University of Houston Libraries Exhibits


David A. Berntsen, Associate Professor
Clinical Sciences, College of Optometry

Borish’s Clinical Refraction by William J. Benjamin

Dr. Irvin Borish was an internationally-recognized optometrist and is referred to as the father or architect of optometry because of his great leadership and influence on the development of the profession and optometric education. Before he passed in 2012 at the age of 99, I had several opportunities to meet him as a professional student while working on my OD degree at the University of Houston and as a graduate student while working on my PhD at The Ohio State University. His words and accomplishments were always inspiring and drove me to excel in my teaching and research to continue moving the profession forward. The first edition of his book, Clinical Refraction, was the reference-of-choice when educating students for years. I continue to be inspired by one of the profession’s giants when referencing the 2nd edition of his book while teaching clinical optometric procedures.


Jeannie Castro, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is highly personal to me in several ways. Having lost loved ones who fought on both sides of the war, my family is familiar with the ugly side of World War II. This book creates a moment of beauty from a horrible time in history. It also reminds me of my grandmother, who came from the same part of Germany where the story takes place. In reading the description of Molching, I hear my grandmother’s voice describing the town she grew up in. On a more personal level, I identify with Liesel Meminger’s inability to read and, once she learns to read, her subsequent love of words. Because of my dyslexia, I could not read until I was the same age as Liesel. Once I learned how to read, I always had my nose in a book. My love of reading led me to the library. It is why I ultimately started working in libraries and pursued my dream to become a librarian.


Jeronimo Cortina, Associate Professor
Political Science

A Philosophical Investigation: A Novel by Philip Kerr

I selected this book because it is the quintessential manifestation of my work as a scholar. Using deductive and inductive reasoning borrowing heavily from Wittgenstein and other philosophers, Kerr provides a philosophical cat-and-mouse narrative between a police detective and a serial killer in a futuristic novel that describes my daily pursuit for knowledge based on facts, statistics, philosophical discussions, academic dubieties and clichés of academic life. Just as I formulate testable hypotheses for my research and confront them with experimental or observational data, chief inspector Isadora Jakowicz pursues the serial killer, code-named Wittgenstein, by eliminating clues and perfecting the data-gathering process to apprehend the killer. This book is a daily reminder that the pursuit of knowledge is an elusive enterprise in which clear expectations, patience, discipline and luck are the cornerstones of a successful theory.


Kerry Creelman, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

Helping Students Learn in a Learner-Centered Environment: A Guide to Facilitating Learning in Higher Education by Terry Doyle

This book influenced the way I design and facilitate student learning experiences. It helped me understand how students learn and gave me strategies to create more effective learning opportunities for my students. Reading this text inspired further research, leading me to develop expertise in this area. This opened up opportunities for training other teaching librarians on learner-centered education. I encourage anyone teaching in higher education to read Doyle's book and reflect on how you can make your teaching practice more learner-centered.


Mina Dawood, Associate Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

My wife and I received Katy and the Big Snow from a colleague upon the birth of our son. As an assistant professor, I read that book countless times while putting my boys to sleep. When a big snow blankets the city of Geopolis, Katy the tractor dons her snowplow and gets to work. Katy's dedication helps her succeed where the truck snowplows could not and helps everyone else in the city get their jobs done too. In retrospect, earning tenure requires many of the same skills as being a first-rate snowplow: competence, hard work, perseverance, and a genuine interest in the well-being of others. I pray that I can apply these skills equally well to be a first-rate husband and father.


Gordon Heier, Associate Professor

Principles of Algebraic Geometry by Phillip Griffiths

This book was the first mathematical research monograph I ever purchased. I bought it in my sophomore year at Bochum University, Germany, in 1996 for the price of 65 Deutsche Mark. I had just begun to develop an interest in complex algebraic geometry, and this book generally stood out as an accessible, very thorough, and authoritative introduction, which additionally treats many rather advanced topics. Twenty years later, my original copy still sits on my desk, well-worn and always within easy reach.


