University of Houston Libraries Exhibits


<em>Who's to Say: A Dialogue on Relativism</em> by Norman Melchert

Katy Badeaux, Associate Librarian
O’Quinn Law Library, University Libraries

Who’s to Say: A Dialogue on Relativism by Norman Melchert

Who's to Say was the first book I read as a college freshman. Assigned for a journalism class, this short volume on relativism opened my eyes to a new world of critical thinking. Questions of epistemology and the nature of thought are put to debate in an accessible and engaging manner. Using the welcoming format of old friends in conversation, it explores the views of five major philosophical traditions on the issue of relativism. Who's to Say left me not with answers, but more questions than I had ever thought possible. Both inspiring and challenging, it sparked a curiosity in me that endures even today.

<em>Handbook of Population</em> edited by Dudley L. Poston, Jr. and Michael Micklin

Amanda Baumle, Professor
Sociology, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Handbook of Population edited by Dudley L. Poston, Jr. and Michael Micklin

This Handbook of Population is an update of a similar handbook of population studies that was published almost fifty years earlier. As a demographer-in-training, one of my research assistant positions involved assisting in the editing process for this volume. Reading the thirty chapters in this book made clear to me both the broad nature of population studies, as well as how the field of demography is in constant transition – responding to the availability of new data and to new policy and academic questions about how our populations grow and change. I coauthored the Epilogue to this Handbook that examined what fields of population research might emerge in the coming years, including the potential development of the “demography of sexuality.” This area of research became my own specialization and is now a vibrant and growing area of population studies – one that has its own chapter in the forthcoming update of this volume.

<em>Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela</em> by Nelson Mandela

Jodi Berger Cardoso, Associate Professor
Graduate College of Social Work

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s commitment to social, economic, political, and racial justice is an inspiration. He was a noble and selfless man, motivated to bring people together rather than highlight the reasons they should be in opposition. I read this book during the first year of my undergraduate education, and it changed my perspective of the world and how I envisioned my contribution. I was inspired to choose a career that aims to bring voice to oppressed and disenfranchised people. Mandela inspires my research and social work practice with immigrant and refugee children and their families. But because of Mandela, I have also learned that it is important to reach across ideological and political divides and find the humanity in everyone. I try to live by his example and by his words: “as long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

<em>Over My Head: A Doctors Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out</em> by Claudia Osborne

Margaret Blake, Professor
Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Over My Head: A Doctor’s Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out by Claudia Osborne

Dr. Osborne conveys the story of her head injury in a way that makes it easy to understand the specific deficits caused by brain injury (problem solving, attention, memory) and at the same time the direct impact that these things have on her daily life. This book helped me to further appreciate the consequences of brain injury and brings topics to life for my students.


<em>Death and the Dervish</em> by Mesa Selimovic

Stanko Brankovic, Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering

Death and the Dervish by Mesa Selimovic

This book and its deep philosophical consideration about the meaning of life and death, as well as the emotional experience reading it, has helped me in difficult moments of my life. “We should kill our pasts with each passing day. Blot them out, so that they will not hurt. Each present day could thus be endured more easily, it would not be measured against what no longer exists. As things our spectres mix with our lives so that there is neither pure memory nor pure life. They clash and try to strangle each other, continually.”

<em>Hard Times and the Mule Died: Tales of Life in Central Texas</em> by Wayne Carpenter

Bradley Carpenter, Associate Professor
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education

Hard Times and the Mule Died: Tales of Life in Central Texas by Wayne Carpenter

The book I chose was written by my father, Wayne Carpenter. Growing up, my dad sacrificed to ensure I was provided with an excellent education, chances to explore my interests outside of school, and opportunities to experience the world beyond my hometown. I distinctly remember my father teaching high school government, while driving the school bus and cleaning the local laundromat to provide for our family. Yet, one of the greatest sacrifices my father made was choosing to forgo his dream of obtaining his own Ph.D. Having spent his entire life serving others, my dad was unable to find time to pursue his own dreams. For that, I would like to ensure his book Hard Times and the Mule Died, a collection of essays describing the joys and challenges of growing up and living in a small central Texas community, be placed in the University of Houston Library. I am an associate professor because of the sacrifices of my father.

