey J. Selingo and “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements” by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.

First-year Reading Experience

2013 First-Year Reading Experience selection is “The Postmortal” by Drew Magary.

“We had several great books to choose from, but The Postmortal stood out above the rest. We always try to choose a book that will challenge students and encourage them to think. The book is thought provoking and is a believable ‘what if.’ I think the blog format will speak to students, and we have heard great things already from our Orientation Leader, University 101 Instructors and Peer and Graduate Leaders who have the book. It has also been great to see response from first-year students on Twitter. There is already another first-year student who will be vlogging about the book this summer.” – Mary Elizabeth Sewell, associate director of University 101

Kirsten Kennedy, director of University Housing

I’m currently reading “Choice not Chance” by Joanne P. McCallie.  She is the women’s head basketball coach at Duke University.  It was a required read for a professional institute where I’m teaching in June.  The content, while written in a sports context, has applicable lessons for leaders in all organizations. It felt like a book I wanted to read, not one I was required to read.

Jan Smoak, associate director of Fellowships and Scholar Programs

I’m reading the Lincoln biography by David Herbert Donald. I can remember in my much younger years, becoming fascinated with biographies, in particular, I loved ones about Clara Barton and Helen Keller. After hearing President Pastides mention several times that he had begun to pick up biographies, I decided to read “Personal History,” written in memoir form by Katharine Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post. I was a journalism major, and have read “All The President’s Men” several times in. I enjoyed “Personal History,” so I decided to take on Lincoln, having never read a book about an American president, outside of Jimmy Carter.

Cheryl Soehl, Interfaith Initiatives coordinator

I am reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.  This is my selection for supplemental reading for my U101 class in the fall.  It helps to know how much of what we do is by conscious choice and how much is just our brains running on automatic. Forming the habits we want vs. staying enslaved to the ones we have just drifted into is one way that young people can take charge of their futures.  Now let's see if I can get them to read it, too!

Courtney Worsham, marketing instructor at the Darla Moore School of Business

I got an early start to my summer reading with “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova. It’s a powerful book about a Harvard Ph.D. psychology professor who learns she has early onset Alzheimer’s when she is just 50-years-old. It explores the disease from the protagonist’s perspective as an academician as well as a wife and mother.

Others on her list: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and “Reconstructing Amelia” by Kimberly McGreight

Katie Spell, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life

On the last chapter of “Lean In” (by Sheryl  Sandberg) right now ... then it's onto “The Postmortal” to get ready for #FYRE13!

Salvatore Costa, senior journalism student

I plan on reading "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business" by Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen. I'll be reading that and more on the Horseshoe all summer long. I'm reading it because the author was featured on Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report" and it sounded so interesting I had to get it. It's been really good so far, but I haven't come to the halfway point yet.

Brooke Stillwell, web/graphic designer in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

I'm reading Carl Naylor's (SCIAA) book “The Day the John Boat went Up the Mountain.” And also “State of the Heart” edited by Aida Rogers and Tommy Charles' “Discovering South Carolina's Rock Art”

Others on her list: “The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code” by Sam Kean

It’s not too late to share what you’re reading this summer on Facebook.

Up next: What’s your favorite summer dish?

Share your favorite dish to cook for next week’s feature through Facebook, Twitter or email

--Compiled by Liz McCarthy

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 06/07/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 06/10/13 @ 1:39 PM | Permalink