Bennie Book Lovers Discussion Titles

Join us during Reunion from noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23 for a casual picnic lunch and inspiring book discussion on the CSB mall. Aren't able to read the book before then? No Problem! We promise you'll still enjoy exchanging ideas with your former classmates and professors, and there won't be a test!

 The following titles are available for purchase at the Bookstore, both online and in-store during Reunion weekend. 


Going Blind by S. Mara Faulkner '67

Recommended by Ozzie Mayers, facilitated by Kaarin Johnston, professor of theater

Written by one of Saint Benedict's own sisters, Going Blind is the memoir of Mara Faulkner, OSB, and the story chronicles her family's experiences of disability with honesty and humor.

"Mara Faulkner grew up in a family shaped by Irish ancestry, a close-to-the-bone existence in rural North Dakota, and the secret of her father's blindness—along with the silence and shame surrounding it. Dennis Faulkner had retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that gradually blinded him and one that may blind many members of his family, including the author. Moving and insightful, Going Blind explores blindness in its many permutations—within the context of the author's family, more broadly, as a disability marked by misconceptions, and as a widely used cultural metaphor. Mara Faulkner delicately weaves her family's story into an analysis of the roots and ramifications of the various metaphorical meanings of blindness, touching on the Catholic Church of the 1940s and 1950s, Japanese internment, the Germans from Russia who dominated her hometown, and the experiences of Native people in North Dakota. Neither sentimental nor dispassionate, the author asks whether it's possible to find gifts when sight is lost."

–State University of New York Press



 Ransom by David Malouf

Recommended and facilitated by Tony Cunningham, professor of philosophy

Described as a "tour de force," David Malouf's Ransom puts an interesting new spin the battles fought between Achilles, Hector and Priam in Homer's The Iliad.

"In his first novel in more than a decade, David Malouf, arguably Australia's greatest living writer, gives us a stirring reimagination of one of the most famous passages in all of literature: Achilles' rageful slaughter and desecration of Hector, and Priam's attempt to ransom his son's body in Homer's The Iliad. A moving novel of suffering, sorrow and redemption, Ransom tells the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son Hector killed Patroclus and was in turn savaged by Achilles. Each man's grief must confront the others for surcease and resolution: a resolution more compelling to both than the demands of war. For when the wizened father and the vicious murderer of his son meet, 'the past and present blend, enemies exchange places, hatred turns to understanding, youth pities age mourning youth."

–Alberto Manguel, The Australian.



The Canterbury Papers by Judith Koll Healey '61

Recommended by S. Colman O'Connell '49, facilitated by Kathy Parker, library director

The Canterbury Papers, CSB alumna Judith Koll Healey's debut novel, takes readers back in time to witness a gripping journey filled with intrigue and suspense.

"A masterful blend of history and imagination, the often-mysterious events in this novel are based upon a situation that was hinted at in the chronicles of the time, but never elaborated upon or proved."                                                

"Set in lavishly described medieval England and France, The Canterbury Papers is an enthralling and suspenseful debut novel combining dark family secrets, duplicity, and a missing heir to the throne.

The wily Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France and then of England, sends her former ward, Alaïs, the sister of the king of France, to retrieve a cache of letters hidden in Canterbury Cathedral. Letters that, in the wrong hands, could bring down the English king. In return, Eleanor promises to reveal a long-held and dangerous secret involving Alaïs—a bargain the French princess is powerless to resist. A vividly rendered, spine-tingling historical novel filled with intrigue and peopled with compelling legendary figures, The Canterbury Papers is an extraordinary tale from a brilliant new writer."

–Amazon Book Review



Losing the News by Alex S. Jones

Recommended by Katie Johnson, facilitated by Erin Szabo, associate professor of communication

Traditional newspapers and fact-based reporting are constantly being forced to take a backseat to today's society of up-to-the-minute news sources. In Losing the News, Pulitzer Prize winner Alex S. Jones investigates the how American democracy could be in danger with the loss of strong newspaper journalism.

"In a tumultuous new media era, with cutthroat competition and panic over profits, the commitment of the traditional news media to serious news is fading. Indeed, as digital technology shatters the old economic model, the news media is making a painful passage that is taking a toll on journalistic values and standards. Journalistic objectivity and ethics are under assault, as is the bastion of the First Amendment. Jones characterizes himself not as a pessimist about news, but a realist. The breathtaking possibilities that the web offers are undeniable, but at what cost? Pundits and talk show hosts have persuaded Americans that the crisis in news is bias and partisanship. Not so, says Jones. The real crisis is the erosion of the iron core of news, something that hurts Republicans and Democrats alike. Losing the News depicts an unsettling situation in which the American birthright of fact-based, reported news is in danger. But it is also a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact."

­–Oxford University Press



Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Recommended by S. Mara Faulkner '67 and facilitated by Sophia Geng, assistant professor of modern classical languages and Asian studies

Travel along with Dr. Paul Farmer from Harvard to Haiti and many places in between as he brings healthcare to impoverished citizens in Tracy Kidder's nonfiction account Mountains Beyond Mountains.

"At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life's calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and it also shows how a meaningful life can be created, as Farmer-brilliant, charismatic, charming, both a leader in international health and a doctor who finds time to make house calls in Boston and the mountains of Haiti-blasts through convention to get results."

–Amazon Book Review



Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis

Recommended and facilitated by Jayne Byrne, associate professor of nutrition

Whet your appetite for fresh, healthy cuisine with Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis.

"Ask children where food comes from, and they'll probably answer: "the supermarket." Ask most adults, and their replies may not be much different. Where our foods are raised and what happens to them between farm and supermarket shelf have become mysteries. How did we become so disconnected from the sources of our breads, beef, cheeses, cereal, apples, and countless other foods that nourish us every day? Ann Vileisis's answer is a sensory-rich journey through the history of making dinner. Kitchen Literacy takes us from an eighteenth-century garden to today's sleek supermarket aisles, and eventually to farmer's markets that are now enjoying a resurgence. Vileisis chronicles profound changes in how American cooks have considered their foods over two centuries and delivers a powerful statement: what we don't know could hurt us."

–Amazon Book Review