The University of Texas at Austin
  • The gift of books

    By Michelle Bryant
    Michelle Bryant
    Published: Dec. 10, 2010

    This holiday season, as you scramble to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, consider some of these new reads guaranteed to fit just right.

    For the Longhorn on your list who already has everything — burnt orange, that is — opt for something that gives twice by helping raise money for the university:

    Cover design of World: Stories book

    “Changing the World: Stories Celebrating 100 Years of Graduate Education at The University of Texas at Austin”
    Edited by Kathleen Mabley, director of communications for the Graduate School
    In celebration of the 2010 centennial anniversary of the Graduate School, the school published a hardcover book commemorating its century of excellence. Since 1910, more than 125,000 students have earned a master’s or doctoral degree in more than 100 programs across campus. This book tells the story of just a few of these graduates who have, in large and small ways, left their marks on the university and the world. “Changing the World” is about passions pursued, unexpected paths taken, lessons learned and impacts made on the lives of others. Proceeds from book sales go directly to support graduate students at the university.
    (University of Texas Press, November 2010)

    For the relative who always beats you at Monopoly:

    Cover design of American Colossus book

    “American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900″
    By H.W. Brands, Dickson, Allen, Anderson Centennial Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts
    During the 30 years following the end of the Civil War, America as we know it began to take shape. The population boomed, consumption grew rapidly and the national economy soared. In “American Colossus” Brands provides a historical account of America’s transformation into a land of consumerism and massive industry. Chronicling the efforts of such tycoons as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, Brands describes how early American capitalists altered the shape of America’s economic landscape.
    (Doubleday, October 2010)

    For the politico in your life:

    Cover design for How Things Really Work book

    “How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics”
    By former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, who taught at the LBJ School for Public Affairs, and coauthor Saralee Tiede, director of communications at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, College of Natural Sciences
    Former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby once told an opponent who wanted more debate time with him that 15 minutes was more than enough time for his challenger to “tell us all you know about state government.” It’s that no-holds-barred, did he just say that, candor that sets the tone and gives readers an insider’s view into Texas state politics. Hobby served a record 18 years as the state’s lieutenant governor. His candid recollections about his days in office, as well as his take on what state government should and should not do are written with long-time advisor and former Capitol reporter Saralee Tiede. The book covers everything from partisan politics to efforts to rewrite the Texas Constitution to government wiretaps and the war on drugs, and his memories of working with Texas politicians Ben Ramsey, Dolph Briscoe, Bill Clements and Ann Richards. Through it all, Hobby emphasized the need for Texas to make education a priority.
    (The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, September 2010)

    For the brave and imaginative tight rope-walking young adult on your list:

    Cover design of Betti on the High Wire book

    “Betti on the High Wire”
    By Lisa Railsback, Michener Center for Writers alumna
    Ten-year-old Babo has grown up on an abandoned circus camp in a fantastical war-torn country. She sleeps in the old lion cage and takes care of the other parentless children telling them stories about the old circus days and finding ways to make them laugh. They need her. So she’s not one bit happy when an American couple wants to adopt her and change her name to Betti. How will her real parents ever find her? Finding herself in America with new parents and a little sister, she is determined to run away. Heartbreaking and hilarious fiction, “Betti on the High Wire” is about family, the meaning of home — and most of all, about one brave and imaginative little girl.
    (Dial, July 2010)

    For the history buff captivated by the city of New Orleans:

    Cover design of Exiles at Home book

    “Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans”
    By Shirley Elizabeth Thompson, associate professor of the Department of American Studies and associate director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, College of Liberal Arts
    This year’s winner of the University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Award, Shirley Thompson offers a moving study of a world defined by racial and cultural double consciousness. In tracing the experiences of creoles of color, she illuminates the role ordinary Americans played in shaping an understanding of identity and belonging. New Orleans has always captured our imagination as an exotic city in its racial ambiguity and pursuit of les bons temps. Despite its image as a place apart, the city played a key role in 19th century America as a site for immigration and pluralism, the quest for equality and processes of self-making.
    (Harvard University Press, Feb. 2009)

    For the friend on a spiritual journey:

    Cover design of Hope for the Thinking Christian book

    “Hope for the Thinking Christian: Seeking a Path of Faith Through Everyday Life”
    By Stephen Reese, Jesse H. Jones Professor of Journalism and associate dean for Academic Affairs, College of Communication
    “Hope” is for anyone who has wrestled with how to experience God more fully and to understand what God expects from us within an intellectually honest faith. We live in a fast-moving, diverse society encountering others who share different beliefs, often within our own extended families. An honest faith asks, “How can we care for each other if we disagree? Do we need consensus of belief to have a community of faith?” This book is a faith journey through everyday life, confronting the challenge of staying spiritually intentional in a demanding world.
    (Smyth & Helwys Publishing, May 2010)

    For the indecisive person on your list:

    Cover design of Nothing Happened and Then It Did book

    “Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction”
    By Jake Silverstein, Michener Center for Writers alumnus and Texas Monthly magazine editor
    Jake Silverstein offers a novel with a twist:  half of it is fact and half of it is fiction. The book alternates between essays which appeared in Harper’s magazine – in which he reports from a daredevil Mexican road race, searches for the lost grave of writer Ambrose Bierce, enters a dubious poetry publishing contest, and covers the grand opening of a third-world McDonald’s, among other adventures — and the fictive exploits of a young journalist named “Jake Silverstein,” who takes a job in remote West Texas in the belief that working any place where nothing ever happens will put him in a good spot to scoop the story when something does. The real Silverstein did just that, working as a reporter at the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa. The table of contents verifies which chapters are fact and which are fiction, in case your curiosity gets the best of you.
    (W. W. Norton & Company, April 2010)

    Read more about university-related literature and literary events in the Shelf Life@Texas blog.

    Promo photo courtesy of Horia Varlan, Flickr CC. Photo illustration by Tillie Policastro.

    • Quote 2
      everyday advent « ReeseNotes: said on Dec. 19, 2010 at 2:25 p.m.
      [...] for this season as for the rest of the year.  Here are some recent thoughts on the book project, Hope for the thinking Christian, courtesy of the “Know” site at the University of Texas, “Navigating life’s [...]
    • Quote 2
      campus buzz for “Hope” « ReeseNotes: said on Dec. 10, 2010 at 2:15 p.m.
      [...] This has been a somewhat “under the radar” project when it comes to my professional life as a university professor, which is why it’s been interesting (and gratifying) to see it get picked up by the larger campus publicity apparatus.  The public affairs website for the University of Texas, “Know,” has selected Hope for the thinking Christian as one of a few general-interest recommended books for holiday shopping.  Click here to see it and the others. [...]
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