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Faculty Favorites and Staff Suggestions from all departments at Marshall University.

Herd Books

Campus faculty and staff have suggested their favorite books. We heard them and have gathered the titles into our Herd Book Collection! These books may be in a specific field of study or purely fun. Get to know our MU campus community by exploring their recommendations. 

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Herd Books Displayed

Recommended Herd Books displayed in Drinko Library Learning Commons.
Recommended Herd Books displayed in Drinko Library Learning Commons.


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Diane Palmieri
Drinko Library 336
Marshall University

2023 Faculty Favorites & Staff Suggestions

Recommended by: Amanda Shaver, Academic Advisory, Adjunct Instructor

Reason: This book has an amazing selection of short articles all related to food in Appalachia.


Recommended by: Shane Lawrence, Integration Specialist

Reason: "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" is a novella that captivates readers with its powerful narrative and profound themes. Authored by Stephen King and part of the collection "Different Seasons," this literary gem unfolds the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker convicted of a crime he did not commit, as he navigates the harsh realities of Shawshank State Penitentiary. King's storytelling prowess shines through as he weaves a tale of resilience, friendship, and the indomitable spirit of the human soul. The characters are vividly drawn, each contributing to the intricate tapestry of life within the prison walls. The novella not only explores the harshness of incarceration but also delves into the enduring power of hope and the resilience of the human spirit. The writing is poignant, evoking a range of emotions from despair to triumph. Through Andy's journey, readers are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions, making it a truly immersive and unforgettable literary experience. The novella's pacing is masterful, keeping the audience engaged from the first page to the last. What sets "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" apart is its ability to transcend the confines of its prison setting and resonate with readers on a universal level. It explores themes of justice, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who delves into its pages. Stephen King's narrative prowess is on full display, making this novella a timeless classic that continues to capture the hearts of readers across generations.


Recommended by: Dan Holbrook, Professor Emeritus

Reason: One of the best single books explaining how our current age of conspiricism emerged.


Recommended by: Jo Tremmel,  Infectious Disease Surveillance Lab Database Manager

Reason: It is a relevant and approachable book about each of the major extinction events throughout Earth’s history. It’s language is very colorful and lands on a nice tone between technical and everyday.


Recommended by: Misty DiSilvio, Assistant Director of Purchasing

Reason: This book is an excellent example of well written flashbacks and telling a story starting at the end, moving back to the beginning, and meeting in the middle. The story is told from the point of view of a Doctor and Father. This story details his devotion and love for his family, and how even when acting out of love and protection for a family member can have unintended consequences. This book will keep you guessing start to finish. It is one of my favorites. I have purchased many copies to let friends and family "borrow" over the years to ensure I always have my own copy. It is one of the only books I have read multiple times.


Recommended by: Jared D. Shull, English Instructor

Reason: An arresting debut novel and profoundly visceral journey from beginning to end. Fierce, primal, compelling. And simultaneously, the story’s softness pulls the reader into a narrative illuminating the vulnerability and fragility of what it means to be truly human. FTOTS is more than a casual read. It’s a full-blown, unbridled experience that never reads like a debut novel. Its transcendent maturity possesses the evolution of an author that has produced volumes of literature over the course of multiple decades.


Recommended by: Meghan D Sexton-Harness, Library Associate

Reason: Ever since diving into HIV/AIDS history, I have been drawn to activist Peter Staley. This memoir gives great insight into what it was like on the ground during the AIDS Crisis, but with Staley's easy-going nature, the story is told with dashes of humor despite the heavy subject matter.


Recommended by: Meghan D Sexton-Harness, Library Associate

Reason: I found this book as a teenager, and I feel like it gave me a different perspective of myself and the people around me. I used this book when I taught English 101, and the students really seemed to enjoy it. I return to it every few years and always take something new away.


