Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Our Favorite Books: Part One

One of the best parts about working at Oxford is that everyone here is passionate about books. You simply do not spend your days pouring over a manuscript, or designing cover art (or the many other jobs that go into making a book) unless you are deeply vested in literature. For the holidays, we wanted to share the joy of working in publishing with all of you, bring you in on our water-cooler book conversations. In the next couple of weeks we will be rounding up the favorite books of Oxford employees, and letting them share with you the books that inspire them. Here are the first five “Oxford favorites.”

Scott Marinaro– Domestic Rights Manager

My favorite book of all time is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. The book is wildly imaginative, and yet with some of most believable characterization you could fathom. It’s also far and away the most amazing portrait of New York I’ve ever read; a New York where the strangest of characters meet up in an eerily well orchestrated set of movement. One might argue that it’s too fantastical to fit that bill, but really, when has anyone ever found New York to be ordinary? Ten years after first reading the book I literally cannot walk through Grand Central Terminal, which I do every day, often hurriedly, without thinking about Peter Lake. Even being a slow reader, when taken in the aggregate these characteristics made the 600-plus pages fly by. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a good love story to boot?

Jared Wright– Product Manager in Academic & Trade Marketing

My favorite book is The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis De Bernieres. The first book of a trilogy, it creates a fictional South American nation on the brink not only of economic and social collapse, but seemingly of some magical realm. What’s startling, therefore, and remarkably consistent, is its fierce, willful sense of humor. An outrageously funny episode follows a horrifying one without batting an eye, and the book melds into a jocular stew that follows its own internal logic and pulses with warmth, resourcefulness, and unexpected glee.

David Lenz– National Account Rep

Call It Sleep by Henry Roth is a marvelous look at the immigrant experience in New York. I have reread this book several times and always enjoy something new and enlightening. What incredible strength and guts to settle in a new land, and such a rotten father.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Amazingly timely again since the Russians are bumping one another off. This book is a terrific look at the Russia of Stalin and Khrushchev and all of the absurdity that could entail. The book has a great devil and a wonderful cat that talks and carries a 38. Now that the former Soviet state is no more, we must look to novels about Bush and Iraq to see the true absurdity of political power.

Vera Plummer– National Account Manager

The longer one has been at Oxford, the more difficult the selection. Oxford books have brought me many new and wonderful reading experiences. If I have to pick one, it will be Paul Fussell’s Great War and Modern Memory. I knew neither the book nor the author when I started at Oxford many years ago. I was urged to read it. I found this one of the most powerful and literate accounts of the impact and hellishness of war.

Daniel Gonzalez– Editorial Assistant

Chris Beneke’s Beyond Toleration explores the various elements that became the foundation of America’s heritage of religious toleration. As a reader largely unfamiliar with the social atmosphere of colonial and early America, I was surprised by the many struggles to coexist peacefully in such religiously diverse communities. I soon learned that, although many people left Europe to escape religious persecution, early American society saw its fair share of intolerance. I discovered a history I never knew existed, and Beneke’s blend of storytelling and historical insight would ultimately provide me with a new appreciation of its legacy.

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