Book Recommendations by Daniel Arbino

February 11, 2014


Daniel Arbino,

Assistant Professor of




Daniel Arbino is an assistant professor of Spanish. He specializes in Caribbean literatures and Afro-Latin American cultures. He has previously published in Callaloo, Journal of Caribbean Literatures, Mester, Sargasso and most recently, Label Me Latina/o. Before coming to Centre, Daniel lived in Cincinnati, Albuquerque, Minneapolis, and Queretaro, Mexico. 

Favorite book in college:

The Beach by Alex Garland. They made it into a not-so-great movie, but as usually the case, the book is so much better. It is sort of like Lord of the Flies, but about travelers attempting to escape the constant demands of a capitalist society by forming a small, secluded beach community.


Favorite discipline-related book:

Vejigantes by Francisco Arriví. This is a Puerto Rican play about three generations of women living in the same household. The three of them struggle to deal with racial identity in Puerto Rico as a result of societal pressures to whiten. I find this work to be extremely powerful in promoting an Afro-Puerto Rican sense of identity.



 Book recommendation for students:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. This book balances humor with the struggles of immigrating to the United States as a result of a dark period in Dominican history under Dictator Rafael Trujillo. Students will appreciate Diaz’s use of language as well as his ability to mix hip-hop references, sci-fi references, and Dominican history into the same sentence.



One book you would have on a deserted island:

That would be La invención de Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. The novel, ironically, is set on a deserted island, but that’s not why I chose it. It’s a short novel, but one I would love to read multiple times. It’s about a fugitive who escapes to an island and then upper-class tourists begin to arrive on the island. The further you get into the novel, the more you realize what a beautiful love story it is set amidst technological innovation and different realities.



 Favorite authors:

Jamaica Kincaid, Carmelo Rodriguez Torres, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Juan Rulfo, Cola Debrot



Last read:

Bloedlijn Overzee (Overseas Bloodline) by Loekie Morales. This is a Dutch Caribbean writer from Curaçao. In the story, the protagonist, who currently lives in the Netherlands, goes in search of her family’s history and ends up in Venezuela. It’s ultimately about favoring a horizontal relationship between Curaçao and Venezuela over a colonial relationship between Curaçao and the Netherlands.



Next read:

They Came Before Columbus by Ivan van Sertima. This is an older, but still extremely relevant study on the African presence in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

Faculty Book Recommendations by Brett Werner

January 7, 2014


Brett Werner

Assistant Professor

of Environmental Studies


Brett is a professor in the Environmental Studies program, teaching courses related to policy, campus sustainability, and the interdisciplinary courses in the new major. His research addresses rivers, wetlands, climate change, and food systems. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, paddling, reading, photography, and gardening, along with any intramural or pickup sports he can find to stay busy. Brett is not a fifth generation Kentuckian, nor does he know the first thing about horse racing. He loves rivers, trees, and most charismatic megafauna.

Favorite book in college:


Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse by Hermann Hesse, translated by Jack Zipes.



Models of God by Sallie McFague.

Myths, Models, and Paradigms by Ian Barbour.




 Favorite discipline-related book:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Just Kidding Rowling.

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee.


Book recommendation for students:

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray.

Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.

The Monkeywrench Gang by Edward Abbey.

The Aims of Education by Alred North Whitehead.

Endgame by Derrick Jensen.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.




One book you would have on a deserted island:

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

Favorite authors:

Stephen Dunn, Janisse Ray, Silas House, Edward Abbey, John McPhee, Richard White, Robert Jordan, Barbara Kingsolver, Chuck Klosterman, Michael Pollan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kathleen Dean Moore, George RR Martin, Sandra Steingraber, Scott Russell Sanders, Derrick Jensen.


Last read:

 The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray.



Next read:

Global Weirdness by Climate Central.


Faculty Book Recommendations by Jason Doroga, Assistant Professor of Spanish

November 21, 2013

Professor Doroga teaches all levels of language and culture as well as courses in linguistics at Centre. His area of specialization is how the variation in verbal morphology contributes to the communication and reception of meaning. Other research areas of interest include Spanish/Portuguese contact, bilingualism, and language pedagogy. Professor Doroga enjoys teaching at Centre because in his classes he “gets to teach about things that I find fascinating, while surrounded by young people who do some pretty amazing work. Their energy is contagious.”



Favorite book in college:

Faust by Goethe
As a Spanish professor should I admit that a German play was my favorite book that I read in college? Don Quijote
is a close second, I promise.



