Top 5 – Favorite Books
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Dr. Bryan Zygmont
Dr. Bryan Zygmont is Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a Professor of Art History. He loves to read and help others fall in love with literature, so we asked him: What are your favorite books?
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: I, like most, came to To Kill a Mockingbird in a high school English class, and it has remained my favorite novel since I was a teenager. I reread the book every few years, for I respond to different parts of it depending on how I’ve grown and changed as a person. Atticus Finch from Mockingbird remains my hero.
- War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy: A high school teacher dared me to read War and Peace when I was a junior; I am not sure he thought I would accept his challenge, but not only did I read the tome, I simply devoured it. The book is not just big — and it’s enormous — it’s also majestic and grand. I’ve read it five times now, and each time I’ve completed it I think two related thoughts: I’m glad I’m done with it, and the intellectual reward was worth the time commitment.
- Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The World Literature course I took my sophomore in year college changed my life. This novel — about a long-term unrequited love — seemed to perfectly click with my 19-year-old self. It helped me believe in love and in the power of time to conquer it.
- The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri: Dante’s masterpiece is no mere poem. It is a lesson on Florentine history, Renaissance politics, and Catholic theology (among many other topics). It’s brilliant, breathtaking, and shockingly relatable as a book written during the first quarter of the 14th Century.
- The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe: The film The Right Stuff made me want to be an astronaut (a sad aspiration I still have). Two decades after I first saw the movie, Tom Wolfe’s novel from which the movie was adapted from made me dream of becoming a fine writer (a hopeful aspiration I still have). Although a work of non-fiction, Wolfe writes with the panache of the most skilled of novelists, and the characters he explores — from Chuck Yeager the test pilot to the astronaut Alan Shepard — remain larger than life.