Reading for the future

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Senior Seminar in Human Services

Northeastern University

“Common sense should tell us that reading is the ultimate weapon destroying ignorance, poverty and despair before they can destroy us. A nation that doesn’t read much, doesn’t know much… The challenge, therefore, is to convince future generations of children that carrying a book is more rewarding than carrying a gun.”

Jim Trelease

“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in

old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”

Robertson Davies

“She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain.”

Louisa May Alcott

There is a misconception that people who read a lot remove themselves from life. Actually, the opposite is true. People who read often and with varied choices lead larger lives. Our wish for you is that you can now say,

A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial, Harold Schechter

It is a graphic tale with details of the world’s most notorious serial killers and the details of their crimes. Most importantly it shows that more times than not, there was abuse in their youth.

8 Ball Chicks: A Year in the Violent World of Girl Gangsters, Gini Sikes

Sikes presents an exemplarily details the engagement of girls in the gangs. She spends a year in the ghettos following the lives of several gang members. Sikes talks about how females are distinguished from the male gangsters including girl-gang abortion; teen pregnancy and motherhood; endless sexual abuse and rape before, during and after initiation; and raising their children in the same environment.

36 Children, Herbert Kohl

This book is an extraordinary account of a young teacher's year with an urban classroom of sixth graders. Kohl highlights the administrative difficulties he encountered as we see personal shortcomings he felt as a new teacher. The book shows that the teachers who are the memorable ones are the ones who do reach the unreachable; they are the ones who do the obvious and take great pains to do so.

About a Boy, Nick Hornby

Will is a 36-year-old man with no children, no job, and absolutely no responsibility; and that’s how he likes it. That is until he meets Marcus, a 12-year-old boy with an interesting family and social life. Throughout the novel an unexpected friendship forms that makes Will rethink what is important in life and helps Marcus to become the person that he wants to be?

Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges- and Find Themselves, David L. Marcus

In Acceptance, author Marcus follows Gwyeth “Smitty” Smith, a veteran guidance counselor at the local public high school of Oyster Bay in Long Island, New York. Smitty is not your average guidance counselor; he goes beyond the role of helping his students. He guides students and teaches his students about the college admission process by being honest with them and their families. Although he understands the importance of scores and data, he proclaims to students that the college application process should be a process of personal development- where students learn about themselves and their aspirations.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, Michael Patrick MadDonald

All souls: A family story from Southie written by Michael MacDonald gives an account of what it was like to grow up in South Boston in a predominately Irish Catholic neighborhood during the 1970s. In Old Colony housing project, Michael examines the tough upbringing of issues of drugs, violence and the welfare system that engraves the lives of the South Boston community. His rearing was in the time of the anti busing riots as well as a high racist society. MacDonald shares vivid accounts of his brother’s murder, suicide and incarceration. This environment was filled with economic and social pressures.

Amazing Grace, Johnathan Kozol

Kozol yearlong research in NYC’s South Bronx reveals the disturbing representation of the affects of poverty in this country. Kozol attempts to bring the lack of adequate medical attention into the light of the otherwise oblivious reader. Although the need for proper medical attention in Mott Haven surpasses that of any affluent neighborhood, health care does not exist in the neighborhood. He interviews parents, kids, social workers, religious leaders, principals and teachers. His main objective seems to be to understand how these individuals cope.

Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

McCourt paints a sad picture of his early days when there was hardly enough food on the table, and warm clothes were a luxury. We learn about his father who was always drinking away what little money the family had and the tragic loss of his siblings to sickness and hunger. Banned from the good schools because of his class and teeth falling out from malnutrition, McCourt nonetheless survives to tell us his story with compassion and humor.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver

Growing, cooking, eating, storing and loving organic food are the central issues of this book. Kingsolver and her family document a year of their lives spent trying to sustain themselves on their farm in Virginia, looking only to other local producers to supplement their diet. Intermingled with the narrative are factual briefs from agribusiness to farmer’s markets.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn

This book is a memoir of Nick Flynn, whose life experiences brought him to working at the Pine Street Inn, the biggest homeless shelter in Boston. Flynn grew up with a single mother not knowing his father. But, when he begins work at the Pine Street Inn, the biggest homeless shelter in Boston, he learns more about his father then he ever thought possible. Delving into love, tragedy, happiness and despair, Flynn tells a story of family and depicts the essence of homelessness in a new and intriguing way.

