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The Librarian Is In: PPA Edition

News Story

This month, the Pace School of Performing Arts directs us to where we should be headed on the bookshelf.

Brought to us by the Mortola and Birnbaum libraries, The Librarian Is In seeks to answer the age-old question: what should I read next? This month, we have a number of recommendations from the Pace Performing Arts faculty. Here’s what you should be adding to your list, and warming up to by the fire!

Act One—Moss Hart
Recommended by: JV Mercanti, Associate Director of Musical Theater
Moss Hart’s fanciful autobiography is a must-read not only for theater lovers, but for anyone who has tirelessly pursued their dream. Born in the Bronx and raised by Jewish immigrants, Hart was introduced to the theater by his Aunt Kate, sparking a lifelong love affair with performing arts. A combination of talent, determination, and luck lead Hart to become one of the most successful writers on Broadway and in Hollywood. By turns funny and sentimental, Hart’s story will make you yearn for an Act Two but, unfortunately, he died at the age of 57 before he could write it.

Cutting for Stone—Abraham Verghese
Recommended by: Julie Lawrence-Edsall, Assistant Professor, BFA Acting
One of my all-time favorite books. Was on The New York Times best-selling list for over two years. Written by an Ethiopian-born medical doctor, the story begins in Ethiopia when the country is on the brink of revolution, and then moves to New York City. The story is a journey of love, life, death, betrayal, surgery, healing, and internal and external strife and peace. It centers on twin brothers born from the union between an Indian nun and a British surgeon. They are orphaned due to their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance right after. Verghese’s writing and imagination swept me away and made me feel deeply for all of the characters.

The Commitments—Roddy Doyle
Recommended by: Adrienne Kapstein, Assistant Professor, BA International Performance Ensemble Program
I am currently reading The Commitments by Roddy Doyle. I am a huge fan of Doyle's and can't believe I haven't read it before! Doyle captures the charm and wacky idiosyncrasies of the characters beautifully. Set in the late 1980s, a motley group in working-class Dublin come together to form a band and find Irish "soul." It is at once a heart-warming and heart-breaking story of art and ambition, politics and desire. Once I finish this one, I'll be reading his newest release, Smile: A Novel.

The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi)—Herman Hesse
Recommended by: Ruis Woertendyke, PhD, PPA Associate Professor
I recommend The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Herman Hesse published in 1943. Hesse is a vital, spiritual force, the Western man most profoundly in touch with the East—its mysticism, its culture, its sacred visions. This book represents belief in the individual life that must be defended against the hordes and the ways of the modern world.

What Happened?—Hillary Clinton
Recommended by: Grant Kretchik, PPA Associate Director

“Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” –JFK

In this essay format, which is direct, honest, and easy to read, Clinton reveals much of the unprecedented and unusual challenges she faced during this 2016 campaign. While many might falsely claim this book is a blaming of others, it is just the opposite, as Clinton continues to reflect on her mistakes along the way. In time, her campaign and this book will play a role in righting many wrongs, and it will be considered a reflection of history. She speaks boldly to the challenges of being a woman and is vulnerable in discussing her shortcomings as a charismatic communicator. It’s a side of Hillary Clinton her supporters always knew was there, but her detractors did not. I wish she had found this unfiltered, off-the-cuff voice in 2016. More than anything, though, the book inspires. I think it IS important to re-litigate "what happened" in 2016 because, frankly, it should never happen again.

Do you have a book you would like the Pace Library to buy? Please send your book recommendations to Michelle Lang at