This week in Summer Reading

Book cover for A Heart that Works

A Heart That Works
Rob Delaney

A memoir about the death of a 2-year-old from brain cancer should not make you laugh out loud. Yet actor, comedian, and writer Rob Delaney does just that in this loving account of his son Henry, who died before reaching his third birthday. In addition to sharing tender memories of Henry’s bright spirit even in the face of a brutal illness and an even more brutal treatment, this book is a love letter to Delaney’s family. It’s also an homage to the many professionals in the medical and care community who touched Henry’s life — from surgeons and nurses to healthcare assistants and hospice care workers; not to mention the volunteers who gave so much joy to Henry, including Lola the therapy dog and Singing Hands, the musical duo who use a special sign language to help teach non-verbal children how to communicate.

The other lesson in this book: The NHS – the U.K.’s much-beloved national health care service – is a “glorious institution” that enabled the Delaneys, transplants from the U.S., to maximize time spent with their very sick child rather than dealing with the bureaucracy of a multibillion dollar, publicly traded insurance bureaucracy.

Social Sciences Division


Book cover for Society of the Spectacle

The Society of the Spectacle
Guy Debord

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”

Guy Debord’s La société du spectacle, written in the wake of the student riots in Paris in 1967, is one of the most influential philosophical texts of the latter half of the 20th century that is as relevant today as when it was first published. Like one of his major influences, Karl Marx, Debord critiques our entire society: e.g., our consumption of commodities. But he goes beyond that to consider what predominates our consciousness in our daily lives. Because of the scope of his project, this is a challenging, often confounding, read.

The Society of the Spectacle consists of 221 passages, paragraphs, contained within nine chapters. I had to reread many of these several times before I even got close to something like an understanding of what Debord was trying to say. But this is worth the effort for an ultimately rewarding, no-holds-barred text that will make you rethink your daily experience.

Enrollment Manager
College Writing Programs