Act Like a Lady.. Think Lime a Man, Steve Harvey

Act like a Lady, Think like a Man is a book written by Steve Harvey to in which he gives the “males” view on relationships. Steve Harvey talks about the DNA of a man, what a man wants in life, as well as why they do certain things like cheat.

Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman

In this book there is a baby bird that hatches while his mother has flown off to find worms for him to eat. He falls out of his nest and begins asking everything from other animals to things such as airplanes, are you my mother? The book is great for kids to read between the ages of 2 and 5. The illustrations are cartoon like and help make the story to be as comical as it is.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer find a hidden treasure, which Huck’s father finds out about and tries to take from him. After being held captive by his father for months, Huck escapes and meets a runaway slave, Jim. Together, Huck and Jim build a raft and travel up the Mississippi River where they are faced with different problems that they must overcome.

The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone

This is the fictional biography of the life of Michelangelo. While based on historical data from the time and about the famous artist, most of the details and daily interactions are the product of the author’s mind. This book covers everything from the tumultuous times in which he lived with royalties and popes at war to Michelangelo’s personal grappling’s with growing up and love affairs as well as the ever-present influence of the De’Medici family.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist tells the story about a boy named Santiago who begins a journey in the hopes of finding a treasure known to be buried in the pyramids of Egypt. Santiago, originally from Spain, has a very adventurous journey full of interesting encounters with strangers and ultimately a sense of self-discovery.

All Souls, A Family Story from Southie, Michael Patrick McDonald

This is a memoir depicting MacDonald's upbringing in South Boston’s housing projects. It was a time when the well-known gangster, Whitey Bulger, ruled the streets and where the Irish-Americans heavily populated Southie. McDonald having suffered family loss due to violence, drugs, and poverty later became an activist for the youth in South Boston.

American Dream: 3 Women, 10 Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare, Jason DeParle

This Book provides the reader both a micro and macro side of why poverty exists in our country. He follows the lives of three African American women and their families each with unique stories. DeParle explains to the readers the history of welfare and how the current welfare legislation and The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act were made and passed by President Clinton.

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s

It is a story involving ten people forming relationships while slowly losing it trust in each other, as people start dying off. It is an incredible look at people in their most petrified moments pondering whom they can and cannot trust in their last moments of life. It is a true look at raw human nature and the characters that people develop, or lose rather, when they know they will probably be the next person to die.

Angelhead, Greg Bottoms

Bottoms wrote about his older brother Michael, and the agonizing struggle that was endured over the years when Michael developed schizophrenia. The book captures the feelings of hopelessness and love and distributes them to anybody that reads it.

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of our Elders, Mary Bray Pipher

An explanation of how the generation of baby boomers is finding they are unprepared to care for those who have always cared for them. Pipher show strategies that help bridge the gaps that separate us from our elders. She also offers us new ways of supporting each other-new ways of sharing our time, our energy, and our love.

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama

Obama discussed the “hot” issues of the day: health care, the war in Iraq, race. One can learn a lot about both politics and Barak Obama, personally and professionally.

Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy

At a very young age Grealy was diagnosed with jaw cancer. She describes how she dealt with this terrifying tragedy and disfigurement of her face.

Babylon's Ark, Lawrence Anthony

A story of Anthony’s travels to Iraq after the war broke out to save an abandoned zoo. He works day and night to find food, water, and adequate shelter for the dying animals he finds. With the Iraq Zoo team and some very kind and giving American soldiers, Anthony and his team save the zoo and give something back to the country.

Beautiful Boy, David Sheff

Addiction; not only is it hard on the person using the drug, but it is even more detrimental on the family. Beautiful Boy is a memoir by Sheff who recounts the rollercoaster ride of dealing with a son with a severe methamphetamine addiction. On his quest to get his loving child full of life and potential back, David faces many struggles and hardships. He takes his son’s story and puts a slight twist on it by telling it from his point of view. Not only does he engage his readers by painting vivid images but he also provides advice for other families in the same situation.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, Elizabeth Wurtzel

This book discusses women in real life situations from a different perspective. The seven essays include, "Did I Shave my Legs for this?” which discusses the pressures on women to be married. "Used to Love Her, but had to Kill Her" is about abusive relationships.

Black and Blue, Anna Quindlen

Fran leaves her abusive husband and relocates with her ten-year-old son. Most of the story focuses on their new life and the difficulties of changing their identities so that they cannot be traced. There are many flashbacks that Fran has throughout the book.

