Current city/town: Camden, NJ
Title/Affiliation: Executive Director, New Jersey Council for the Humanities
What's the last page-turner biography you read? What podcasts are keeping you going during those long Turnpike commutes? Which poems or novels do you return to over and over when you need a laugh (or a cry)?
We're asking NJCH staff members, trustees, and community partners to contribute thoughts on their favorite humanities-related books, shows, and sounds. We'll be sharing these contributions on the NJCH website and social media as part of a new regular "Humanities Moment" feature, to create community around the humanities content we love here in NJ.
This week we’re highlighting recommendations from Carin Berkowitz, NJCH Executive Director and avid reader and hiker. Happy reading/listening!
The Hiking Book from Hell
"I am in the middle of two books right now, one of which is light and the other a little bit more bleak. The Hiking Book from Hell is an amusing memoir by forty-something Norwegian comedian Are Kalvø. I see myself in his satirical descriptions of “outdoor culture,” alas (and think of some of my children’s complaints about the inane things I say about the wilderness when I force them out on hikes). I recently finished David Sedaris’s Happy-Go-Lucky, and think I see in these two books a similar desire of mine to read books that meld the humorous and poignant in their reflections on life, relationships, and aging."
Small Things Like These
"The other book I’m currently really enjoying is a short novella called Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan, which is set in a small town in 1980s Ireland. It is immediately engrossing both in its characters and in the descriptions of a setting that feel immersive. The book examines the role of the church in the life of the town through the eyes of a coal merchant.
Its description of place reminds me of one of my favorite books I read during the pandemic, This Is Happiness by Niall Williams, set in mid-twentieth-century Ireland—also a book that completely transports its reader to a different setting."
(ed. note: This Is Happiness was also recommended by NJCH Board Chair Greg Waters)
"I can’t help but recommend the podcast Slow Burn, though I’ve finished its most recent season on Roe v. Wade, so am waiting for the next series. I’ve listened to all of the seasons of this podcast, captivated by how much I didn’t know that the show uncovers about recent history and events from my own lifetime (previous seasons have focused on subjects like the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the war in Iraq, and Rodney King beatings). This podcast always causes me to think more deeply about my own experiences and to reflect on my assumptions and on the evolution of my opinions and engagement with the news."
Interested in being featured in an NJCH Humanities Moment? Contact Valerie Popp, Director of Strategic Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slow Burn graphic copyright Slate Media