Favorite discipline-related book:

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher
An accessible and entertaining book that is nothing short of mind-bending with its insight on how language shapes our thoughts and our perception of the world. Ever notice that Homer describes honey as being green? Weird, isn’t it?




Book recommendation for students:

Confessions of St. Augustine

Regardless of spiritual background or religious beliefs, this book is a must read for college students.




One book you would have on a deserted island:
Don Quijote by Cervantes. It takes a long time to read, and it will keep you entertained.



Favorite authors:

In no particular order: Ovid, Cervantes, Vergil, Wolff, Faulkner



Last read:

Cooked by Michael Pollan
It’s not often that a life-changing book falls into one’s lap. Especially, it has to be said, with “The New York Times No 1 Bestseller” splashed across the front. Yet Michael Pollan’s Cooked is one of them. One it’s impossible to read and not act on.” -The Telegraph, June 4, 2013



Next read:
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin has been on nightstand for months. Now that I walk by the Lincoln statue outside the library every morning, I feel very guilty that I haven’t read it yet.

Check out these books recommended by Willie Costley, Visiting Instructor of Spanish

October 1, 2013

Willie Costley – Visiting Instructor of Spanish



Professor Costley is a native of Arizona but moved to Kentucky as a child. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Centre College in 2000.  After studying in Spain for a year, he obtained an M.A. in Spanish from Bowling Green State University in 2003. He returned to Arizona in 2005 to pursue a doctorate in Spanish with a concentration in border studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate there and plans to defend his dissertation, “The Anti-Immigrant ‘New Mediascape’: Analyzing Nativist Discourse on the Web,” in the spring of 2014.


Favorite book in college:

Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison. A probing, multi-layered examination of the racism deeply ingrained into twentieth-century American society, explored through a narrative of the convoluted twists and turns of the life of the nameless protagonist.


Favorite discipline-related book:

The Law into Their Own Hands: Immigration and the Politics of Exceptionalism by Roxanne Lynn Doty. If you think the age of anti-immigrant vigilante groups is long past, think again. Doty explores not only the multitude of groups out patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, but their links to avowedly racist organizations as well.



Book recommendation for students:

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Forget what you learned in high school history class—Zinn tells the story of our great nation not from the perspective of influential dead white men, but from the point of view of the ordinary people who lived it. Not surprisingly, Zinn’s version of American history is often at loggerheads with the “official” version taught in most secondary schools.


One book you would have on a deserted island:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García-Márquez. An epic so sprawling that the author includes a family tree on the first page so the reader can keep all the characters straight. This tale of the fictional town of Macondo is by turns both utterly fantastic and mind-numbingly mundane—yet there’s never a dull moment anywhere in its pages. This seminal representative of the “Latin American Boom” period is often described as a universal history of the gigantic region’s complex history of colonialism, brutality and exploitation.


Favorite authors:

Ralph Waldo Ellison, Gabriel García-Márquez, Michel Foucault, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar


Last read:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. This book bypasses blustery political rhetoric about North Korea to show the incredible hardships faced by everyday North Koreans during the government-induced famine in the 1990s. This book will teach you that whatever you might have heard about how brutally repressive the regime is, the reality for the average North Korean is even worse.


Next read:

1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. (From what I’ve heard), Mann’s exhaustive comparative study of pre-Columbian society cuts our assumptions about Native Americans as simple, peace-loving, tree-hugging “noble savages” to ribbons. Much more technologically advanced than any European society in many ways, Native American societies dominated their environment with spectacular urban planning that we are only just beginning to understand.

WARNING!! These Books are Dangerous…

September 24, 2013

History 110 Research Guide

What is the difference between a Challenged book and a Banned book?  A book that has been challenged has had a complaint lodged against it, while a banned book has actually been removed from circulation.  The American Library Association keeps a list of all challenged and banned books.  This list maintains the confidentiality of the challenger, as well as that of the institution being challenged, and just records the book title and the type of institution (e.g. public library, academic library, school, etc.)

Most books are challenged on the premise that they are not acceptable for children to read, usually for sexual or other inappropriate content.  Censorship should never become a tolerable action, even with the best intentions.  While the outcries against the books come from a noble foundation, it must surely be the responsibility of parents to monitor the content of the books their children are reading.

In honor of Banned Books Week, September 22-28, 2013, your librarians have chosen a few of their favorite banned titles.  You will find these books on display in your Grace Doherty Library.