Recommended by: Sarah Mollette, Assoc. Prof / Online Learning Librarian

Reason: This book, which is available on Kindle Unlimited, is set in 2017 and focuses on two ambitious siblings living in New York. It is an equal parts funny, romantic, and tragic look at a Puerto Rican family and their everyday yet singular experiences as they deal with their absent mother and the political landscape of the time.


Recommended by: Austin Persinger, Community Outreach, Resources, and Education Specialist

Reason: I'm fascinated by individual and collective change. Change is inevitable whether it is by choice or by chance and our embrace and/or resistance to change is interesting. The Parable of the Sower is a meditation on change and how people and groups attempt to cope with pressures created by a degrading environment, an unstable economy, and a volatile political landscape. In the book, the world has changed dramatically and can never return to the way it was. Those that cling to the former world create a myriad of problems for themselves and others. Resilience belongs to those that accept change and try to move forward. The book asks, how do you maintain your decency when your whole world turns to spit then hits the fan? This book is great if you enjoy dystopian sci-fi or feel like you live in a dystopia. It is interesting to compare Octavia E. Butler's anxieties and hopes with those expressed in 1984 and/or Brave New World, both of which always have an uncanny relevance to the present day. These books are also highly recommended and now I've squeezed 3 recommendations in the place of 1. 4 if you're compelled to read the sequel, Parable of the Talents. Parable of the Sower is also available in audio and as an amazing graphic novel, the movie is in the works. It should seriously be considered as 1 of, if not the so-called "great American novel."


Recommended by: Eryn Roles, Research and Instruction Librarian

Reason: This is a book about video games, but not really. Much like Rudy is a movie about football, but not really.


Recommended by: Laura Michele Diener, History Professor

Reason: I am writing a book about the author. I first read these books when I was an undergrad, and they have been inspiring my love of the Middle Ages ever since.


Recommended by: Niki, Director of Grants Development (MURC)

Reason: This Annie Proulx novel spans centuries and countries and is a gripping story on some of our most important relationships - those with our family and with our environment.


Recommended by: Chris Ingersoll, Professor of Advertising and Design

Reason: A classic book on typography for serious designers.


Recommended by: Gena Chattin, Research and ETD Librarian

Reason: The vivid deep sea and biological imagery has flourished in my imagination for decades, not to mention the effect of the mysterious Captain Nemo. It's so fun to see how modern science fiction continues to be rooted in what Verne did here and in other novels more than a century ago.


Recommended by: John Vielkind, Professor of Philosophy/Dept of Undergraduate Humanities

Reason: An ancient classic and one of the best introductions to the study of philosophy, especially as seen in the words of the Platonic Socrates.


Recommended by: Beverly Delidow, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Reason: This book explores how to quiet the roar of constant stress and work and news cycles by deliberately engaging the natural world. It is contemplative and beautifully written.


Recommended by: Brock Burwell, Director of Videography

Reason: A few years I stumbled across a post online that asked the question, "What book changed your life as an adult?" I was shocked by how many people suggested "Man's Search For Meaning." I had never heard of it before, but instantly went online and purchased it. I'm not someone who can sit down and read a book for hours but when it arrived, this book had me so enthralled that I read it in a single night. Viktor's account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps from a perspective of a psychologist is fascinating, haunting and inspiring. If he was able to find hope in a hopeless environment that's devoid of human decency and humanity, it seems like we can too. After all, our difficulties are nothing compared to what Dr. Frankl went through. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-- to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances..." This book is a must-read for everyone.


Recommended by: Jared D. Shull, Instructor, Department of English

Reason: Sri Lankan author, Shehan Karunatilaka, was awarded the 2022 Booker Prize for this novel that masterfully weaves together the spiritual realm and reality. Elegantly written prose complemented by a powerful, driving narrative that seamlessly navigates between life and the hereafter while the protagonist negotiates the bewildering complexities of Sri Lankan politics. It's a novel that contains something for nearly every adult-aged reader.


