To start a New Year of our "Faculty Read What?" series, we give you a very classical list from a distinguished guest: Dr. Bill Hodapp, Professor of English.
Favorite or most influential books:
The Odyssey (and The Iliad – who can read one without thinking of the other?) by Homer
Call Number: PA4025.A5 F34 1996
I first read The Odyssey on my own in junior high and liked its adventure tale qualities. When I finally re-read it in college, though, my professor Dr. Helen Galloway opened up the poem’s world for me through a parallel study of Greek art and culture: a gift for which I’ll always be grateful.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Call Number: PQ4315.2
Dante’s great poem of his pilgrim-narrator’s journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven picks up on a theme also found in The Odyssey: life is a grand adventure – a spiritual journey as well as a physical one.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Call Number: PR2807 .A25 1994
Hamlet was the first Shakespeare play I saw staged (ninth grade). Though I didn’t understand all of what was going on, I also didn’t realize until this experience how moving spoken language could be. That performance remains deeply impressed in my memory. I re-read the play at least once a year and catch performances whenever I can, the most recent being the Globe Theatre’s traveling production in Oxford in July 2012.
Reaching Out by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Call Number: BX2350.2 .N676 1975
Though initially reluctant to read this book (it was assigned reading when I was a sophomore in college), I quickly realized I was holding a gem: Nouwen’s message resonated with me then and continues to do so. He remains a favorite author.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Call Number: PS3572.O5 S6 1994
I attended a Catholic high school and read this in a senior humanities course we simply called “banned books” (our reading list was made up of books banned at the public high school many of our friends attended – a great idea for a high school class). This was the first non-linear novel I’d read: I found Vonnegut’s irony refreshing and funny at the time. I can see now how this experience pointed to my developing interest in narrative.
What are you reading now?
In addition to work-related reading, I usually have several other books going at any given time. At the moment, I’m reading Mary Beard’s Confronting the Classics (Liveright 2013), Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (Knopf 2005), George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords (Random House 2003), and Jill Fredston’s Rowing to Latitude (North Point Press 2001). I’d recommend each for different reasons.
Desert Island Pick
If stuck on an desert island with only one book? I’d have to say the Bible. It’s an anthology with a little bit of everything: chronicle, biography, epic, lyric, wisdom literature, even a little drama if you read the Song of Songs as a play.