From Hockey Stars to Newborn Infants: What Faculty Are Reading
Faculty invariably read more than research in their areas of expertise. In fact, here’s a look at what professor Eugene Caruso had on his bookshelf recently.
Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science
Image by Beth Rooney
“I have always appreciated good dialogue in movies and television shows, and that’s why I was drawn to Chuck Klosterman’s ability to capture the way ordinary people talk in the pages of his book. In the nondescript town of Owl, North Dakota, residents are content with the status quo. In fact, the only major community controversy in recent memory surrounded the high school’s nickname, which was successively changed from the Owl Owls to the Owl Eagles to the Screaming Satans to the Screaming Lobos before finally being edited down to simply the Lobos. The narrator acknowledges that strangers to the town are sometimes confused in assuming the existence of a mythological ‘Owl Lobo’ creature, which ‘would (indeed) be a terrifying (and potentially winged) carnivore hailing from western Mexico…’ Even though this is a town where nothing out of the ordinary really seems to happen, the description of the characters and the slow revelation of their various secrets made for a compelling and engaging story.
What to Expect When You’re
A Fetus’s Guide to the First Three Trimesters
(Spiegel & Grau, 2009)
“My wife and I recently had our first child. After reading a few of the standard baby preparation books, we were given this parody, written from a unique perspective: the fetus’s! The former head writer and executive producer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart sprinkles in some amusing insights and pressing prenatal questions, such as ‘Why do my parents blast Mozart at me every night right when I’m trying to…sleep?!’ We’re still waiting for our daughter’s first words to determine whether she shared any of this ‘author’s’ concerns.
to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup
(McClelland & Stewart, 2007)
“During a visit to the University of Toronto, one of my collaborators (knowing my lifelong love of hockey) was kind enough to schedule a meeting at the Hockey Hall of Fame following my talk. It was there that I picked up this book, which tells the story of the 1987 Canada Cup tournament between Canada and the Soviet Union. The story draws from interviews with players, coaches, and sportswriters to reveal the drama surrounding this series both on the ice and off. The culmination of the contest came when Wayne Gretzky (one of the best passers of all time) set up Mario Lemieux (one of the best shooters of all time) for the winning goal with just over a minute remaining in the decisive game—an experience that Lemieux credits as being a key moment in his development as a player. This series is now legendary for featuring two of the most impressive teams ever assembled battling against one another in some of the greatest hockey ever played, and the book provided some behind-the-scenes details that were never apparent to me from just watching the games.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The
Fates of Human Societies
(W. W. Norton & Company, 1999)
“Diamond tackles the daunting task of synthesizing the past 13,000 years of human history in an attempt to uncover the broadest trends underlying our historical development. Even though there are some inevitable holes in his arguments given the scope of the phenomena he reviews, he compellingly demonstrates that Eurasian hegemony is not due to any inherent genetic superiority, but rather to the various advantages that their specific geographic environments happened to afford them. Although the book is written from an evolutionary biologist’s perspective, the conclusions nicely complement the overarching theme of my field of social psychology - that the specific social situations in which individuals find themselves can have surprisingly powerful effects on their behavior.”