What to Read During Winter Break

Book recommendations from Georgia Tech Library staff.
Book jackets for What to Read, Winter 2022

Book jackets for What to Read, Winter 2022

The weather outside may be frightful but snuggling with a good book sounds delightful. What should you read?

We asked several Georgia Tech Library staff members for recommendations. The books range from a graphic novel series on how disinformation can become reality to a memoir by longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

The Department of Truth

By James Tynion IV, author, and Martin Simmonds, artist, Image Comics (2021 and ongoing)

“Cole Turner has always been a bit of a conspiracy theorist: JFK assassination, lizard people, shadowy government superagencies, and the like. He had no idea that he was right. This ongoing graphic novel series details what goes on when Cole gets recruited into the government agency that helps determine what reality is. This series is a dystopian contemporary science fiction take on how disinformation can become reality — and it is both farfetched and a little too real. The first three trade collections are currently out and will make quick reading for those without lots of spare time over the break.”

—John Mack Freeman, head of public services librarian

Black Cake

By Charmaine Wilkerson, Ballantine Books (2022)

“Estranged siblings, Benny and Byron, reunite when their mother passes away, leaving them just two things: an eight-hour voice recording (and a stipulation that they must listen to the whole thing together, in the presence of their family lawyer), and a black cake (a traditional Caribbean dessert). Listening together, they hear the story of a determined Caribbean girl named Covey who loves to swim. They learn long-kept family secrets, turning what they thought they knew about their mother on its head. This evocative and beautifully written story traces the extraordinary journey of a family forever changed by the choices of its matriarch.”

—Alex McGee, university archivist

The Secret to Superhuman Strength 

By Alison Bechdel, Mariner Books (2021) 

“What compels some of us to time every mile we run, track our resting heartrate, or buy the coolest new workout gear? Alison Bechdel’s incisive, funny The Secret to Superhuman Strength is a memoir focused on exercise and the aging body. Anyone who takes an obsessive interest in a sports hobby only to pick up a new favorite a few years later will see themselves affectionately skewered here. Bechdel’s illustrations are lovely and sardonic; the details and small gags throughout reward repeat readings.”

—Liz Holdsworth, librarian for STEM disciplines and digital learning objects

The Guest List

By Lucy Foley, William Morrow (2020)

“This mystery novel is set on an island off the coast of Ireland with a cast of characters thrown together for a wedding. The characters narrate chapters from their own perspective, and their complex web of relationships is revealed while the plot advances. As the festivities begin, old resentments, feelings, and traditions begin to surface, and eventually someone turns up dead. This novel reads like a classic Agatha Christie novel — full of clues and a bit dark, yet cozy.”

—Catherine Manci, public programming and community engagement specialist 

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig, New York: Viking (2020)

“The Midnight Library tells the story of Nora Seed, a woman who may be at the end of a life full of regrets and resentments. Before she goes, however, she passes through a liminal space full of books (overseen by a librarian) that tell the story of her life’s choices and how things might have otherwise turned out. The librarian acts as a spirit guide, but at heart, she is a true librarian — not giving Nora the answer but providing the tools Nora needs to find her own way toward happiness.”

—Marlee Givens, librarian for modern languages and Library learning consultant

Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win

By Michael Useem, Soft Cover: Three Rivers Press, Hard Cover: Crown Business (2001)

“This book explores the role of leadership from several different levels. The author uses historical events that most readers would be familiar with, such as the Rwandan genocide, and cleverly weaves them into a compelling leadership story and coaching session. ‘The complete disconnect between the front line in Kigali and the executive suite in New York was a reminder that getting an unwanted message up to the top can be one of the most challenging but also one of the most important actions for the upward leader.’”

—Garth Milford, IT service delivery manager

The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life

By Alex Trebek, Simon & Schuster (2020)

“The book is a quick and easy read and touches on everything about Alex Trebek’s life. It includes lots of photographs and short chapters on life, humility, courage, conscience, camaraderie, teamwork, work-life balance, and of course, Jeopardy! Trebek delicately managed the art of writing an engaging memoir on his life, even with his own impending mortality. His writing is humorous, philosophical, optimistic, self-effacing, and engaging. The audience will enjoy reading his stories about celebrities (Queen Elizabeth), Jeopardy! champions, and his favorite books (by Bronte and Maugham). It is a real treat for Jeopardy! and non-Jeopardy! fans alike.”

—Anu Moorthy, electronic resources librarian

Robert L. Jordan Jr., facility manager for the Library and Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, recommended two books:

Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature

By Farah Jasmine Griffin, W. W. Norton & Company (2021)

“This, by far, has been my favorite read of year. The journey that these 10 chapters take you on, as Professor Griffin recounts her personal story of growing up in Philadelphia and providing insights and lessons from the Black American writers, is amazing. In the introduction she writes, ‘This book begins with a girl and ends with grace. Along the way, through a combination of memoir and readings of African American literature, it touches upon the question of mercy, the elusive quest for justice, the prevalence of  beauty, even in the presence of death and throughout, hope in the face of despair.’ I enjoyed this book because it gives insight through the readings of literature and music on the themes that we face and struggle with daily. Not only read until you understand, but also listen.”

Antagonistic Cooperation: Jazz, Collage, Fiction, and the Shaping of African American Culture

By Robert O’Meally, Columbia University Press (2022)

“Although this book deals with a little heavier subject matter, I still found it entertaining and informative. Professor O’Meally explains how the concept of antagonistic cooperation is modeled in jazz performance through friendly competition, challenge, and support to create beautiful musical experiences. Through the works of artists such as Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the literature of Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison, and the music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, he provides illuminating examples of antagonistic cooperation. When we face challenges when cooperating with others as colleagues and leaders, antagonistic cooperation can help us to grow, develop, and mature. Through the author’s eyes, ‘antagonistic cooperation is a form of community building competition and coordination with a jazz player’s spirit of love.”

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