Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Staff Council

Reading Recommendations: September picks

Posted on September 28, 2012

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The 1893 World Fair in Chicago has a sinister if relatively unknown side story.  While most of the world marveled at the immense spectacle of the fair a charming doctor enticed the naïve to his World Fair Hotel for nefarious purposes.  Larson brings this factual tale to light weaving the story of the fair and the architects who built it, with the serial killer who used the event as an opportunity to commit crime.

Read it if: you want a titillating and historically factual tale.

Skip it if: reading about past killings seems too voyeuristic.

The Psychopath Test
by Jon Ronson

This riveting read takes you into the industry of psychopaths, namely the scientists and doctors who study them in a quest to provide answers to the question of who or what exactly is a psychopath?  Surprisingly full of humor, this piece of investigative journalism will both inform and entertain you.

Read it if: psychopaths, mental health, and the inherent madness of extremely driven high-performers fascinate you.

Skip it if: the idea of reading about the “madness industry” seems disturbing rather than delightful.


Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Following up on her blog success, Lawson has written an uproariously funny memoir.  Rather than shrinking from childhood trauma as subject matter, Lawson recognizes that our cringe-worthy memories are what define us, and if your dad was an amateur taxidermist who liked to bring feral animals home to be rehabilitated, you’d have a lot of material for a book too.

Read it if: you want to know how her boyfriend responded when he was greeted by having a bobcat thrown in his lap.

Skip it if: reading about awkward situations doesn’t make you laugh it just makes you feel uncomfortable.


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This debut novel is heartbreaking and mesmerizing.  The central character, Vanessa Jones, grew up in foster care and is scarred emotionally by her experiences.  While she is unable to connect with people, she has amazing abilities with flowers and using their hidden meanings to communicate and help others.

Read it if: you want a well-crafted story ripe with symbolism.

Skip it if: you find it difficult to read about damaged characters and childhood trauma.

 Submitted by: Lauren Slingluff, Social Sciences Liaison/LIS

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