Looking for book recommendations?
We have a vibrant community of scholars at Iowa Law. Our faculty read both for work and for pleasure. This is no surprise in Iowa City, home of the Writers’ Workshop and Prairie Lights Bookstore, and a UNESCO City of Literature.
Here are the books our faculty are currently reading or have recently finished. Perhaps you will find something that piques your interest. Happy exploring!
Dark Matter (Crown/Archetype, 2016). by Black Crouch.
A thriller about a physicist doing work on parallel universes. Fast-paced and hard to put down, it also has enough science and reflection on life choices for the serious-minded reader.
A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Older Order (Penguin Press, 2017), by Richard Haass.
Described by the publisher as a "lucid and incisive analysis of...the need for a new American foreign policy," this book was written by the president of the Council on Foreign Affairs.
Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems (Holy Cow! Press, 1996), by Louis Jenkins.
From Duluth, Minnesota, Jenkins is the unofficial poet laureate of the upper Midwest. His poems are funny and surreal.
The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), by Christopher Newfield.
A fascinating discussion of the current state of public higher education, with proposals for reform, reinvestment, and renewal.
Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Books, 2004), by Ron Chernow.
I heard that the book is better than the musical.
At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others (Other Press, 2016), by Sarah Bakewell.
One of the ten best books of 2016, according to the New York Times.
The Drifter (paperback, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2017), by Nicholas Petrie.
Suspenseful and thrilling, and featuring a compelling new hero named Peter Ash who is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A can’t-put-it-down debut from a fresh voice in crime fiction.
The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century (W.W. Norton, 2014), by David Reynolds.
A very thorough contemplation of the issues raised and not resolved by World War I with respect to nationality, democracy, empire, capitalism, civilization, and peace.
The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud.
Freud's greatest hit. I’m enjoying it less for the interpretations themselves than for the theories of how the subconscious works. Neuroscience hasn’t solved everything yet!
Doctor Faustus (A.A. Knopf, 1997 reprint), by Thomas Mann and John E. Woods.
Wishing I had more of a music background for this one, but it’s keeping me going nonetheless.
Readings in Philosophical Analysis (Appelton-Century-Crofts, 1949), ed. by Herbert Feigl and Wilfred Sellars.
A volume of essays published in 1949 and collecting what the authors, both leading analytic philosophers of the time, thought to be the most representative articles in the then nascent discipline of analytic philosophy. The volume contains papers by Quine, Tarski, Frege, Russell, Carnap, Lewis, Nagel, Waismann, Schlick, Reichebach, Moore, Broad, and Stevenson, among others.
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses (Penguin Books, 2014), by Kevin Birmingham.
As described by the publisher, it "tells the remarkable story of Ulysses, from the first stirrings of Joyce’s inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933."
Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent that Changed America (Harvard University Press, 2015), by Christopher Beauchamp.
As described by the publisher: “Exploring complex questions of ownership and legal power raised by the invention of important new technologies, Invented by Law recovers a forgotten history with wide relevance for today’s patent crisis.”
Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr. (Harvard University Press, 2015), by Jeffrey L. Amestoy.
I knew the name Richard Henry Dana only as the author of Two Years before the Mast, an account of his experiences fleeing Harvard to work as a common sailor on a sailing vessel bound from Boston to California and back. This story of his life, by a former Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, is one of the best books I have read about lawyers, giving details from specific cross-examinations at trial, plenty of political and economic background, and a sympathetic account of a lawyer who bestrode the troubled age in which he lived with his technical prowess as a lawyer and his solid moral judgments.
Mozart’s Grace (Princeton University Press, 2012), by Scott Burnham.
An enchanting explanation of how Mozart's music expresses beauty and grace.
Moo (A.A. Knopf, 1995), by Jane Smiley.
A novel by a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture, and Identity (Allen Lane, 2005) by Amartya Sen.
A collection of essays by the Nobel-winning economist.
Free Labor: The Civil War and the Making of an American Working Class (University of Illinois Press, 2015), by Mark A. Lause
Describes how the working class radicalized during the war as a response to economic crisis, the political opportunity created by the election of Abraham Lincoln, and the ideology of free labor and abolition.
Lost Light (paperback, Grand Central, 2014), by Michael Connelly.
Published in 2003, this is the ninth book in Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. This one follows Bosch as he transitions into life as a private investigator following years as an LAPD homicide detective. The Bosch series combines great mystery and police procedure with instructive lessons in jazz appreciation.