Crystal Ellis~Reference/Borrowing Interlibrary Loan

  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • The Lorax  by Dr. Seuss
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Carrie Frey~ Head of Reference and Instruction

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zorz Neale Hurston

Jennifer Green~Reference/Electronic Resources

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass/The Subtle Knife/The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

Beth Morgan~Technical Services Librarian/Systems Administrator

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Jami Powell~Circulation

  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Rita Sallee~Secretary/Interlibrary Lending

  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Charlotte’s Web by Stuart Little
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

What is your favorite Banned Book?







Check out These Books, Recommended by Centre Seniors

May 8, 2013

dixonStop by the library to check out these wonderful recommendations, made by some of our library-supporting seniors!  You will see a variety of genres represented:  poetry, non-fiction, popular fiction, and classical literature, to name a few.

Thank you to our seniors for compiling these reading lists at such a busy time of the year.

Congratulations and Good Luck!



Dixon Irene

Loving in the War Years: lo que Nunca Paso por sus Labios, by  Cherrie Moraga

Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of   Racial Inequality in the United States, by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, by Alberto Rios

The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

All About Love: New Visions, by Bell Hooks





Natalie Pope

The book that taught me to love art and thought:

–  The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

The only book I have read more than once:

The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks



The book that introduced me to my favorite author:

My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk

The book that introduced me to feminism:

The Awakening, Kate Chopin

The book I’d like to have written:

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Book, Azar Nafisi





Grant Poston


Bleachers and Playing for Pizza, both by John Grisham








myaMya Price

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

I read this book during the fall of taking Beau Weston’s Happiness Society and I really enjoyed the it. By far, it’s been one of the best books that I have read in any of my Soc/Anth. classes.

The author, Gretchen Rubin, spent a year of her life researching techniques on how to improve her happiness. Each month she would assign herself a certain task , hoping that these monthly task would improve her overall happiness. I think this is a wonderful book for anyone to read, because it immediately draws your attention, is very insightful, and this book allows you to reflect on your happiness in your own life. From the words of Rubin, “being happy is about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right.” (Rubin, pg.65)




w_troyWill Troy

The Great Gatsby, by F.Scott Fitzgerald.









Lewis Collins


The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder

Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

Library Survey for Faculty

April 19, 2013

Faculty – Complete the library survey that you received via email for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the place of your choosing!  Once you have completed the survey, email to let her know you are ready to win!

National Library Worker Day!

April 15, 2013

Stop by the library and fill out a star at the circulation desk to recognize a library worker who has provided you with good service, a smile, or a helping hand.

Check out these books recommended by Professor Jennifer Muzyka

April 2, 2013


Jennifer Muzyka is professor of chemistry at Centre College, where she has taught since 1994.

An organic chemist, Muzyka is committed to working with her Centre students in collaborative research.

From contacts made during her 2001 sabbatical work, Muzyka has helped a number of students arrange internships with Kentucky’s Central Forensic Laboratory in Frankfort. She assists students interested in attending pharmacy school, and supervises internships at pharmacies and hospitals. She also serves on the Health Professions Advisory Committee.

Muzyka develops technology to help students learn general and organic chemistry. One of her technology projects, published in the Journal of Chemical Education, involves chemistry game shows (Jeopardy! and Who Wants to be a Millionare?). She has given presentations and organized symposia at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education about the tutorials on her organic chemistry Web site, and conducts workshops to assist other chemistry faculty members to develop their own interactive chemistry web sites.

Muzyka has published the results of her research in scholarly journals including the Journal of Organic Chemistry and the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.

Muzyka received her B.S. from the University of Dallas and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.


Favorite book in college:  Alexis DeToqueville’s Democracy in America and/or The Complete Works of Plato

In my Introduction to Politics course, we read DeToqueville’s Democracy in America as well as The Federalist Papers.  It struck me as odd that a foreigner would have such perceptive insights into the American political system.  In the philosophy courses I took as an undergraduate, my favorite philosopher to read was Plato.  I actually kept that book and read it on my own after I graduated.


 Favorite discipline-related book:  Mechanism and Theory in Organic Chemistry by Lowry and Richardson

We used this textbook for the physical organic chemistry course I took as an undergraduate.  It was the main text for one of my grad school courses as well.  I appreciated seeing the more mathematical and physical side of organic chemistry and learning about the experimental methods used to understand the mechanisms.  In the course I took as an undergraduate, I was intrigued to discover that organic chemists would argue vociferously about different mechanistic explanations for experimental observations.  My professor shared a story about one chemist saying Nobel laureates should retire before they go senile in a very public argument with a prominent chemist who had previously won the Nobel prize.