Yashashree Kulkarni, Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged by Robert Frost

I owe my love of poetry to Robert Frost. The poems of Frost invoke at once a sense of wonder and tranquility. But what resonates through his work is his love of life and nature, and his insight into human emotions that seek expression through the countless colors of nature. To know that such beauty, wit, and hope could arise from a life stricken with grief and depression is truly inspiring. And so I turn to Frost as he turns to nature, which always provides an answer, and a sense of peace...

"Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?"


Kirill Larin, Professor
Biomedical Engineering

Tissue Optics, Light Scattering Methods and Instruments for Medical Diagnostics by Valery V. Tuchin

This book was authored by Professor Valery Tuchin, one of the pioneers of the biomedical optics field. I was privileged to be one of his students and now I enjoy our relationship as collaborators. This book introduces the basic principles of biophotonics with rich examples across multiple disciplines. The first edition of this book inspired me to pursue a career in this field, and I am sure will continue to do so for many young scientists interested in studying optics at the interface between biology and medicine.


Mary Manning, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde

Written by Oscar Wilde and first published in 1888, this scarce 1913 American edition is illustrated by Charles Robinson and features twelve tipped-in color plates. At age eleven, I outgrew children's books and began perusing the adult novel section at my neighborhood public library. There, I discovered Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although much of the adult content went right over my head, I was enthralled with the story and the clever writing. As a young adult and bookstore clerk, I became fascinated by fairy tales, especially those illustrated during the late 19th-early 20th century, the golden age of children's books. I was especially attracted to the fantastic imagery of Arthur Rackham, Richard Doyle, Dorothy Lathrop, William Heath Robinson and his brother Charles. This volume encapsulates many of my favorite things, artistic and literary.


Jeremy A. May, Associate Professor

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The Book of Mormon has incredible examples of leadership, faith, teaching, and accomplishing goals in the right way. I have found inspiration to work with maximum effort, been inspired to make my family the most important part of my life, and always perform to the extent of my abilities and maintain a prodigious work ethic for others and myself while building my career. As a religious individual, I also appreciate the examples that teach me how to embrace my beliefs and serve others while engaging in civic and career-related duties. As a Christian, I appreciate the detailed and clear discussion of how to represent Christ every day in my life. There are discussions of morality in politics, war, education, law, and business. The benefits of a democratic government and personal liberties are stressed. In total, I have found inspiration in every aspect of my life in its words.


Temple Northup, Associate Professor
Valenti School of Communication

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

As an undergraduate, I was lucky enough to have Maya Angelou as a professor. The course, "The Philosophy of Liberation," is one that has stuck with me. It was easily the most challenging course I have ever taken, and yet also the most rewarding. Dr. Angelou encouraged us to discuss and explore complex, sensitive, and sometimes controversial topics in a way in which nobody felt threatened or embarrassed to express his or herself. She created an environment where we were all free to take risks without fear. Dr. Angelou has had a profound influence on my development as a person and was one of the reasons I always thought I might become a professor. In honor of her influence on my life, I'm selecting this book – by far her most famous.


Norma Olvera, Professor
Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly has inspired me to be more courageous, connected, and vulnerable. In addition, Daring Greatly has been instrumental in changing my paradigm about being vulnerable and creating possibilities where no possibilities appear to exist. This new paradigm has influenced my teaching philosophy and research approach. I have become a better teacher and researcher as a result of reading this book.


Lorraine R. Reitzel, Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair
Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences

The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

As a researcher focused on understanding mechanisms associated with disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors and as a cancer survivor myself, this amazingly well-written book on the history of cancer was a fascinating read. The personalized approach to conveying the dedication and contribution of the various players involved in trying to end this malady draws the reader in, and highlights regarding the role of women and immigrants in making cancer history are refreshing. I use this book in my teaching because it engenders an emotional connection with the subject that resonates with my students. Personally, the book reminds me that making progress in health research is a multidisciplinary and team effort, even if you don't know the other players involved, and that serendipity and passion for helping others are important, if not vital, parts of the process.


