Summer – a time for catching up, relaxing, exploring, starting new projects, or perhaps completing work in progress.  Reading, of course, is key in all of these.  With this in mind, we asked some faculty members at St. John’s about books that have influenced them personally or professionally.

Dr. Dohra Ahmad, an Associate Professor in the English Department, writes:  

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Animal Dreams when I’d just gotten out of college and was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Besides having a great plot and funny, interesting characters, it also contained a bunch of different lessons that were helpful for me at the time and continue to be so:

1. We all have a responsibility towards the various local and global communities we belong to.

2. If bad stuff is happening and we don’t know about it, it will probably catch up with us pretty soon.

3. There are many different ways to fight that bad stuff and make the world better.

4. In order to be as happy and effective as possible, you need to pick the way that is truly enjoyable and meaningful to you (not the one you think you’re supposed to do).

I know those lessons seem simple, but they’re what I needed to learn at the time – and they mean much more when they come across in a story instead of as a list like this. So if you’re thinking about Big Questions but also looking for a good read, try Animal Dreams.