Lifetime Learning

Take Time to Read

Unplug, kick back, curl up, and crack open that long-awaited book! Roy Cadoff, Assistant Director, UVA Bookstores at the University of Virginia, suggests a variety of titles to put on your night table during the holiday break or your bookshelf for 2019. What’s on YOUR reading list? Comment below!


With a break in classes, Grounds gets quiet. It’s time to catch up on all the reading you planned to do and plan for all the reading you intend to do–and will need to catch up on in the future. Consider adding several of the following titles to your reading list.

Some student groups have chosen winter reads. The English Student Alliance has chosen Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore; the Echols Scholar’s Program has chosen Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime; and Brown College opted for Frederick Pohl’s and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

My favorite non-fiction title this year was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup about Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou’s investigation of Theranos, the biotech unicorn that touted a revolutionary blood testing technology that would transform the industry. Bad Blood explores the marriage of the big lie and the fear of missing out, without inviting ethics. Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life is a comprehensive biography of the most important athlete of all time. Those who have a passing knowledge of Ali’s impact as well as those who feel they knew the man would enjoy this book.

For fiction, if you want to savor every sentence (not for the multitasking reader) try Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under, a twisted, haunting tale of memory, pain, and becoming. A satisfying, original, but less strenuous read is Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels, a family tale from the author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter.

Books with big-picture, future thinking, Francis Fukuyama’s Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment and Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, will help you contemplate and then easily solve the problems of our world. Great use of your time while stuck in an airport or an in-law’s house during the holiday season.

A couple of not-so-big picture but eminently readable “books by famous people” are Ellie Kemper’s essays My Squirrel Days and Michael Caine’s biography Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life.

As you reflect on the past year and prepare to better yourself for the next, two books from two very different mentors deserve mention. Vladimir Putin: Life Coach, by Rob Sears, has the best book cover of the year. Easily the best self-help book of the year is The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life. Forget tidying up and mindfulness–embrace your inner and outer cookie. Mr. Monster gets to the nub of life with this delicious wisdom: “Breakfast most important meal of day, if you have cookie at breakfast. If you have cookie at lunch, lunch most important meal of day.”

This September, a biography of Mr. Rogers was published. Fred Rogers would encourage us to take the time to read, today and every day, with no connectivity problems, no viruses, no trolls, no pop-up ads, no cords of any kind. Read at your own pace, reread if you like. Fold the page or use a bookmark. Finish the book or do not (more Yoda than Rogers). Do not let an algorithm choose your next read; enjoy. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

For more New Year’s book titles, see Barbara Perry’s“Books for the Holidays and New Year” in Lifetime Learning’s Thoughts From the Lawn blog. Happy reading, and happy New Year!


Thoughts on “Take Time to Read

    Great article! Please keep this kind of book review coming via email. I LOVE it! Especially love hearing recommendations from groups on grounds. Really a great treat!

    Thank you!


    I also love the book recommendations! I have printed them out and am bringing them to Barnes & Noble for some last-minute Christmas shopping. Thanks, Roy!


    My dear friend, a professor and alum of the University of Virginia, sent me your message. I would like to continue to be on this link – thanks.


    It would be nice if you listed the online courses available from Life Time Learning.

    James Godwin, Col. ’66


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