USC Upstate Staff, Faculty Share Their Favorite Summer Reads

July 18, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Whether you’re poolside, oceanfront or by the campfire, a good book has long been considered an indispensable companion for summer break. We asked faculty and staff at the University of South Carolina Upstate which tomes made their reading lists, and here are their answers with, when offered, their comments. 

Frieda Davison

Frieda Davison, dean of the USC Upstate Library

“Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter,” by Kate Clifford Larson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

“A very fascinating but disturbing read! USC Upstate library does own it.”



Shawn Masto

Shawn Masto, program coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

“The Woman in Cabin 10,” by Ruth Ware (Simon & Schuster, 2016)





Chief Klay Peterson

Klay Peterson, director of Public Safety and chief of police

“East of Eden,” by John Steinbeck (The Viking Press, 1952)





Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones, director of Alumni Relations

“One book I’m reading is ‘The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership,’ by James C. Hunter [The Crown Publishing Group, 1998]. It’s an excellent and relatively quick read.”




Gretchen Clark

Gretchen Clark, head cashier, Financial Services

A historical fiction, “All the Lights We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, 2014)





Kathleen Brady, Ph.D.

Kathleen Brady, vice chancellor, community-based research, engagement, and planning; director, Metropolitan Studies Institute

“The Weight of this World,” by David Joy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017); and “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” (Grawolf Press, 2014) by Eula Biss

“I always have two going at once – a junk book and an intellectually redeeming one.”



Jav Rivera

Jav Rivera, interim assistant director of multimedia productions, University Communications

“Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art,” By Gene Wilder (St. Martin’s Press, 2005)





Frederick Van Patten, adjunct instructor, communications studies

“The Second Mrs. Hockaday,” by Susan Rivers (Algonquin Books, 2017)

“This book has gotten consistently good press. Susan was an adjunct in the English department here at USC Upstate. She’s a local author. Set in the waning days of the Civil War, this is an exclusive view from a young wife who is left to run the home property while her new husband is fighting a losing war. It’s told through dairies, letters, and official documents of the period. Intelligent, strong, creative literary fiction. A must read.”


Jane Nodine

Jane Allen Nodine, professor of art; director of the art gallery

Just finished: “All the Light We Cannot see,” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, 2014)

In progress: “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others,” by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead Hardcover, 2012)

Starting: “The Butterfly and the Violin,” by Kristy Cambron (Thorndike Press, 2014)

In my stack: “Paper: Paging through History,” by Mark Kurlansky (Thorndike Press, 2016)


Doug Williams

Douglas L. Williams, part-time instructor, Department of Informatics

“I find myself buried, for the second time, in Philip Caputo’s ‘The Voyage.’ [Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2000] I first stumbled across this wonderful, absorbing tale on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble nearly 15 years ago; being a sailor myself and this being a story of the sea, I hand no choice but to spring for the five bucks — what a bargain! Had this book appeared a century and a half ago, it might have begun “Call me Ishmael,” or a bit more than half a century, the protagonist would surely have been named Santiago. Yes, that is truly the quality class we are discussing here, which explains why I am reading it for the second time.”


Jim Charles, Ph.D.

Jim Charles, associate dean, School of Education

“Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,” by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016)

“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann (Doubleday, 2017)



Tasha Thomas

Tasha Thomas, senior instructor, Department of Languages, Literature and Composition

“I’ve been reading David Joy this summer. He has two novels published, in addition to a memoir. His work is reminiscent of Ron Rash, and I would categorize it as contemporary Southern Gothic. His plot lines are very dark, but the prose is beautifully written. I’ve also been reading some Hemingway, Michel Stone and Ann Lamott, in addition to others. I have a very eclectic reading list.”


John Riley, Ph.D.

John C. Riley, associate professor of physics

“Moonglow: A Novel,” by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, 2016)

“Walkaway: A Novel,” by Corey Doctorow (Tom Doherty Associates, 2017)




Jimm Cox

Jimm Cox, theatre professor, director of the Shoestring Players

“Let the Right One In,” by John Ajvide Lindqvist (St. Martin’s Press, 2008)

“London Road,” by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork (Nick Hern Books, 2011)

“Theater people read plays”!



Ray Merlock, Ph.D.

Raymond J. Merlock, professor of mass media

“Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,” by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016)

Black Elk as a teenager fought in the Battle of the Little Big Horn and later toured in America and Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Almost like an American Indian Forrest Gump, during significant events he was a presence and a witness — the murder of his second cousin Crazy Horse, during the Ghost Dance Movement and close to the Massacre at Wounded Knee before emerging as both a healer, holy man, and prophet, and as a Roman Catholic. Black Elk was the subject of “Black Elk Speaks,” adapted by John G. Neihardt, a mainstay on college campuses and part of the counter-culture movement of the 1960s.  Jackson’s volume has been listed under “biography,” “nonfiction,” “Native-American studies,” “religion,” and in many bookstores in a new section designated as “cultural studies.” The amount and quality of the research is overwhelming, the writing is powerful, and the overall effect poignant and purposeful. I did not want to spend this summer with mysteries and movie-review summaries.  I am glad I didn’t.”

June Carter

June C.D. Carter, Professor of Spanish, Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

My reading this summer includes books and articles on the science of learning. I just completed James M. Lang’s “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning,” (Jossey-Bass, 2016). The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning will be discussing this book in our 2017-2108 CETL Book Club. Another book that I have just started reading is “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014). These three authors also apply the science of learning to education. One statement that I was anxious to learn more about was, “the popular notion that people learn better when they receive instruction in a form consistent with their preferred learning style, for example as an auditory or visual learner, is not supported by the empirical research.” This is the central theme of the chapter “Get Beyond Learning Styles.”


Ron Patane

Ron Patane, Human Resources Specialist

While this is a book I read several years ago, I’ll throw out a plug for my uncle’s autobiography, “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles,” (Gallery/Jeter Publishing, 2016) [by Ed Lucas and Christopher Lucas). He was blinded at 12 by a baseball to the head, but he still became a sports reporter for the New York Yankees. I travel back to New Jersey every August to help him with his foundation’s annual golf charity event for the blind.