Summer Reading, vol. 3: Susan Hylen

This week we visit the library of Dr. Susan E. Hylen for summer reading recommendations! Dr. Hylen teaches courses in New Testament at Candler and in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, equipping students to become responsible interpreters of the biblical texts. She has authored books on the history of women in the New Testament and early church and on the Gospel of John, and her current research explores the social construction of gender in the early church period.

First, Dr. Hylan recommends The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates, a New York Times best seller from the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me. Coates’s novel brings the reader into the world of Harriett Tubman and the underground railroad from the perspective of an enslaved man, Hiram Walker. Dr. Hylen describes the publication as “imaginative and sorrowful, with beautiful language and insight” making it a great addition to any summer reading list. Find this audiobook in a local library near you on online for purchase.

Next, Dr. Hylan suggests Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. This coming of age story is set in the islands off the southwest coast of Florida following Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine who wrestles alligators. Find this “poignant reflection on home and family” online for Emory users or at your local library

While Dr. Hylen doesn’t often read non-fiction for pleasure, SPQR by Mary Beard is her exception and third recommendation. This “immensely readable” publication by a respected expert in the field covers Roman history from 27 B.C.E. to 212 C.E., roughly the period in which the New Testament and some of the earliest Christian sources were written. Hylen explains that it’s a “great introduction to the cultural and political background of early Christianity.” Find this book at your university library or online for purchase in a variety of formats! 

Finally, for a fun dive into actual Roman authors, Dr. Hylen enjoys the stories told by Valerius Maximus in Memorable Sayings and Doings. Part of the Harvard Press Loeb Classical Library, these are short tales of popular morality mostly grouped together topically, by virtue (or vice), and written during the time of Jesus. Dr. Hylen notes that these narratives are a “great way to gain insight into what people in the time of Jesus thought was exemplary.” She points out that  “some of the stories are strange, and some are funny, but they’re all short, so it’s easy to put it down and pick it up again if you have just a little time (or a short summer attention span).” Emory users can now access this publication online

Find the whole series of Summer Reading recommendations on the Librarians’ Blog, and stay tuned next week for more!