Seasons Readings

Books for [almost] everyone on your gift list

When we decided to do a holiday feature about books by UI faculty and staff members, we had no idea how overwhelming a task this would be. Even after taking out textbooks and other more academic titles, the list is daunting. Realizing that a complete list would be impossible, we enlisted the help of Yoline Chandler, manager at the Illini Union Bookstore, to highlight a few titles. From growing vegetables, to astronomy, to fiction here are just a few titles you may want to give as gifts ---- or put on your holiday reading list.

For anyone interested in China, its society and culture, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China," by Patricia Buckley Ebrey, is not only a comprehensive introduction to this extraordinary civilization and its history, but is also rich in photos and illustrations. Ebrey is a professor of East Asian Studies. Her book embraces all aspects of Chinese arts, culture, economics and society, as well as China's treatment of women, foreign policy, emigrations and politics.

Muriel (Mickey) Scheinman, adjunct professor of art history, has written a lively photographic guidebook of art at Urbana-Champaign, Robert Allerton Park and Chicago. "A Guide to Art at the University of Illinois," published by UI Press, covers art patronage at the UI, from the first gallery's tentative beginnings in 1875 to the collections now gracing campus museums and the everyday environment. Maps of the three locales and photos of the artwork enable visitors to find key murals, sculptures and other objects presented in the text.

Movie buffs may enjoy "The Making of 'Citizen Kane,' " by Robert L. Carringer, professor of English and film. The New York Times called it, "the most thorough to date -- a comprehensive study, packed with fascinating detail about every stage of the production process."

Poetry is growing in popularity across the country, Chandler said. For the poetry lover on your list, "Song," a book of poems by Brigit Pegeen Kelly might be a good pick. Kelly, professor of English, has won many awards for her work, and her poems have appeared in many of the country's distinguished journals and anthologies, as well as in "Best American Poetry" and "The Pushcart Prize." As a poet, Kelly uses the power of myth, tale and song as they are woven into extended, narrative lines that take the reader through the drama of the human experience -- desire, pain, love, cruelty, fear, hope and memory.

A book by Peter Fritzsche, professor of history, and his wife, Karen Hewitt, editor at UI Press, is perfect for the traveler or the armchair traveler. Featuring four intimate walking tours of Berlin's most historic neighborhoods, "Berlinwalks" reveals the city's breathtaking history. "Berlinwalks" also explores the city's cultural development through the creations of its artists, architects and novelists; the book features maps, photos and a select list of restaurants and hotels

For those who use the winter months to plan a summer garden, you may want to invest in "Vegetable Growing Handbook." Written by Walter Splittstoesser, professor of plant physiology in horticulture, the highly respected reference manual is now in its third printing and provides practical, scientifically sound information for growing, harvesting and storing more than 90 common and specialty vegetables and garden herbs. Accessible to home gardeners and small commercial growers alike, the handbook covers all of the latest organic, biological, chemical, and mechanical methods of cultivation, and presents effective techniques for insect and disease control, including several organic methods.

For the Internet junkie on your list, pick up "The Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog," by Ed Krol, network manager at NCSA. The book, included on the New York Public Library's Books of the Century, is a comprehensive introduction to the international network of computer systems called the Internet. It is a complete user's guide to the Internet, covering everything from the basics, such as electronic mail and newsgroups, to the newest developments.

A choice of novels or short-story collections abound for the fiction-reader on your list. Richard Powers, professor of English and a Swanlund Chair recipient, has five published novels: "Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance," a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Prisoner's Dilemma"; "Gold Bug Variations," Time magazine's book of the year and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Operation Wandering Soul," a finalist for the National Book Award; and "Galatea 2.2," a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

"How to Read an Unwritten Language" is a first novel by Philip Graham, professor of English. Both exuberantly comic and darkly disturbing, this novel abounds in memorable stories, told by a man who hopes to save others, and himself, through the telling. Robert Olen Butler called Graham "one of the most original and ravishing voices in American fiction." Graham also is the author of "The Art of the Knock: Stories," a critically acclaimed collection of short stories.

Graham and his wife, Alma Gottlieb, professor of anthropology, collaborated on "Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa." The book, about their experiences living in an African village, was the winner of the 1993 Victor Turner Prize.

Michael Bérubé, professor of English, has written "Life as We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child," a touching book based on his family's experiences. When his son, James, was born in 1991, Bérubé knew little about Down syndrome other than that it would label their child "disabled." As they sought to understand what this would mean, they learned not only about the current medical and social treatment of developmental disabilities, but also about the history of how society has understood -- and failed to understand -- children such as James.

