Arts Faculty Favorite Books

Looking for something new to read on the weekends or for a relaxing holiday? From classics to modern day thrillers, and stories with lasting impact, NYUAD faculty from the Arts and Humanities share their favorite reads and recommendations.

Cyrus Patell, NYUAD Professor of Literature, NYU Professor of English

What’s on your reading list?

Cass R. Sunstein's The World According to Star Wars (philosophy); Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (reread); Nicholas Blake's Nicholas Blake Treasury, Volume 3 (detective fiction).

Name one book that has had an impact on your life?

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.

If you could meet any fictional character who would it be, and why?

Melville’s Ishmael. Melville’s novel is presented as a personal narrative (told in the first-person), so all of the things that interest me about it can be attributed to Ishmael’s intellect.

Favorite author?

Right now, it’s William Shakespeare.

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What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

At first glance, you’d probably be surprised to find Star Wars novels and books about The Rolling Stones and The Clash. Sadly, however, these are also work for me: I’ve either written or will soon be writing books about them.

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks.

Bryan Waterman, Associate Professor of Literature, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development

Name one book that has had an impact on your life?

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

What book do you read again and again, and why?

Moby-Dick. It's new every time.

What’s on your reading list?

Jill Lepore's Joe Gould's Teeth; Maggie Nelson's Jane; Wasting Time on the Internet by Kenneth Goldsmith.

If you could meet any fictional character who would it be, and why?

Hermione Granger (duh).

Bryan Waterman, Associate Professor of Literature, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development, NYUNY

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

James Joyce's Ulysses.

Name your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Debra Levine, Assistant Professor of Theater

What’s on your reading list?

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen; The Motion of Light on Water by Samuel Delany; David Reiff's In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies.

Name one book that has had an impact on your life?

Our Bodies, Ourselves written by the Boston Women's Health Collective. It's a book by women about women.

Favorite author?

Mary Shelley.

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What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Not books so much as magazines. I have an extensive collection of Gourmet magazines which span the years Ruth Reichl was the editor-in-chief. They first published David Foster Wallace's breathtaking essay "Consider The Lobster" as well as beautiful reflections by other literary writers. It still amazes me what a lifestyle publication can print that flies under the radar.

If you could recommend one book that people should read in their lifetime, what would it be?

Frankenstein. But after reading that, no one will ever want to read just one book.

Justin Stearns, Associate Professor, Arab Crossroads Studies

Name one book that has had an impact on your life?

Thomas Merton's The Way of Chuang Tzu.

What book do you read again and again?

Collected Poems by W. H. Auden.

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

Borges says heaven is a library. That gives you an idea of how many books I haven't gotten to yet.

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If you could meet any fictional character who would it be?

Borges. I'm pretty sure he was fictional.

Name your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

The Shining. One of the very few times I'm sure the film is better than the book.

Andrew Eisenberg, Assistant Professor of Music

What’s on your reading list?

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand; Hyperion by Dan Simmons; Mwana Mdogo wa Mfalme (Swahili translation of The Little Prince).

What book do you read again and again, and why?

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss because my daughter enjoys hearing it almost as much as I enjoy reciting it.

If you could meet any fictional character who would it be, and why?

The bear from Rafi Zabor’s The Bear Comes Home. Because he’s a fabulous jazz musician with a great ear on the world — and a talking bear.

Andrew Eisenberg, Assistant Professor of Music

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

A Tale of Two Cities.

Name your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

2001.

If you could recommend one book that people should read in their lifetime, what would it be?

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin.

Goffredo Puccetti, Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts

What’s on your reading list?

The Eternal Letter by Paul Shaw; Bill Nye's Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

What book do you read again and again, and why?

The Drawned and the Saved by Primo Levi. His last work and immensely important: fundamental to understand how fragile our own humanity is.

Favorite author?

Impossible to choose one, but I’d go with Giacomo Leopardi today.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

The complete Harry Potter series. Huge fan.

Goffredo Puccetti, Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts, NYUAD

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.

Name your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

The Silence of the Lambs.

If you could recommend one book that people should read in their lifetime, what would it be?

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.

Deborah Williams, Master Teacher, Liberal Studies Program

Name one book that has had an impact on your life?

Oddly enough, probably Dune by Frank Herbert. I read it when I was about 12 and it was the first time I understood that fiction could tackle things like politics and environment, and I loved that the world of the novel was so complete right down to citing fictional histories within the novel. And now I see all the influences of the Arab world in the novel, so it’s interesting to go back and see how Herbert wove that stuff into his novel.

What book do you read again and again, and why?

I like to teach books that fascinate me. I’ve read Seasons of Migration to the North probably 12 times, and every time I go back I see something new. The same with Othello, Beloved, and of course 100 Years of Solitude. The list goes on and on.

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My students are always surprised to see the Twilight books in my office — but that’s because I work on children’s literature and those books are part of the culture.

Deborah Williams, Master Teacher, Liberal Studies Program

If you could meet any fictional character who would it be, and why?

Iago, perhaps; Portia from Merchant of Venice; Claudine, from the novels by the French writer Colette; Fleur Pillager from Louise Erdrich’s Tracks.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

My students are always surprised to see the Twilight books in my office — but that’s because I work on children’s literature and those books are part of the culture.

If you could recommend one book that people should read in their lifetime, what would it be?

In a lifetime? That’s hard. You’d need a book that sustains re-reading so I’d probably suggest — as cliche as it might sound — a Shakespeare play like Othello or Tempest.

Dale Hudson, Associate Teaching Professor of Film and New Media and Curator of Film and New Media

What’s on your reading list?

Aldelrahman Munif’s The Trench; Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren; Mai Jen’s Decoded.

What book (s) do you read again and again, and why?

Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, and Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting because they offer models for thinking about history beyond the limiting frameworks of official documents.

If you could meet any fictional character who would it be, and why?

Mara in Nilanjana Roy’s The Wildings because I’d like to ask more details about a cat’s life.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Edward Gorey books, including The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

What book have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet?

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

If you could recommend one book that people should read in their lifetime, what would it be?

Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks.