Your Recommended Reads for 2024 are Here

The Office of Academic Resources partnered with Haverford’s Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Access for the ninth annual Reading Rainbow. Panelists presented books that envision liberatory futures.

Just before Haverford’s community departed for winter break, the Office of Academic Resources (OAR) held its ninth annual Reading Rainbow event. Named after the beloved PBS television show hosted by Lavar Burton that instilled a love of books in the countless children who watched it, the program gathers a panel comprising students, alums, faculty, and staff to share reading recommendations they’ve found particularly resonant. Copies of those books are made available to event participants free of charge. 

This year, says OAR’s director Brian Cuzzolina, is the first time Reading Rainbow partnered with Haverford’s Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) office, and this year’s panelists were invited to present books that imagine a liberatory future. Moving ahead, he says, Reading Rainbow will remain an important program in IDEA’s What Matters to Me and Why series and will continue to connect directly with the annual Campus Read. Both moves, Cuzzolina says, will position Reading Rainbow as an important component of Haverford’s larger institutional learning outcomes. 

Learn more about the panelists’ recommendations below. And if you missed the event, why not visit one of the region’s independent booksellers and get reading today? 

All photos by Patrick Montero.

Nada Aly ’24

Writings Born of Fire: Light in Gaza edited by Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Mike Merryman-Lotze

From the publisher:
This distinctive anthology imagines what the future of Gaza could be while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in Palestinian identity, history, and struggle for liberation.

Light in Gaza is a seminal, moving, and wide-ranging anthology of Palestinian writers and artists. It constitutes a collective effort to organize and center Palestinian voices in the ongoing struggle. As political discourse shifts toward futurism as a means of reimagining a better way of living, beyond the violence and limitations of colonialism, Light in Gaza is an urgent and powerful intervention into an important political moment.

Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace, Justice and Human Rights Xerxes Minocher

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

From the publisher:
From the brilliant and award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a classic tale of two planets torn apart by conflict and mistrust — and the man who risks everything to reunite them.

A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras — a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

To visit Urras — to learn, to teach, to share — will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist’s gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

Maurice Rippel ’19

The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty

From the publisher:
The White Boy Shuffle, Paul Beatty’s hilarious and scathing debut novel, is about Gunnar Kaufman, an awkward, Black surfer bum who is moved by his mother from Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighborhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a “divided, downtrodden people.”

Associate Professor and Director of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Jill Stauffer

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

From the publisher:
Gods meddle in the fates of men, men play with the fates of gods, and a pretender must be cast down from the throne in this masterful first fantasy novel from Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained by the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the Raven’s tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself… and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.

Custodian and IDEA Community Fellow Sachio Takashima

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Others

From the publisher:
Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists’ story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anti-colonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters — fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships — and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world.

Director of the Gender Resources and Sexuality Equality (GRASE) Center Katie (kt) Tedesco

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs 

From the publisher:
Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean. 

Gumbs employs a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility and naturalist observation to show what they might teach us, producing not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wondering and questioning. From the relationship between the endangered North Atlantic right whale and Gumbs’s Shinnecock and enslaved ancestors to the ways echolocation changes our understandings of “vision” and visionary action, this is a masterful use of metaphor and natural models in the service of social justice.