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Slay Stress This Holiday Season With These Recommended Reads

Book in hand, cat on lapReading is an excellent way to relax–even six minutes with a good book can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two thirds, according to researchers at the University of Sussex (UK). Interested, but not sure what to read? Get started with these holiday picks, shared by readers randomly encountered on an unscientific jaunt through Chambers Building and down Davidson's Main Street one cold December day.

A Duplicate Daughter
by Randy Nelson, Virginia Lasater Irvin Professor of English

Twelve years after a botched earthquake rescue and kidnapping in the 1936 Sierra Madre mountains, what happens when the princess and the pauper are the same?
"A novel that makes you care more than you expected to, though not less than you need to." –Karl Plank, James W. Cannon Professor of Religion

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
by William Finnegan
"Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting; William Burroughs on controlled substances...." (Sports Illustrated)
"An excellent read, especially if you at all like the water." –Carol Quillen, President

A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir
by Daisy Hernandez
What the women in the author's Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money and race.
"A different perspective on growing up in America, but one I can relate to." –Catie Morris '17

To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last
by Connie Willis
Ned Henry's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump.
"Mixes up historical fiction, mystery, and sci-fi by bringing time-traveling Oxford historians from 2060 into a Victorian comedy of manners." –Alison Bradley, Collection Development Librarian

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson
Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies–one light-skinned, the other dark–are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper's daughter.
"It's really hard to hate the bad guys." –Adah Fitzgerald '01, Owner of Main Street Books in Davidson

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
by John McPhee
The long-awaited guide to writing long-form nonfiction by the legendary author and teacher.
"A behind-the-scenes peek at why he wrote what he wrote." –Ed Daugherty '85, Director of Davidson Outdoors

The Hundred-Year House
by Rebecca Makkai
With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.
"The past is persistently present in this haunting and beautiful novel... of several generations living in a house that was once an artist's colony. The storyline progresses steadily backwards in time." –Cara Evanson, Information Literacy Librarian

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy and Extraordinary Heroism
by John U. Bacon
From the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, a gripping narrative-nonfiction account of the world's largest manmade explosion before the atomic bomb.
"It's something I had never known about." –Leslie Marsicano, Associate Dean for Academic Administration

The Odyssey
by Homer, in new translation by Emily Wilson
Literature's grandest evocation of life's journey, at once an ageless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.
"This is the first English translation by a woman." –Peter Krentz, W.R. Grey Professor of Classics and of History

Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey Into Meditative Prayer
by Richard J. Foster
Weaving together quotes and stories from the lives of mothers and fathers of the faith as well as powerful encounters with God from his own life, Richard Foster describes the riches of quieting your mind and heart in order to listen to and obey God more closely. 
"I try to take a few minutes at the beginning of every day." –Thomas Cameron, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science

Student Picks

Below are some unfiltered student responses to a recent call for titles to add to the Browsing Library, a reading-for-pleasure and lending nook just inside the front door of the college's E.H. Little Library. The Browsing Library partners with staff at Main Street Books on selection and stocking.

So, follow the students' lead, said Alison Bradley, collection development librarian: "Reading is a fun break. An escape. A deep breath. This is not homework."

The World of Tomorrow
by Brendan Mathews
"I heard the author interviewed on NPR and was intrigued by the notion of how characters thinking about the future in 1939 parallels our own time when many of us sense that our national concerns may get worse before we encounter the world we hope to inhabit."

The Promise
by Danielle Steel
"I have been wanting to read that book my whole life."

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
"The best book of the century."

The One-In-A-Million Boy
by Monica Wood
"It's highly rated on Goodreads. Blurb: The incandescent story of a 104-year-old woman and the sweet, strange young boy assigned to help her around the house–a friendship that touches each member of the boy's unmoored family."

Critical Play: Radical Game Design
by Mary Flanagan
"All of the books we have available about game design are eBooks and this is a seminal text in the field which students could benefit from checking out and using to develop class and extracurricular projects."

Dialogues: Conversations About the Nature of the Universe
by Clifford Johnson
"Because science education should be accessible and I'm interested in graphic novels and comics as a point of entry from students traditionally barred from STEM classrooms!"

The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love
by Per J. Andersson
"Because it's an epic true story of a young Indian man who traversed across Asia and Europe armed w/no more than some paintbrushes and a second-hand bike!"

The Power by Naomi Alderman
"A book about gender dynamics and sci-fi? C'mon that's cool."

Rising Strong
by Brene Brown
"I read another book by her and loved it."

A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
"I think the contemporary subject matter is relevant and interesting."

The State of Affairs
by Esther Perel
"Because we need more innovative approaches to relationships that meet our needs and are backed up by theory and research."

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
by Gucci Mane
"It is an introspective look into the life of a musical pioneer. The text also critically evaluates the intersection of music and urban sociology in East Atlanta."

Five-Carat Soul
by James McBride
"Just recommended by New York Times and sounds amazing!"

John Syme