<em>A History of Vocal Pedagogy: Intuition and Science</em> by Joseph Talia

Cynthia Clayton Vasquez, Professor
Music, College of the Arts

A History of Vocal Pedagogy: Intuition and Science by Joseph Talia

This tome is part science, part history, part biography, and all about western classical singing and how it has been taught for the past five centuries. The follow-up book is Talia’s Vocal Science for Elite Singers, which caps this history with the latest in scientific understanding of the tools of our craft.


<em>Calculus</em> by Michael Spivak

Vaughn Climenhaga, Associate Professor
Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Calculus by Michael Spivak

This book had a profound impact on my development as a mathematician. I encountered it in my first year as an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo when I took calculus from Ken Davidson. Until then, my experience of mathematics had largely been as a grab bag of tricks and techniques for shuffling symbols around and getting the right answer. Through that class and Spivak’s book, I came to appreciate the depth, coherence, and beauty that the subject possesses, and eventually to pursue it as my vocation. Even today, this book continues to teach me new things and to inspire me as I explore mathematics.

<em>The Argumentative Indian</em> by Amartya Sen

Joydip Das, Professor
Pharmacological & Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

This book by Nobel laureate and Harvard professor Amartya Sen searches the argumentative soul of India through its history, diversity, and democracy. Issues like India’s secularism, development of atomic bombs, gender inequality, and India-China comparisons are discussed through the lens of an economist. A lot has changed since the publication of the book, but it definitely provides a critical knowledge to readers who are interested in Indian history, culture, economic issues, and its place in the current world.

<em>My trouble is my English: Asian students and the American dream</em> by Danling Fu

Chatwara Duran, Associate Professor
English, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

My trouble is my English: Asian students and the American dream by Danling Fu

This book is one of the first books that I read about recently-arrived refugees and their experiences in the United States.

The book inspires me to work with, in, and for recently-arrived refugee families. I read the book on one weekend. I cried since the first chapter, yet smiled with joy at the end. Years later I found myself having the same role as the author of this book – an ethnographer shadowing recently-arrived refugee participants, listening to their stories, eating with them, attending their events, and writing about them.

<em>The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology</em> by Shane J. Lopez and C. R. Snyder

Matthew Gallagher, Associate Professor
Psychology, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology by Shane J. Lopez and C. R. Snyder

This handbook is what sparked my early interest in the field of positive psychology. I was fortunate to have known the editors as colleagues and mentors and their research and support was instrumental in shaping my career.

<em>The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer</em> by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Preethi Gunaratne, Professor
Biology and Biochemistry, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

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

This book was published when The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, the flagship project of the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with The National Human Genome Research Institute, was established to bring the first fruits of the Human Genome Project to the daunting goal of converting cancer from a terminal illness to a curable disease. I was fortunate to serve on the TCGA consortium of about 100 nationally and internationally accomplished scientists from multiple fields. We were tasked with creating a comprehensive catalog of every single genetic and epigenetic mutation characterizing 33 cancers. Reading Dr. Mukherjee’s book gave us all an insight into the humble beginnings of the field of oncology, where scientists such as Sydney Farber literally took out tumors from patients in the basement of Harvard to ponder on this mysterious disease that was unleashing one of the most lethal assaults on humans. What struck me upon reading this is even with the most sophisticated tools at hand thanks to spectacular advances spawned from the Human Genome Project, how solving cancer remains one of the biggest challenges in biomedicine. We have certainly come a long way... but we still have a long way to go. The book gives us an excellent view of the history of how we got here from an oncologist himself. Everyone who has been touched by cancer and working to solve it should read this book.

<em>To Kill a Mockingbird</em> by Harper Lee

Daphne Hernandez, Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

While the racial inequality that occurs in To Kill A Mockingbird is sad, the innocence and compassion of the main character, 6-year-old Scout Finch, in the midst of all that is beautiful. We should all be more like Scout Finch and follow her father Atticus’s advice: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view -- until you climb around in his skin and walk about in it.”


<em>Daring Greatly</em> by Brene Brown

Holly Hutchins, Professor
Human Development and Consumer Sciences, College of Technology

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

I have been a fan of Brene Brown since her first book. Daring Greatly influenced my perspectives on leadership and courage, especially as I was leading a large institutional change project. Brown’s writing, based on her research on shame and courage, helped ground my own perspectives on leading, influencing, and enacting courage in the face of resistance and challenges. Since then, I’ve read her other books and am currently reading Daring Leadership as a primer on serving as Department Chairperson.