Recommended by: Maurice A. Mufson, MD, Hon.D.Sc., MACP, Professor Emeritus

Reason: Lewis Thomas, MD served as Chair of Pathology and then of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine when I was a medical student and then a Resident Physician on the NYU Medical Wards of Bellevue Hospital. He was an excellent scientist and researcher, a distinguished teacher and wonderful author. I presented a copy of this book at the graduation to each Marshall student who signed on for my research elective and completed it.


Recommended by: Dr. Montserrat Miller, Professor of History and Executive Director of the Drinko Academy

Reason: This book is fascinating and breezy account of how beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola shaped human experience from the Neolithic period to the late twentieth century.  It's entertaining and highly informative.


Recommended by: Isaac Willis Larison, PhD, Professor - College of Education and Professional Development:  Literacy Education Program

Reason: This is a remarkable story that stays with you long after you have finished reading the book.


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason:  A fascinating text filled with thought-provoking essays on the nature of contemporary culture. To quote from the Precession of Simulacra: "Such would be the successive phases of the image:  it is the reflection of a profound reality; it masks and denatures a profound reality; it masks the absence of a profound reality; it has no relation to any reality whatsoever; it is its own pure simulacrum." For film buffs, it's the text that appears in one of the early scenes in The Matrix.


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director School of Art & Design

Reason: The text outlines the relationship between music and economics forces through various networks of thinking: ritualizing, representing, repetition, and composition. It addresses issues such as the emergence of intellectual property rights in 19th century France, the economy of abundance, and notions of art and art making in its final sections. Suitable for advanced undergraduates.


Recommended by: Shane Lawrence, Integration Specialist


Recommended by: Holly Dunmore, Director of Information Technology at the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, PA Program and Health Science Libary

Reason: This book gave me a new perspective on life and the tools that I needed to learn to cope with the many things in life that are simply out of my control. It also helped me identify those things in life that are not controllable. I have given this book to many people over the years who were struggling with life, difficult people, and situations. Not everyone finds it life-changing, but for many this book helps them find some peace in this crazy world. I joke and say this book should be required reading but for me, there is inner peace to be found in these pages. I read and re-read this book, the pages are worn and highlighted. I always tell everyone to hang in there until chapter 5, that is where the coping tools really begin to be introduced. There is also an excellent chapter on grief. I can also highly recommend the audiobook as read by Christa Moore.


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason: Much music uses harmonic formulas introduced during the common practice era. Learn your professor's tired old Zimbaldoni and become a pop star!


Recommended by: Dr. Jana Tigchelaar, Associate Professor of English

Reason: Pancake's book is both timely and timeless, discussing mountaintop removal mining, Appalachian regional identity, family, and trauma with such beautiful skill. Also includes a chapter about the Buffalo Creek flood disaster that is one of the most harrowing things I've ever read.


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason: Elaborates clearly on the historical underpinnings of common practice music. Introduces Fenaroli's Rule of the Octave to North American students. Suitable for undergraduates.


Recommended by: Nancy Tresch-Reneau, Administrative Secretary, Sr., Psychology Department


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason: Seminal text in 20th century music philosophy. Lays some of the groundwork for Adorno's Aesthetic Theory. 


Recommended by: Nancy Tresch-Reneau, Administrative Secretary, Sr., Psychology Department


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason: Historical underpinnings of common practice era music. Written as a dialog. Filled with fun aphorisms such as: "Water wears the stone, not by sheer force, but by constant falling."


Recommended by: Dr. Mark Zanter, Professor of Music, Interim Director of the School of Art & Design

Reason: Seminal text in the field. Essential study for music theorists, students of composition, and music theory instructors.


Recommended by: Diane Palmieri, Staff Librarian

Reason: This book critiques our first impressions and the way we interact with strangers, helping readers break down internal bias and gain new perspectives.

Leading by Reading

Check out these titles recommended by Marshall University President, Brad Smith and his First Lady, Alys Smith!

Brad's Books

Alys's List