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Falcon's Bookshelf

The Lone Star College-CyFair Library book blog. Discover the great books our LSC-CyFair faculty and staff are reading!

October 2021 • Angela Bell, Professor of History

Do you have a guilty pleasure book?
I have multiple guilty pleasure books. On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and Red, White & Royal Blue by Sally McQuiston are what I can think of off the top of my head.

What is your favorite genre? Which do you avoid?
I tend to avoid horror, tech, or economic theory heavy books. Otherwise, yes. Please let me read it. My favorite is probably dystopian.

What is a book that you’re afraid to read?
I can’t think of anything, but I did have to put down Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when I first read it because I was up at 2 am and had just moved into an apartment in a big, creepy house. The snake in the walls was too much for me. (Of course, I finished it the next day in the sunlight. That was also twenty years ago.)

What is a book you dislike/hate that everyone loves? Do you remember the last time you put down a book without finishing?
The Night Circus was something I read that just didn’t do a thing for me. Everyone else seems to love it, but I kept waiting for something to happen and was disappointed when it didn’t. I rarely DNF a book. It might take a year, but I tend to finish everything I start. Also, pretty much anything by Elin Hilderbrand I tend to avoid.


What book is currently sitting on your nightstand?
Mythology by Edith Hamilton

What’s the last great book you read? The last book you recommended to everyone you know?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I love The Hunger Games series (in an obsessive way), and her prequel was the best social commentary (especially Holocaust imagery) I’ve read in a long time. I wrote A LOT of meta about it and then lent the book out to as many people as would let me shove it into their hands. Also, White Rage by Carol Anderson is brilliant.

Are there any classic novels you read recently for the first time?
I hadn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird until right before the pandemic started when I went to see it on Broadway. Little Women and A Christmas Carol are on the list for December. Been meaning to read both for years.

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, what, where, how).
Give me a book/kindle. That’s pretty much all it takes, but I wouldn’t turn down doing that on a beach or curled up in front of a fire during a snowstorm. Also, my cats should be there if I’m inside.

Do you have a favorite book no one else has heard of?
Of my top five, I’ve listed four in other questions. The fifth is A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. Read it grad school, and it changed my life. Most people have never heard of it, though.




Which writers – novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets – working today do you admire most?
Colson Whitehead, Ibram X. Kendi, Carol Anderson, Suzanne Collins, Katherine Center, and Leigh Bardugo all come to mind.

What’s the last book you read that made you laugh?
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally, or intellectually?
Both. Books that reach me emotionally are easier to read, but sometimes I need something to sink my teeth into. When a book can do both, it’s a big deal.

What book might people be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
To Renew America by Newt Gingrich. I bought it in college, and I have yet to burn it in effigy. Probably because I’ve never been able to get through it.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you the most?
My dad taught me to read when I was four because my parents couldn’t get anything done other than reading to me. Some of my favorite books from elementary were Richard Scarry books, the Mother West Wind series, the Magic Bicycle series (based on the area around my hometown), the Raggedy Ann and Andy books, Sweet Valley High and Cheerleaders series, Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, Encyclopedia Brown books, the Babysitter’s Club series, and V.C. Andrews books (which I definitely should not have been reading in fifth grade). My absolute favorites from childhood are Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I also read all the Sunfire Romance series books I could find, and they’re why I became a historian.


Have your reading tastes changed over time?
Not really. A few summers ago, I decided to re-read some favorites from childhood, and I still love them all.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Leslie Marmon Silko, Suzanne Collins, and John Lewis

What do you plan to read next?
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed, The Second by Carol Anderson, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, and (finishing) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

What book would you most like to see turned into a movie or TV series that hasn’t already been adapted?
Circe and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

What’s the last book you read that made you cry?
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

What’s the last book you read that made you furious?
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Where do you find your books? Where do you look when you’re searching for your next great read?
I follow several monthly book clubs on social media, and I have a lot of friends who read a ton and post reviews online. In addition, I’m part of an online writing community with a number of independent authors and librarians, and they always have their ear to the ground about what’s good. Usually, I have to stop looking at suggestions because there are just way too many. My TBR list is hundreds of books long.

  LSC-CyFair Library (building #3) is open with limited capacity and services.