UW News

December 14, 2020

Behold! UW-authored books and music for the good Dawgs on your shopping list

UW News

An astronomer tells tales of stargazing and pursuing the universe’s big questions, a grandparent shares wisdom for happy living, a jazz drummer lays down a cool new album …

But behold, yet more! An engineer pens STEM biographies for children, a cartoonist draws stories from his life, researchers ponder the future of river and wildlife conservation, and faculty masters bring out new classical recordings on guitar and piano.

Though 2020 was a holy humbug of a year, University of Washington talents persevered, and published. Here’s a quick look at some giftworthy books and music created by UW faculty and staff, and a reminder of some recent favorites.

Stargazing stories: Emily Levesque, associate professor of astronomy, published the anecdote-filled “The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers” in August. “These are stories astronomers tell each other when all of us are hanging out at meetings,” Levesque said. Kirkus Reviews called them “entertaining, ardent tales from an era of stargazing that may not last much longer.”

‘Grand’ wisdom: Charles Johnson, professor emeritus of English, has written novels, short stories and more, but takes a personal turn in “GRAND: A Grandparent’s Wisdom for a Happy Life.” He offers his grandson, and readers, “what I hope are 10 fertile and essential ideas for the art of living.” It’s all presented “tentatively and with great humility,” Johnson says, as “grandfatherly advice is as plentiful as blackberries.”

Drums, duets: Ted Poor, assistant professor of music, released the album “You Already Know” in March. Poor told UW News the music “is a celebration of space — space for drums to resonate and convey a feeling, and for the melody to dance around and push that feeling. It is primarily a collection of duets with saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo and the sound of the record is focused on drums and sax throughout.”

STEM stories: Faisal Hossain, professor of civil and environmental engineering, published two books for young readers this fall: “The Secret Lives of Scientists, Engineers, and Doctors,” volumes one and two. The volumes showcase “the struggle, growth and success” of 12 professionals in STEM fields, including a geneticist, a biologist, a cancer researcher and a scientist at the National Institutes of Health. More books are planned.

Life drawings: José Alaniz, professor of Slavic languages and literatures and comparative literature, published “The Phantom Zone and Other Stories: Comics and Prose,” a eclectic collection of drawings and essays, highlighting his different styles through the years, “from tragedy to tragicomedy to documentary to black humor,” he said.

Guitar works: School of Music faculty guitarist Michael Partington released his 10th album in March. “Como Un Filo Di Fumo” features classical guitar works written for him by composers Bryan Johanson and Stephen Goss.

Sheppard plays Brahms: Craig Sheppard, internationally known professor and pianist, put out a digital release of 107 early Brahms works in October, titled “The Genius of the Young Brahms.” The work joins Sheppard’s lengthy discography from a decades-long career.

Ecological restoration: How has climate change affected regional ecological restoration? Shana Lee Hirsch, a research scientist in human centered design and engineering, looks for answers in “Anticipating Future Environments: Climate Change, Adaptive Restoration, and the Columbia River Basin,” from UW Press.

River history: Seattle was born from the banks of the Duwamish River, writes BJ Cummings of the UW Superfund Research Program, but the river’s story, and that of its people, has not fully been told. Cummings seeks to remedy that with “The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish,” published by UW Press.

Coexisting: Agriculture and wildlife can coexist, says John Marzluff, professor of environmental and forest sciences, in his book “In Search of Meadowlarks: Birds, Farms, and Food in Harmony with the Land.” But only “if farmers are justly rewarded for conservation, if future technological advancements increase food production and reduce food waste, and if consumers cut back on meat consumption.”

And here are some favorites from 2019:

O’Mara’s ‘Code’: History professor Margaret O’Mara provides a sweeping history of California’s computer industry titans in “The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.” The New York Times called it an “accessible yet sophisticated chronicle.”

Mindful travel: Anu Taranath of the English Department and the Comparative History of Ideas program discusses how travelers can respectfully explore cultures with lower incomes, different cultural patterns and fewer luxuries in “Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World.”

Kingdome man: Tyler Sprague, associate professor of architecture, studies the life and work of Jack Christiansen, designer of the Kingdome and other structures, in “Sculpture on a Grand Scale: Jack Christiansen’s Thin Shell Modernism,” published by UW Press.

Powerful silence: “Lynch: A History,” a documentary directed by English professor David Shields about NFL star Marshawn Lynch’s use of silence as a form of protest, is available for rent or purchase on several platforms.

Seattle stories: UW Press republished English professor Roger Sale‘s well-loved 1976 reflections on his city, “Seattle, Past to Present.” Sale, who taught at the UW for decades, died in 2017.

  • Joanne De Pue, School of Music communications director, assisted with this story.