The Books

To get discussions started in The Book course I choose a number of books that reflected the breadth of what a book is these days. Students were asked to pick one of these books to work on as part of a small group. Six of the nine books I picked were selected by the students**.

I think of these books as “starter kits” for a much broader consideration of books and book culture. The students will investigate these books but hopefully that will launch them into other new and interesting areas well beyond these specific texts.

I thought you might be interested in the books they selected.


Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson is a large format photography book about one of Lady Gaga’s recent tours. It is a book about celebrity and intimacy. It is also what we often call a “coffee table” book. What does that mean?

Small ArgumentsSmall Arguments by Souvankham Thammavongsa is a lovely book of poems about very simple things, mostly fruits and vegetables. Do people care about the book arts anymore? Do they still read poetry?

Book from the GroundXu Bing’s Book from the Ground is a bit unusual. There are no words, it’s a novel entirely composed of emojis. Yup, that’s it …. and it is quite easy, and interesting, to read.

Cat in the HatIs there any more of an iconic children’s book than The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss? So why does in endure? After more than 50 years we (and those we read to) are still charmed by it.

Milk for the UglyMilk for the Ugly by Kate Redesiuk & Anna Podedworna is a online graphic novel. Dark and compelling, is this the future of books, of storytelling?

Snow FallSnow Fall by John Branch is a non-fiction article about a tragic back country skiing trip. It is a multi-media online presentation that tells the story with excellent writing, video interviews, interactive maps, and a host of other online techniques. Is this the future of longform journalism?


** Wondering that the other three books were (the one’s not selected by the students)? Gone Home by Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, and Johnnemann Nordhagen, Building Stories by Chris Ware, and Pry by Danny Cannizzaro and Samantha Gorman.

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