Black Holes and Time Warps, Kip Thorn

This book is part history and part physics. Besides explaining some of Einstein's principles and how they came about, there is also biographical information. It goes through the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs and the competition that exists between Russia and the U.S. Thorn proposes some interesting scenarios about time travel that sound like science fiction, but are in fact not restricted by laws of physics.

Black College Student Survival Guide, Jawanza Kunjufu

The author speaks about the significance and need for men of color to go to college and obtain an education. He discusses the obstacles many face going through the process. The content is not too complex and his language use is transparent to the many issues some college students face today.

Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin

This is a real life story of Griffin committed to racial justice and understanding the black experience, therefore he decides to temporarily transform himself into a black man for a six week intense experiment. The book develops into an autobiographical journal of the author’s experiences as a “Negro.” He vividly describes the good and bad encounters. He shares with his readers that everywhere he went; he experienced difficulties, oppression, exploitation, and insults.

Black White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, Rebecca Walker

Rebecca is the daughter of famous African American author Alice Walker and liberal Jewish lawyer Mel Leventhal. Her parents met during the Civil Rights Movement, and she is brought into the world unsure of her identity. Rebecca details the hardships and confusion of growing up as a mixed race, which becomes harder when her parents’ divorce. On a search for her personal identity, feeling like an outsider, she experienced alienation from her different cultures.

The Blind Side, Michael Lewi

The blind side refers to the quarterback as he receives the ball from the center at the start of play. He turns his shoulders to get ready to pass and in so doing turns his back and depends on the lineman to protect him. This is the story of Michael Oher, who was “adopted” by a family that supported him both financially and emotionally through high school, University of Mississippi and being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

Blood: Stories of Life and Death front the Civil War, Editor Peter Kadzis

This is a collection of stories in the form of diaries, love letters and narratives written by people that lived through the Civil War. The firsthand accounts tell about life in the North and South, thoughts and feelings that both soldiers and civilians experienced. This is an interesting viewpoint of war that cannot be easily attained through traditional books.

Bookends, Jane Green

This is a novel about a group of friends who meet in college and continue their friendship into their 30s. It is a light-hearted humorous book about the personal and professional struggles in life from work to illness to death. The friends maintain their relationships with one another as their journey to find happiness hits bumps along the way.

Born to Win, Murie James & Dorothy Jongeward

This book’s goal is to teach you to learn about yourself. It uses a psychological method called transactional analysis to uncover the roles we unconsciously act out day after day. The book provides exercises that help you to understand how you communicate with others.

Born on a Blue Day, Daniel Tammet

This memoir was written by Tammet, who is an autistic savant. He has incredible abilities when it comes to numbers and words, such as being able to recite more than 22,000 digits of Pi from memorization, and learning a language in a week. However, growing up, he had very limited social skills and epileptic seizures, which may have contributed to his condition. As he grew up, he slowly learned to live on his own and to integrate into society. His very rare ability to articulate what he is thinking and seeing has made him invaluable to scientists, and to those working and living with other autistic children who cannot articulate themselves clearly.

The Boy Who Loved Windows, Patricia Stacey

The book describes the life a boy who is threatened with autism. It focuses on his family and how much they struggled to handle his autism. The story encompasses the social, economical and emotional worries the family went through. Readers can also acquire knowledge of autism on the basis of science.

Breaking the Surface, Greg Louganis with Eric Marcus

This book is a biography of Greg Louganis’ life, as an Olympian Gold Medalist diver. He talked about the activities that kept him busy in his life including his family and their relationships. This book was written with a purpose to give hope to someone else despite their circumstances. Louganis discusses his life living as a gay and HIV positive man and how he has persevered when times were tough.

Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat

The book begins in Haiti in the early 1980s. Haiti at that time was ruled by the dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The story follows Sophie Caco, a twelve year old who lives a very sheltered life in the small town. Although her family is poor agricultural laborers, Sophie and her aunt are better off because her mother moved to Brooklyn and sends money home every month. Sophie’s mother, Martine, moved to Brooklyn in part to escape because at sixteen she was raped by a Tonton Macoute, guerrillas who were allowed by the government to kill, torture, and rape anyone he wanted to. This rape resulted in Sophie's birth. Sophie finally moves to Brooklyn where she met by her frail mother. The book documents Sophie’s struggle as a child immigrant in New York.

Bridge Across My Sorrows, Christina Noble & Robert Coram

Noble started her life off in the slums of Ireland, moved to England, and finally to Vietnam. As a child she goes through unimaginable incidents. As an adult she marries twice and has three children. She had a dream of going to Vietnam and working with homeless children, she fulfills this and moves to Vietnam and started an orphanage.