For the kids on your list, you could pick any in a series by Sidney Rosen, professor emeritus of astronomy: "Where Does the Moon Go?," "Can You Find a Planet?," "Which Way to the Milky Way?," "Can You Hitch a Ride on a Comet?" or "How Far is a Star?" With cartoon characters to guide them (illustrations by Dean Lindberg, of Minneapolis), young readers discover science in a quest for answers to everyday questions. Where does the moon go at night? Why does it seem to change its shape? What is the weather like on Mars?

Older children might enjoy "The Magician's Apprentice," written by Rosen and his wife, Dorothy Rosen, a children's librarian, free-lance writer, and teacher of English as a second language. "The Magician's Apprentice" skillfully mixes fact and fiction to create a gripping and informative story. Young readers will learn all about life in the Middle Ages as they follow 15-year-old Jean on his unusual journey.

Another book for pre-teens is "The Great Iron Link: The Building of the Central Pacific Railroad," by Rosemary Laughlin, an English teacher at University High School. The book is written for junior high-age kids. Laughlin also has another book coming out soon on the 19th-century railroad strike in Pullman, Ill., in 1893. (She also published a mystery novel, "Trouble on the Shoshone," in 1989.)

Raymond Bial has published several photoessays for adults and children. Bial holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the UI and teaches a graduate course on contemporary book publishing for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Among his works are "Visit to Amish Country," "Corn Belt Harvest," "County Fair," "From the Heart of the Country," "The Underground Railroad," "Portrait of a Farm Family" and "Amish Home."

Larry Kanfer, a UI alumnus, has several published collections that feature the understated beauty of the Midwest landscape. "Postcards from the Prairie," "On Second Glance" and "Prairiescapes" offer a visual feast of scenes from this region.

To find out more about local authors or books about Central Illinois, visit the Author's Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore. Most of these books are available at the Illini Union Bookstore and other area book stores.

Other suggested titles


"All Aboard! The Railroad in American Life" George H. Douglas, professor of English

"Feminism and American Literary History" Nina Baym, professor of English

"The Gas Station in America," "The Motel in America" John A. Jakle, professor of geography, landscape architecture and University Press and Keith A. Soulle

"In My Father's House Are Many Mansions" Orville Vernon Burton, professor of history and sociology


"My Music and My Life" William Warfield, professor emeritus of music

"A Sympathy with Sounds" (a brief history of the UI School of Music, which celebrated its centennial in 1995) Ann L. Silverberg, School of Music


"Our Last First Poets" Cary Nelson, professor of criticism and interpretational theory, Jubilee professor of liberal arts and sciences

"Pencils Rhetorique, Renaissance Poets and the Art of Painting" Judith Dundas, professor of English

"Elizabeth Bishop," "Middle Murphy," "Murphy Stories" Mark Costello, professor of English

"New and Selected Poems 1962-92," "Kitts Monkey Feuds" Lawrence Lieberman

"Blue Tango," "Tall Birds Stalking," and "Wichita Poems" Michael Van Walleghe


"Billy Morrow Jackson, Interpretations of Time and Light" Howard E. Wooden (Jackson was on the UI art faculty for 33 years and continues to work out of his studio/home in Champaign.)

"Light in Japanese Architecture" Henry Plummer, professor of architecture

"Children and Historical Research" Leal School


"The Ever-Changing Sky" (a guide to the celestial sphere) James B. Kaler, professor of astronomy

"Insects Through the Seasons" Gilbert Waldbauer, professor of entomology

"Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers," "Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers," and "Bugs in the System." May R. Berenbaum, Swanlund endowed professor, professor of entomology

Short Stories/fiction

"Early Stories from the Land" (Short stories and fiction from American and rural magazines) Edited by Robert G. Hayes, a former professor of agricultural communications and journalism

"Just Be My Friend" Hadley Read and Mary Klaaren Andersen, a former professor of speech communication


"57 Ways to Protect Your Home Environment and You" UI Cooperative Extension Service

Books about UI or Central Illinois


"Lou! Winning at Illinois" Lou Henson, former head coach of UI men's basketball

"Hail to the Orange and Blue" Linda Young

"UI/Past and Present" (A foreword by James Stukel, president of the UI since 1995 and former chancellor of UIC. UIUC Chancellor Michael Aiken introduces the collection of historical and current images.)

"Illinois Wilds" (a natural history of the wildlands found in Illinois) From the Illinois Natural History Survey: Michael R. Jeffords, Susan L. Post, Kenneth R. Robertson,

"History in Postcards: Champaign, Urbana and the University of Illinois" Willis C. Baker and Patricia L. Miller

"America's Rural Hub" Stanley A. Changnon

"The Prairienet Companion" Bruce Pea

"The Big Ten: A Century of Excellence," By Dale Raterman, a UI alumnus who worked for the athletic department for 11 years. Relive hundreds of great Big Ten moments and memories.

"Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: 100 Years of Big Ten Heritage" Mike Pearson, former UI sports information director


Comments to: Inside Illinois Editor Doris Dahl, (217) 333-2895,

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