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07/08/2024 July 2024 Perspectives

Looking for book or podcast recommendations? We asked faculty who've been featured in Perspectives newsletter during the past academic year to suggest a personal favorite. From a novella set in third-century London to books and podcasts about science and health, they share their favorites.

Fiction Recommendations
Nonfiction Recommendations
Podcast Recommendations

Fiction Recommendations

Sarah Levin-Richardson in her office, with books on shelves behind her.

Unapologetically Irreverent Novella

I heartily recommend "The Emperor's Babe" by Bernardine Evaristo. This quick-paced novella brings antiquity alive in all of its color and messiness. We follow Zuleika, the daughter of Nubian immigrants, as she navigates her third-century CE London neighborhood and moves from childhood to adulthood. The book is unapologetically irreverent, tossing in modern British slang with Latin, and despite this anachronism, in my opinion it gives a more accurate idea of the lived experiences of Roman antiquity than any academic book! 

Sarah Levin-Richardson
Associate Professor, Classics


headshot of Matthew Powers

A Journalist's Political Awakening

The novel "Pereira Maintains: A Testimony" by Antonio Tabucchi describes the political awakening of a journalist in 1930s Portugal. In less than 150 pages, readers watch the titular character change from an apolitical, conformist editor to a writer who, in Tabucchi’s words, “discovers his vocation for democracy.” Chance encounters lead Pereira to apply long-held moral principles like decency and honesty in altogether new contexts. A return to first principles and common values — sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Matthew Powers
Associate Professor, Communication
Co-Director, Center for Journalism, Media and Democracy


headshot of Cristina Sanchez-Martin

Figuring Out the Meaning of Life

"Martyr!," a novel by Kaveh Akbar, is a moving and beautiful story about Cyrus, an Iranian-American poet dealing with grief and intergenerational traumas. He is understandably obsessed with figuring out the meaning of life, so the book delves into those universal themes that many could relate to. The writing is candid, without extra frills, and funny. It is also extremely poetic. I haven’t read a book of fiction that left such a strong impression on me since Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. Can’t recommend it enough!

Cristina  Sánchez-Martín
Assistant Professor, English


Nonfiction Recommendations

Headshot of Mark Rodgers

Sounds of Nature, Unheard By Humans

Above and below the frequencies audible to human ears, and out of earshot, the biological world teems with sound. Karen Bakker’s "The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants" explores how scientists across many disciplines have begun paying closer attention to such sounds. This book is an accessible and engaging introduction to some of the most extraordinary recent insights from the field of bioacoustics.

Mark Rodgers
Assistant Teaching Professor, Music


Ashleigh Therberge and research team members looking at equipment in her UW chemistry lab.

A New Paradigm in Medicine

I greatly enjoyed reading "The Age of Scientific Wellness: Why the Future of Medicine Is Personalized, Predictive, Data-Rich, and in Your Handson my sabbatical. Co-authors Leroy Hood and Nathan Price provide a deeply compelling vision for a new paradigm in medicine that uses a scientific approach to prevent disease and preserve wellness. The science is exciting, and this vision is sorely needed for both improved patient outcomes and an affordable future health care system. 

Ashleigh Theberge
Associate Professor, Chemistry


UW Professor Carl Bergstrom

Unwritten Rules of Science

I would recommend "The Knowledge Machine" by Michael Strevens, In this book, the NYU philosophy professor explains how the unwritten rules of science serve to motivate self-interested individuals to engage a powerful form of collective truth-seeking. Central to his thesis is what he calls the Iron Rule of Explanation: the idea is that scientists must exclude from their public argumentation all forms of evidence and reasoning other than the rigorously empirical. I find it a compelling if at times overstated account of how institutions and incentives operate in contemporary science, and why this form of knowing has been so successful over the past few centuries. 

Carl Bergstrom
Professor, Biology


Podcast Recommendations

headshot of Adrienne Mackey

Debunking Health & Wellness Myths

I'm a huge fan of Maintenance Phase, a podcast exploring health science and pop culture with a snarky and data-rich approach to debunking health and wellness industry myths. As a 90s kid who grew up eating Snackwell's cookies and spent a good portion of my adult life undoing the harm of pervasive diet culture, hosts Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes' discussions of anti-fatness and anti-aging are refreshing and human. Plus the hosts are both from the Pacific Northwest, so it's a chance to show some local pride!

Adrienne Mackey
Assistant Professor, Drama


Tiana Cole + Brad Blackburn III seated behind a microphone.

Mentorship for Black Professionals

Those of us who produce Perspectives newsletter also recommend the podcast Identity Unboxed, which was featured in the newsletter in February 2024. The podcast, launched in 2023 by Arts & Sciences alumni Tiana Cole (BA, Journalism and Public Interest Communication) and Brad Blackburn III (BA, Political Science; MPA, Public Administration), explores the experiences of Black professionals in the Seattle area — including some UW faculty and staff.


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Markus Teuton playing guitar on stage

Celebrating Contemporary Indigenous Music

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Headshot of Tré Cotten

For Dialect Coach, Every Voice is Unique

As a dialect coach, Tré Cotten (MFA, 2017, Acting) has gained national attention for his ability to help actors bring authenticity to their characters. 

Alex Minami with Seattle Opera sign on the wall behind him

Building Connections Through Opera

Lokela Alexander Minami (BA, 2010; MA, 2012) turned a lifelong passion for opera into a career that introduces others to the art form.

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