Not Your Typical Beach Reads: 10 New Books by Wellesley Faculty

A collage of book covers featured in the story.
Author  E.B. Bartels ’10
Published on 

Heading to the beach this summer and need a good book? Looking for something that may be a bit different than your typical beach read? Check out these 10 new titles by Wellesley faculty. This eclectic list offers something for everyone!


Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes, edited and translated by Louise Marlow, professor of religion

In this anthology, literature of the Islamic Early Middle Period (roughly the 10th to 12th centuries CE) explores the “mirror for princes” genre, in which advice is offered to a ruler or ruler-to-be about how to properly exercise royal power. These ancient texts can provide insights and advice to those in power today.

A Sky Full of Song by Susan Lynn Meyer, professor of English

Meyer tells the story of a family of Ukrainian Jewish refugees making a new life for themselves in the American West in this middle-grade novel set in the early 1900s. While 11-year-old Shoshana loves the wild beauty of the North Dakota prairie and is creating a new American identity, her older sister, Libke, misses their homeland and struggles to fit in, and the two sisters find themselves at odds for the first time in their lives.

Hinduism: The Basics by Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, professor of religion

This introduction to the third-largest and arguably the oldest living religious tradition digs into the variety of philosophical schools, priestly rituals, and popular practices common in the Hindu faith, looking in particular at the diversity of Hinduism’s traditions and how they function in everyday life.


The Islamic Welfare State: Muslim Charity, Human Security, and Government Legitimacy in Pakistan by Christopher Candland, professor of political science

Candland explains the relationship between government legitimacy, everyday security, and lived Islam in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country. He surveys four kinds of Islamic charities—traditional, professional, partisan, and state—focusing on the realities of this work and who actually benefits, and allowing us to better understand politics and political change in Pakistan and across the Muslim world.

Black and Queer on Campus by Michael P. Jeffries, Class of 1949 Chair in Ethics, professor of American studies, and dean of academic affairs

Jeffries offers an inside look at what life is like for LGBTQ college students on campuses across the United States, showing how Black and queer college students often struggle to find safe spaces and a sense of belonging at both predominantly white institutions and historically black colleges and universities. Drawing on interviews with students from over a dozen colleges, Jeffries provides a new, much-needed perspective on the specific challenges Black LGBTQ students face and the ways they overcome them.

Transnational Social Protection: Social Welfare across National Borders by Peggy Levitt, Mildred Lane Kemper Professor of Sociology; Erica Dobbs; Ken Chih-Yan Sun; and Ruxandra Paul

This book debunks the expectation that states are the primary providers of social welfare to their citizens, and only to citizens living within their borders. The authors show how a hybrid transnational social protection regime varies across regions and across the life cycle, and they evaluate the resulting redistribution of access to social protections.

The Bahá'í Faith and African American Studies: Perspectives on Racial Justice, edited by Layli Maparyan, Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women and professor of Africana studies, and Loni Bramson

In this collection, readers will learn about the role members of the Bahá’i Faith have played in racial justice movements in the United States. The book looks at history, social scientific analysis, and personal memoir showcasing Black Bahá’is as well as Bahá’is from diverse backgrounds who are working to address what the authors say is America’s “most challenging issue.”

Diversifying the Court: Race, Gender, and Judicial Legitimacy by Nancy Scherer, recently retired associate professor of political science

Scherer addresses why presidents choose—or don’t choose—to diversify the federal courts by race, ethnicity, and gender. She explores how and why this has become a bitter partisan issue, tracking the controversial history and politics of court diversification, and the impact of diverse representation on people of various backgrounds. As the Supreme Court continues to make sweeping, partisan decisions, this book is a must-read.


The Coffin Makers by Heather Corbally Bryant, senior lecturer in the Writing Program

Bryant’s 11th collection of poetry is an exploration of our daily lives at the beginning of the pandemic. Digging into the things many of us took for granted before COVID-19, she asks the question that rose out of such a major and devastating upheaval: How do we live our lives?

limerence by Octavio R. González, associate professor of English

González’s poems explore themes of sexuality, desire, and identity. Emanuel Xavier, author of Pier Queen and Christ Like, says the book is “revelatory, fierce, and filthy in the most profound way. Octavio González [adds] a daring, fresh, exciting, and necessary new voice to our LGBTQ+ and Latinx literary tradition.”