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

Jess and Leslie quickly become friends in their rural Virginia town. The two become inseparable and together create the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia, which they rule. They support each other when others may ridicule them and thrive through their shared imagination. Tragedy strikes the pair one day and exposes the true impact that close friendships have in each of our lives.

Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding

The book follows Jones, a 30-something single British woman trying to sort out her life. No matter who you are or where you come from, there is bound to be something in this book that you completely relate to. Bridget Jones’s Diary is a standby for a feel-good read without the mushy stuff.

Briefing for a Descent into Hell, Doris Lessing

Take a trip through the dreams of a man who has gone insane. Situations that are unexplainable and events unimaginable happen. You follow an adventure of epic proportions.

Bringing Down the House, Ben Mezrich

The book tells the story of a group of M.I.T students who went to Vegas and won over millions legally from the casinos. It talks about how they went about doing this and tells the stories of the people involved.

The Broke Diaries, Angela Nissel

This is Nissel’s memoir of being a poor college student. Outrageous in some parts and highly relatable, this book is an easy read written in diary format.

The Broken Cord, Michael Dorris

Unaware that his adoptive son suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), this father struggles to understand his son's illness. No one, including the medical community knows why Adam has seizures and does not function at an appropriate level. Eventually, he discovers that Adam's mother drank throughout her pregnancy. Dorris discusses his personal journey through pain, frustration, and joy of watching his son grow.

Brown Sugar, Carol Taylor

These stories ranged from fantasy love affairs to abusive relationships; including the abuse we put ourselves through, when in love. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the importance of loving yourself and recognizing the intensity that is involved in a "black love" relationship.

The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander, Barbara Colorosso

An exploration of the roots of bullying; potential causes include: family systems, lack of family systems, and lack of school programming. The role and definition of the bully, the bullied and the bystander are thoroughly explored, and parents and teachers are offered an abundant amount ways to prevent the cycle of violence.

The Burn Journals, Brent Runyon

This is a memoir written by Brent telling the story of when he was 14 years old and tried to commit suicide. He doused a bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match but at the exact second the bathrobe went up in flames he then decided he did not want to die. An emotional wreck with burns over 85% of his body the story goes on in detail to explain his fight to survive and his recovery both mentally, emotionally, and physically from this life-altering event.

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

Captain John Yossarian, a bombardier in WWII, sees the illogic in dying for his country, and does his best to get out of there alive. Unfortunately, according to Doc Daneeka, the man with the power to let him go, he has to be crazy to get out, but no man who wants to leave the war is crazy…therefore, he is sane, and can’t leave. This is one of many “Catch-22s” in the book, all preventing Yossarian from escaping the war.

Candide (Optimism), Voltaire

Candide travels to find his love with two companions, Dr. Pangloss, an optimist, and Martin, a pessimist. This book explores Candide’s travels throughout Europe and south Asia during the 16th century French Revolution.

The Cathedral Within: Transforming Your Life By Giving Something Back, Bill Shore

Shore, a CEO for a non-profit that fights hunger in the U.S., Looks at his experiences with his agency and his family, as well as the experiences of the people and organizations highlighted in the book as he develops the idea of devoting one's life to service through the metaphor of building a cathedral.

Caucasia, Danzy Senna

This novel is about a Boston interracial family growing up in the early seventies. The family: the father, a former black panther, the mother, a former rich white woman from Cambridge and their two girls. It is an extraordinary story of a family’s mission to teach their children they are not different, but in reality teach the opposite.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

Many people can, at some level, connect with the feelings of alienation and witty criticism of society that the Holden Caulfield expresses. This novel captures an image of adolescence that we can all relate to, whether we knew someone like Holden or was he.

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, Jon Lee Anderson

This biography is a comprehensive documentation of the often mysterious life of the famous Latin American revolutionary. Anderson exemplified the struggle that is necessary in men and women to free people from oppression and the bonds of poverty.

A Child Called It, David Peltzer

This short book is an autobiographical account of Dave’s maltreatment as a child by his alcoholic mother, who singles him out from her other children as an object of abuse. Dave’s story is truly an unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history’.

Chocolat, Joanne Harris

Set in France in the 1950's, a woman who comes to town and opens a chocolate shop. People who were once sad and depressed are getting joy from this little shop. The priest from a nearby church is not too thrilled and thinks she is somewhat sinful.

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