Class of 2020 dedicates memorable books to Bronson library

A tribute to seniors living in the E. Bronson Ingram Residential College has taken on special significance now that students are away from campus. Each graduating senior was given the opportunity to select a book especially meaningful to them to fill the shelves of the Great Room library. Each book is inscribed with the student’s name.

“This is an opportunity for students to reflect on memorable books they encountered during their time at Vanderbilt. Works that inspired, entertained, challenged or comforted them, that changed someone’s mind, or opened up a whole new field of inquiry,” said faculty Head of House Sarah Igo, the Andrew Jackson Chair in America History, professor of law, political science and sociology and director of the American Studies program.

“As you can see, the books they chose are a kind of index to the richness and range of a liberal arts education,” Igo said.

New meaning

Since students moved off campus for their safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Igo said the senior book dedication has taken on new meaning.

“I see it not just as a way to commemorate the Class of 2020 living in Bronson, but also as a way for them to reach out to new residents, who will themselves sit in the Great Room, scan the shelves, and stumble upon intriguing or inspiring reads chosen by past students,” she said. “The books will be part of our seniors’ legacy—their imprint on Bronson—and will be in the Great Room library when they visit campus in the years to come.”

“The books will be part of our seniors’ legacy—their imprint on Bronson—and will be in the Great Room library when they visit campus in the years to come.” –Sarah Igo

That’s one of the reasons theatre major Mikaela Baker, from Dallas, dedicated the Sophocles play Antigone to the library.

Antigone, I think, embodies me perfectly,” Baker said. “She’s stubborn and she’s willing to sacrifice everything for the love and loyalty of her family. When I come back with my family in 10 or 20 years, I’ll find this book and know I left a little bit of myself behind.”

Senior Niah Charles, a psychology major from Nashville, dedicated Educated by Tara Westover.

“This book really just speaks to me and to the power that an education can bring,” Charles said. “It really made me grateful for my Vanderbilt education and my experiences here and opened my eyes to a world where people don’t believe in higher education or don’t have access to higher education.”

The Bronson library is open to the Vanderbilt community and holds special meaning to many students across campus.

“The Great Room library is a central gathering space,” Igo said. “Over the last two years, we’ve had wonderful concerts, lectures, mixers, special dinners, goblets of fire and even a mystery role-playing game in that room. But even more, it’s been a place that students gravitate to for a retreat—to study, read, relax, play the piano or sit by the fire. It is a place for serious work, often for hours on end, but in the quiet companionship of others.”

The list of dedicated books includes:

  • Kyle Douglas Vanesko
    The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up by David Rensin
  • Christian Cox
    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • James Dohm
    The Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux
  • Elizabeth Persons
    Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Benjamin Cooper
    Sapiens by Yuval Harari
  • Ward Rushton
    Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs by Richard J. Miller
  • Niah Charles and Constance Iris Du
    Educated by Tara Westover
  • Maggie Tugend
    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Di Angelo
  • Mikaela Baker
    Antigone by Sophocles
  • Marcus Green
    The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translation by David Brookshaw
  • Ben Welsh
    Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Karina Schechter
    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  • Hana Badivuku
    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Mary Hanna
    I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib
  • Lillian Dennison
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Jenna Lester
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Ana Darielle Nunez
    Self-Made by Nely Galan
  • Sarah Mintira Gordon
    Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
  • Zach Wieder
    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • Christina Rentschler
    Traveling to Infinity by Jane Hawking
  • Stephanie Yim
    The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
  • Adriana Calderón Acón
    Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Olivia Cherry
    Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Gennesis S. Baez
    Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway
  • Charles Kay
    Literary Theory: An Anthology edited By Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan
  • Nicholas K. Gehring
    The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
  • Kelvin Boateng
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  • Leah Field
    Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Domenique Alexa Meneses
    Once Upon a Quinceañera by Julia Alvarez
  • Annie Abraham
    Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • Chris Alexander
    Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
  • Andy Kun Hee Sim
    Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas
  • Virginia Ingram
    Twentieth-Century American Art by Erika Doss
  • Mark Weinstein
    Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • Abigail Grace Wilder Ayers
    Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas
  • Matthew J. Seck
    Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Jean Wu
    1984 by George Orwell

Video by Pat Slattery and Amy Wolf