<em>The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck</em> by Mark Manson

Jim Johnson, Professor
Theatre & Dance, College of the Arts

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

I find that most people’s growth and potential are severely limited by peripheral concerns over things that don’t truly matter or that they have no control over. Though the title is purposefully provoking, I believe the ideas in the book would greatly serve my students as they find where they want to focus the energy of their lives. Hopefully they will dare to weigh their fears and step into them, because most of their limitations are simply self-imposed.


Kia Johnson, Associate Professor
Communication Sciences & Disorders, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Written/Unwritten by Patricia A. Matthew

Achieving the goal of becoming tenured and promoted is an aspiration that most (if not all) tenure-track faculty begin their academic career with. The journey towards this goal is less traveled by faculty of color and may be filled with hills, valleys, twists and turns. It is my hope that the content of this book and the “village” of faculty of color here at the University of Houston will assist some scholar on this journey by being the wind on their back pushing them towards their goal.

<em>Leading through Conflict: Into the Fray</em> edited by Dejun Tony Kong and Donelson R. Forsyth

Tony Kong, Associate Professor
Management, Bauer College of Business

Leading through Conflict: Into the Fray edited by Dejun Tony Kong and Donelson R. Forsyth

This book is my first co-edited book. It collects papers on conflict management and leadership from many well-known scholars whose research has immensely inspired my own work. These scholars are not only outstanding and respectable in the academic field, but also wonderful as human beings. While working on this book passionately, I, as a junior faculty member then, was encouraged for my own professional journey not only by their character and competence, but also by their intellectual and emotional support. This book project has made me more strongly committed to my own research, which addresses how we, as humans, can enable ourselves to be more cooperative and prosocial in order to reach the greater good and be more productive collectively, despite the prevalence of aggressive and unethical behaviors within our society. I hope that many ideas from this book can inspire and encourage others in their professional and personal journeys.

<em>The Art of Worldly Wisdom</em> by Baltasar Gracian

Vince Lee, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian

The Art of Worldly Wisdom may be a small pocket book, but the maxims penned by the author, who was a Jesuit Priest and philosopher from the 1600s, are as timeless and applicable today as they were when they were written over 370 years ago. It is a book meant to be constantly used and reflected upon in its applicability to life, situations, and people. Human nature and situations never change, the wisdom contained in the maxims have guided me philosophically with others and also events both personally and professionally. This book does prove the adage that “the more things change the more they remain the same.”

<em>Internetworking with TCP/IP Volume One</em> by Douglas E. Comer

Ricardo Lent, Associate Professor
Engineering Technology, College of Technology

Internetworking with TCP/IP Volume One by Douglas E. Comer

Reading this book as an undergraduate ignited my passion for my field. The book was not only a source of new ideas that aroused my curiosity, but it also opened up my mind to a world of possibilities that I realized were yet to be explored. My interest in pursuing these possibilities has been a source of constant motivation, defining the nature of my research to this day.

<em>For the Love of Enzymes: The Odyssey of a Biochemist</em> by Arthur Kornberg

Yu Liu, Associate Professor
Biology and Biochemistry, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

For the Love of Enzymes: The Odyssey of a Biochemist by Arthur Kornberg

I came across For the Love of Enzymes when I was a graduate student at the University of Hong Kong. Away from family and friends, the medical library next to my dorm was one of the rare places that provided comfort. One day, after long hours of reading journal articles, I went to the biography section and found this book. I loved how Arthur Kornberg described going to the new lab to start experiments at the same day of a cross-country relocation, being devastated and almost suicidal after accidentally dropping a beaker of crystals that were achieved with long-time hard work and some pure luck… Life has not changed much, at Arthur’s time, my graduate days, and today. We are on a joyful journey.

<em>Micromotives and Macrobehaviors</em> by Thomas Schelling

Vikram Maheshri, Associate Professor
Economics, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Micromotives and Macrobehaviors by Thomas Schelling

Small differences in the choices that we make can sometimes add up to big differences in the lives we lead. This book has taught me that exposure to a rich and diverse set of people, beliefs, and ideas is difficult to maintain, and these difficulties are only compounded over time. As a result, we must always make concerted efforts to seek diversity and (hopefully) grow as individuals, friends, neighbors, and citizens.


