Arts & Culture

What Are Wildcats Reading on World Book Day?

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UK Wildcat reading book inside residence hall
Image of William T. Young Library fifth floor rotunda
Exterior image of Maxwell Place on UK campus

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2022) — Time to put down the computer (after reading this, of course), pop open the windows and make the perfect cup of tea:  April 23 is World Book Day and we’re celebrating accordingly.

Whether you prefer to read from a tangible copy, e-reader or tablet, books refresh our minds and help to spark new ideas. Ever wonder what others on campus are reading? Looking for your next favorite book?

We spoke to University of Kentucky faculty, staff and students to learn about what books they are currently reading, why you might want to check them out and their favorite reading spots on campus.

“What Universities Owe Democracy” by Ronald J. Daniels

Recommended by Eli Capilouto, University of Kentucky president

“I’ve been reading a few books, one of which is titled: ‘What Universities Owe Democracy.’ It is written by the president of Johns Hopkins University, Ronald J. Daniels. It discusses the responsibilities we have as institutions of higher learning in bolstering our country’s civic health and vitality as well as strengthening and renewing our commitment as engines of social progress and mobility for more Americans. 

I have several places where I like to read on campus. But one, in particular, on the right kind of evening this time of year, is an outdoor porch on the second floor of our home at Maxwell Place. On an evening where the temperature is warm and the light is just right, it offers a lovely view of campus and a place that is removed enough from its hustle and bustle that it is easy to get lost in a good book.”

“Moon Witch Spider King” by Marlon James 

Recommended by Frank X Walker, author, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and director of the MFA program in creative writing in the UK College of Arts and Sciences

“This time of the year I prefer to read in my office. When it’s warmer I like sitting anywhere near the public art surrounding the Singletary Center for the Arts. I’m reading ‘Moon Witch Spider King,’ the second novel in the ‘Dark Star’ trilogy, which focuses on Sogolon the Moon Witch and has her tell her own story. The first novel, ‘Black Leopard Red Wolf,’ was so amazing I read it again while waiting for this second book to come out. It is destined to become a movie franchise on the order of ‘Lord of the Rings.’”

“Matrix” by Lauren Groff

Recommended by Doug Way, dean of UK Libraries

“The latest book I finished was ‘Matrix’ by Lauren Groff. Groff is one of my favorite authors writing today. Her collection of short stories, ‘Florida,’ is my favorite work of hers, but ‘Matrix’ is a close second. The book is a fictionalization of the medieval writer, Marie de France. Groff’s writing style in the work, combined with a tale of Marie’s life after being forced to move to a remote English abbey made for a wonderful read that brought in themes around ambition, community, feminism and love. Throughout, I appreciated how Groff also wove into the tale commentary on patriarchy and religion and humans’ negative impact on the environment.  

As to where I like to read on campus, the answer is, of course, Young Library! I’ll admit most of my reading in the library takes place in my office and consists of emails, but one of my favorite spaces in Willy T. has to be the domed rotunda reading room on the fifth floor. I love reading with lots of natural light, so even if you ignored what a beautiful and inspirational space that is, you can’t look past the abundance of natural light that shines through.”

“Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film” by Ruth Barton

Recommended by Ashley Runyon, director of the University Press of Kentucky

“In a shameless plug for the University Press of Kentucky, I have to recommend a book from my latest obsession — our film biographies. This book came out before I was handling our film titles but is a to-die-for classic that I’m just now reading.

Hedy Lamarr’s story is timeless — a dynamic woman who was beloved for her looks but not taken seriously for her brains. Her status as a sex symbol was solidified after she worked with Cecil B. DeMille and Louis B. Mayer in the 1930s and 1940s. But her story took an unexpected turn as she worked on spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to help defeat Axis powers in WWII. That same technology she patented is still used today in our GPS and Bluetooth technology.

And of course, you’ll want to be caught up on Lamarr’s amazing story before the book appears as a television series starring Wonder Woman herself Gal Gadot, coming soon to Apple TV.”

“Run, Rose, Run” by James Patterson and Dolly Parton

Recommended by Lance Poston, assistant vice president in the Office for Student Success

“Need I say more than ‘Dolly Parton’ to solidify this as an essential part of your summer reading list? Although not the highest-brow piece of literature I’ll be consuming in the coming months, this pick incorporates two of my favorite entertainment draws: a thriller plot with twists and turns and an iconic entertainer who embodies so much of what I find wonderful about the U.S. South. Adding a few sprinkles to the top of this summer selection, you can literally purchase a limited-release strawberry pretzel pie flavored pint — created just for this book’s release — from my favorite woman-owned Columbus-based ice creamery! 

This recommendation is also a great reminder to find time this spring/summer for self-care. Great students, faculty and administrators all need time to relax, unwind and indulge in summer silliness to recharge and reemerge for the challenges of a new academic season together.

Although this spot only works for the warmer months, my favorite place to read on campus is in one of the many colorful Adirondack chairs behind Miller Hall or in the quad behind Bradley Hall.”

“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly

Recommended by Sally Martin, Martin School of Public Policy and Administration graduate student and UK Commencement coordinator

"'For most of history, Anonymous was a woman' is a quote from Virginia Wolf that emphasizes the notably absent role that women have played in historical narratives and records. This is why a favorite genre of mine is historical fiction with women as the main characters and narrators. ‘Lilac Girls’ is the best example of this: three women each experiencing a different part of World War II but whose stories weave together in unexpected ways.

A New York socialite. A Polish teenager. A young German doctor in a male-dominated field. This book spans from New York to Poland, Paris to Germany, and to Ravensbrück, a female-only Nazi concentration camp. Each woman has a different story to tell of heartache, strength, second chances and love. While only one of these characters is based on a real person, you'll get to enjoy getting to read about how one person's decisions will determine life or death for someone they may never meet. 

My favorite place to read on campus is setting up a hammock in the Arboretum on a sunny day to spend a few hours lost in a book. Bonus points for snacks and friends who join me!”

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Both UK Libraries and the University Press of Kentucky can help you achieve your academic and leisurely reading goals.

UK Libraries has over 5.7 million volumes across their eight campus locations and in storage, providing access to 2.4 million e-books and 467 databases.  E-books make up a little over 40% of the collections, growing from approximately 575,000 in 2012 to 2.4 million today. An average of 160 items are circulated, and almost 6,000 full-text journal articles are downloaded each day. Approximately 1,000 items are loaned monthly by the interlibrary loan unit and the same number are borrowed from other institutions for users. UK Libraries spaces are used by 15,500 users per month.

Take advantage of the University Press of Kentucky’s Open Access Initiative, which enables citizens across the Commonwealth to have free access to titles and resources. Most UPK titles become available through the OAI five years after the book's release date. Access is provided via UKnowledge or the Kentucky Virtual Library. Users may contact their local library for login credentials. 

The University Press of Kentucky is the statewide nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Serving all Kentucky state-sponsored institutions of higher learning as well as seven private colleges and Kentucky’s two major historical societies, it was organized in 1969 as a successor to the University of Kentucky Press. UPK is dedicated to the publication of academic books of high scholarly merit as well as significant books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South and Appalachia.

As the premier research library in the Commonwealth, UK Libraries empowers lifelong learners to discover, create and connect by providing ever-expanding access to quality information and collaborating with academic and creative communities worldwide to advance knowledge, enhance scholarship and preserve the history and culture of the Commonwealth. More information about UK Libraries can be found on its website.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.