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What Should I Read Next?

70 University of Virginia Professors Recommend Readings in History, Politics, Literature, Math, Science, Technology, the Arts, and More
Jessica Feldman and Robert Stilling, eds.

BUY Paper · 296 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813927367 · $23.50 · Sep 2008

" I cannot live without books."
—Thomas Jefferson

Even the most well-read among us feel gaps in our knowledge. Former English majors or art students want to understand the monetary system; mathematicians or doctors just want a great novel. Travel sections in bookstores are full of authors ready to tell you the hundred places to visit before you die, but what about the best book to read on global warming?

What Should I Read Next? taps seventy University of Virginia professors in an array of fields for suggestions on how to satisfy this nagging intellectual curiosity. Each contributor recommends five titles that speak to their area of inquiry, providing both a general introduction and commentary on each selection. The results read like a series of personal tutorials: Larry Sabato considers how political power is acquired, used, and held onto; climatologist Robert E. Davis provides a timely navigation of global-warming literature; and Michael Levenson offers five ways to approach James Joyce’s Ulysses. Other topics include how computing changes thinking, the life and afterlife of slavery, understanding cities, and ecstatic poetry. The entries convey the contributors’ expertise but also, more importantly, the enthusiasm, the original kernels of curiosity, that drew these scholars to their life’s work.

Designed for the lifelong learner who wants to branch out from his or her own profession or discipline, these explorations—of art, science, history, technology, politics, and much more—offer an inspiring place to start.


Imagine a dinner party where you find yourself chatting with a group of people who seem to know just about everything about global warming, classical Hinduism, jazz, the American West, Chicago architecture, modern poetry, and any number of other fascinating subjects. As you're about to leave the party, each of them hands you a scribbled list of the classic works in his or her field. Now imagine that evening and those lists as a book. What Should I Read Next? is a wonderful Baedeker for serious readers, a guide to a liberal education in the 21st century.

Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Classics for Pleasure

About the Author(s): 

Jessica R. Feldman is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Her publiished works include Gender on the Divide: The Dandy in Modernist Literature and Victorian Modernism: Pragmatism and the Varieties of Aesthetic Experience. She teaches widely in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Robert Stilling is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Virginia. He has published on Robert Frost in the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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