Jessica L. Roberts, Associate Professor
Law Center

Getting Things Done by David Allen

The promise of stress-free productivity is an alluring one for academics in particular because so much of our work is self-supervised. Getting Things Done revolutionized my work style and made me more organized and prolific. It has been my not-so-secret weapon.


Gregg Roman, Professor
Biology and Biochemistry

The Blue Estuaries: Poems, 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan

I have the need, from time to time, to get out of my head, clear my thoughts, and think differently. I have found poems to be an enjoyable means to this end. I read poems in much the same way as I watch movies, not as a critic or scholar, but as someone just looking to be transported. My father got me started on this when I was ten with a book of collected poems of Robert Service. Not too long after that I started reading Yeats and Frost, and I was hooked. The poems I enjoy bring me to a different, reflective place. Louis Bogan's poems really do it for me. The Alchemist and Knowledge are absolutely affecting with unflinching high stakes emotions, and are amongst my favorites.


Kristi L. Santi, Associate Professor
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Autodidactic: Self-taught by James W. Parkinson

While several books have provided motivation, insight, and a "good read," one book comes to mind that inspires me both personally and professionally. Autodidactic is a book about the importance of finding internal motivation to be a lifelong learner. As an educator, this book speaks to the value of wide reading, writing, and the power of perseverance in gaining knowledge and achieving one's goals.


Carla Sharp, Professor

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I first read Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during French studies in high school. The story is in essence about the mysteries, complexities and tenderness of relationships, which are captured most often in lines uttered by the fox to the little prince. The fox says "on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." ("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.") How people use social-cognitive capacities to build and maintain relationships, and the breakdown in these capacities, is the focus of my work. I am grateful to this book which has inspired me to seek and study the processes underlying the human capacity to bond, connect, reconnect and repair.


Melanie Sonnenberg, Professor
Moores School of Music

The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer

I was introduced to Ellen Langer's theory of mindfulness in this book while completing graduate studies at Teachers College Columbia University. After reading her "seven myths," i.e., basics must be learned to such a level that they become second nature, paying attention is staying focused on one thing, disallowing forgetfulness, memorizing by rote, I strongly questioned her viewpoint. These very "myths" had not only been integral, but beneficial through my formative education. Yet, as she dissected and discussed each point, I was charged with a liberating sense and free thinking which provided a contrast and challenge to conventional learning and teaching methods. Whether in restructuring classroom activities or one-on-one mentoring, her concepts truly influence my work. Nearly twenty years later her theories continue to rouse students towards great curiosity and cognitive adventure.


Lorraine Kochanske Stock, Professor

Medievalism: Key Critical Terms by Elizabeth Emory

I have reinvented myself from being a traditional practitioner of medieval studies (Chaucer, medieval Arthurian romance, Beowulf) to becoming more and more engaged with "medievalism," the engagement with not only the medieval period but also post-medieval eras in all media, literary texts, music, film, etc. I have become a specialist in Robin Hood films, Robin Hood operas, Arthurian medievalism in film, the Third Crusade in films, etc. The library did not own this key reference book, so I chose it to represent my current scholarly interests.


Shawn Vaillancourt, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville

I was given a copy of this book as a child, and I believe what followed is one of the major reasons I became a librarian. I fell in love with this story, and quickly discovered other titles by this author which I also devoured. Whenever I went into a library, I was hunting for anything they had in the building that was also by this author that I might not have seen yet. I distinctly remember being in a library with my father when we were travelling and he was looking through old microfilms of the local paper for something, and I was discovering some of the author's magic shop books there. The discovery was like finding hidden treasure and that discovery ability through the library continued to draw me back again and again. Suffice to say, it's no surprise that I find myself in libraries now in a professional capacity.


Zhang Weihua, Associate Professor
Biology and Biochemistry

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Do not be afraid of not being part of the main stream. Being yourself is the most enjoyable and beautiful thing in life.