<em>Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio</em> by Mario Luis Small

Sarah Narendorf, Associate Professor
Graduate College of Social Work

Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small

I was assigned to read Villa Victoria for my theory class as a first semester doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis. In the midst of a mountain of reading, this book was the stand out that provided a clear example of the work and writing that I wanted to do. While focused on a totally different area than mine, this book mapped a path for me in how to think about a concept and identify a way to study it in order to understand it in a new way. Our doctoral student group was able to invite Dr. Small to give a talk, and he was as thoughtful and clear in person as he is in this book.

<em>Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States</em> by Albert O. Hirschman

D. Theodore Rave, Associate Professor
UH Law Center

Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States by Albert O. Hirschman

Albert Hirschman’s classic analysis of the different tools people use to influence organizations has been invaluable in helping me connect the dots between seemingly disparate areas of my scholarship. But his writing style has been even more inspirational. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty shows the extraordinary power of short, conversational writing that traces an idea where it needs to go instead of being constrained by conventional or disciplinary boundaries.


<em>What do You Do With an Idea?</em> by Kobi Yamada

Jessica Roberts, Professor
UH Law Center

What do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

As academics, we are lucky that we get to engage with ideas every single day and to convey those ideas to our students. Sometimes big, sometimes small, these ideas inevitably change us and our points of view. This beautiful book is a simple reminder of what a privilege it is to have our job. What do you do with an idea? You change the world.


Maria Soliño, Professor
Hispanic Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós

This is the book that inspired my love for Spanish female-centered novels that are so long they need to be published in 2 volumes. Our local branch of the New York Public Library was the refuge that offered me such classics as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But it was while I was in college that I discovered the beauty of literature in my mother tongue, Spanish, in pages authored by Benito Pérez Galdós and his contemporaries. I was thrilled to later figure out that there was a profession that would pay me to share my enthusiasm for 19th and 20th century Spanish Cultural Studies.

<em>The Lights of Pointe-Noire</em> by Alain Mabanckou

Sergey Shevkoplyas, Professor
Biomedical Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering

The Lights of Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabanckou

This book makes me think of people and places I left behind.


<em>The Complete Far Side</em> by Gary Larson

Christopher Taylor, Associate Professor
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson

I was first introduced to the humor and insight of Gary Larson as I began my first career, just out of undergraduate studies. I looked forward to his take on life, and the absurdity of human nature, each day. He helped to lighten the mood of a stressful career, taught me to laugh and, ultimately, made me the person I am today. I honestly do not think that I would be who I am in the classroom without Gary Larson’s Far Side. As it is, there is not a day that goes by that his voice does not creep into my consciousness and help propel me through the day and nearly any situation.

<em>Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism</em> by Safiya Umoja Noble

Santi Thompson, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble

Dr. Noble gave a keynote address, focused on the research for this book, at one of my favorite conferences. Since then I have been waiting in anticipation for the release of Algorithms of Oppression. Noble helps all of us recognize how search engines and the algorithms behind them are not “neutral” or “natural” phenomena, but culturally constructed tools that reflect our own time, place, and space. Equally as important, she reminds us why technology should be an important facet of social justice conversations.

<em>The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge</em> by Abraham Flexner

Mark Tomforde, Professor
Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by Abraham Flexner

Abraham Flexner, founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study, outlines a guiding principal fundamental to the Institute’s mission: the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Flexner warns against too narrow a conception of what is useful, and through historical examples he describes how many beneficial discoveries were not accomplished in pursuit of immediate applications, but by men and women driven to satisfy their own curiosity. He argues that, counterintuitively, many practical benefits have been obtained through research where applications were not the ultimate goal. Flexner believes that the more an institution of learning devotes itself to cultivating creative curiosity, without being distracted by considerations of immediate application, the more likely it will contribute to human welfare. This short essay can be read in a single sitting, and although 80 years old, its warnings and proposals are prescient and increasingly relevant in our modern world and current educational landscape.

<em>Experimental Pulse NMR: A Nuts and Bolts Approach</em> by Eiichi Fukushima and Stephen B.W. Roeder

Nikolaos Tsekos, Professor
Computer Science, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Experimental Pulse NMR: A Nuts and Bolts Approach by Eiichi Fukushima and Stephen B.W. Roeder

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a wonderful resonance phenomenon that is the basis of myriads of discoveries and applications in biomedicine and has led to four Nobel prizes. This one of the early books used by generations of NMR researchers to learn “the nuts and bolts” of experimental NMR. This book still teaches researchers how to link the macroscopic world we live in with the quantum world of nuclear spins; how to manipulate and observe nuclear spins... the first step for gathering information about the living matter!

