UChicago Faculty Summer Reading Recommendations

Long summer days can provide the perfect opportunity to try out a new book. Whether you want to learn more about the world around us or are trying to dive into a fictional world, the faculty members at the University of Chicago have a recommendation for you.

Below, some of the 2022 winners of UChicago’s annual Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards share some of the books they’ve enjoyed reading.

Countdown: Our last and best hope for a future on Earth? by Alan Weismann

Recommended by biochemist Chuan He

“This book, which was recommended to me by my colleague Professor Marvin Makinen, is a good read to remind us of the impact of man on the Earth and the importance of preserving resources. Our resources are not unlimited; one day we will miss it. Personally, I found it quite interesting. This is relevant to some of the more recent work in my lab, which deals with sustainability and climate change and even food insecurity.

The Brutish Museums: The bronzes of Benin, colonial violence and cultural restitution by Dan Hicks

Independently recommended by literary scholar Julie Orlemanski and art historian Megan Sullivan

“This book, written by the curator of an anthropological museum, is a striking mix of genres: historiography of colonial violence, forensic investigation of the provenance of art, theories of periodization and collecting, and appeal straight to the action. Not only does Hicks make an urgent case for the return of looted objects, but his book changed the way I think about premodernity as a category that is continually, materially, created. Galvanizing reading. —Julie Orlemanski

“This book, part revisionist history of British colonialism, part call to action, goes to the heart of the entanglement of imperialist violence and the formation of famous museum collections across Europe and the United States. . While Hicks is more interested in talking to museum curators and professionals, his book will also change the way even casual museum visitors understand these institutions. —Megan Sullivan