This book helped me realize that I am a physical organic chemist.  When that realization hit me, I suddenly understood that different people think in different ways and these ways of thinking often explain choices of college major or career.


Book recommendation for students:

I recommend Look Me in the Eye and Be Different, both by John Elder Robison.  I enjoyed these books deeply and was happy to learn that Robison would be giving a presentation on Centre’s campus.  Weissiger was packed for this week’s convocation, and Robison enchanted us by sharing his interesting experiences and thoughtful perspective about life as an individual on the autism spectrum.  Whether you heard his talk or not, you will be enlightened and entertained by these two books.


One book you would have on a deserted island:  I would hope to have a field guide to the flora and fauna of the region where I found myself shipwrecked, since I suspect I would be spending a fair amount of time cozying up to nature.  I love field guides.  We have many of them on the bookshelf in the living room at home to assist in identifying the plants and animals we encounter in the woods where we live.


Favorite author:  Robin Cook

I have always loved mystery novels, and Robin Cook adeptly intertwines mystery with fascinating medical science that verges on science fiction in its strangeness.  


Last read:  Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Spring break was a wonderful time to do some reading for fun, and I finally took the time to start reading this series of books that are making a big splash with the series on HBO.  I am moving more slowly through the second book than the first because I don’t have as much time to read now that we are back into the routine after spring break.


Next read:

I’m looking forward to reading Raising Cubby by John Elder Robison.  I was intrigued to learn about Cubby’s interest in chemistry during Robison’s convocation presentation.   The book touches on lots of father-son adventures like how Robison helped his son drive a train, so I am confident it will be full of wonderful tales.

Check out These Books Recommended by Professor of Music, Barbara Hall

March 5, 2013



Barbara Hall is professor of music at Centre, where she has taught since 1980. She has held the Stodghill Professorship in Humanities since its inception in 2004 and is the former chair of the division of arts and humanities.

A veteran teacher, conductor, and performer, Hall directs Centre’s choral program, which includes student groups such as Centre Singers, Women’s Voices, and Centre Men. She teaches humanities, music history, theory, and conducting. Hall founded and directs the Danville Summer Singers and Sounding Joy, an auditioned women’s ensemble of 30-32 singers.

Hall is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the College Music Society. She is past governor of the Association of Teachers of Singing.

Hall earned a B.M. at the University of Michigan, an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a D.M. from Indiana University.



Favorite book in college:

Leonard Meyer:  Music, the Arts, and Ideas and Emotion and Meaning in Music

I took an undergraduate course in music aesthetics that completely changed my thinking about how music works intrinsically and in relation to other arts and society.  Who wouldn’t want to read chapters such as “Forgery and the Anthropology of Art” and “Value and Greatness in Music”?

Favorite discipline-related book:

Dean Robert Blocker:  The Robert Shaw Reader

I am among the last generations of singer/choral directors to be privileged to sing under conductor Robert Shaw.  He was a tyrant, a poet, a musical musician.  This book quotes liberally from the letters he sent to his choirs after every rehearsal and from interviews with people who sang under him.  It’s a book I dip into frequently and always come away with new ideas and strengthened resolve to get to the essence of music and song.


Book recommendation for students:

 Great biographies – of anyone in any discipline. Whether it’s of Cleopatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Stravinsky, Picasso, Sotomayor, a fine biography offers multiple rewards:  clear and elegant prose, intimate knowledge of another person, and a socio/cultural/historical slice of life.

One book you would have on a deserted island:


It has to be a CD:  Bach Mass in b minor (I can live without books but not without music!).  This work, more than any other I can think of (and many people agree from across ages and lands), brings together the intellectual, aesthetic and emotional world into sublime music.


Favorite authors:

Jane Austen

Shakespeare (really!)

For fun:  Donna Leon – great mysteries set in Venice


Last read:

Leonard Slatkin:  Conducting Business:  Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro.  Though self-serving, the look into the practical side of conducting on the international stage is revealing of the joys and frustrations of being an orchestral conductor and also gives some entertaining backstage and behind-the-scene tidbits.  Very likely the only other person to want to read this one is Jaemi Loeb!


Next read:

Garry Wills:   Verdi’s Shakespeare:  Men of the Theater 

Reading during the school year comes down, almost always, to preparing for class!