<em>Till We Have Faces</em> by C.S. Lewis

Cherie Turner, Associate Librarian
University Libraries

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces is a complicated book. It follows Orual, the sister of the mythical Psyche, as she lets her assumptions and misperceptions lead her to mistakes that devastate Psyche and isolate Orual. Despite how dark this book sounds, it speaks to me of the importance of self-reflection. It illustrates the ways that looking for understanding of ourselves, of others, and of the world around us, can make us more human. I find something new every time I read this book.


<em>Happiness is a Choice</em> by Barry Neil Kaufman

Dusya Vera, Professor
Management, Bauer College of Business

Happiness is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman

The idea that our happiness is our choice is powerful and liberating. It is based on the principle that between stimulus and response, there is a belief, and that we choose that belief. The idea that I can get rid of my “limiting” beliefs and embrace “helpful” beliefs has been invaluable both in my personal life and in my 16-year career at the University of Houston, where I started as a fresh assistant professor and was recently promoted to Full Professor. I have embraced the belief that “Happiness is a Choice” and I have shared it with my students, class after class, for years, no matter the subject I was teaching in the business school. The principles of this book are priceless and can empower us to enjoy our lives and achieve our professional dreams. In life, as in business, we need inspiration, and this book is certainly inspiring.

<em>The ICU Book</em> by Paul L. Marino

Matthew Wanat, Associate Professor
Pharmacy Practice & Translational Research, College of Pharmacy

The ICU Book by Paul L. Marino

The ICU Book is a great reference for all pharmacists interested in learning more about taking care of critically ill patients. The ICU Book is a collaboration of ICU clinicians from all over the world and is written in a format that is not overly complicated to the reader. It is the book I used to learn general ICU concepts when first starting my training.

<em>The Lamplight of the Sun</em> and <em>The Rock Crumbled But My Heart Did Not Crumble</em> by Jung Myung Seok

Jerry Yang, Associate Professor
Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

The Lamplight of the Sun and The Rock Crumbled But My Heart Did Not Crumble by Jung Myung Seok

I highly recommend this set of two books written by Pastor Jung Myung Seok, who has been my role model since my college years. Growing up in a mountainous rural village that lacked everything including food, Pastor Jung developed a profound love for God while experiencing unimaginable struggles and training since his youth, in the Vietnam War, and during the ascetic years of deep research into the Bible, fasting and praying, gospel sharing, and helping the poor. It is always inspiring to me that even though his future seemed so bleak for endless years, he never gave up on himself but continued to seek and cling to God. Eventually, he started Christian Gospel Mission 40 years ago and has taught numerous people around the world, including me as a scientist, about the fundamental meaning of life and their relation with God. This set of two books contains several stories of him and words of wisdom that are worth contemplating.

<em>A Prayer for the City</em> by Buzz Bissinger

Kellen Zale, Associate Professor
UH Law Center

A Prayer for the City by Buzz Bissinger

This book is meaningful to me both personally – I grew up in Philadelphia during former Mayor Rendell’s tenure – and professionally – I now research and teach about local government law. The book offers a compelling snapshot in time of one city and its leadership, and shows how our cities’ elected leaders can have an enormous impact not only on the day-to-day lives of residents, but also on state and national policy conversations. The story is both unique to Philadelphia and Mayor Rendell, and universal in what it reveals about the opportunities and challenges for cities as places of civic engagement and forward-looking policy-making.

<em>The Sociolinguistics of Globalization</em> by Jan Blommaert

Lauren Zentz, Associate Professor
English, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

The Sociolinguistics of Globalization by Jan Blommaert

This book just found me at the right place and time. My advisor brought my attention to it when I was pursuing my Ph.D. research, and it just seemed to explain everything I wanted to know. It approached “big picture” issues of globalization and global hegemony all while explaining that everything must be understood in locally situated contexts and histories. While certainly not the first book to do this, Blommaert’s detailed explanations of how the local and the global meet through the medium of language and communication, and how language use and judgment provide keys to the lives that people live and the contexts through which they circulate, fueled my research then and has really formed the backbone of my academic journey thus far.