President Ramaley's Bookshelf: August 2010
Like most university presidents, I read a lot of material on higher education. Right now I’m reading Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. Her basic message is a comforting one: Rather than being embarrassed when we are wrong, we ought to keep in mind that our ability to be wrong is a sign of optimism, empathy for others, imagination and courage. We have to dare to be wrong sometimes. I like that sentiment — even though I admit I prefer to be right.
I also like to have a book of poetry beside me at all times, to read when I need a pick-me-up. My current choice is Connie Wanek’s On Speaking Terms. I like the way she spins pictures of the world. It eases my mind and sharpens my ability to see things clearly.
For sheer pleasure, I’m gobbling my way through Jasper Fforde’s "Thursday Next" series, most recently, First Among Sequels. The protagonist, Thursday Next, is a member of an imaginary "jurisfiction" corps that chases miscreants through classic literature — and time — to prevent them from interfering with plot lines.
I have gradually contaminated the reading lists of several friends and colleagues by encouraging them to read Jasper Fforde. Of course, every time I read a novel in the "Thursday Next" series, I also have to take time to re-read books that Next visits, since I often can’t remember the plot details.
Thank goodness I have a Kindle and can download the classics for free. That’s how I got reacquainted with Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, for instance. There’s something endlessly enchanting about the leisurely pace and rich descriptions of 19th-century writing. Like poetry, it tunes up the mind.
Judith A. Ramaley
Winona State University
Book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Author: Kathryn Schulz
Book: On Speaking Terms
Author: Connie Wanek
Book: First Among Sequels
Author: Jasper Fforde