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Knewton Bookshelf: Proust, Franzen, Seuss, and More

Posted in Knerds on January 24, 2012 by

Knewtonians are ravenous readers. From our book club to our book swap, there are a variety of ways to partake in the active literary culture at Knewton.

Here’s just a taste of what folks at Knewton have on their shelves these days:

1. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

David Ingber, Master Teacher

“I find myself unable to read as many pages in one setting as I used to. That’s why I’m almost glad that I ride the subway – it’s at least an hour a day that I can’t be distracted by the internet and my phone.”

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Will Fleiss,  Senior Marketing Associate

If you love gripping young adult novels (think The Giver) and muse about the effects of pop culture and entertainment on society, don’t miss this story about child gladiators.

3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and The Great Shark Hunt: Gonzo Papers Volume 1 by Hunter Thompson

Jayson Phillips, Software Engineer

“It’s (Infinite Jest) a pretty meaty book and makes for a challenging yet enjoyable read.”

“From what I gather via conversation and observation – the reading culture is pretty alive and very diverse. People seem to be reading all the time and in many different genres/forms.”

4. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich

Andy Huang, Content Developer

If you enjoyed Bringing Down the House (the inspiration behind the Kate Bosworth movie 21) be sure to check out what Kevin Spacey calls the next addition to Mezrich’s formidable canon of “lad lit.”

5. Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler; VALIS by Phillip K. Dick; The Pale King by David Foster Wallace; and Purely Functional Data Structures by Chris Okasaki

Trevor Smith, Software Engineer

6. Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

Charlie Harrington, Business Development Associate

During the perilous journey chronicled by Millard in this non-fiction thriller, three men died and Roosevelt himself was brought to the brink of suicide. For a taste of this adventure story, check out Charlie’s favorite quote from the book:

“Far from its outward appearance, the rain forest was not a garden of easy abundance, but precisely the opposite. Its quiet, shaded halls of leafy opulence were not a sanctuary but, rather, the greatest natural battlefield anywhere on the planet, hosting an unremitting and remorseless fight for survival that occupied every single one of its inhabitants, every minute of every day. Though frequently impossible for a casual observer to discern, every inch of space was alive – from the black, teeming soil under Roosevelt’s boots to the top of the canopy far above his head – and everything was connected. A long, linked mat of fungi under the soil consumed the dead and fed the living, completing an ever-changing cycle of remarkable life and commonplace death which had throbbed without pause for millions of years – and of which Roosevelt and his men, knowingly or not, had now become a part.”

7. Swann’s Way: In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust and Strong Motion by Jonathan Franzen

Hyunjin Kim, Associate Product Manager

Hyunjin’s two cents on reading in the age of tech:

“I think it’s becoming increasingly easier to become used to digesting information in smaller bits (from short articles to <140 twitter blasts), which, while useful for certain types of information/communication, often precludes (or make it more difficult to want to seek out) substantial analysis and engagement with thoughts, arguments, and issues.”

8. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Nina Reed, Research Coordinator

Be sure to check out this post-apocalyptic Zombie horror novel, which GQ describes as “glory, lyrical” and “human” if brainy thrillers and full-throttle prose are your thing

9. Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss

Eric Garside, Software Engineer

10. The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam

Christina Yu, Marketing Associate

If you want a serious academic treatment of Little Miss Sunshine, Pixar movies, and Spongebob SquarePants; or if you’re ever given serious thought to what it feels like to come in 4th place at the Olympics, check out this witty treatise on the art of failure, forgetting, and passivity.

One of many insightful moments from the book:

“For Walter Benjamin… the cartoons depict a realist–though not naturalist–expression of the circumstances of modern daily life; the cartoons make clear that even our bodies do not belong to us–we have alienated them in exchange for money, or have given parts of them up in war. The cartoons expose the fact that what parades as civilization is actually barbarism. And the animal-human beasts and spirited things insinuate that humanism is nothing more than an ideology.”

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments!