Holiday Books: 9 Illuminating Reads from Graduate Center Faculty and Alumni

December 1, 2022

These memorable books make great gifts.

2022 Holiday Books Listicle

Looking for a unique guidebook to New York City, or to the universe? What about a book that will take you deep inside an underground resistance group in Germany, or an ever-changing South African neighborhood? Or maybe it’s time to try some contemporary poetry or a provoking philosophical text. Here’s a roundup of books from Graduate Center faculty and alumni to consider for your holiday shopping list:

Andrea Janes
Alumna Andrea Janes

1. A Haunted History of Invisible Women, by Andrea Janes (M.A. ’05, Liberal Studies) and Leanna Renee Hieber, explores women’s intimate connections to the spirit world as it reveals the harrowing stories of famous ghosts and witches.


Carolina Bank Muñoz
Professor Carolina Bank Muñoz holding her new book, A People’s Guide to New York City.

2. A People’s Guide to New York City, co-authored by Professors Carolina Bank Muñoz (GC/Brooklyn, Sociology), Penny Lewis of the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, and Emily Tumpson Molina of Brooklyn College, focuses on average New Yorkers’ triumphs and struggles — such as the epic boycott of Ebinger bakery, home of Brooklyn blackout cake.


Saul Kripke
The late Distinguished Professor Saul Kripke

3. Naming and Necessity, by the late Distinguished Professor Saul Kripke, is the book version of three papers Kripke gave at Princeton in 1970 and has been called, by Graduate Center Distinguished Professor Michael Devitt (Philosophy), “undoubtedly one of the most remarkable philosophical works of the 20th century.” 


Rebecca Donner
Rebecca Donner

4. All the Frequent Trouble of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance, by former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow Rebecca Donner, won the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award for its in-depth portrait of the leader of one of the largest underground resistance groups in Germany.


Jean Halley's Book " The Roads to Hillbrow"
Jean Halley and her book The Roads to Hillbrow: Making Life in South Africa's Community of Migrants (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

5. The Roads to Hillbrow: Making Life in South Africa's Community of Migrants, co-authored by Professor Jean Halley (Sociology, Liberal Studies, Women's and Gender Studies) and CUNY research programs director Ron Nerio, is a gripping and accessible history of a South African neighborhood and its changing communities.


Ashna Ali; Photo credit: Alex Irklievski
Alumna Ashna Ali (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

6. The Relativity of Living Well, a collection of poems by Brooklyn-based Ashna Ali (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature), documents their pandemic experience as a queer immigrant of color and as a New York City public school teacher.


Elizabeth L. Block standing outside with book
Alumna Elizabeth L. Block

7. Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Block (Ph.D. ’11, Art History), tells how the daughters and wives of late 19th-century American industrialists were a fashion force during a pivotal time in U.S. history.


The Cosmos Explained book by Charles Liu
Professor Charles Liu and his book The Cosmos Explained

8. The Cosmos Explained: The History of the Universe From its Beginning to Today and Beyond, by Professor Charles Liu (GC/College of Staten Island; PhysicsAstrophysics) tackles the history of the universe with the help of striking illustrations.


Cathy Davidson and Christina Katopodis's Book
Distinguished Professor Cathy N. Davidson and alumna Christina Katopodis 

9. And for the many educators you know: There’s The New College Classroom by Distinguished Professor Cathy N. Davidson (EnglishDigital HumanitiesData Analysis and Visualization) and alumna Christina Katopodis (Ph.D. ’21, English), a how-to manual for engaging and empowering students through active learning.

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